Sexual wellness industry – then and now!
Call it erotic ecommerce or online sexual health business, the industry has evolved in the last two decades. Flashback to 1999, who would have imagined that the sexual wellness industry would be projected as $64.6 billion market by 2022? The internet and mobile revolution with respect to innovation and merging technology and medicine with sexual wellness products has led to this substantial growth.
Other factors that fueled the growth of this industry include:
- The demand: 81% men have reported at least one sexual disorder during their lifetime
- Digital content which creates awareness about sexual wellness solutions and products
- Internet usage and penetration of smartphones
- Awareness: The urban population is looking for help to solve sexual problems, discreetly
What has changed?
Firstly, the perception. Sexual wellness is no longer associated with tackling problems like infertility, erectile dysfunction, or ejaculation issues. It is true that 20 years ago, sexual health awareness was limited to infections or HIV (AIDS). However, since the last few years, the attainment of physical and mental prosperity through sexuality is also a part of well-being. Sexual wellness now comprises of products such as contraceptives, enhancement supplements and gels, lingerie, sex toys, costumes and more.
“Women are participating openly in conversations regarding sexual wellness. They are also at the forefront of driving the industry as business owners. Both urban men and women realize that sex is an integral part of personal relationships. Even lack of desire is now addressed as a personal problem, vis-à-vis blaming the partner for being less attractive”, suggests Niyatii Shah, Sexuality Educator and TEDx Speaker.
This paradigm shift has also been observed in the rural and small-town population in developing countries. Sexual pleasure is about consent, respect and acknowledgement of each other’s desires and an upkeep of physical and emotional health. This acceptance is a catalyst for the growth of sexual wellness industry, globally.
Sexual well-being and healthcare
Sex problems like erectile dysfunction, impotence or premature ejaculation don’t just affect your sex life, but can lead to cardiac problems, and health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney problems and even prostate cancer. Towards this, health care and voluntary organizations are now focusing on creating awareness about sexual health and well-being.
Sex therapies, awareness workshops are conducted for preventive care. Additionally, the modern lifestyle and emphasis on personal health and well-being have been the key drivers in the growth of the global sexual wellness industry.
“Two decades ago, gynecologists were busy assisting patients in pregnancy and childbirth. Now, they like to be referred as fertility specialists, given the increase in clients with infertility problems. This has opened the doors for communication about sex. Patients and doctors have realized that it is not just high-tech treatments and drugs that will address the infertility issue. An understanding of the right sex practices is also in the line of treatment,” suggests Dr Vijayasarathi Ramanathan, Lecturer in Sexual Health, University of Sydney, Australia.
“Conditions like hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, stress and anxiety, high cholesterol and obesity can lead to sexual problems in young adults and vice versa. Erectile dysfunction, especially, has been found to be a warning sign of many underlying diseases,” adds Ms Shah who educates her clients on the damaging effects of poor sexual health.
Sex clinics vs Online consultations
Back in the 90's, sexual well-being consultation meant falling prey to the local quacky sex clinics. With no credibility or experience, these ‘doctors’ handled sexual problems like a disease. Being addressed as a patient scarred most men (more than women) for life who preferred giving up on the treatment. Discreetness was another concern that prevented most men and women from getting the right help.
The emergence of legit sexual wellness portals in the last decade made way for better management of sexual problems. They tackled the problem of discreetness by ensuring that the products are shipped in the right packages. Privacy of clients is maintained through online consultations which also offer convenience and a judgement free zone. All this combined with the expertise of specialist doctors and practitioners is helping the sexual wellness industry grow further.
While sex still remains a taboo in many countries across the world, it is the sexual wellness startups and portals that are helping people break their silence. By highlighting that embarrassment regarding the problem might only make matters worse, many start-ups are working towards providing the best doctors and solutions while maintaining privacy of the clients.
Industry market size figure quoted from https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/global-sexual-wellness-market-will-reach-usd-646-billion-with-cagr-of-672-in-2023-economic-impact-in-health-and-wellness-sector-2019-11-26