After a pandemic restriction-ridden 2021, the world moves on with some important learnings towards partial reopening. The liberalisation of society has only accelerated as a creative solution to the problem of social distancing. While it was important to isolate for public health, maintaining our physical and sexual health became a challenge, with masturbation and self-love as a top priority for many.
At Lovehoney Group, we summarise the state of sexual wellness with trends that we have identified globally in 2021 and expect to become even bigger in 2022.
We hope that our findings, based on our constant research and attention to the sexual wellness market, can help more people think about sexuality in new ways and, especially, bring more (and better) orgasms to humankind!Johanna Rief, head of sexual empowerment at Lovehoney Group
Lovehoney Group is one of the world’s leading companies in the sexual wellness industry and a provider of premium intimate products. It was formed in 2021, when Lovehoney, Amorana and WOW Tech joined forces under the leadership of CEO Johannes Plettenberg. The company houses award-winning brands such as Womanizer, We-Vibe, Fifty Shades of Grey, Arcwave and Happy Rabbit. It reported a revenue of over $400 million in 2021.
Below, top sex trends in 2022 to watch.
Masturbation is increasingly considered as part of everyone’s self-care routine and it’s easy to see why: its multiple health benefits include relieving stress and releasing feel-good hormones.
Orgasms can release chemicals called endorphins, which have painkilling properties. In 2021, a clinical study by pleasure brand Womanizer called Menstrubation (menstruation+masturbation)
probed whether masturbation can help against period pain.
The results found that 90% of those in the study would recommend masturbation to combat period pain. When asked whether masturbation or medication worked better for period pain, equal numbers favoured each method: 43% chose medication and 42% masturbation. Furthermore, 70% responded that regular masturbation had a long-lasting impact on achieving a lower pain intensity during period.
While there’s a wide range of tools available for women to practice self-pleasure, the patented Pleasure Air Technology by Womanizer stands out in the context of period pain, providing a more external clitoral stimulation through air waves that can be especially useful during the period.
The Womanizer Premium 2 launched in October 2021, bringing a wider range of air intensity, providing even more options for women to choose when and how to release the happy chemicals released by orgasms.
Womanizer Premium 2 with the original Pleasure Air technology is our most luxurious creation yet – truly the Prada of sex toys, the ultimate toy for women who are looking for more than just another device to play with. It is available at Horny.sg for $280.
How respectful consumer goods are with the planet and what intimate products are made of are also big trends of 2022. According to research firm Technavio, The Global Organic Feminine Care Market is expected to grow by USD 770.61 million during 2020-2024, in an upward revision of the forecast accelerated by the pandemic.
The reason for this increase stems from a heightened awareness on the manufacturing process of the products used for intimate purposes and the different chemicals involved in them. Lubricants, period products as well as sex toys are increasingly released following stricter standards. Womanizer has developed the world’s first eco-friendly and biodegradable Pleasure Air Toy called “Premium eco”. The product is made of Biolene – a bioplastic made from 70 percent corn starch and other natural materials that can be responsibly disposed of at the end of its lifespan.
Responsible manufacturing also takes care of product ingredients. Lovehoney Group is at the forefront of this trend. According to the company, new product lines do neither contain animal ingredients nor animal by-products, and the manufacturing process does not involve the use of animals. In compliance with the new ISO standard 3533:2021 that provides guidelines for the design and safety requirements for products in direct contact with genitalia, the anus, or both. New products are also tested for biocompatibility according to ISO 10993 using In Vitro methods on lab-cultured animal cells and not In Vivo methods, on living organisms.
Sexologist and relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly comments: “For many, eco-conscious sex involves opting for toys that are rechargeable and made with high-quality materials that last for years and even decades! Just as consumers are becoming more aware of manufacturing processes and environmental impact when shopping for clothing, so too are we looking for environmental responsibility and sustainability when it comes to our sex toys and menstrual products.”
It makes sense that consumers want to know what we’re putting on and in our bodies. We look at ingredients when it comes to beauty products, so paying attention to materials in our sex toys is a natural extension of this practice. We want to know what a product is made of, so that we can decide if it’s a good fit for our bodies, lifestyles, and principles.
The research and development in technology has brought about a sexual revolution designed to bring self-pleasure to the forefront. The popularity of sex toys over the last few years has shown that we’ve become more comfortable with opening our bedroom doors to technology. A new trend has emerged where an increasing amount of products are designed to be used on the go, when we’re out and about in the street, having a date, or during a romantic dinner, breaking the boundaries of more traditional self-pleasure environments.
Going beyond product design, wearable sextech becomes a paradigm shift that considers self-pleasure as much more than masturbation: an act of wellness to be enjoyed anytime and anywhere in the form of teasing and pleasurable sensations that can have stress-relieving properties without the need of masturbation or ejaculation. This application of sextech is more similar to an intimate teasing massager than anything else.
Furthermore, there are some incredible apps, like the free We-Connect App, that allows We-Vibe toy users to pair and control their favourite products to their smartphones. The app also allows partners to control each other’s toys, even if they are not in the same location. Users can control their toys via Bluetooth and once paired, vibration patterns as well as the intensity of their toys with haptic technology, creating custom vibration patterns and even match stimulation to the music of your choice.
We-Vibe, one of the pioneering brands that revolutionised couple sex with their C-Shape vibrators, recently released their successful Moxie and Bond products. They are examples of how smart wearables can now improve regular or dating life to the next level. The wearable can be worn discreetly under clothes and comes equipped with a remote.
