Trend forecasting typically makes you think about new low carb diets involving cauliflower and leafy greens, or too-small sunglasses and scrunchies making a comeback on every Instagram influencer profile. However, outside of food, style and beauty, the sex space is just as ripe for exciting new trends to be en vogue in this ever-changing and fast-paced world. You thought sex was just sex, right? But in truth, it transforms constantly — owing to new tech to play with, evolving relationship styles and peoples’ perspectives towards various sexual acts shifting.
The sex trends of 2019 had some darlings, like erotic vacation destinations and smart vibrators and general progressive forces working to innovate the industry. While those still hold the spotlight, new trends are crawling out of the woodwork ready to be talked about. There’s a shift towards having pleasure-based conversations about sex, as well as emphasizing consensual and safe intimacy. Sex products are gaining traction as an essential part of wellness. Relationships are less monogamous and more open. Women and femmes are being encouraged to to live their best lives. You heard it here first, people are trying to experience genuinely satisfying sex lives right now and for years to come!
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So, want to know what to expect when it comes to new developments in intimacy? I talked to a few sexperts and here’s what they tipped to be big next year across the sex and wellness sectors.
Relaxed definition of sex in general
Right now, focus is on all the fun stuff besides basic penetration and traditional standards for sexual encounters. “We’ve seen ‘sex’ framed primarily around the heteronormative male perspective, mainly meaning penis in vagina (PIV) sex,” says Alexandra Fine, CEO at Dame Products. “But now that we’re beginning to see vulva-owners take on a greater role in the conversation, we’re reframing what it means to have pleasurable sex — and what ‘having sex’ means.”
Step away from having orgasms be your only goal, and replace that with an increased emphasis on the experience and connection. Sex is about your physical and mental pleasure, not about conforming to a picture of what it looks like. So whatever floats your boat — whether that be casual encounters, delaying orgasms, solo play, shower hookups, or meeting that couple looking for a threesome on Tinder — sex in 2020 can be whatever you want to make of it.
CBD for pleasure
Right kids, here’s a brief overview: CBD is the legal, non-psychoactive part of pot, and getting down and dirty while using CBD can take things up a notch. The past few years, CBD products have skyrocketed, and the sexual wellness industry is following suit. Though there isn’t solid proof of cause and effect just yet between use of marijuana and increased libido, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence about the role of CBD in arousal and pleasure, so it’s definitely still worth a try.
Where you normally need the volume on your vibrator cranked to 12, CBD-laced sex products can increase blood flow to the genitals and heighten sensitivity. According to Dr. Wendesha Jenkins Hall, a sex educator and coach, this is why “many brands added CBD-infused lubricants, massage oils, suppositories and bath soaks to their line-up in 2019.” If you’re ready to test this out, Hall says some brands that offer CBD products include Foria, Kush Queen, Endoca, Privy Peach, and CBD Daily.
Additionally, CBD has both anti-inflammatory properties and is shown to have beneficial effects on anxiety. Because of this, pleasure educator Ashley Cobb, notes that “CBD aids in helping women who would not normally enjoy sex due to various issues; anxiety, dryness, PCOS, Pelvic Wall Syndrome etc., experience the pleasurable sex life that they’ve been missing.” With women prioritizing pleasure and seeking pain-free and relaxing sexual experiences, it makes sense that CBS-infused sex would be having a major moment.
BDSM in the mainstream
BDSM isn’t exactly new, but with the headway kinks and subcultures are making into the mainstream, there’s never been a better time to feel sexually free and give this a regular slot on your docket of sexual activities.
“BDSM is an umbrella term that encompasses Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, and Sadism & Masochism,” explains Lina Dune, the creator behind @askasub. “It has become a more malleable term that covers all kinds of things from power-based role-play to sensation play (like hot wax, blindfolds, etc).”
If you’ve been curious about BDSM, you’re far from alone. Luckily, there are a million and one ways to experiment with it, and none of them are ho-hum. Dune says, “Whether you’re doing some light spanking, calling your partner ‘Daddy,’ or being strung up from your wrists and flogged in a dungeon by candlelight, there’s responsible fun to be had at every point.”
If you don’t like it, it’s okay to call it quits and then never do it again. But one of the constants of BDSM, as Dune points out, is the consensual element. “Because of the reliance on prior negotiation, active consent, and a check in when it’s done, BDSM provides us with a roadmap to a safer intimacy in a post #MeToo world.”
Promoting conversations about accountability and sex is definitely a power move, and something we can use more of next year.
Openness about STIs
I am extremely here for booting insecurities from the bedroom, especially in the case of STIs, which are something common and yet under-discussed. We are taught that STIs are gross and should be avoided, however, according to The American Health Association, “one in two sexually active persons will contract an STI by age 25.” Telling partners about an STI still feels like a huge uncomfortable hurdle, despite how crucial the conversation is in a responsible sexual relationship.
The good news? According to sexologist Emily Depasse, the narrative around STIs is being redefined. “2019 has been the first year that I really felt a change within the sex education and sex-positive communities,” Depasse says. “This is the first year when I’ve seen increasing numbers of sex educators and sex-positive accounts hold others accountable for STI stigma. With increasing conversations and moments of education around STIs, I am seeing more accessible testing and STI testing labeled as self-care. In the marketing world, I’m seeing a lot of companies offer STI testing kits through the mail.”
With less shame surrounding STIs, people will be freer in conversations and circles surrounding personal identity, bodies, and sex. Depass says, “This might look like a subscription to one of these companies to maintain regular testing, or even taking a test with your partner or friend group.” Perspective shifts around STIs point towards a better sex education system—and fingers crossed it makes it more likely for partners to admit need for protected sex, without fear of being judged (because an infection is something that can happen to anyone).
Intrigued? Make sure to watch this space for more even more sex trends that emerge, and if you’ve got a partner, introduce them to something new and see how it goes. Overall, this is your time to establish what makes you feel good and what you want more of in the bedroom.
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