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Getting Behind America’s Anal Sex Fetish

By Mark Hay

Anal sex

On 18 May 2011 , the prolific dominatrix-turned-pornstar Asa Akira sent her Twitter followers one brief, but provocative message: “Ass is the new pussy.”

Although Akira was not the first to utter this smutty axiom, the tagline has been pegged to her name. That may have made it easy for many to dismiss the concept as nothing more than a shocking, perhaps self-promotional assertion by a savvy performer sometimes known as porn’s ” Ass Queen .” But the starlet wasn’t just blowing smoke out of her buttocks. She was channeling a growing and convincing body of data on the inexorable rise of heterosexual anal play in America.

We can actually track the rise of heterosexual anal sex over the past quarter century thanks to your tax dollars. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a series of studies in which they asked huge groups of people the same nosey questions about their sex lives— including whether men had ever put their penises “in a female’s rectum or butt” and if women had experienced a man putting his penis in their rectums (or butts) . In 1992, 20 percent of women and 26 percent of men aged 18 to 59 had reached fifth base with an opposite sex partner at least once. In 2005, the figure was 35 percent of women and 40 percent of men aged 25 to 44. In 2011, it was 39 percent of women and 44 percent of men aged 15 to 44. In some smaller age subgroups, the prevalence of anal experimentation was even more common.

The CDC didn’t ask whether people had heterosexual anal sex on the reg (probably because it’s hard to measure what “the reg” means), experimented with other forms of anal play, or tried male-recipient butt stuff. The best numbers we get regarding frequency are studies that look at what proportion of people had heterosexual anal sex in the last year, or the last time they had sex, which is a weak proxy at best. But it give us a sense that recurrent hetero butt sex is on the rise as well as one-off experiments.

A 2010 study also suggests that experimentation with wider forms of anal play may be even more common than experimentation with anal sex amongst heterosexual couplings. Among its subjects, 43 percent of women and 51 percent of men surveyed in heterosexual couples copped to testing out anilingus, anal fingering, or anal toy play at least once. A 2008 study suggests that at least some self-identified heterosexual men are receiving anal pleasure as well (mostly fingering, some anilingus). We have no good data to compare that to in terms of trends. But given the taboos against men receiving anal play, any male-receiver experimentation seems, anecdotally at least, like a pretty big sign of the times.

Pop culture’s gotten wise to this trend over the past few years, showcasing anal play in mainstream shows like Broad City , Girls, and How to Get Away with Murder and how-to guides in mainstream publications like Cosmo, Ebony , and GQ. An inevitable deluge of think pieces have followed, pinning this sexual trend on everything from anal sex’s overrepresentation in porn to widespread social liberalization . Some spill cartridges of ink, decrying heterosexual anal sex as a painful fetish foist upon women (especially those looking to keep their vaginal virginity intact, but still eager to be sexual or please a man), while others write tomes on how to have good heterosexual anal sex and play.

Yet for all that we’ve collectively bickered, raved, and railed about this widely acknowledged trend, almost no one’s investigated what America’s changing anal inclinations have meant for the sex market— namely brothel owners, pornographers, and toy manufacturers . To find out, I reached out to a few makers and shakers in the sex industry to get a quick look at how America’s smut mongers have responded to the rise of hetero anal sex.


Art by Peter Johann Nepomuk Geiger


According to Pornhub, the king of dirty search data, the heterosexual anal revolution correlates with exactly the trends you’d imagine. Anal-related porn searches still represent less than 10 percent of all queries on their site. However, anal is a more common term among straight content searches than gay ones and its pervasiveness in hetero searches is rising rapidly. Pornhub crunched the numbers for VICE and found that between 2009 and 2015 , anal-related searches increased by 120 percent in America. That’s significantly higher than the 78 percent increase in anal-related searches globally. The increase was steeper among male than female users, but anal-related tags were still the 18th most searched most searched terms among the site’s female clientele.

