Victoria Cullen is a sexual recovery consultant specialising in prostate cancer treatment.
She helps men and their partners take control of the recovery journey for physical, intimate and emotional changes that can occur following prostate cancer treatment.
You can book a private consultation with her at Cancer Specialists in Melbourne. She will help you choose options and rehab pathways in line with your rehab goals.
Victoria has a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and a Masters in Cognitive Psychology from University College London. Her approach is evidence-based and strategy focused. She is currently conducting PhD research at RMIT University on holistic sexual rehabilitation after prostate cancer removal surgery (prostatectomy).
- Everyone deserves accessible evidence based education regarding physical intimacy and sexual well-being, especially after physiological/lifestyle changes. This is a human right as stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2006).
- What constitutes 'sex' and 'intimacy' is unique to every individual and partnership and evolves across the lifespan. Physical intimacy is understood here to describe consensual acts that give a person sexual expression, pleasure and/or intimate connection. It is natural for change to occur in intimate and sexual relationships across the lifespan for a number of reasons (anything from general ageing to childbirth to back pain). The changes that occur after prostate cancer treatment are more sudden and can change the way you have sex completely. There are many options for you to re-navigate your sexuality, progress in your rehab journey and thrive in your relationship. The best mindset to have during this recovery journey is one of opportunity, acceptance and persistence.
- Addressing sexuality and intimacy can feel uncomfortable and challenging at times. Keep in mind the health benefits of a fulfilling intimate relationship can have the same impact as optimising diet and exercise. Victoria respects every person's right to privacy, this is your journey, she is merely a guide and has no intention of asking you questions that aren't relevant to your specific recovery needs. This appointment is not the same as visiting a counsellor or psychologist (and there is certainly no Freudian chair to lie down on!). Victoria's approach is to consult in a practical, future-focused way tailored to your specific needs and requirements.
Workshops and Talks.
Victoria regularly gives talks and workshops on how to discuss and address sexuality challenges to healthcare professionals. Audiences have included The Australian Physiotherapy Association, World Prostate Cancer Congress, Independence Australia, and The Continence Foundation. Please email to enquire about Victoria giving a workshop or talk at your clinic or conference : firstname.lastname@example.org.
The World's First Sex-related Design Studio in a University Setting.
Industrial Design is a discipline dedicated to practical real world problem solving. It is therefore logical to apply this discipline to the understanding and challenges around physical intimacy.
In 2015, Victoria co-founded "the Future Sex Studio", the World's first intimacy-related design course, at RMIT University, with Dr. Judith Glover. This course has been featured in The Age, The Herald Sun and on The BBC.
Why are you passionate about helping people with challenges related to physical intimacy?
I am passionate about applying problem solving methodology to complex human needs that are uniquely sensitive, uncomfortable, universal and important.
We have the knowledge that our sense of identity, self-confidence and health are tied to the physical intimacy we share with other humans and ourselves. This is a fundamental need, as fundamental as food and shelter.
But stigma derived from historical circumstance keeps us from education and resources to help us take control of this area of health and well-being.
Ultimately I aim to help people lead rich, connected, confident lives.
"If I have an appointment with you, do you ask me to do anything sexual?"
This is one of the most asked questions of anyone working in a sex-related therapeutic fields- and it's a good question to ask! This is an unregulated industry with a lot of different approaches.
My approach is similar to a nutritionist or financial adviser.
I will ask you questions in order to understand who you are and what you want your intimate life to look like. I will then explain the options and strategies available that are most likely to help you achieve that life.
I do not impose my own or anyone else's values regarding sexuality and relationships. I do not ask you to do anything sexual during the appointment. This is conversation only.
To spell it out : Yes, you keep your kit on. No, there's no touching whatsoever.
I cannot stress enough (and my liability insurance is more than happy that I do) that absolutely no sexual activities or nudity takes place during my appointments.
"You keep saying the word 'physical intimacy' ... we are talking about sex at the end of the day, right?"
Yes, and no.
'Sex' can be a misleading word.
It means a lot of different things, to a lot of different people.
Typically in Western culture we imagine a penetrative act focused on the genitals. However, if we view 'sex' as anything that elicits a combination of closeness, connection, passion, pleasure, relaxation, confidence, presence, orgasm and/or intimacy, then there are infinite ways to find routes (/"roots") to get to them.
I use the term 'physical intimacy' to focus attention back on the experience rather than the specific act.
"I feel quite a lot of shame about sex, I don't even talk about it with my friends. What should I expect from having these conversations with you"
It is easy for me to say a throw away line like 'sexual wellbeing is no different to other areas of holistic health such as diet and fitness'. However, the reality is that sexuality is unique. It tends to be attached to feelings such as shame, degradation and even guilt. This is due to a long history of sexual repression fueled by sexism, classism and religious motives. It is not an indication that sex is unhealthy or 'bad' for you or others in any way. Like I will keep saying until it's turned into a ringtone:
As long as sexual activities are consensual for all parties involved - then it's healthy, no matter what it looks like.
If you are feeling like you 'shouldn't care this much about something as silly as sex' or that 'it's not right to talk carefree about taboo topics like masturbation' that is perfectly normal given our society. However, I encourage you to challenge the thinking that leads to those feelings.