The Sexual Health And genito-Pelvic pain knowledge Empowerment Hub (SHAPE) is a pan-Canadian initiative dedicated to addressing the challenges surrounding sexual difficulties and genito-pelvic pain that affect the lives of countless individuals, especially women and gender-diverse people. These issues are not only pervasive but are often accompanied by numerous barriers that hinder access to effective care and support. SHAPE’s goal is to mobilize knowledge, promote inclusivity, and create an equitable, culturally sensitive approach to sexual and genito-pelvic pain health. SHAPE has partnered with the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada to share knowledge about these conditions on their website.

Sexuality is a fundamental component of quality of life, and is associated with both physical and psychological well-being. Yet sexual difficulties and genito-pelvic pain are common issues that affect many peoples’ experiences and well-being, and there are numerous barriers to effective care. Canada’s healthcare system has major inequities that directly affect women and gender diverse persons with regard to sexual dysfunction & genito-pelvic pain. Towards this goal, the SHAPE Hub brings together researchers, clinicians, patient partners and other knowledge users to mobilize knowledge about SD/GPP in women and gender diverse persons. The Hub will develop 4 guidelines on management to be disseminated by SOGC and we will train volunteers on the Sex Sense Line to share information about sexual dysfunction. We will listen to the stories of Indigenous and Two-Spirit peoples and understand their research priorities using story-telling. Key informant interviews will allow us to understand these priorities in Black women, and in those who suffer from post-SSRI sexual dysfunction. We will also offer training in knowledge mobilization to graduate and medical students who are involved in sexual health research. Throughout, our partners who will share the perspective of transwomen and gender diverse individuals will guide us in ensuring that the research shared is gender inclusive. Overall, we hope to close the significant gap women and gender diverse people face when experiencing sexual and genito-pelvic pain symptoms and accessing treatment, and identify several new research topics that serve the Indigenous and Black communities.

Meet the experts driving SHAPE’s mission

Leadership Team

Dr. Brotto completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia (UBC), where her research focused primarily on psychophysiological aspects of sexual arousal in women diagnosed with sexual dysfunctions. Her psychology internship at the University of Washington (UW) specialized in the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for mood, anxiety, substance abuse and psychotic disorders. Following her internship, Dr. Brotto’s Fellowship in Reproductive and Sexual Medicine at UW was mentored by Dr. Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute.

As a registered psychologist, Dr. Brotto offers psychological therapy to patients referred from both UBC Departments of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Psychiatry, as well as the BC Cancer Agency. Dr. Brotto also sees private patients.

Dr. Brotto has been awarded many scholarships, fellowships and research grants.

Dr Melanie Altas is a Gynaecologist and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at University of British Columbia. She is the Director of the BC Centre for Vulvar Health at Vancouver General Hospital and a Sexual Medicine Consultant at the BC Cancer Agency. Her current clinical practice is dedicated to vulvovaginal conditions, sexual pain disorders and menopause. Dr. Altas is committed to empowering women with education and tools to heal themselves. Aligned with her professional mission to promote patient-directed care, Dr. Altas regularly collaborates with community health care providers and patient partners, to translate knowledge into practice and improve access to health services for individuals with undertreated conditions

Dr. Alex McKay has a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in Education. Since 2016, he has been the Executive Director of the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN) and Managing Editor of the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. At SIECCAN, Alex works with an expert inter-disciplinary team focused on sexual health education/promotion research and content and resource development for professional and public audiences. Current SIECCAN projects address sexual health promotion for Autistic and disabled youth, developing and implementing effective sexual health education policy and practice to prevent gender-based violence, and the development of benchmarks for effective comprehensive sexual health education.

Dr. Jessica Wood is a Research Specialist with The Sex Information & Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN). In this role she conducts research related to sexual health and sexual health education. She develops resources for educators, health professionals, and policy makers, such as The Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education, and Benchmarks for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Prevention within Sexual Health Education. She acts as an expert consultant with community and government organizations for the development of sexual health education related materials (e.g., media resources, sexual health education curricula). Jessica received her PhD from the University of Guelph in the Applied Social Psychology program. Her research has focused on the sexual health of youth, women, LGBTQ+ people, and people in multi-partner relationships. Jessica is currently an Associate Editor for the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.