(As a side note, Pornhub’s investigation found that users aged 18 to 24 are actually 33 percent less likely to look for anal content than users aged 35 to 44, which is unexpected given how often we talk about hetero-anal as a young person’s game. But that 18 to 24-year-old demographic is 290 percent more likely to search for My Little Pony porn than any other age bracket, which is certainly its own can of worms.)

mage by Paul Avril

Image by Paul Avril

Yet, despite this clear demand spike, and the excitement a first-time anal scene can generate for a female performer, anal-focused heterosexual videos make up a small portion of the market. A Pornhub investigation last year revealed that just 7 percent of their straight content has an “anal” tag on it. And it doesn’t seem like porn studios are making any notable move to increase the volume of anal-focused content they create.

“I don’t think the overall production has gone up,” says Holly Kingstown, the editor of Fleshbot and a fixture of the adult industry since 1999 who’s held every job possible save actress. “In your talent pool, there are still [only] a certain number of girls who will do [anal]. And how many of that scene can you do with that girl?”

“There are performers who are willing to do it,” possibly due to industry pressures and consumer demand. “But in terms of the quality, when you’re talking about DVD sales…” she adds, before pausing briefly. “You can get a crappy internet scene or two out of a girl, but if she’s not really good at it, you’re not going to get that too many times. And when you’re talking about a girl who does it just to get a scene, it’s usually not going to be a girl who loves it or does it very well. So she’s not going to get that much work.”

Kingstown does believe that there’s more consumption of the anal-focused content that already exists. But the absolute number of anal-focused titles available for consumers is fairly static.

What has changed, says Kingstown, is the tone and packaging of the anal porn that gets made. Towards the early 2000s, when Kingstown was still working at Buttman Magazine, she and a her colleagues realized that more couples, versus angry men looking for painal (grimacing girls , visibly suffering and un-lubed ass-ramming), were exploring their content. Adjusting to this mass market, pornographers shifted to portraying anal as pleasurable and normal versus painful and sick, which had apparently been the norm for the bulk of anal porn content up to that point.

“You still see the stuff where you’ll see a woman called an ‘anal whore.’ But you also see the tone overall to be a bit more… I want to say woman-positive,” says Kingstown. “For example, I’m looking at my desk and I’ve got James Deen Loves Butt here. This isn’t James Deen Loves Sodomizing Little Girls and Making Them Cry . That title would sell too, but to a whole different audience. There’s Anal Warriors, where women are shown as strong and powerful and in control of the sex that they’re having. There’s a whole ton of these kinds of movies where the women who enjoy anal are shown as strong and powerful.”

But even if movies today portray anal sex as pleasurable, they still don’t paint it realistically. They don’t focus on the time and preparation most (s)experts agree good anal requires . They often show a ramrod, angled experience that wouldn’t be pleasant for more than a few women in the world. Of course, a lack of realistic sexuality is a chronic problem in all niches of fantasy-driven porn.

We’re seeing a lot more prolapses. We’re seeing double anal. It used to be five anal scenes, done, not four anal scenes and a double penetration. They can go further, so they do. –Holly Kingstown

This pleasurable-looking anal, says Kingston, is now treated like a run-of-the-mill aspect of porn rather than a specialty act. Whereas in the past, you might stuff all your anal content into one niche film, nowadays directors think nothing of nonchalantly inserting an anal scene into a larger project. The overall amount of anal content remains the same—it’s just not as clustered into niche markets and individual movies. Yet, as anal becomes a normal part of heterosexual porn for a wider audience, a small audience craving painful or extreme porn, for whom anal is now too passé and mainstream, has started demanding more physically taxing and (Kingston believes) potentially dangerous ass play acrobatics from the limited actress pool.

“You see a lot more circus stuff than you used to,” says Kingstown. “We’re seeing a lot more prolapses. We’re seeing double anal. It used to be five anal scenes, done, not four anal scenes and a double penetration. They can go further, so they do. And physically, there’s only so far that you can go with your body [as a performer].”



“Anal sex has always been a frequent topic of conversation with our [mostly heterosexual] customers,” Claire Cavanah, co-founder of Babeland, told VICE when we asked for data on anal-related sex toy sales. The Seattle-based outfit with three outlets in New York is often hailed as one of the most accessible and acclaimed sex toy shops in America—a profile that lends it a large consumer base. “The ‘How to Have Butt Sex’ content on is the number one viewed piece of our [editorial] content. It has almost double the number of eyes on it as the ‘How to Give a Blow Job’ article, which is the second most viewed [item]. We don’t have data before 2009, but it’s always been number one.”

