About Kelli Young

Kelli Young earned her degree in occupational therapy in 1992 from the University of Western Ontario. She is a registered occupational therapist with training, certification and expertise in the areas of Marriage and Family Therapy, and Sex Therapy. Since 1992 she has worked in the Eating Disorders Program at the Toronto General Hospital where she provides group, individual, family and couple therapy. She also has a private practice in Toronto. Kelli has a diploma in group psychotherapy, earned in 1998 from the Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association (CGPA) following a 2-year intensive training program. In 2005 she received a Master’s degree (M.Ed.) in Counseling Psychology from the University of Toronto. That same year, she earned a graduate certificate in Couple and Family Therapy Studies through the University of Guelph and the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT). Kelli has extensive training in sex therapy, including a practicum in the Sexual Medicine Counseling Unit at Sunnybrook and Women’s Health Sciences Centre. She has also completed the “Intensive Sex Therapy Training Institute” (2001); the “Advanced Training Program in Treating Female Sexual Dysfunction” (2002) and the “Sexual Attitudes Reassessment (SAR)” Institute (2006) through the University of Guelph. She has training and experience in a variety of couple and family therapy models, including Narrative Therapy, Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, and Feminist Therapy, which are approaches that she draws from extensively in her work. She also utilizes principles and methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In addition to her work at the Toronto General Hospital and her private practice, Kelli has facilitated support groups at Sheena’s Place, a support centre for people with eating disorders. Since joining Sheena’s Place in 2002, she has facilitated groups on topics such as Talking about Sex; Food, Body Image, and Sexuality; Connecting as Couples; and Adult Support. She is a member of the Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association (CGPA), the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN). She is a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and a Clinical Member of the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT). Additionally, she is a Clinical Member of the Board of Examiners in Sex Therapy and Counseling in Ontario (BESTCO). Kelli also sits on the Canadian Advisory Board (Medical Advisor) of the Spinal Cord Tumor Association. Kelli holds a teaching appointment (rank of Lecturer) at the University of Toronto, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine. Kelli is the recipient of several teaching awards. Most recently she received the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy 2011 Community Partners Award for “Outstanding Significant Contributions during 2010-2011”. Kelli and her husband reside in Toronto with their two teenage daughters.

Tips for Spicing Up Your Sex Life-Tip # 1

For the remainder of August we will be providing tips for ramping up your sex life. If any ladies (or men) out there have any other ideas, please share with the rest of us.

Tip # 1 

If your sex drive isn’t what is used to be, speak with your doctor.

Whether you believe you have an underlying medical condition that is causing your loss of libido, or simply need someone to listen to your woes, talk to your doctor about your sex life. Make a list of any questions you have in advance, communicate all your concerns and be sure to share all factors that could play a role in your declined sex drive – from relationship issues to changes in your physical health.

A medical and/or naturopathic professional can test for, and treat, potential underlying illnesses or physiological causes of low libido. If you are prescribed medications, be sure to discuss possible sexual side effects. Sometimes, an equally effective medication can be prescribed that has fewer (or no) sexual side effects.

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What is a normal female sex drive?

According to Kelli Young, an occupational therapist, sex therapist, and group psychotherapist “There really is no such thing as “normal” female sex drive. Women vary greatly in their desire for sex. What is important is a woman’s own subjective experience of the sex she is having, or not having. In medical terms, low sex drive, or “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” is defined as a persistent or recurrent lack of sexual fantasies, thoughts, and/or interest in sexual activity that causes personal distress.”

A woman’s libido is controlled by hormones, nerves, blood supply, and stimulation, both physical (e.g. touch) and psychological (e.g. fantasy or imagery). Problems or deficiencies in any of these systems can negatively affect a woman’s sexual satisfaction and in turn her desire for sex. Low libido can result when a woman is having difficulties becoming aroused. If a woman is not adequately aroused, she is unlikely to reach the sexual peaks necessary to trigger orgasm and the sense of relaxation that often follows.

Lack of arousal can be caused by or associated with insufficient vaginal lubrication, which can in turn lead to vaginal irritation or pain, and may even trigger vaginal or urinary tract infections. When sex is unfulfilling or painful, a woman is unlikely to desire it, and may begin to avoid it.

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CAUTION: Slippery When Wet

Okay ladies, let’s talk about sexual lubricants.  Now, you may be thinking: “I don’t need a lubricant—those are only for old dried-up vaginas”.  Not true!  Sexual lubricants are for everybody!  In fact, a sexual lubricant can add an extra dose of pleasure to just about any sexual encounter.

Many of us have been led to believe that our own vaginas “should” naturally produce enough lubrication to stay slippery throughout a given sexual activity.  However, copious vaginal lubrication does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with sexual arousal.  Vaginal lubrication is highly influenced by hormonal fluctuations and can vary greatly depending on where a woman is at in her menstrual cycle.  Reduced estrogen levels also contribute to reduced lubrication in women who have recently delivered a baby, breast feeding women, as well as those in menopause.  Hormones are not the only culprits for reduced lubrication.  Excessive alcohol, marijuana, and even some over the counter cough and cold remedies can dry up mucous membranes- including those in the vagina.  Even when a woman is producing a lot of natural vaginal lubrication, the extra slipperiness that an artificial lubricant provides can add to the arousal and enjoyment of both partners.