Knowledge Mobilization manager

Kaku Lema holds a Bachelor’s degree (hons) in Human Geography from the University of British Columbia and Master’s of Business Administration in Project Management from Università degli studi Guglielmo Marconi. Kaku brings a wealth of expertise to the field of public health, having successfully led impactful projects for various organizations. At the British Council she led the Medical Training & Fellowship Programme funded by the East Africa Development Bank. Her leadership resulted in the training of numerous physicians in the early detection and treatment of cervical cancer. During her tenure as Program Analyst at the UBC School of Population & Public Health she led strategic initiatives that addressed education goals and research priorities in the public health program. Currently she serves as the Knowledge Mobilization Manager for the Sexual Health And genito-Pelvic pain knowledge Empowerment Hub (SHAPE)

British Columbia

Jessy Dame is a proud Two-Spirit, Métis, Certified Registered Nurse. Jessy’s family is from Treaty 1 and 2 territory, which is known today as Winnipeg and St Rose-du-lac. Jessy has worked within Neonatal/Postnatal health. He currently works casually within a queer sexual health clinic in downtown Vancouver. Jessy is the Indigenous Sex and Gender Leader within the Indigenous Wellness team and the Director of Two-Spirit Health with the Community Based Research Centre. Through these roles Jessy is able to work with and for the Two-Spirit community to create resources and advocate for services.

Dr. Samantha Dawson (she/her) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar, the Director of the Sexuality and Well-being (SWell) Lab, and a registered clinical psychologist. Her multi-method research program focuses on identifying cognitive and affective mechanisms contributing to sexual function and sexual well-being in individuals and couples, with the goal of using these mechanisms to develop targeted and gender-specific interventions for sexual dysfunction. Her research program involves experimental laboratory-based research using various sexual psychophysiological measures, such as eye tracking, genital plethysmography, as well as more ecologically-valid intensive longitudinal methodologies. Her research is currently funded by operating grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Women’s Health Research Institute, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, as well as the University of British Columbia. You can follow her on Twitter @dawson_sj and @UBCSwell or read more about her and her incredible team.

Dr. Roxana Geoffrion is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Division of Gynaecologic Specialties. She holds the position of Director at the UBC Fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery and serves as Chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology residency research committee. Dedicated to upholding the highest standards of education, Dr. Geoffrion is committed to guiding aspiring medical professionals towards successful academic careers. Her approach involves a fusion of clinical and research mentorship, fostering an environment conducive to comprehensive learning. Continuously striving for excellence in her teaching methods, Dr. Geoffrion has pioneered initiatives such as randomized controlled trials and the development of low-fidelity simulation models. These innovations are specifically designed for the teaching and evaluation of surgical skills in the field of gynecologic surgery. Dr Geoffrion’s research interests also include surgical optimization, and patient outcomes following pelvic floor surgeries. She has co-authored numerous SOGC best practice guidelines in urogynecology. More recently, she has started producing innovative whiteboard animation videos of pelvic floorhealth, for patient education and knowledge translation based on these guidelines.

Emily Grey is a medical activist using her lived experience of PSSD to advocate for awareness, recognition, and research of the condition. She is teaming up with researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Ottawa to increase knowledge about the experiences of people with PSSD. She believes in informed consent for all people receiving mental health treatment. Emily has been telling her story and helping others tell theirs for four years. She is one of the founders of the nonprofit The Canadian PSSD Society. She has been published in Here to Help and Our Bodies Ourselves, and quoted in Healthing magazine, BBC Panorama, and the New York Times.

Dr. Tamil Kendall is a Women’s Health researcher with 25 years experience working with community-based civil society organizations, academic institutions, and the United Nations. She holds a PhD in Anthropology and Health Sciences from the University of British Columbia and completed her post-doctoral work with the Women and Health Initiative and Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she was also a Takemi Fellow in International Health.

Dr. Kendall specializes in community-based and policy-oriented research with a focus on gender, sexuality, HIV and sexual and reproductive health. She has published over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and four books.

Dr. Kendall is the is the Director of the Partnership for Women’s Health Research Canada, a national alliance of Canada’s leading women’s health research institutes. Additionally she serves as Adjunct Professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. Dr. Kendall is dedicated to generating and mobilizing knowledge in the area of gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights to benefit women, trans and non-binary people and their families.

Dr. Renée Monchalin is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria, a Michael Smith Health Research BC Scholar, and Director of the Fireweed Project. She is an Affiliate Scientist with the Well Living House, situated within the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Dr. Monchalin holds a CIHR-funded PhD in Public Health Science from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She holds a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University and a Bachelor of Public Health from Brock University. Dr. Monchalin is a proud citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Her current areas of research include culturally safe health service access with a specific focus on abortion access, Métis Peoples health service access, public health feminist praxis, qualitative and decolonizing methodologies, and community based participatory research.

Yassie Pirani is a trauma therapist based in Vancouver, BC. Yassie is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors and a Registered Social Worker with the BC College of Social Workers. She works from a trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and harm reduction approach. Her research interest and clinical practice focuses on Post SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD).

