Dating expert Sarah Louise Ryan has partnered with Vivastreet to share her advice and answer your questions on all things sex work. Have a comment for Sarah Louise? Comment below or ask us on Twitter.
Q: Is there any advice you can give when it comes to menstruation and sex work?
S: There are no two ways about it. That time of the month does come, for some it’s regular and for others it’s intermittent but either way, it may hold people back from being “all-in” sexually. That could be because of PMS, heavy flow or cramping which may lower libido.
There are a few ways to ease the pain of menstrual and pre-menstrual cramping such as exercise, so consider going for a run, going to the gym or for a gentle swim as the endorphins after working out will make you feel better throughout the day. Also, consider trying a hot water bottle and consuming mint or ginger teas that are decaf. It’s also good to know that the endorphins released when having an orgasm are proven to lower the pain of menstrual cramps as your brain focuses more so on pleasure.
If you’re feeling up to being sexually active, but want to avoid penetrative sex, then consider exploring your play partner in other fun ways such as oral.
If you are feeling up to penetrative sex, the best way to go about it is by being honest with the person you are about to have sex with. Let them know and then it’s their call if they want to continue onto physical intimacy or not.
For safety and cleanliness make sure to remove any sanitary wear and have things to hand such as warm wet cloths, towels or wipes. Other options are to have shower sex as a way to avoid things getting too messy.
If all parties are comfortable with having sex during menstruation there’s really no reason not to.
Q: I don’t have many supportive people around me being a sex worker. Where can I get support and guidance?
S: Many charities, organisations and groups are available to gain support, guidance, information and maybe even form friendships as part of being in common communities. These people, places and spaces offer non-judgemental support and advice so you don’t feel alone in your work and feel safe in what you do.
Q: I am a sex worker and have recently told my friends and family. The reaction wasn’t too positive. How should I deal with this?
S: There’s still a way to go to eradicate the stigma around sex work. If your experience is that your family and friends are judgmental of the work that you do, just know that it doesn’t mean anything about you. It means they may need more education about the work.
Whilst it’s not your job to educate people or justify the way you live your life to others, once you are aware of the websites or places they can gain information about sex work, then you might feel better to share that with them so they can explore more for themselves around the work.
If they want to understand you rather than judge you, they will be responsible for educating themselves about the work you do. They most likely care a great deal about you, so do assume good intent and that they are coming from a place of wanting the best for you.
Communicate yourself well and with integrity, but also have self-compassion, and don’t let the thoughts or words of others affect the way you think or feel about yourself.
Q: What are the red flags to look out for to spot a dangerous/demanding client?
S: When engaging in sexual activity it has to be consensual. If at any point you do not feel comfortable, as though your boundaries are being crossed or that you are being pressured into doing something you do not want to or haven’t agreed to do, then these are examples of red flags.
Whilst someone being demanding may be prominent, pressurised intimacy isn’t always as such. They might say things such as “You might like it”, “You know you want to”, “Why not give it a go” or “I will be gentle”. These are all good marketing tools, so to speak, which have the intention of being manipulative in order to get you to do the things you do not want to or haven’t agreed to do.
You, no doubt, have your own safety measures in place for instances that you don’t feel safe, however, these are red flags to look out for. In a nutshell, just know that “NO” is a complete sentence – you never have to justify yourself to anyone when it comes to your boundaries and sexual consent.
About Sarah Louise Ryan
Sarah Louise Ryan has over a decade of experience as an international matchmaker, dating, sex and relationship expert. Sarah is also a relationship counsellor in training who owns multiple dating brands. As one of the UK’s leading experts in her field, she is BBC Radios’ go-to dating expert and has been featured in the likes of Vogue, GQ, CBS News and Forbes. You can find out more at sarahlouiseryan.com.