A Babeland survey of 18,412 customer respondents in 2009 (not a reliable sample, due to self-reporting issues, but still one of the better pieces of data you can find on this subject matter) also found that, 60.5 percent of men and 40.1 percent of women had tried using a butt plug, 56.8 percent of men and 31.7 percent of women had tried using an anal dildo, 51.8 percent of men and 29.2 percent of women had tried using an anal vibrator, and 37.4 percent of men and 27.8 percent of women had tried using anal beads.

Yet even with a high baseline of anal interest, Babeland has seen an increase in anal-related sales. Between 2012 and 2015, the genre averaged about 5 percent growth per year. As of 2015, Cavenah estimates that such toys, specifically made with anal in mind, make up about 16 percent of Babeland’s sales.

hug in the butt

What’s more significant to Cavenah and company, they say, is how they’ve witnessed the tone and level of openness their customers use when talking to them about purchases and proclivities evolve. The hushed voices and seedy aura customers once took into transactions has faded away. And as people get more open, comfortable, and explicit with their anal sex toy needs, toy makers have responded to their feedback with a deluge of new, specifically anal-targeted sex toys , including smaller models marketed towards anal beginners. Babeland’s also noticed more luxury anal sex toys coming onto the market—products made of metal or glass, substances with higher price points—which suggests the emergence of a fair number of swankier, less bashful customers.

“We’ve definitely seen a shift in more interesting, innovative, and high-quality butt toys from some of the leading sex toy companies,” says Cavenah. “Je Joue debuted a remote-controlled vibrating prostate stimulator this spring. Anal toys come with vibrators, apps, and magnetic resistance that creates a pulsating sensation. There are also lubricants, such as Sliquid [Naturals] Sassy , that are marketed specifically for anal use.”

Complete Article HERE!

What a pain in the ass!

Name: Dan
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Location: Illinois
My wife and I have enjoyed anal sex (giving and receiving to each other) for years, but now I have a problem I need help with. I had a hemorrhoidectomy surgery 3 months ago and we waited 3 months to start up again. Now using the same strap-on as we have been using it was very uncomfortable. The strap-on is only 1-1/2 “thick and I tried again by my self but it did not matter how much lube I used it still hurt. Then I started bleeding. It seems that when the hemorrhoidectomy surgery was done it made my rectum smaller. The question I have is; is there away to stretch the rectum back to the pre-surgery size or do I have to buy smaller toys (the 1-1/2” is the smallest we own right now)? I appreciate any help you can give.

Sorry to hear about the pain in your ass, Dan. I know that recuperating from invasive surgery like that isn’t fun.

ass-painHere’s the thing; I believe that you’re gonna need way more than 3 months to heal completely from the hemorrhoidectomy. I know, bummer, huh? If I had to guess, your down (pardon the pun) time will be more like 6 months to a year.

At 3 months, your ass is, no doubt, healed enough for comfortable bowel movements. But butt fucking is quite another thing. And I don’t think it’s simply an issue of stretching your rectum or the amount of lube you use. Internal healing isn’t like external healing. Plus, there’s the fact that every one of your bowel movements is stressing your rectum making the healing process more lengthy. I encourage patience.

That’s not to say that you still can’t enjoy your hole. External simulation on your rosebud will feel real nice. Digital stimulation, just inside your hole, might also be possible. Just don’t over do it or you will find the healing process will take even longer.

I have a question. Are you able to stimulate your prostate without pain? Or do you experience pain with any insertion to any depth?

Since you’re not here to fill me in on the gory details, I’ll try to respond to my own questions. If you are able to stimulate your prostate without difficulty, I recommend that you keep your anal wanderings to that depth. If, on the other hand, you can’t even go that deep without discomfort, then I suggest you stick to external stimulation for the time being.pain-in-the-ass

I already suggested butthole massage, but don’t forget your perineum, or taint, if you will. I suggest that you find a good strong vibrator, perhaps one that has a pointed (phallic) shape to it. You’re gonna want some fine pin-point accuracy for this stimulation. Move back and forth between your hole, over your taint, to your balls. Stimulate the whole shebang down there. I think you will find that pressing the vibe into your perineum will shiver your prostate in the most delectable way. Done correctly you will discover that your whole pelvis will light up.

