From wearable pleasure tech to period education, sexperts share the top trends to (s)expect this year.
Innovations in sexual wellness have been a little lackluster in recent years. Thankfully, 2022 is giving us the spicy shakeup we’ve so long desired.
Together with our buds at Psych Central, we consulted seven sex educators to unpack the top 10 sexual health and wellness trends *coming* our way this year and beyond.
According to sexperts like Angie Rowntree, founder of the female erotica website of Sssh.com, more folks are embracing shame-free self-pleasure. Luxury toy brands like Maude and Lora DiCarlo are going mainstream with celebrity endorsements and more people are openly discussing their solo love sesh habits.
According to Rowntree, some of the biggest self-pleasure trends in demand include:
- audio erotica
- guided masturbation
- ethical video streaming services
Sarah Melancon, PhD, a clinical sexologist at Sex Toy Collective, adds that masturbation may be an increasing trend among older adults too.
For instance, a 2022 study of four European countries found that among adults ages 60 to 75, between 41 to 65 percent of men and 27 to 40 percent of women reported masturbating during the previous month.
Sexual health supplements are becoming a popular addition to wellness routines and with good reason!
“People are thinking about their sexual health more,” says Marla Renee Stewart, MA, a sexologist and sexpert at Lovers Stores. “Vitamins that cater to our sexual needs are going to be important.”
Stewart adds that many folks are turning to natural libido and erectile tissue enhancers, like Vixen Pill and Kangaroo Supplement.
“In a world full of convenience, these pills and supplements enable you to have something natural and fast-acting, which is the primary key for any kind of sex tech innovation,” Stewart says.
Rowntree adds that supplements promoting sexual health may also be helpful at the onset of menopause.
A note on natural supplements
Before taking any supplement, consider talking with a healthcare professional first. They will be able to advise you on whether the supplement you’re considering is safe or if it might interact with any medications you may be taking. And do your research on the product’s manufacture. Make sure it’s manufactured in your country and follow the directions on the label.
A 2021 report predicts that the global sexual wellness market will hit $45 billion by 2026. The North American market alone will reach $10.5 billion by 2026. Dayummm. That’s a lot of buckaroos.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s an app for everything, but you might not realize how many apps out there have been created for the sole purpose of helping your sex life,” Rowntree says.
Sexual wellness apps are available for conditions including:
To help you choose a high quality app, Rowntree recommends looking for brands that work with licensed physicians, therapists, or sexologists. You should also check to see if they’re endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of apps to try out:
According to Rowntree, adaptive sex strips away (pun intended) harmful stereotypes we’ve accepted as the norm and opens up sexual wellness to everyone.
- Period sex isn’t gross. In fact, it’s pretty darn amazing.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) is hella common and nothing to be ashamed of.
- Ain’t no shame in the lube game! CBD oils and lubes are a great way to keep things relaxed and wet during nooky.
- There are tons of toys and devices that can help differently-abled bodies experience pleasure and intimacy. (Psst. Check out OhMiBod’s Lovelife Rev.)
“There’s a wonderful larger trend toward making sex adaptive for adults at all life stages, including those adults with differently-abled bodies and/or chronic illness,” Rowntree says.
Stewart says that as more people explore their gender identity, there’s been an increase in sex toys that can be used on a variety of bodies and genitalia.
“This makes room for intersex folks who might have variances in their genitalia and gives them more room for pleasure,” Stewart says.
More good news: In 2021, the National Coalition for Sexual Health launched its Guide to Sexual Concerns and Pleasure which promotes a pleasurable sex life regardless of:
- gender identity
- race or ethnicity
- sexual orientation
- socioeconomic status
- physical or mental ability
The hush-hush rule surrounding menstruation is fading and more peeps with vajayjays are more comfortable talking about their periods.
According to Jess O’Reilly, a sexologist at Astroglide, Aunt Flow is out from the shadows.
Here are a few signs that menstruation is becoming accepted by the mainstream:
- period products like August
- menstrual art installations (Hell yeah!)
- more open conversations about periods
- movements like PERIOD, which distribute products to communities in need
- Heinz’s drink for periods to soothe symptoms and promote period health
- self-pleasure to relieve PMS symptoms (Check out the Menstrubation Study to learn more 😉.)
In 2022, the weird vibes surrounding menopause are finally starting to lift.
“Menopause is no longer a footnote but is finally being addressed as the main event,” O’Reilly says.
