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Owning a sex toy company has made me realise I should never make assumptions about a customer and their knowledge about sex, their own body, their sexuality or gender.
As a sex toy retailer, we have a responsibility to ensure that all our customers are fully informed about what they are buying and how it can help their sexual health and pleasure. The obsession with sex in the media tells us that we all must be experts, but then shames us when we admit to be lacking in sex education. So much sex advice in the media is contradictory, people just want good, practical advice. I often feel that we need sex education for adults in addition to teaching our children.
Some of our customers at Jo Divine come to us after receiving little or no help from their GP for a sexual health problem and we are more than happy to guide them through our products to find the best one suited to their needs. Some have only a basic awareness of their anatomy, perhaps from a lack of sex education in the past or through shame, and they often feel embarrassed about purchasing a sex toy.
We often find healthcare professionals medicalise sex because it is not part of training and they have no idea what to say, recommend or are too embarrassed to traise the topic with their patients, many assume that some people are not having sex because of their age, disability, illness, disease too.
Often people who have a disability find they are dismissed for wanting to enjoy pleasurable sex which is why we offer so much practical advice for those with a disability, both seen and invisible, health condition, illness, disease and older people too.
Sometimes they want to buy a product which is totally unsuitable for them and go away having bought a product we know will bring them more sexual satisfaction and pleasure. Many customers are buying a sex toy for the first time and are unsure about what they should buy. Some are unsure how to use a sex toy.
Some women have not had penetrative sex for many years or may experience vaginal dryness or atrophy so we always advise they choose a slim sex toy to begin with and take their time using plenty of sexual lubricant.
We help many people, young and old, after their partner has died who are experiencing sexual bereavement, missing the physical intimacy and pleasure that they enjoyed with their partner, often for many many years. Some often tell us how embarrassed they feel about buying a sex toy, others feel like they are betraying their partner. Some customers, especially women begin to cry on the phone so we tell them to take their time and ask them about their partner if they want to talk about them. We frequently find oursleves giggling together by the end of the call, and they tell us they feel much better, thanking us for taking the time to listen to them.
Some come to our website in search of a product to help with their sexual problems. They may have a disability, have had an injury, heart attack or suffer with another health condition, such as Multiple Sclerosis, which restricts their sex life in some way.
Many men experience erectile dysfunction and find that medication either does not work for them or it does not produce a satisfactory erection. This is when suitable male sex toys and the Bathmate Hydromax can really help.
After discussing their requirements with them, we recommend a sex toy which may help – but we always tell our customers to seek medical advice if we feel that we cannot provide a solution to their problem.
Often customers tell us they are in a new relationship, many of whom are over 50 so we always offer advice about using condoms, something they have not considered and are surprised, often laughing, when we mention it, as some view using condoms as contraception, no longer required as they get older, rather than preventing sexually transmitted infections (STI)
With many older people in new relationships or enjoying sex with a new partner using a condom and getting the rigth fit is important as is the need to recognise symptoms of an STI (although some are sympotmless) and knowing where to get tested.
We know that certain materials, such as rubber, latex or jelly are highly porous:. We are one of a few sex toy retailers who only sell skin safe products, condoms and lubricants. However, many people are still unaware of the hidden chemicals in some sex toys and many sexual lubricants which can cause vaginal irritation and even thrush and the huge amount of fake and used products available online.
Here at Jo Divine, we have recognised the need to provide sexual health advice to our customers to improve their sexual satisfaction and have created a library of articles about sexual health and pleasure. By establishing ourselves as a resource for informed sexual education, we have built a strong bond between ourselves and our customers, many of whom return to purchase other products or recommend us to their friends and family.
We created our health brochure with a consultant uro/gynaecologist and women’s health physiotherapist at Tubridge Wells Hospital who recognise the benefit of using a sex toy and lubricants to improve sexual pleasure. They recommend some of our products to their patients for gynaecological conditions, such as vaginal tightness, post-operative scarring, sexual symptoms of the menopause and loss of sensation.
The health brochure is given out across the UK by many HCPs working in a wide range of specialites, in hospitals, clinics, private practice, GP practices and at womens health events too.
We also have a mens health brochure containing products that can help to exercise the penis and improve erectile function, stamina and pleasure in addition to enabling couples to enjoy intimacy together beyond penetration.
We also work with several cancer charities including Ovacome, Trekstock, Womb Cancer Support and Chris’ Cancer Community giving talks and writing information for their websites and leaflets. We also work with the Daisy Network, Lichens Sclerosus and Vulval Cancer Awareness and Menopause Support.
We are lucky to work with many healthcare professionals who give out our health brochure across the UK and healthcare professionals who talk to their patients about sexual issues and help them find solutions beyond medical treatments to help them.
It is great to be able to recommend our customers to healthcare professionals including womens health physiotherapists who can help with pelvic floor weakness in addition to a wide range of pelvic health issues that many women experience throughout their life which can impact upon sexual health and pleasure.
We also recommend psychosexual therapy and a variety of support groups and charities because we recognise that buying a suitable sex toy is often just one way to help sexual health and pleasure issues.
The way in which people think about sex toys and their benefits to sexual health and pleasure to help is slowly changing and Jo Divine is at the forefront of making this happen. Educating people about sexual health to improve their sexual pleasure is one of the best parts of my job; when asked about my job by others, I say: “I give people orgasms for a living”, which raises a few eyebrows and often a smile!