[Anyone out there who is afraid of anal insertion, but wants to experience some of the fabled pleasures associated with being a butt pirate, will want to give this external vibration thing a try. Who knows, one day you might wind up slipping the phallic shaped vibe in your ass for real and discover that your insertion fears were unfounded.]

Dan, give your ass at least 3 more months to heal. At that time try doing some very careful and tentative insertions to see how things feel down there. If there is even the slightest pain [internal pain as opposed to sphincter discomfort] stop what you are doing. Don’t try and force the issue. Like I said, this could take a year to heal properly.

Keep me posted on your progress.

Good luck

What a pain in the ass!

Name: Garth
Gender: Male
Age: 44
Location: South Africa
Hi, I fissured my butt sometime ago and I think it has healed. I have undergone a Lateral Sphincterotomy twice – inner and outer. Unfortunately the area is now VERY sensitive and when I defecate the area ‘screams’ in pain. The softer my stool the worse the pain. When my stool is firm, the pain is less. Will this go away? Is there any medication that I can use?

Everyone in my audience please listen up! I am not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on the internet. The Dr Dick moniker I use refers to my Ph.D. I am a clinical sexologist or a sex therapist if you prefer, not a physician. Get it? Got it? Good!

That being said, anal fissures are a common proctological problem, especially for the heavy ass play crowd. An anal fissure is a tear at the anal tissue. The most common complaint is pain in the anal region during and after taking a dump, itching and possibly some bleeding. Pain and irritation result in spasm of the internal anal sphincter muscle, which then fails to relax during defecation further aggravating the condition.ass-pain

The lateral sphincterotomy you mention is a surgical procedure that removes the fissure. This operation remains the primary form of treatment for chronic anal fissure.

From all that I could learn from my medical consultants, if your surgeries healed properly you shouldn’t be experiencing pain, let alone “screaming pain” when you shit. We all understand that the area will continue to be sensitive, but the pain you describe is not a good sign. You may very well have an infection. You need to have that looked at ASAP. This is nothing to roll around with.

Here’s a tip for all everyone in my audience: pain, of any sort, is one way our body talks to us. Its message is: things are not as they should be; get it fixed NOW. Sometimes the pain will subside when we stop doing something…like holding our hand too close to a flame, or being flogged senseless by Christian Grey. Some pain will only subside when a condition is fixed…like getting a cavity in one’s tooth filled. Other pain, like the emotional pain that come with depression is harder to soothe, but it is important to try. Finally, pain like Garth is experiencing means something is very wrong. And if not attended to immediately, things will only get worse.

Good luck

I Have A Pain in My Inbox!

From the sublime to the ridiculous, my inbox is a catch all. Kinda like the grease trap in your kitchen drain. Wading through the detritus can often be injurious to my health. But wade I must. So onward we go.

Name: anonras
Age: 47
Location: Northridge CA
I’ve heard a lot about checking your balls for possible problems — but none ever say what lumps you have naturally. At the low point of my testacies I feel a lump (I would explain it as an area that would feel more or less like a cracked egg, you have that part that is globulous and is string-tethered to the yoke. Is that exactly what’s happening? Should you feel any pain if you squeeze it — especially trying to figure out if it is a lump or not?

repo.jpgHoney, I’m clever as all-get out about lots of things, but the lump on your balls ain’t one of those things. I’m not a medical doctor; I don’t even play one here on the internets. And I can assure you, no reputable doctor anywhere would hazard a guess about what you present without first seeing you in person. That’s just good medicine.

That being said, I applaud you taking note of your balls in an inquisitive sort of way. Good for you! But you should also have at least a rudimentary understanding of your testicular anatomy. So that when you do your self-exam, you can have some sense about what it is you are examining. To this purpose, I offer the diagram to the right. Is there anything in the diagram that looks even remotely like what you are feeling in your ballsack?

