Pleasure. Intimacy. Self-love. Creativity. Exploration. What are the chances that these words are associated with your memory of sex education in school? Unlikely.
Sex education, if you even received any, is typically centred around contraception and the prevention of pregnancy and STIs. Of course, these are essential topics, but isn’t it odd that pleasure—something that brings humans joy—is considered even more taboo than the fear-mongering topics of pain and disease?
Where sex education has failed us, we now have access to infinite information at our fingertips. The internet. Just ask ‘Aunty Google’ if your sex life is ‘normal’, why your libido is low, how to have an orgasm? But how do you know if the information accurate or trustworthy? The alternative, mainstream male-centric porn, is the top source for sex education for young people today, and we all know how this blockbuster version of sex can potentially harm our perception of sex.
Enter the Sex Tech Revolution
Over the end of the last decade, the sexual wellness market began to boom and is expected to reach values of $39 billion by 2024. Alongside this is the evergrowing Sex Tech Industry, currently valued at $30 billion.
The growth of these two markets are coherently driven by a deep desire for a change in the way we understand sex: as heteronormatively penetrative and goal-oriented. There is a mutual motivation for prioritising pleasure in the conversation around sexual wellbeing.
Along with more female-founded vibrator companies, and more ethically created adult entertainment, a popularly trending sex technology that is transferring this pleasure-positive message, are the sexual pleasure apps.
From audio guides to visual tools, these pleasure apps are disseminating everything from the science behind sex, erogenous anatomy lessons and mindful masturbation meditations.
They are based on the intuitive idea that pleasure awareness creates more harmony within your relationships and sex life (alone or with partners), and this, in turn, benefits your overall wellbeing.
From pain-points to pleasure-points, the following sexual pleasure apps are specifically designed to change the way we learn about sex; by enhancing our sexual autonomy and intimate wellbeing.
6 Sexual Pleasure Apps You Should Look Out For
Depending on whether you are home alone or commuting to work, this app has tailored public and private soundbites for you to discover more about your pleasure and your body. This audio guide for mindful sex serves up a “pleasure pick of the day”, sexy community polls, tools for building intimacy, sparking desire, and space for self-reflection to track your sexual progress.
Co-founder and Chief Scientist of Ferly, Anna Hushlak, says that “just like getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, or regularly exercising, Ferly gets that sex is part of living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of one’s wellbeing.” She explains that unlike traditional sex education, the team at Ferly “think that sex should start from a place of focusing on oneself, not on someone else.”
With the app’s guidance, users are encouraged to ‘learn by doing’— “that means exploring your body, getting to know your mind, and challenging popular social scripts. Sex is so much more than physical. That’s why we believe that it’s as much about understanding how you feel about sex as it is about how you actually have it.”
This audio sexual wellness app uses scientific studies to educate listeners on sex and sexuality, along with a library of sensual stories. To customise your journey, subscribers can input goals such as ‘feel body positive’, ‘communicate your needs’ or ‘learn new techniques’.
Founder Andrea Oliver Garcia told SEXTECHGUIDE that “it’s not about telling people that they have issues or problems, it’s about saying ‘you have the agency over your sex life and you need to understand yourself before you can get what you want sexually.’”
Part dating app, part pre-sex negotiation tool. Designed to empower exploration, specifically for the kink community, this app allows people to visually understand and communicate their own desires to potential sexual partners. On the app, your personal pleasure can be visualised on dynamic graphs and turned into a reality with compatible partners.
The NoGrey team explain that “holding discussions around desires can be incredibly confronting. NoGrey helps focus the discussion onto interests that both parties hold making it easier to raise and talk openly with one another. We’ve also gone to great lengths to ensure the app promotes respect. Clear boundary setting and respect for each other’s desires and wishes regardless of whether those activities may not seem respectable.”
When it comes to consent, they say that “consenting adults should be able to explore and experience incredibly disrespectful play in a very safe and respectful way. Our tech is designed to support that goal of making play safer… and far more enjoyable.”
This wellness app quickly caught onto the importance of sexual wellbeing; normalising sexuality in the mainstream arena. As one of the few mainstream meditation apps founded by a woman, Simple Habit currently offers an entire meditation series dedicated to relationships, intimacy and mindful sex.
Designed to foster open and honest conversations about women’s sexual health, Rosy helps increase sexual self-esteem, particularly for people suffering from low libido.
With educational videos and guided sessions, Rosy uses evidence-based resources and can be accessed at any time during a busy day to learn about the body, get in the mood, or work on sexual communication.
Founder and OB-Gyn, Dr. Lyndsey Harper says she found in her practice almost 40% of women reported low sexual desire. “The challenge for these women and their doctors is that there was no easy place to direct them to learn about the causes and solutions. I wanted as many women as possible to have access to this information and know that they are not alone on this journey.”
She goes on to explain that Rosy is helping to change the way we learn about sex by “bringing engaging and reliable information to women in the way that they expect and deserve.”
A fun and light way to connect and build intimacy, this app is targeted towards couples with kids. However, the challenges are designed for anyone who finds it difficult to make time for sexual intimacy. Providing bite-sized insights, exercises and education on building intimacy, pleasure and desire, to help transform relationships.
Co-founder, Brianna Marci tells us that sexual wellness apps, in general, can “provide an accessible place to learn more about our bodies and our pleasure at different phases of our lives. They also help to open us up more to the idea that sex and pleasure is something we all have the capacity to enjoy and make a part of our everyday life, and that if it doesn’t come naturally, we’re not defective. Just like any other part of life, cultivating sexual wellness and intimacy is a journey of continual learning and practice.”
Brianna explains that for parents, taking that step can feel overwhelming. Which is why specifically at Gilly, “our mission is to help couples with kids uncover their own path to meaningful daily connection – however that might look for them.”
Not only does Gilly hope to help transform relationships with healthy sexual intimacy, but by providing them with tools to open up those difficult conversations with their children, “to remove some of the sexual shame and stigma that gets passed down.”
Still, in test drive, Gilly is open for beta testers to try it out and shape the app for its launch.
With this personal guide to all things sex and intimacy, JuiceBox offers customised tips and a virtual coach. Behind the app is a team of sex educators to give you one-on-one support “ranging from erectile and orgasm issues to sex drive differences and dating help.” It comes with a community to offer support too.
Only available in the US and Canada on iOS, it’s daughter app SlutBot is AI built with an erotic fiction writer and can be accessed via Facebook Messenger elsewhere, to help train you how to sext.
Is Pleasure Education The Future?
The important thing we can take away from these sexual pleasure apps is the journey you are on. Take the time to relearn your own body, your partner’s body.
In spite of the lack of sex-positive sex education, and unreachable expectations of sex portrayed in some mainstream male focused porn, the brains behind these apps just goes to show the desire for more pleasure education and personalised sex information, backed up by well-needed scientific research and a supportive reliable community.
With the help of the Sex Tech industry, may pleasure education be the future of sex education.
Oli Lipski is a sex tech researcher and sensuality strategist. Since graduating from university with an Undergrad in the History of Sexuality and a Masters in Sexual Dissidence, she has navigated her way through the emerging sex tech industry, working to smash taboos, enhance pleasure and uplift marginalised voices. She has worked with sex-positive brands in marketing and communications including MysteryVibe, SEXTECHGUIDE, WISP, Sonder & Beam and Beducated.