While it becomes obvious that sexual wellness is a human experience that brings much satisfaction, societal stereotypes and prejudices have traditionally and wrongly excluded certain collectives from society to openly explore, express and discuss their wants, desires and specific needs when it comes to sexual pleasure. These include people with disabilities.
Sexual confidence, self-esteem and overcoming physical and emotional barriers can apply to anyone wanting an active sex life. But for people living with disability, these barriers can be even more difficult, and have been a previously ignored aspect of health, education and the marketplace.
Sex and disability has historically been rarely talked about but with sexual pleasure being classified as a human right by the WHO, sextech innovators are setting a new standard for inclusive intimacy.
Candice Care-Unger, Royal Rehab sexuality service team leader and psychosexual therapist and social worker, comments: “There is a sex-positive movement sweeping society and people with disability are set to benefit! As cultural attitudes and norms around sex change and sexuality is seen as natural and healthy for everybody, there will be greater opportunities for people living with disability to explore their sexuality – free of shame, taboo, and barriers.”
“Demand will drive fantastic new advancements in adaptive sex tech in the coming years that will make pleasure more accessible. Not only will these changes address basic human rights, but with one in five people living with a disability, exciting product innovations make good business sense.”
Contrary to some popular beliefs, the shift in sex toy perception towards a wellness concept has seen females rather than males as the beneficiary of the sextech revolution. The discovery of the clitoris and research into female pleasure, highly stigmatised in previous ages, has seen a boom in sexual wellness within femtech, which also includes other innovations around the female menstruation cycle.
Male pleasure options have largely been stagnant, with basic stroking, low-grade silicon-made masturbators as the main option. However, the liberalisation of society is starting to see an increasing number of men interested in issues such as mental health and sexual wellness. This is likely to become a topic that is bound to be considered serious talk as the modern man leaves behind the old toxic masculinity for a more modern and self-aware mentality when it comes to masturbation and pleasure.
Arcwave is a pioneer brand that wants to bring more innovation in that direction. In 2020, it released the world first Pleasure Air Stroker, a patented technology that utilises research into the penis to cause a strong, female-like orgasm experience in the male body. This is possible thanks to their analysis on how the panacinian nerves behave in the male body. These nerves can produce feelings that resemble clitoral orgasms in intensity when stimulated by air in a similar way to how the Womanizer functions.
Their R&D teams released Arcwave ION as a response to that discovery, opening a new sensation for men that is not possible to achieve through traditional stroking or hand. According to Arcwave, advances in materials such as CleanTech silicone as well as human-centered design will bring new possibilities and new male pleasure toys that will widen the range of sexual pleasure that men can experience in 2022.
Cam Fraser, Australia-based male sex coach, provides more insights into how this trend evolves: “Sex toys for men and people with a penis have historically been erection-oriented and friction-based. Few have challenged the stereotypical sexual scripts of men’s sexual experiences. Thankfully, this is starting to shift. A greater awareness of the multifaceted aspect of pleasure, for people of all genders, has seen conversations about male bodies and men’s expression of sexuality expand and become more nuanced.”
“For example, more people now know that men are capable of multiple orgasms, that orgasm and ejaculation are two separate physiological processes, and that pleasure is full-bodied in men. This has led to a re-evaluation of male sex toys and the introduction of some really unique and innovative products for people with a penis. I anticipate that this will only continue to expand as the shame and lack of sincerity surrounding male masturbation is lifted in the conversations about men’s pleasure.”
I envision more men exploring their bodies by self-pleasuring and connecting in with their sexuality in a mindful way, which will have such a positive effect on them and the people in their lives.
With the Arcwave Ion, men can now enjoy Pleasure Air Technology, which promises a whole new kind of orgasm thanks to its Pleasure Air Technology hitting very specific nerve endings that are hard to stimulate by traditional means. Ion testers have described their climax as unique and more intense than during their previous masturbation. Arcwave Ion can be purchased at Guardian and selected retailers.
Highly reported in the media and yet still far from a sales trend, digitalisation and the commercial exploration of space is bringing about a renewed interest into the sex of the future.
The rise of dating apps, immersive pornography and connected sex devices indicate a deeper bond with tech in sexual relationships. With the dawn of Digisexuals, consumers are proving to be increasingly intimate with tech, not only to connect with humans but with technology itself. Some companies even develop sexualised robots, as well as artificial erotic agents and chatbots.
Additionally, space exploration and the proposition of interplanetary life by the likes of SpaceX and Elon Musk, as well as projects such as space hotels bring into foreplay the relevancy of sexual wellness in space. An area traditionally marginalised by space agencies. Global pleasure brand We-Vibe recently published a paper that puts sextech and toys as the only viable option for self-pleasure in orbit with potential to deal away with the main obstacles of sex in space: the lack of gravity, lack of privacy, and liquid disposal.
Simon Dubé from Erobotics says: “Moving forward, space agencies and the public supporting them need to be reminded that approaching questions of human sexuality from a positive, scientific, empathetic and inclusive perspective is paramount to our health, well-being, and the success of our extra-terrestrial life. Specially, they need to be reminded that: 1) sexual health is health, 2) sexual rights are human rights, 3) sexuality means diversity, 4) pleasure is fun and important; and 5) technology can help.”