Yassie is passionate about working alongside PSSD sufferers and their families to help them to come to terms with what has happened to their bodies, and to find ways to channel their loss into positive action. Her work with the PSSD community uniquely positions her to educate fellow healthcare professionals and the public on the real life impacts of this disabling condition.

Yassie is committed to raising awareness about PSSD such that prescribers can engage in better patient education and informed consent practices.

Jodie completed her Masters of Physical Therapy from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2012 and expanded her training in 2015 to include Pelvic Health and Persistent Pain Support. Jodie’s work is deeply rooted in the intersection of her interest in the human body and providing care that considers healthcare inequities and social justice. Jodie has published work on pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy and she hopes to continue to explore the role of pelvic health physiotherapists in primary obstetric care and the training of providers who work with vulvovaginal pain conditions.

As a registered physiotherapist, Jodie offers physiotherapy services for people experiencing pelvic health and sexual pain challenges through a trauma and violence informed lens working virtually in BC and locally in East Vancouver. Currently, she provides patient care at Full Circle Physiotherapy, a network of pelvic health providers spanning the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

Since 2006, Nicole has worked as a health research facilitator providing support for research operations, grant writing, patient, community and partnership engagement, and knowledge mobilization (KMb). Nicole has formal knowledge translation and implementation training from Dr. Melanie Barwick and Dr. Sharon Straus. As the WHRI KMb lead, she acts as a knowledge broker by forming and sustaining multi-sectoral partnerships, builds KMb capacity through formal training and mentorship to the WHRI community, creates sustainable knowledge use through funding facilitation, and raises the profile of women’s health research impact through science communications. Nicole is a champion for integrated knowledge translation and community-engaged research.

Adrienne Sim is a physiotherapist working primarily in pelvic health since 2014. She graduated with a Masters of Physiotherapy and completed a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Physiotherapy Continence and Pelvic Health, at Curtin University in Western Australia. Adrienne’s clinical practice is focused on prevention and treatment of various pelvic floor disorders through a patient-partnered, biopsychosocial approach. Her passion is pelvic health awareness which she is actively engaged in knowledge translation projects with the Canadian Society for Pelvic Medicine and other research initiatives. She was a team member for the web-based “Be Pelvic Health Aware” campaign in 2021-2022, led by Dr Roxana Geoffrion and funded by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. Adrienne works in private practice virtually and in Langley, BC. Her practice can be found networked with her colleagues through Full Circle Physiotherapy, a pelvic health collective of independent providers in the BC Lower Mainland.

Kate Wahl is a PhD student in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of British Columbia. As a researcher she is interested in new strategies for moving evidence into health policy and practice and currently uses qualitative methods to develop and evaluate approaches for sharing research evidence with the public, healthcare providers, and policy makers. Kate’s current focus is on advancing the health of women and gender diverse people, and she is investigating patient decision aids, education programs, and storytelling in this context. Her research has been supported by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, the Women’s Health Research Institute, the BC SUPPORT Unit, the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, the UBC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the UBC Office of Community Engagement.

Laura completed her Bachelor of Kinesiology in Athletic Therapy from the University of Calgary in 2002 and a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) from The University of British Columbia in 2008. Their work has focused on the management and treatment of pelvic floor, abdominal, urogynecological and lumbopelvic dysfunctions, including genito-pelvic pain. Laura has worked for the Multidisciplinary Vulvodynia Program (now the Vulvar Pain Assessment Clinic) at Vancouver General Hospital.

Dr. Whitney Wood is Canada Research Chair in the Historical Dimensions of Women’s Health at Vancouver Island University. A historian of gender, health, and the body in 19th and 20th century Canada, Dr. Wood’s research focuses on cultural and medical representations of obstetric and gynecological pain. She is currently working on two projects: Changing Childbirth in Postwar Canada, 1945-2000, funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant, and is Principal Investigator of a new multi-year collaborative study, Pelvic Health and Public Health in Twentieth Century Canada, funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Project Grant. Dr. Wood’s recent articles have explored the history of childbirth technologies and maternal evacuation, pelvic examinations and feminist health activism, and obstetric violence in postwar Canada.

Dr. Paul Yong, MD, PhD, FRCSC is a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain, Associate Professor the UBC Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and a Gynecologist at the BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis.  Dr. Yong also serves as Assistant Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute, and has a clinical and research interest in dyspareunia in endometriosis.


Prior to entering medical school, Dr. Kerry completed a Bachelor of Commerce, a Master’s in Professional Accounting, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Her early professional experience involved working as an accountant in both Saskatoon and Calgary from 2008 to 2010. In 2017, Dr. Kerry earned her undergraduate Medical Degree at the University of Saskatchewan, followed by her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology, which she completed in August 2023. Additionally, she pursued advanced postgraduate training in vulvar dermatoses in both Canada and the United States.

