My name is Dr Elesha Vooght and I am the new sexual wellness expert at nevernot. I'm so excited to be on board!
I am a UK based Junior Doctor. Whilst I have been officially qualified as a doctor since 2018, my career development in the world of sexual wellness began long before then. In 2010, when I was writing my applications essay for medical school, my college asked me what specialty I was going to focus on. To me, it suddenly seemed obvious. I grew up in a small, deprived seaside town, where one in four under 25-year-olds have chlamydia and which has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe. I had seen how poor education and poor access to services had negatively impacted upon my friends – my brave, kind, funny, smart friends who had gone through terminations because they couldn't get contraception and felt humiliated to have on STI test. Even to my 16-year-old brain, this just didn't seem right. I very confidently told the vice principal "I am going to be a Sexual Health Doctor". The look of horror, followed by "You can't write about that" cemented it for me. It instantly proved everything that I thought and why I had to be part of the change. The stigma in society leads to the suppression of open communication around sex resulting in poor health.
I spent the next year researching how peer-led sexual health education could empower young people to have better sexual health for teenagers, traveling to Kenya to learn about HIV prevention programs and auditing attendances for STI screenings at local health services. The answer was clearly not enough people were having screenings in my hometown, and it did make me much more aware of who to accept dates from!
In 2012, I went to medical school. It was years later when having a conversation with a close friend about gaps in sexual health provision that I found my ultimate passion - Sex Worker Health. My work with sex workers has taken me through every element of the sex industry and across the Globe (I will tell you all about this in a later column!). Meanwhile back in the UK, I worked as both a health care assistant and a research assistant across multiple sexual health clinics. This went on throughout the rest of my time at medical school.
One thing frustrated me with all this. Sex was only ever examined with a pathological lens. However, sex is a basic human need. It is equal to eating or breathing when you look at Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, so why do we neglect it? Due to the socially created constructs of morality and shame. I wanted to be part of something that would allow me to help people enjoy sex, feel empowered, use knowledge of their bodies to experience the most pleasure possible to ensure they are as healthy as they can be. This does not exist within the constructs of Western medicine, so I made my own career path.
As soon as I qualified as a doctor, I moved to New Zealand to work as an Occupational Health doctor for sex workers in a grass-roots organization. Upon my return to the UK, I chose clinical jobs that would help shape my knowledge around sex as a holistic health need. I spent the next few years covering emergency medicine, gynaecology, urology, psychiatry, and endocrinology, all whilst maintaining sexual health skills.
It was a chance meeting whilst at a “Sex Positive Christmas Market” in 2019, where I had an obscene amount of prosecco, that I started chatting to one of the stall owners. Greg and his boyfriend, Josh, were launching a new sex toy company called Kandid. Candid was designed to be inclusive within the LGBTQ+ industry, creating toys that could be used on any body part by any person without shame.They wanted to enter the industry from a true point of “wellbeing” I don't remember much of the conversation, except using a wand massager as a microphone, but I did find their business card (along with the wand vibrator) in my handbag the next day.
Since then, I have been Kandid's in house sexual wellness doctor. This involves everything from product design and testing to media comments and answering any questions that our customers may have. From here I have run training for Ann Summers and created content for Curvy Kate. My break in Germany came earlier this year when Berlinable discovered some of my articles. I became one of their experts and they, in turn, introduced me to nevernot.
I instantly fell in love with nevernot. I am so proud that they embrace their roots in knowledge from sex workers and that it is about making your periods and sex life the most pleasurable and comfortable experience for you possible.
Here is to the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship!
Dr Elesha x