Our May HealthYeah! Series is All About Moms and Women for Mother’s Day
Today Excy co-founder and CEO Michele Mehl sat down with Amy Buckalter, Pulse founder and CEO, to discuss sexual health and intimacy. Amy is modernizing a new approach to provide a safer, cleaner, and more comfortable sexual lubricant through the Pulse system.
She has more insight into women’s “Why” for purchasing sexual lubricants than most. Two of the most common reasons: vaginal dryness and painful sex. What better way to kickoff our May HealthYeah Mother’s Day series, than to explore some of the hidden barriers of a women’s sexual health and intimacy. June will be all about dads!
We invite you to watch the interview, but have also included a summary below. Talk to your partner, doctor, friends, and your mom to explore critical pillars of sexual health: managing stress, diet, exercise, sleep, and lubricants.
Sexual Discomfort and Pain: It’s No Way to Live the Rest of Your Life
During the interview, Amy talks about the common use cases for lubricants. One of the leading reasons is vaginal dryness, which is most frequently caused by reduced estrogen. As Amy discusses, estrogen levels can fall for a number of reasons like stress, breast-feeding, childbirth, cancer therapy, peri-menopause, menopause and more. Basically…being an aging woman.
Amy also gets into examples of women (and their partners) dealing with complications of dyspareunia, which is painful sexual intercourse due to medical or psychological causes. For the sake of this interview, we keep it focused on the physical causes. Things like endometriosis, scar tissue from a C-section, painful bladder syndrome, UTI infections, chronic pain disorders, musculoskeletal issues and more. All of which can create challenges with painful sex. Again…being an aging woman.
No matter the cause, painful sex is not normal. And, it’s no way to live the rest of your life. Amy wants to make lubricants a normal part of the conversation about sexual health, right alongside managing stress, diet, exercise, and sleep. It’s all about an opportunity to water the flower when needed!
Pulse: Modernizing and Normalizing Lubricant Use for Sexual Health
During the interview, Amy discusses why she started Pulse over five years ago after learning first-hand about the changes the female body goes through during menopause. She found herself needing to use lubricants, but was not impressed with the available cold, messy, and unhygienic lubricants that are filled with toxic ingredients. For Amy, using existing lubricants turned out to be “real buzz kill.” So she created Pulse to transform the experience.
Her approach with Pulse has been to make using a lubricant feel more like a luxury spa visit instead of the clinical feeling of a gynecologist examination. The Pulse product is chic and modern, classy and stylish. It is not a plastic tube with unhygienic gunk all over the nozzle-cultivating bacteria. Instead, it is a user-friendly product that helps you feel confident about using a lubricant. Plus, Pulse can be safely warmed, which increases comfort. In addition, it’s free of toxic chemicals, and comes in an airless, hygienic container.
Changing Bodies Means a New Conversation for Sexual Health
According to Amy, 40 percent of millennials are using personal sexual lubricants. Some for medical reasons, but most simply to increase pleasure. Amy attributes this to them growing up with a more sex positive culture than previous generations. However, she finds that confusion starts to set in for all when a woman’s body starts to change. Women feel their bodies changing, but do not always have the information required to understand the changes or how to best combat new barriers to sexual health.
Undergoing cancer treatment, menopausal hormonal changes, giving birth, lack of exercise to help balance hormones, taking anti-depressants – even antihistamines during allergy season – can all negatively affect our tissue and cause vaginal dryness.
So, Amy wants to see more women talking about these challenges and for women to know that they are not alone.
Sexual Comfort is Better for All
Initially, Amy assumed her sales would go mostly to women. However, 35 percent of her current product sales are to men. She believes this is because men understand the importance of helping their partner be comfortable during intimacy. Amy believes lubricants are one of the easiest and cost-effective solutions to producing comfort, and the more we discuss these solutions, the less shame will surround them.
Slowly but surely, Amy believes we are eliminating the stigma surrounding female sexuality. As examples, she discusses how major department stores have begun carrying sexual wellness products, normalizing their use. Also, that shows like Sex and the City, movies like 50 Shades of Grey, and magazines like Cosmopolitan have helped normalize intimacy and have empowered women to seek out their own pleasure in more open ways with their partners. She’s now waiting for platforms like Facebook to catch up to this norm after having advertisements banned until recently. Amy wants a level playing field in being able to reach women, the same way erectile dysfunction companies are empowered to reach men.
Five Pillars of Sexual Health: Eat Right. Exercise. Manage Stress. Sleep. Use Lubricants
Managing stress, eating a healthy diet, getting proper exercise and a good night’s sleep are known to play a critical role in managing hormones to help with vaginal dryness and painful sex. Personal sexual lubricants are also critical. As Amy describes, even though a woman might modify lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, managing stress and sleep, she still can experience dryness and pain.
Again, going back to the part of ummm….being an aging woman. So, we just have to do our best.
At Excy, our role it to make regular, consistent cardio and strength training easier, even if people are crazy busy or battling an injury, disability, or health condition. This is important since exercise plays a critical role in maintaining good vaginal function. For example twenty minutes of cardiovascular activity, at least three times per week, is important not only for cardiac health and blood flow (to the vagina, as well) but also hormone balance. Estrogen and testosterone – two hormones that decline with age and menopause – have a direct effect on vaginal atrophy and dryness.
It’s always important to remember that food, sleep, and exercise is medicine!
Empower Each Other: Intimacy is Important!
This Mother’s Day, if you are comfortable doing so, talk to your mom, your friends, and your partner about sexual health. Normalize the conversation about lubricants. You are not alone out there. Not alone in experiencing vaginal dryness. Not isolated in experiencing painful sex. Not the only one using lubricants to optimize sexual health. This is an extremely common problem that all women face as they get older.
Make sure to sign up for our newsletter and enjoy our May HealthYeah Mother’s Day Series. June will be all about Father’s Day and men.
By and large, all the topics are interrelated because well….we’re human and live together on this wonderful planet!