A 2021 report indicates that the size of the global menopause market is expected to reach $22.7 billion by 2028.
According to O’Reilly, menopause education and awareness will also become more visible in:
- medicine and nursing
- therapy for people going through menopause
- sex education (e.g. redefining your sexual identity and how you approach pleasure)
O’Reilly says she hopes to see more conversations about sex, dating, and relating during postmenopause.
“Life — and pleasure — doesn’t stop when your uterus ceases to be an incubator for human life,” she adds.
Carol Queen, PhD, a staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, says it’s essential to understand the physical and mental wellness effects associated with perimenopause. She also recommends checking out What Fresh Hell Is This? Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, & You by author and podcast host Heather Corinna.
Yes, wearable sex tech is a thing … and it’s trending!
Natasha Marie Narkiewicz, a sexual wellness expert at MysteryVibe, says that wearable sex tech can alleviate factors that prevent peeps from experiencing healthy pleasure.
“Sex tech as assistive technology is the latest iteration of this trend in mainstream acceptance of health and wellness, and the applications and opportunities are endless to improve overall quality of life,” she says.
One sweet example of wearable sex tech is the OhNut, which helps folks who experience pain during penetration. You can also check out the Lioness 2.0, a vibe that has artificial intelligence (AI) and biofeedback capabilities to track pelvic floor contractions. (Take our money now, please.)
Long-distance relationships can be tough AF. And while sexting can be the bomb, it doesn’t always cut it. Here’s where remote intimacy — which gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic — can come in clutch.
The sex tech industry is booming with wearable and remote-controlled toys for folks of all genders. This can help you get your jollies and feel closer with your lover even when you’re far apart.
A 2021 study by Justin Lehmiller, PhD, a sex psychologist in Indianapolis, gave us the deets.
His research looked at a nationally represented survey of 2,000 U.S. adults and found that remote-controlled sex toy use increased by 45 percent during the pandemic, going from just over 9 percent of adults to nearly 14 percent.
“This is a very sizable increase in a very short period of time,” Lehmiller says. “It suggests that the trend of remote-controlled, wearable, and other high-tech sex toys is likely to keep rising this year and in the years ahead.”
Lehmiller notes that remote intimacy devices may help:
- contribute to the novelty aspect of sex
- increase chances of discovering new sources of pleasure
- create opportunities for partners to be intimate when they aren’t in the same physical space
Sex therapy is quickly becoming a popular tool for folks who want help in all areas of their sex lives. This includes counseling for individuals, couples, and those who have sexual disorders or dysfunctions.
For instance, a 2021 study suggests that urologists may benefit from incorporating sex therapy into their practices to help improve peoples’ sexual well-being. Plus, sex therapy can help you uncover your true wants and needs. When you feel comfortable talking about sex and exploring your sexuality, you can tap into more pleasure and improve your sexual health.
Pro tip: Check out Psych Central’s list of the best online sex therapy services for 2022. You might also hit up the national directory at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) to find a certified sex therapist.
According to Stewart, many companies are developing apps, tools, and devices that assist people in various realms of sexual wellness — from pelvic floor health and bodywork to orgasm instructionals and mental wellness.
Some other examples of healing tools and devices include:
- at-home STI tests
- Tenuto (for erectile dysfunction due to post-colorectal cancer, back injuries, or vascular disorders)
- Crescendo (a medical device that claims it can improve genito-pelvic pain in women by up to 480 percent)
While many sexual health innovations are not yet covered by insurance, experts say that could soon change.
“The wave of popular sex tech doubling as assistive tech will hopefully steer debate and movement toward sexual health technology becoming covered by healthcare companies and providers and overall advancements in sexual medicine to improve quality of life,” Narkiewicz says.
According to experts, the biggest sexual health trends of 2022 include:
- adaptive sex
- period acceptance
- menopause education
- sexual health supplements
- wearable sex tech
- sexual wellness apps
- remote intimacy
- sex therapy
- sexual healing tools and devices
In addition to exploring these trends, experts suggest leaning into pleasure and sexual well-being however it feels best to you. If you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction or a lack of pleasure, you may want to talk with a medical or mental healthcare professional.
For more sexual health tips, check out Greatist’s complete guide to having better sex. And if you’re interested in mental wellness, check out Psych Central’s top mental health trends to watch.
A version of this article also appears on PsychCentral.