With the rise of inclusive wellness, new brands and platforms are positioning self-sex as the latest form of self-care.
As consumers push brands to destigmatize everything from puberty to erectile dysfunction, traditional taboos around sexuality are increasingly falling to the wayside. In their wake, sexual wellness is being elevated and embraced as a veritable form of self-care.
The global sexual wellness market is expected to reach $39 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of more than 7% over the next five years. Women especially are taking a heightened interest in sexual wellbeing, with the feminine hygiene market set to reach $42.7 billion by 2022.
A wave of female-led body literacy and sexual education platforms are inviting women to incorporate sexuality into their wellness practices. Launched in June 2019, Ferly is an audio guide for mindful sex that merges meditation and masturbation. The app offers podcast-style thought pieces on everything from anatomy to setting sexual boundaries; guided self-pleasure meditation practices; and sensual stories. “Ferly is a space for womxn to bring awareness into their sexuality so they can explore their beliefs, unpack narratives, and discover pleasure in new and exciting ways,” Ferly co-founder and CEO Billie Quinlan told Allure. “It’s a shame-free, accessible and fun way for womxn to invest in their sexual well-being.”
At Loom, a reproductive wellness hub in Los Angeles centered around periods, pregnancy and parenting, Roadmap: Sex offers a shame-free, pleasure-centered curriculum, covering topics like orgasms, masturbation, toys for solo and partner play, lube, ethical porn and defining your arousal template. And Allbodies is a one-stop-shop destination for sexual education and products, with resources for all stages of the sexual journey—from vibrators to fertility trackers.
Sexual wellbeing is “about trying to listen in to what your own body is telling you—what feels good and what does not feel good—and really starting to experiment,” said Allbodies co-founder Ash Spivak. Lauren Bille, fellow co-founder of Allbodies, likens it to “trying spirulina in your smoothie. There are a lot of new cool products, all-natural lubes and CBD oil—things that are supposed to enhance and help you stay healthy in your body.”
Alongside this push for education and candor, sex toys—vibrators in particular—are seeing a rise in sales; the adult vibrator market is set to grow 12% by 2020, according to Technavio. Notably, sex toys will be eligible for inclusion at CES for the first time in 2020, showcased as part of the show’s health and wellness section. This comes after the show received backlash for revoking an award to female-founded sex toy company Ose in 2019.
Unbound, which earned $4 million in revenue in 2018, is trailblazing the future of self-sex with Saucy, a spaceship-shaped device. “We wanted to build something someone could leave out on their nightside table and not feel ashamed of,” Unbound cofounder Polly Rodriguez told Dezeen. Unbound’s products come in Pantone-perfect pink, teal, and blue—colors “more akin to a health or beauty brand,” explained Rodriguez. As part of a larger movement to destigmatize female pleasure—historically linked to hedonism and misandry—Rodriguez is reimagining sex toys for the disrupt-everything era, with quirky, welcoming silhouettes more Pinterest than pornography, more art object than erotica. This follows the success of sexual wellness DTC brand Maude, whose sleek Vibe toy has gained a cult following.
“We believe a good understanding of sex—how we feel about it and how we have it—is vital to our individual well-being,” Ferly explains. “Sexual self-care is all about tuning into your body, connecting with your mind and learning what you want and what you don’t want.”