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The Welcome Disruption to Healthy Pleasure

How innovation has changed the subject

As the taboos of sex take a backseat, sexual empowerment is driving into the future. Human complexity and sense of identity has evolved remarkably to enlighten us to life beyond conventional norms. And in light of this, we see a shift, a shift from traditional gender roles, a reluctancy to openly embrace and talk about sex and a focus on sexual wellbeing as much as our general health.

Like food and water, sex is an essential fuel for physical and mental wellbeing. Many studies indicate several benefits, physically by decreasing heart problems, improving your immune system, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, relieving pain, and mentally by improving self-esteem, increasing intimacy, decreasing depression and anxiety, and an overall stress reduction.

It starts with embracing your sexuality and taking time out to focus on yourself, your needs, and your pleasure. Whether you are married, in a relationship, casual or single, open and honest conversation or thought can dramatically increase the quality of your sex life. Education, exploration, and safeguards – learn, enjoy and be safe, by making time to ensure and maintain your healthy pleasure. And as technology and innovation enrich all the parts of our lives, from our homes to work to social lives, this no doubt reaches as far as our bedrooms.

And in exactly that pursuit, thought leader Dominnique Karetsos, CEO and co-founder of The Healthy Pleasure Group, set out to reshape and revolutionise healthy pleasure with the integration of sexual health and technology. As a hub for smart sexual wellness, health and tech, HPG supports a network of brands, using technology to pave the way between sex and health. In this effort, the global outfit promotes the sector by driving innovation and guiding both market leaders and start-ups to improve awareness, sales, and distribution channels. Powered by six businesses, these include The Agency, a means of turning concept to life, The Lab, dedicated to medicine, science and research to find innovative solutions, and The School, an online platform for authentic and enlightening sexual education.

In the face of adversity, Dominnique’s mission has been to challenge the polarised landscape, democratising sexual health for women and repositioning the notions. Despite the revolution, the industry still faces many challenges: legal barriers, shadow banning, censorship and restrictive policies are only the tip of the iceberg, showing that although our sexuality informs everything we feel and do, there is still a long way to go to remove the obstacles and allow it to become openly integrated with the rest of our lives.

Examples to the effect of technology in the sexual health field include smart toys for long-distance relationships, an STI testing and sharing platform, rape preventing products like a barb-fitted internal condom, hormone tracking, biotech skin printing for FGM victims, or AI technology in dating apps that matches people by orgasmic compatibility.

With the power to disrupt and heighten our experiences, the technological application in the Sextech industry stands to make some of the richest advances and breakthroughs. And despite the barriers, this is an area that the UK government affirms as innovation and supports through schemes such as R&D tax credits to drive advancements in sexual health and wellbeing.

So why is it that this industry has some of the lowest claim rates for R&D tax credits? Are the taboos of sex standing in the way of firms realising their benefit? Sextech companies no doubt face challenges at every stage: morality clauses in investment, censorship in advertising, resistance in manufacturing and payment processing. So it’s unsurprising when these companies don’t turn to the government for R&D relief. The question, rather, is how can we help?

To read more about Dominnique Karetsos and her inspiring work advocating women's sexual health, visit her page here.

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