Finally, if you have a concern about what you think may be an abnormality, isn’t it high time for you to high tail it to a doctor for a look-see?

Good luck

Name: Dorian
Age: 18
Location: NYC
Is there any difference in Penis size between races?

Seriously? You need to get out more, darlin!
You becha there a difference in cock size between the races. While, within each racial group there is a natural diversity of size, from tiny to gargantuan. There’s no getting around the fact that there are more gargantuan johnsons in some racial groups then other. At the risk of perpetuating a stereotype, compare some fine black dick to some sweet Chinese cock.


Good luck

Name: Kent I B Pinker
Age: 32
Location: New Zealand
I am curious about anal bleaching. In part just for the sheer vanity of it, but also as a surprise and kinky turn on for my partner. I have done some research online but I am scared after reading some of the horror stories. Any advice?

Kent I B Pinker? I love it! You get the award for “Most Clever Pseudonym of the Year! Congratulations!

If you’re curious about anal bleaching — and yes, there is such a thing — you have way too much time on your hands. Anal bleaching is just the latest in a string of truly disturbing cosmetic trends sweeping the “More Money Than Brains” crowd. WTF, folks? If your vanity extends to the hue of your rosebud, you’re just too goddamn vain, in my humble opinion!

anusbanner.jpgThis all started in the adult industry, don’t ‘cha know. I guess some folks figured they weren’t quite ready for their close-up. Being part of that industry myself, I know how unforgiving hot lights and hi-def can be. However, I still can’t condone such a dangerous and reckless practice.

You are right to be scared off by the horror stories of bleachings gone bad, Kent. So I suggest, unless your hole is makin’ you money, you forego even contemplating the procedure.

Good luck

Name: William
Age: 67
Location: Connecticut
Is there such a thing as a being a homosexual watcher only? Getting an erection but not wanting to perform?

kinsey_scale.jpgAll sexual orientation is on a continuum. See the Kinsey Scale to the right. The dean of American sex research, Alfred Kinsey, his associate, Wardell Pomeroy, and others developed this scale as a way of classifying a person’s sexuality in terms of both behavior and fantasy. These pioneering sexologists also found that an individual may be reassigned a position on this scale, at different periods in his/her life. It’s conceivable that one could go from 0 to 6 in a lifetime, or just a summer on Fire Island. This seven-point scale comes close to showing the many gradations that actually exist in human sexual expression.

To your specific question, William… Yes, some one could be a Kinsey “6” in terms of his fantasy and desire, but be a Kinsey “0” in terms of behaviors.

We’re amazing creatures, huh?

Good Luck

Name: michelle
Age: 22
Location: canada
tips to help when the man your sleeping with has a small penis

Tips? …no pun intended, I hope.

doggiestyle.jpgOk, here goes — Tip #1, grin and bear it. Tip #2, find a guy with more pork. Tip #3, get a dildo. Tip #4, find a sexual position, like doggie style, that will make the most of every little bit of pecker the poor guy’s got. Tip #5, remember it ain’t always da meat, but it is always da motion.

Good luck

Name: Drew
Age: 43
Location: Philadelphia
I am looking forward to my first man-on-man sex for the first time with a hookup in the near future. Question: What type of “preparation” do I need for my first anal sex? Also, should I use a condom with giving/getting oral sex? Thanks.

You’re in luck, newbee butt-pirate! Dr Dick has written (postings) and spoken (podcasts) extensively about the joys of ass fucking. Check out the CATEGORIES section on the left side of the site. Look for anything with the word “ass” in it. We don’t mince words around here. Or you can simply search for Liberating The B.O.B. Within. That’ll get ya started.

As to your concern about condom-covered dick for blowjobs; I don’t see a pressing reason for such. That’s not to say there’s no reason, just not a pressing one. I am of the mind that we ought to know something about the dick we’re sucking. Does it look healthy? Do you know where it’s been before it was in your mouth? How’s our oral health and hygiene? Will there be an exchange of bodily fluids? If you have questions about any of these things, maybe you need to postpone the cocksucking.

