Children don’t like to think of their parents having sex so when Angus was younger, he would rather have jumped into a barrel of snakes than tell his friends about my occupation.
While he was growing up, I always had plenty of books on my area of expertise and sometimes I’d have to ask Angus, “What have you done with my vaginismus book?”
I think he’d move it from view before any visitors came round.
I’ve always been very comfortable talking about sex – I’d be the one most likely to say risqué things on a girls’ night out!
So 15 years ago, I switched careers from running a bakery to being a therapist. I’m very open at home too, so Angus wasn’t embarrassed if I walked in on him kissing his girlfriend and I was OK with him having sex in the house.
I’ve never been one to have strict rules but I ensured Angus knew about being safe.
I didn’t ask his partners about their sex life, but I did play close attention to their personalities to work out if they fitted as a couple. Subjects that other mums might avoid, I made it my priority to talk to him about.
We discussed one-night stands and how they put pressure on the penis to get up for someone they’ve just met.
I warned him about the effects of watching too much porn, and let him know masturbation was important, but encouraged him to do it in the bathroom for privacy.
However, I made sure I was always Mum first and sex therapist second.
When Angus was in his early twenties, he started to think my job was actually quite cool. Once people know what I do, it’s like there’s a beacon above my head saying, “Talk to me about sex.”
His friends even ask me for advice. They’ll tentatively say, “How do I keep up intimacy with my fiancée even though we’re always tired?” and I’ll proceed with a long answer. All my children are used to my passion!
Angus himself told me about his erectile dysfunction while we were out on a walk.
He said, “I can’t believe I’m about to say this but…” He was already trying different ways to fix it, so I just listened and told him how normal the problem is. I could see the relief wash over him.
I’m always open with him, but I make sure he’s the one to initiate the conversation so I don’t overstep the line. He let me know when he got his first erection again after a year.
My daughter Lydia thinks we’re mad talking about erections over the breakfast table but it’s normal for us. I love talking about sex, it takes the shame out of it.
What I find so satisfying about sex therapy is that, with a very small amount of work, you can make the most fundamental difference to somebody’s life.
Angus came to stay at my house over the first lockdown and he was working on his app Mojo, which helps men get better erections.
I became one of the experts for the app. It’s been wonderful to work together.
When no topic is off limits, it really strengthens the bond. We may have separate things going on in our lives but like Jean and her son Otis from Sex Education, we’re always there for each other… however awkward it might initially be for him.
Angus Barge, 31, founded the Mojo app to help men with erectile dysfunction. He is single and lives in London
Similar to Otis on Sex Education, growing up, I’d be rolling my eyes at my mum’s guides to good sex and the phallic sculptures scattered around our home.
I wanted to pretend I knew everything myself, like many teenage boys. But when she wasn’t looking, I was flicking through her notes and trying to get her knowledge.
It was my own way of admiring her. There was nothing more exciting than looking through her sex books.
As I’ve got older, I’ve realised that my mum knows best.
Aside from working hard academically, rules were relaxed. I didn’t need to hide the fact I was going to a party or meeting girls.
I once had a girlfriend stay at the house and Mum made up the spare bedroom for her. The next morning, Mum said, “Did she sleep in there?” When I said no, she replied, “Great, that means I don’t need to wash the sheets.”
She saw sex as a healthy thing for me to experience and trusted me to be responsible.
People love to assume their parents are totally innocent and forget how they were conceived! But it’s a little harder to hide from when your mum’s a sex therapist.
I’ve realised she’s pretty cool and she’s now one of my best mates. I love introducing her to people in my life. As soon as my friends loosen up with a drink, they all ask her questions.
There’s so much curiosity around psychosexual therapy, as everyone is badly lacking in a decent sex education. They see meeting her as an opportunity to get tips and insights.
I think it’s a little strange for my partners though, as they feel like she knows what we’re up to.
I never expected to follow Mum into her field of expertise, but I had a life-changing injury in 2017. I was at a cycle endurance event in France when I was hit by a car and knocked out.
When I started intensely training again, I’d get a tingly feeling on my penis that wouldn’t go away, even after I stopped. I was stupid to not immediately do something about it.
When I went home with a girl and I couldn’t get erect for the first time in my life, it hit me like a train – something was seriously wrong.
I now know it was crushed blood vessels in my penis but even when that cleared up, I was so “in my head” that I began to feel anxiety around having sex.
I struggled for a year and had crazy thoughts, like I was never going to be loved. It was the biggest life crisis I’ve ever had and it really affected my mental health.
In 2019, I told my cousin Xander, 32, during a car journey, and after a long pause, he shared that he had the same issue. That’s when the conversation started about Mojo.
It was a couple of weeks later that I spoke to my mum. I didn’t feel nervous and she was happy I felt comfortable enough to tell her, and excited we were going to try to change things.
It feels really special to work with her on an app that can help billions of men.
We talk about absolutely everything now – although my sister Lydia pulled us aside before a Christmas party a couple of years ago and said, “You guys need to get a grip.
Not everybody feels as comfortable talking about sex as you two.” Mum can’t shock me any more and I’ve never been able to shock her. She knows too much.
For more information and support, visit Mojo at mojo.so