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What happens in the bedroom typically stays in the bedroom. Sure, we might be pretty sex-positive and enjoy the juicy details of a friend's latest one-night stand, but we still often shy away from some of the nitty-gritty details involving our sex lives. Clean-up processes, libido alterations and kink items aren't freely discussed over Sunday brunch (and if they are, hit me up with an invite).
Even when these conversations are facilitated IRL or in online spaces, people tend to bolster their responses. We all hold insecurities when it comes to sex, so being extremely candid and vulnerable about our preferences and sexual habits can be tough.
Each year, Australian sexual wellness brand Normal surveys 1,000 representative Australians about their thoughts, perspectives and practices when it comes to sex. This year, we received intel on what people are buying for the bedroom.
Out of all the age groups, Gen Z was dubbed the most sexually progressive when it came to the sex toy space. In the last 12 months, 20% of respondents said that they became more open to purchasing sex toys, 12% of people shared that they are using sex toys more solo, and 12% are using sex toys more with partners.
Here's exactly what Australians are bringing into the boudoir...
Are sex toys still taboo?
Sex toy shame is lessening, with Normal finding that 51% of Australians have used one. The big bad world of sex toys can be overwhelming — there are so many types, vibrations, styles and preferences out there.
But the survey also found that 25% of people haven't bought a sex toy because of "a lack of interest". Normal's founder, Lucy Wark, tells Refinery29 Australia that there is a mix of reasons for this.
"For some people, it's actually to do with a lack of exposure or experience with sexual wellness products and how they can enhance sexual experiences," she says. "If you're not clear on all the benefits (from exploring what you like solo and gaining confidence, to multi-orgasmic solo and partnered sex), it can feel like it's not worth engaging with."
"For others, it might be feeling satisfied with their experiences around sex as they currently stand or not being particularly interested in sexuality at present (or even being somewhere on the asexuality spectrum)."
"We'll also sometimes hear statements like 'it's fine for other people, but I'm not interested', in quite a defensive tone. Sometimes, this also speaks to a bit of internalised stigma about toys — whether it's the stereotype of toys being 'freaky' or 'deviant', being a 'second-best' substitute for sex with another person, or meaning that you're making up for a deficit (as opposed to enhancing and exploring new things)."
Which sex toys and accessories are Aussies buying?
The most popular type of sex toy for Aussies is those that stimulate the vagina (34% of respondents say this is what they're buying). This is followed by 21% of people using sex toys for external stimulation. Meanwhile, 18% of people are buying BDSM and kink items, like handcuffs and blindfolds. Dildos and strap-ons are the choices for 14% of Aussies, while 11% of surveyed folk have purchased toys designed for anal, prostate or penis stimulation.
Sex furniture (like ramps or swings) is an area Australians are yet to properly explore, with 2% of people sharing that they have purchased something in this realm.
What type of hygiene and mood-setting products are we purchasing?
Housekeeping in the bedroom doesn't have to be boring, and 20% of Australians are buying hygiene wipes and washes. 15% of surveyed people have brought food play into sex by buying edible items (like sex chocolate). 13% of us are picking up arousal serums and gels while 9% of Aussies are also buying cleaning sprays.
"A lot of products in the hygiene and safety space — from condoms to intimate washes and wipes — feel like they haven't been updated," Wark says. "We're excited to see brands start to bring an emphasis on fun, education and normalisation to a lot of these (in the same way that the toy space is evolving)."
Which sex-based therapeutic products are popular?
Our bodies all require different things when it comes to sex. A growing area of interest is therapeutic goods that assist in sexual performance and enjoyment.
"As low libido has become Australians' number one sexual issue this year, I think we'll see both educational products and physical products helping people to work on blockers, increase turn-ons and create the conditions for responsive [desire] to be a lot more popular," Wark adds.
Currently, prescription medications (like Viagra) are the most popular product in this area, with 8% of people sharing that they've purchased medication that fits this bill. 5% of people have bought some sort of gel or serum that's designed to delay ejaculation, over-the-counter libido supplements or over-the-counter supplements used to maintain an erection.
As we continue to be more open and accepting of sex and all its quirks, we're seeing an openness in discussing the tough issues around sex — from chronic pain and disability, to mismatched libidos and unique fetishes. From here, it seems like our sexual discourse will only become more inclusive and empathetic — and in turn, fun for all.