Sunday, December 26, 2021

Nadia Bokody: Sex dwindles at Christmas, but you can save it

I am not sure we should be getting sex advice from a lesbian but what Nadia says below does sound pretty right to me

About a month ago, my girlfriend brought me home to meet her parents. The trip did not go well.

Stress and sleep deprivation bubbled over into a terse exchange during lunch, and ultimately, a not altogether discreet argument.

My ineptitude at moderating my emotions in tense situations meant that, instead of putting my best foot forward, I quite likely left her family with the impression our relationship is more problematic than an episode of And Just Like That

Of course, we aren’t perfect. I cry often over small things, have a propensity to be unnecessarily dramatic (if you haven’t texted me back in 13 minutes, I’m already holding a focus group)

My girlfriend can be snappy when she’s in a bad mood, consistently leaves clusters of long black hair in my bathtub, and says “I love you” when we’re sitting together on the couch – at which point, I usually turn and realise she’s speaking to her dog.

Regardless of our flaws, we’re very happy most of the time. Blissful, even. Which makes it all the more frustrating that, for the few short days we were with her family, we were the least palatable version of ourselves.

That’s the thing about stress, though. It has a habit of bringing out the worst in us, and it’s usually our intimate relationships that bear the brunt.

The real deathblow? This often translates to a drop-off in physical intimacy.

I got to thinking about this recently because, with arguably the most anxiety-inducing time of year upon us, research shows we’re all feeling more frazzled and less amorous than ever toward our partners – women, especially.

A Stanford University study that looked at over half a million women’s annual sexual activity logs confirmed there’s a steep decline in our interest in sex around Christmas.

And it makes perfect sense.

After all, who wants to get it on when they’re still fuming about the fact they received an ironing board cover instead of the necklace they explicitly circled in that conspicuously left out Michael Hill catalogue??

Thankfully, there’s a cure for festive sexlessness, and the specific kind of anxiety that comes with wanting to reassure your girlfriend’s parents their daughter isn’t saddled with a neurotic argument-monger (or, you know, at least not the latter).

Connective acts like holding hands, extended eye contact and kissing are all linked to decreased cortisol and a boost in the feel-good, calming hormone oxytocin (which, incidentally, also helps us feel more bonded with our partners

Ironically, the more of these non-sexual activities you participate in, the greater likelihood there is you’ll end up getting it on under the mistletoe after all. Because the calmer we feel, the easier it is to become sexually aroused.

All that said, on what is supposed to be a day of peace and love, we should also probably cut our partners some slack if they’re not exemplifying Christmas cheer.


‘Not if, but when’: Uncomfortable Covid truth Australians have to face

As countless Christmases sit ruined by a renewed spike in Covid-19 cases following the arrival of the Omicron strain, a large number of Australians seem to be asking the same thing: will I eventually get coronavirus, no matter what precautions I take?

One expert has said it’s now almost inevitable that we will all come into contact with Covid-19.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” he said.

After almost two years of the pandemic, just over 1 per cent of Australians (282,589) have contracted the virus, but the latest strain has experts worried about the potential for an exponential rise in cases.

The good news from the early scientific consensus is that while Omicron is easier to catch than earlier strains of the coronavirus, it’s effects are less severe.

The first official UK report into Omicron revealed the risk of hospitalisation is between 50 to 70 per cent lower than those with the Delta variant.

In South Africa, virus watchers are tentatively declaring the latest wave has already hit its peak.

Francois Venter, a medical professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, predicted that at the current rate of decline Omicron would “be pretty much gone” from all of South Africa by the end of January.

The figures bode well for Australia, where cases have surged to record levels in recent days, but we are still yet to see similar increases in hospitalisations or deaths.

Despite the positive results, Australians still remain cautious with several forced into isolation and locked out borders on the eve of the Christmas season.

‘Not a matter of if, but when’

Medical director for infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System, Dr Bernard Camins believes Australians have to come to terms with the fact they will be exposed to someone carrying the virus in the future.

“I’ve been telling this to anyone who would listen: It’s not a matter of if you get exposed to the Omicron variant or any other variant of the coronavirus, it’s a matter of when,” he said. “Everyone will run into somebody with a Covid infection,” reported NBC.

However, Dr Otto Yang of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA says just because you are exposed, it does not mean you will definitely contract the virus, regardless of the strain.

“I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that everybody will get Covid-19,” he told the US Today Show. “I would prefer not to learn to live with Covid. I would prefer to get rid of it, and theoretically, it’s possible.

“The scenario that I’m hoping will play out is that the numbers of Covid cases are reduced drastically to the point that there are small outbreaks here and there that are easily contained and most of the population is not being exposed.”