Good luck

Name: william
Age: 19
Location: Wisconsin
In cock size, is 4 1/2 to small. Why is it so small and is there a way to fix it.

Jeez, ya mean 4.5” erect? Yeah, that’s kinda on the “How Adorable” end of the size spectrum. It’s not quite, “OMG, How Pathetic”, nor is it “Yikes, You’ll Put an Eye Out With That” either.

Why is it so small? Sheesh, beats me. Maybe when the angles were handing out meat, you thought they said “feet” and asked for petite.

Is there a way to fix it? Are you suggesting it doesn’t work? Or are you just a size queen? While you’re trying to figure that out, why not take a look at: Much Ado About Very Little.

Good luck

Screw Science: The Futuristic Sex Tech Aiming to Penetrate Your Bedroom

From fully customizable vibrators to bioelectronic headsets, smart sex toys are on the way up. But does personal pleasure necessarily make for better health?


Pleasure is personal, mostly because it has to be, and not least because female scientists continue to face grinding discrimination regardless of their area of research. And when it comes to sexual health, breakthroughs are few and far between: in spite of increasing documentation of associated health risks, birth control hasn’t really been reformulated since the 60s, and last year’s much-anticipated release of Addyi, a pill meant to fix female sexual dysfunction, only worked for ten percent of the women who tried it.

It’s clear that sexual emancipation has not yet been freed from the bedroom. In spite of its roots in scientific misogyny—the vibrator was developed in the 19th century to cure women of hysteria, after all—a swathe of new devices have people looking hopefully to sex tech (or sextech, as it is also known) as the answer to systemic gaps in sexual health. History, it seems, is coming full circle; where the 1960s saw the vibrator de-medicalized and uncoupled from science, today’s consumer market is beginning to see pleasure and health unified in the pursuit of wellness. Yet what we call “sex tech” is tied more to the lucrative sex toy industry—worth $15 billion this year—than it is to scientific institutions, with much of its promise linked to idea that personal pleasure makes for better health.

These days, more people than ever understand that a woman’s ability to understand what turns her on and why is a crucial step in developing a healthy perspective on her sexual life. So it makes sense that we’re seeking out masturbatory experiences that are more tailored than your average stand-in phallus. It’s the driving force behind the popularity of devices like Crescendo, the first-ever fully customizable vibrator, which raised £1.6 million in funding to date and shipped out over 1,000 pre-orders after a successful crowdfunding round.

Designed to cater to the inherent complexities of female arousal, the vibrator can be finely customized, equipped with six motors and the ability to be bent into any favorable shape. An accompanying app allows users to control each motor individually; it remembers favorite behaviors, provides pre-set vibration patterns, and responds to mood-setting music.

“We were inspired by the concept of tech designed for the human, rather than the human having to adapt their behaviour to tech,” says Stephanie Alys, the co-founder of Crescendo creators Mysteryvibe. “Human beings aren’t just unique in terms of our size and how we’re put together genetically, but also in terms of what we like. What turns us on can be different from what turns another person on.”


Mysteryvibe’s flagship product is the Crescendo, a customizable sex toy.

But in spite of the life-improving promises of consumer sex tech, the reality is that official, peer-reviewed studies remain crucial to reforming policy and education. Founded by Dr. Nicole Prause, Liberos Center is one of the few sex-centric research institutions in the United States. Much of its work investigates the relationship between psychology, physiology, and sex, with an emphasis on the hard data that is often lacking in sex tech.

Liberos presses on in a particularly antagonistic climate; the American government is famously skittish about sexual content. Sexual material is banned from government-funded computers, says Prause, making it difficult for researchers to, say, screen porn to test subjects as part of a study on arousal. She adds that congressional bodies actively seek to pull funding from research that addresses the topic head-on—four recent studies that had already been awarded funding were re-opened for assessment because of their sexual content.

“People report having certain types of experiences all the time,” says Prause. “But they’re often poor observers of their own behaviour, and don’t see anyone’s behaviour but their own. They don’t really have that external perspective, which is why I think it’s important to take both a psychological and laboratory approach. For example, in science, people haven’t been verifying that orgasm actually occurs. So we’ve been developing an objective way of measuring that, and of measuring the effects of clitoral stimulation—on how to best capture the contractions that occur through the orgasm.”


