The first lubricants were originally used for other purposes, or were invented inadvertently. For example, KY Jelly originated as a surgical lubricant, and Astroglide was invented by accident by a chemist working on space shuttle cooling at Edwards Air Force Base.
During the 2007-2009 recession, sexual lubricants defied the rest of the economy, with soaring sales. In fact, the entire “sexual enhancement devices” sector grew especially well during the recession, moving into the mainstream in food, drug, and mass market retail stores. Theories abound about this economic quirk, but most of them focus on people looking for inexpensive ways to enjoy life more during strained economic times.
The Personal Lubricant Industry
Estimated at $1 billion per year, the sexual enhancement industry in the US prominently features lubricants, and specialty lubricants in particular have grown in popularity in recent years. Many of these specialty products are designed for women, specifically to enhance sensation and intensify orgasm. However, there are specialty lubricants designed for men, too, generally to prolong sexual pleasure. One best-selling specialty lubricant for men, for example, is Stimula for Men.
Women and Personal Lubricants
Personal lubricants for women are made to enhance blood flow to the genitals, making pleasure more intense. Do they work? Stephanie Buehler, Director of the Buehler Institute in Irvine California, a sex therapy clinic, says yes: “They’re not as dramatic as Viagra, but they contain botanicals like borage seed oil and L-arginine, which increases sensitivity in the clitoris; both ingredients may make it easier for a woman to reach orgasm.”
Data from 2006 from Trigg Laboratories indicated that women purchase lubricants three to four times per year, spending $6 to $7 per purchase. Driving these sales are women reaching menopause, younger women who take oral contraceptives, nursing mothers, and women who take antidepressants (which can put a damper on sex drive).
Men and Personal Lubricants
Until recently, personal lubricants for men have been mostly sought out to improve the mechanics of sex by reducing friction. However, new products like Stimula for Men are specifically designed to help men last longer during sex. The idea is that these products, possibly combined with specialty lubricants for women, can maximize enjoyment for both partners.
Reviews of Stimula for Women
Women are still the primary purchasers of sexual lubricants, and they are increasingly experimenting with specialty lubricants like Stimula for Women. Reviews of this product have been positive, with one reviewer describing the experience as “Silky, Slippery, and wet! … It was a very nice feeling when using this product.” Another reviewer described it as “perfect for me and my husband.” That reviewer gave one of the individually-wrapped packets of Stimula for Women to a friend whose response was, “Where can I buy that stuff?”A study by the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation reported that women find lubricant definitely adds to sexual pleasure, with 65.5% of women surveyed saying that lubricants made sex “very pleasurable and more comfortable.” Men are discovering for themselves that lubricants can add significantly to their partners’ pleasure, and as specialty lubricants become more widely available, we can expect to see men as an increasingly enthusiastic purchasing group for these products.
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