Early hope that a double dose of the vaccine would severely reduce the chances of catching and spreading the virus have been dashed after NSW recorded a record high number of 6200 daily cases on Christmas Day, with a statewide vaccination rate of 93.5 per cent.

Dr Yang has encouraged the population to get their booster shots for the best possible protection against the Omicron strain.

“It’s looking very much like people who get a booster have protection against getting it,” he continued, adding there will “always be a possibility” for you to contract the virus regardless of vaccination status.

Director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Dr Rochelle Walensky said “there are going to be breakthrough cases of Omicron, but they will be certainly milder if you’re vaccinated and boosted”.

“Certainly, your outcome is going to depend on your vaccination status. We will see that those who are vaccinated and boosted will have less severe outcomes, less risk of mortality.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has encouraged Australians to get their third vaccine dose after authorities moved the interval between jabs from six to five months.

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) head Professor John Skerritt told reporters that “unfortunately the answer is we’ll have to wait and see”.


‘Kisses are out’: New Year’s Eve Covid-19 warning for Sydney and Melbourne

For the second year in a row, NSW residents are looking at a pared back New Year’s Eve – but now with health recommendations that you shouldn’t even have a midnight kiss.

Last year, the Northern Beaches Covid-19 cluster forced Sydney revellers to have just five guests over at their homes on December 31.

This time around, there are no restrictions on how many people you can invite to your end of year bash, but epidemiologists are warning people to be sensible in what could end up being a superspreader event.

In particular, a cheeky midnight smooch is not recommended as Omicron cases surge past 6000 a day in the state.

And Victorians haven’t been spared either, as surging coronavirus cases also spark concerns across the state.

“Hugs and kisses are out this year but big smiles are in,” University of Sydney infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy, told The Daily Telegraph.

Former World Health epidemiologist Adrian Esterman joked to the publication: “If both parties wear a face mask when they kiss, we’ll be pretty safe.”

However, there was a ring of truth to what he said, with one expert even going a step further and calling for face masks to be worn outside.

Epidemiologist Professor Nancy Baxter told The Herald Sun: “It’s better to not go at all, or to watch the fireworks from the car, but if you do go, make a wise decision and wear masks outdoors because you won’t be socially distanced.”

Earlier this week, NSW and Victoria both reintroduced face mask mandates as case numbers continued to mount across the two states.

In NSW, anyone over the age of 12 has to wear a face mask at all indoor settings except inside a private home. Victoria has the same rule except for people from the age of eight years old onwards.

Face masks must also be worn in the southern state will at all major events where there are more than 30,000 people present.

It’s not all bad news for New Year’s Eve, though.

Another epidemiologist thinks holding an event outdoors is a huge game changer which bodes well for the end of year festivities. If you are outside you have much better ventilation.

“If you have got masks on and you aren’t close to people, if you are careful not to hug and/or kiss your family, but just … give them a big smile, you can do a bunch of stuff that makes it safer outside and I think they [big events] can go ahead.”

He added in warning: “I think people should be as careful as possible. I know about a family event at Christmas yesterday. They did all of the right things and already someone is positive.”


Australia's vaccine certificates not accepted in some EU countries

The Australian Government's International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC) is designed to open doors in foreign lands, but it might not work for all doors.

The certificate contains a QR code in a format adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. That QR code can be read by airlines and immigration authorities to prove you've been vaccinated, but many restaurants, bars, indoor entertainment venues, galleries, museums and other places in Europe also require proof of vaccination status, and the ICVC might not do that.

In The Netherlands for example, you need a coronavirus pass to enter the Van Gogh Museum, obtained via the country's CoronaCheck app, but those vaccinated outside the EU only qualify if they are a Dutch national or were vaccinated in Aruba, Curacao or St Maarten

Austria has the Grune Pass, the green passport, and according to the pass' website ( "Persons who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 can prove this with officially recognised vaccination passes such as … the e-vaccination passport." The ICVC would appear to qualify, but that might not cut the mustard with the maitre'd at die Wilderin restaurant in Innsbruck.

However some countries make it easier. In France, foreign nationals can apply for a COVID Certificate, a passe santaire, at selected pharmacies, provided they can prove they've been vaccinated with an approved vaccine, and all those administered in Australia are (

According to the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy will accept the ICVC as the equivalent of its Green Pass, allowing you to drink and dine in bars and restaurants ( There's a good chance a restaurant in Bologna or an art gallery in Bari might not know that, so better carry the ministry's injunction as proof.

This problem is not insurmountable. The EU has a Digital COVID Certificate that allows free travel across its borders and entry to indoor venues. That certificate is available to non-EU citizens vaccinated outside the EU provided their country is a member of the EU's Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC) program. Several non-European countries are, including Panama, Ukraine and, since mid-November, New Zealand, but not Australia.




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