Liberos is also investigating the effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and direct current stimulation (tDCS) on sexual responsiveness. Both are non-invasive treatments, meaning anyone seeking a cure for low libido may not require anything more than the use of a headset. TMS holds potential for long-term changes to a person’s sex drive; the technique, which uses a magnetic field generator to produce small electrical currents in the brain, has already been used to treat neuropathic pain and otherwise stubborn cases of major depressive disorder. DCS, on the other hand, uses a headset to deliver a low-intensity electrical charge, stimulating the brain areas where activity spikes at the sight, or touch, of a turn-on.

If using the brain’s electrical signals to control the rest of the body sounds like a dystopian fantasy, the reality is that these medical treatments aren’t far off. Bioelectronic firms are now backed by the likes of Glaxosmithkline and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and similar applications have already been established for hypertension and sleep apnea, while chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, and arthritis are targeted for future development.

According to Dr. Karen E. Adams, clinical professor of OBGYN at Oregon Health and Science University, anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of women experience varying degrees of sexual dysfunction. Medication that targets neurotransmitters, like the SSRIs used to treat depression and anxiety, can fluctuate in efficacy depending on the unique makeup of the person using it.

Combined with the trickiness of locking down the nebulousness of desire (and lack thereof), it’s no wonder that Addyi, a failed antidepressant pursued because of its unexpected effect on serotonin levels in female mice, was a flop. Non-sex-specific studies have shown that electrical stimulation can be more adaptive to the brain’s constantly-shifting landscape than medication that interacts with its chemistry. For the 90 percent of women who found Addyi to be a sore disappointment, bioelectronic treatments could soon offer an alternative solution to low sexual responsivity.

“By giving women information about their bodies that they can decide what to do with, we’re enabling more female empowerment,” says Prause. “And by allowing women to decide which aspects of sex they want to be more responsive to, we’re giving people more control, and not with charlatan claims. We actually have good scientific reasons that we think are going to work, that are going to make a difference.”

Yet the field’s burgeoning successes are only as good as the social environment they take hold in. Sociopolitical hurdles notwithstanding, money remains a significant roadblock for developers, as the controversial nature of sex research has many investors shying away from backing new projects in spite of consumer interest. Whether they’re seeking government funding or VC investments, sex start-ups and labs alike are often forced to turn to crowdfunding to raise money for development.

“It’s pretty unsurprising that heavily female-oriented tech products do so well on crowdfunding sites; these are solutions to problems faced by half of the population, that are overlooked by a male-dominated industry where male entrepreneurs are 86 percent more likely to be VC funded than women,” says Katy Young, behavioral analyst at research firm Canvas8. “But the audience is clearly there—Livia, a device which targets nerves in order to stop period pains, raised over $1 million on Indiegogo.”

Outdated sex ed programs, which emphasize procreation and normalize straight male sexuality without addressing female sexual development, are ground zero for unhealthy social perspectives on sex. Acknowledging that change can’t just come from devices alone, New York’s Unbound, a luxury sex toy subscription service, is teaming up with “campus sexpert” app Tabù to bring both sex education and affordable masturbation tools to colleges across the country.

“There’s a national discussion right now surrounding consent, which is 100 percent needed and super important,” says Polly Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of Unbound. “But for women to be able to engage in sex and address consent as equals, they need to learn about female pleasure—they should understand their own bodies so that when they are engaging in sexual activities with someone else, they know what feels good to them, they know how to communicate that, and they don’t feel uncomfortable about it.”

It’s tempting to buy into the idea of tech as freeing: that the increased presence of smart devices in our lives will help us form healthier habits and a better understanding of our ourselves, or that the availability of medically-approved tech will be a panacea in the intricately fraught landscape of female sexual dysfunction—which is as socially determined as it is biological, and as cultural as it is psychological.

But sex tech is still far from being paradigm-shifting. Its success will be dependent not only on consumer dollars but on government policies and public attitudes; at a level of engagement this intimate, tech is only any good if people feel free to use it.

Complete Article HERE!