Not All Lubes are Created Equally


Oils have been used as sexual lubricants for centuries and they can be great for sexual massage and manual stimulation.  However, women should avoid oil-based lubricants for any activities involving vaginal penetration.  These products (especially thick ones like petroleum jelly) can be very difficult to wash or flush out of your body.  They can coat your vagina for days, inviting the overgrowth of bacteria and contributing to yeast infections.  Oils are also incompatible with safer sex practices as they break down the latex in condoms, dams, and diaphragms, putting both partners at greater risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI).

Water-Based Lubricants

Water-based lubricants are safe to use for all types of sexual activities and they easily wash out of your body.  You can now find them at your local pharmacy and they come in a variety of brands.  Astroglide, KY liquid, Oh My, and Wet products are amongst the most popular lubes.  Some of these come in scented, flavored, or “warming” varieties.  If you are prone to yeast infections, choose a lube that is glycerine-free, as the glycerine is a sugary substance that can contribute to yeast production.  Some people do not like water-based lubricants because they can dry up during prolonged sexual activity.  However, they can be reactivated with just a tiny drop of water or saliva.  So, if you think you might be pulling an “all-nighter”, you might want to keep a glass of water, a spray bottle, or water gun nearby!  Water-based lubricants are meant for moist membranes—they will dry up quickly when applied to your skin, so they do not make good massage products.

Silicone Lubricants

Silicone lubricants stay slippery much longer than water-based lubricants and they can be applied anywhere on the body.  They can be used for prolonged sexual pleasuring as well as for massage.   They are also safe for use with condoms and are preferred by those with sensitive skin as they generally do not cause allergic reactions or skin irritations.  They tend to be more expensive than the water-based options, but they generally go further as “a little dab will do ya”.  Two of my favorites are PJUR (pronounced “pure”) and Wet Platinum.

One Final Butt

One final word of caution: NEVER try any type of anal or butt penetration without the use of a lubricant.  The anus and rectum do not produce any natural lubrication, and the anal tissue is much thinner and delicate compared to the vaginal tissue.  Therefore anal penetration without an added lubricant can result in painful tears and can potentially increase your risk for infections.

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USE IT OR LOSE IT- Kegel Exercises


The Kegel  (named after Dr. Arnold Kegel) is the name for the exercise used to strengthen the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles that make up the pelvic floor.   These muscles act like a hammock that supports pelvic organs: the bladder, urethra, uterus, and bowel.

Why should women do Kegel exercises?

Factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, pelvic surgery (such as a cesarean section), being overweight, and the normal effects of aging can result in weakening of the PC muscles.  When these pelvic floor muscles weaken, the pelvic organs can descend and bulge into the vagina, a condition referred to as pelvic organ prolapse.  This condition can be associated with significant pelvic pressure and discomfort, and can contribute to leakage of urine or feces.  The PC muscles are like any other muscles in the body—If they do not get a regular “work out” they become weak and eventually atrophy.  Vaginal atrophy is a common problem for menopausal women.  So, this really is a “use it or lose it” phenomenon!  Doing Kegel exercises regularly can help reduce the risk of urinary/bowel leakage and incontinence.  Kegel exercises can also aid in the prevention and treatment of pelvic organ prolapse.   These exercises are commonly recommended for pregnant women to strengthen the pelvic floor in preparation for the later stages of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth.  Additionally, maintaining strong pelvic floor muscles through Kegel exercises can increase sexual satisfaction and orgasmic capacity. 

How do I do Kegel exercises?

The first step is finding and isolating the PC muscles.  One of the simplest ways to do this is to sit on the toilet and begin to urinate.  Try to stop the flow of urine midstream.  The muscles you contract in order to stop the flow of urine are the pelvic floor muscles.  Repeat this action several times until you become familiar with the sensation of contracting and relaxing these PC muscles.    Another technique is to insert a finger inside your vagina and try to squeeze the surrounding muscles.  If you are doing this correctly, you will be able to feel your vagina tighten when you squeeze and release as you relax.    Once you have identified the PC muscles, you are ready to start your Kegel workout:

·      Empty your bladder and get into a comfortable position (sitting or lying down)

·      Contract your pelvic floor muscles

·      Hold the contraction for four seconds and then relax for four seconds

·      Repeat 10 times, three times per day

·      Work up to contracting and relaxing for 10 seconds at a time, three times per day

No special “attire” required

The beauty of Kegel exercises is that they can be done anywhere at any time.  You don’t need to belong to a gym or own any fancy outfits in order to do them, and you won’t even break a sweat!   Only you and your vagina will know you’re exercising!


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Hello and welcome to this new and exciting FemMed blog on Libido and Sexual Health.  In the upcoming months we will explore many many topics related to sex and sexuality, including sex drive, sexual arousal, stimulation, orgasm, sexual “hang ups” and concerns, sexual dysfunction, sexual communication….basically, everything you ever wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask!!!  However, it is my hope that you won’t be afraid to ask questions in this blog.  For far too long women’s sexuality has been a “taboo” subject.  Many women have been afraid to speak out to their partners, friends and family, and maybe even their health care professionals about their sexual concerns– They wonder silently to themselves “am I normal…Is it just me…Do other women feel the same way as I do?”  Let’s break this silence.  My experience in working with clients has taught me that no matter what kind of sexual concern or question you have, you are definitely NOT alone.  In this blog, I invite you to ask questions (no matter how wacky or off-the-wall they may seem to you) and share your experiences.  Inquiring female minds want to know!  Now let’s get started: Ladies, start your engines!!!

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