Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country, most people have been forced to stay at home following the regulations stipulated by governments to help in flatten the infections curve.
For most companies and business owners, sales have been poor and employees have had to bear the brunt of poor sales, pay cuts, and for some job losses.
While walk-in businesses like hotels and clubs struggle to stay afloat and save whatever is left of their businesses, their online counterparts have been registering a spike in sales as more people turn to online shopping.
The online sex toys industry is no exception as its business owners reported an upward trend in sales during the lockdown periods as more and more people resorted to the pleasure gadgets after interactions were reduced by the lockdown.
According to Peter Paul, a supplier of sex toys in Nairobi for the past five years, sales had never been better until the pandemic when more people invested in sex toys. Peter, like many others running online store dealing in sex toys, owes the upward spike in sales to the fact that people were no longer moving around and interacting as easily as they used to before the pandemic.
“People have been spending more time stuck at home and sexual satisfaction is a necessity. Although we get orders from both men and women, most of our clients during the lockdowns were women, some married,” Peter comments.
Pre-Covid, the sexccessories, moniker for sex toys, business was not as good. Peter says he could sometimes only get two orders a day. However, after the COVID-19 lockdowns took effect, especially towards the month of June 2020 in Kenya, orders shot up and they could get sales of up to 200 orders a month.
Maureen, who also runs a sexccessories online shop, attests to the fact that the pandemic came as a blessing in disguise as business has since been booming. She started selling sex toys in March last year and so far she has no complains.
“I believe self-pleasure should be normalized and not viewed as a ‘taboo’. Nobody can know your body more than you,” she says.
Business owners like Maureen and Peter have an advantage over the walk-in shops because unlike the physical shops where customers might feel embarrassed when purchasing sex toys, online shops allow for private inquiries and privacy is guaranteed - not to mention the range of products they can choose from by the click of a button.
As more people invest in their sexual wellbeing, other than the obvious sexual satisfaction, a good number of people might be investing sex toys with the belief that they have benefits. Some of the benefits fronted around are that the gadgets help keep vaginal tissues flexible, prevent dryness of the vagina and reduce stress.
However, Dr. John Ong’ech, a senior gynaecologist and obstetrician, clarifies that sex toys play no role in keeping the vaginal walls flexible, not even after any form of gynaecologinal surgery.
“It is all about pelvic floor exercises, commonly known as Kegel exercises. These exercises help keep the pelvic wall muscles intact, not sex toys. These exercises come in handy especially after childbirth,” Dr. Ong’ech explains.
He further clarifies that sex toys do not prevent vaginal atrophy (dryness of the vagina). He adds that Vaginal walls are regulated by the hormones Oestrogen and Progesterone and atrophy mainly occurs after menopause when these hormone levels go down, so long as the hormones are being produced the vaginal walls will never get atrophic.
“When it comes to sex, it can be both recreational and emotionally relaxing and the best way to these is through a partner you trust. It is not scientifically proven that sex toys can relieve stress or anxiety, it is all in the mind and how a woman is wired to her sexuality,” Dr. Ong’ech adds.
Although a lot people believe in sex toys and that they play an integral role in their sex lives, Dr. Ong’ech advises against them as they have no proven health benefits and considers them unhygienic. This, he says, is because sex toys are likely to interfere with the vaginal pH and women may end up contracting infections like bacterial vaginosis.