Currently, Dr. Kerry practices as a general Obgyn in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In addition, she manages a specialized vulvar dermatoses clinic focusing on skin disorders of the vulva. Dr. Kerry actively contributes to the field, serving on the Board of Directors for the North American Chapter of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease. Her notable areas of interest include hidradenitis suppurativa and lichen sclerosus throughout the lifetime.


Dr. Philippa Bridge-Cook is one of the founding board members of The Endometriosis Network Canada. She is the former chair of the board and now serves as an advisor to the board. Dr. Bridge-Cook is also the co-chair of EndoAct Canada, and a member of the steering committee of the World Endometriosis Organisations. She has had endometriosis for many years, with an experience that includes a 20-year delay in diagnosis, failed treatments, successful treatments, several surgeries, and multiple miscarriages. This experience sparked her passion for helping others who are also suffering as a result of endometriosis, and her desire to create change in the system to decrease the diagnostic delay and make effective multidisciplinary treatment accessible to all Canadians with endometriosis. She was a key member of the team at The Endometriosis Network Canada that secured the largest federal investment to date in endometriosis awareness, access to sexual and reproductive health services, and reduction in barriers to care. Dr. Bridge-Cook has been a featured speaker to government committees and caucuses, and has been a panel moderator at healthcare conferences and endometriosis awareness events. Dr. Bridge-Cook is a scientific advisor, consultant and medical writer specializing in molecular diagnostics. She has experience with clinical practice guidelines, medical education, and regulatory writing.

Dr. Jaclyn Lanthier is a philosopher and researcher she holds a Ph.D. and a Masters in Philosophy of Neuroscience from Western University, where she developed a methodology for analyzing the epistemic value of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in the mind-brain sciences. Dr. Lanthier is the founder of The Lost Labia Chronicles; a content hub for evidence-based education and support. She is a dedicated advocate for individuals affected by Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus, actively participating in patient-oriented initiatives and leveraging her expertise to bridge the gap between research and real-world impact. She is passionate about knowledge translation to improve health literacy and quality of life amongst VLS patients.

Trinda is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology working under the supervision of Dr. Caroline Pukall in the Sexual Health Research Laboratory at Queen’s University. Her research focuses on the sexual health and wellbeing of racialized and other marginalized groups, with a special interest in Black women. For her doctoral dissertation, Trinda will examine the sexual pleasure and pain experiences of Black women in Canada, specifically how their sexual experiences are defined, measured, and treated when accompanied with distress. Trinda has received funding from various sources to support her research, including the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, and student-allocated research funding from the International Association of Sex Research (IASR). She has also won several awards for her research including the Black Scholars Excellence in Mentorship Award (Queen’s University Faculty of Arts and Science), the Excellence in EDI Research Award (Department of Psychology, Queen’s University), and the Master’s Thesis Certificate of Academic Excellence (Canadian Psychological Association).

Dr. Caroline Pukall completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at McGill University. She is currently a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sexual Health, Professor of Psychology, Director of the Sexual Health Research Laboratory (, and Director of the Sex and Relationship Therapy Service in the Department of Psychology at Queen’s University. Her research focuses on genitopelvic dysesthesias, specifically vulvodynia and persistent genital arousal disorder. She adopts an inclusive lens in her research, representing sexual & gender minority groups as well as other marginalized groups. Dr. Pukall has published more than 180 articles and chapters, has been involved in more than 500 presentations, and has written several books. She has also been involved in contributing to and leading treatment recommendation guidelines for genitopelvic dysesthesia through international organizations, most recently, the International Consultation of Sexual Medicine. Throughout her career she has obtained more than $11.8 million dollars in research funding, primarily from national funding agencies. Dr. Pukall also provides clinical training in evidence-based psychological approaches to sexual and relationship issues to student therapists through her service at the Queen’s Psychology Clinic.

Nova Scotia

Dr. Natalie Rosen (she/her) is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience and Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Dalhousie University, Halifax. Her research focuses on understanding how individuals and couples cope with sexual dysfunction (e.g., Genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder) and changes to their sexual relationship (e.g., during the transition to parenthood). She is committed to translating her research findings into novel interventions and to sharing evidence-based information with service providers and the public. Dr. Rosen has authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications and her research is funded by CIHR and SSHRC. She is the current Past President of the Canadian Sex Research Forum. With an active lab of students across all stages of training, mentorship is a top priority in her day-to-day life. As a registered psychologist, Dr. Rosen also maintains a small private practice focused exclusively on sex and couple therapy.

Browse a selection of media articles on recent developments in sexual dysfunction and genito-pelvic pain.