Sexual Wellness Trends & Predictions for 2023

By Dr. Jess Sexual Health a woman with her face in her partner's breasts

It’s that time of year again. 2023 is on the horizon, and we’re looking forward to a year rich in pleasure, intimacy, and connections of all kinds. If you want to get a jump on things, check out our predictions for trends in the sexual wellness sphere and start exploring as 2022 comes to a close.

Prediction #1: Better, more ethical porn

In 2023, we expect to see improvements in porn — in content, access, and benefits to performers and consumers.

Gone are the days of searching for a signal beneath the squiggly lines of your cable TV. If you want adult content, it’s now available at the touch of a button in the palm of your hand — for better or for worse. But much of the supposedly free content you can access on demand is only “free” because it has been stolen and reposted without the permission of its owners. The actors and producers are not compensated for their labor when videos are reposted on sites offering free access (while bombarding viewers with ads).

This is why paying for porn is a better option. It offers greater benefits to all involved, and it’s with optimism that we predict that 2023 will be the year when more people opt to pay for porn. Experts in the field are also predicting this trend.

“Paying for porn will become the norm because many of the sites have added features that allow performers better options to monetize their own content,” explains Jet Setting Jasmine, co-owner of Royal Fetish Films, adult entertainer, and licensed clinical therapist. She adds that paying for porn makes porn hotter and more ethical by shifting more power to the performers themselves.

“Ethical porn will become the norm because consumers are being directed to the content their favorite performers are creating! Watching porn directed and distributed by the performer yields content that the participants and the viewers can feel better about,” Jet Setting Jasmine added.

This creates a win-win situation. Not only do working conditions improve when performers have more autonomy over their work, but the content itself is more exciting, authentic, and engaging. When performers have the opportunity to weigh in on what they enjoy, share fantasies, set boundaries, and connect with their on-screen partners, the scenes become more authentic, engaging, and appealing.

If you’re looking to jump on this trend (which is hopefully here to stay), check out some of these ethical porn options:

Royal Fetish Films

XO Afterglow

Make Love Not Porn

a woman in her underwear with her hand on her pelvis

Prediction #2: At-Home Sexual Testing

Safer sex is hotter sex, and alongside barrier methods and lubricant, testing is an essential part of safer sex practices. In 2023, expect continued growth in health tech options in terms of at-home testing and virtual medicine.

Beyond the standard STI screenings offered by at-home testing companies like LetsGetChecked & EverlyWell, expanded options, including Vaginal Microbiome Screening, are coming along. Gynecological health startup Daye has plans to expand into the US, and their products and services include screening for vaginal infections, fertility issues, and other gynecological health symptoms using non-invasive at-home tampon tests.

Prediction #3: Big-boxing of sexual pleasure

The so-called family planning aisle is evolving. Beyond condoms and lube, you will now find a range of pleasure items on the shelves at big-box stores from Walmart and Target to Nordstrom and Sephora. After testing products in their online collections for several years, it seems these retailers have finally taken the leap from e-commerce to brick-and-mortar sales.

Expect 2023 to offer an ever-expanding array of sexual wellness products available both online and on store shelves. We’ve come a long way from locking condoms behind glass partitions -discussions of pleasure are now the norm on the sales floor.

In stores, you can now find everything from luxury vibrators like LELO and Womanizer to CBD-infused formulations to Crave’s beautiful vibes that double as jewelry. Big-name retailers are even hosting special shopping events to celebrate sexual pleasure, a step forward for the sexual wellness industry. If you’re joining in on the vibrating fun, be sure to add a toy-safe lube like Astroglide’s Toy ‘n Joy to your cart to enhance your sensations and ensure your pleasure products last for years to come.

The addition of sexual wellness products to the family planning aisle illustrates how retailers are catching up to consumer demand. Local sex shops have long served the needs of those seeking to expand their sexual pleasure options — often hosting book launches, workshops, educational sessions, and even meetings for essential reproductive justice movements — so as the big-box retailers make their foray into this space, let’s hope the local shops don’t get lost or pummeled in the mix.

three women in bodysuits embracing

Prediction #4: More toys for penises

I hear it all the time: “Why are there so many toys for women and so few for men?”

There are many (theoretical) reasons for the disparity.

Some suggest that penis pleasure is more straightforward, so they’re less inclined to seek novel sources of pleasure. Others suggest that men simply aren’t interested in an accouterment and are unwilling to spend the money on something they can do with their hands.

But the financials belie this misconception: according to a report by Grand View Research, the global sex toy market was valued at $30.48 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $62.32 billion by 2030. Toys for people with penises feature prominently in this market and range from strokers to vibes to insertable and everything in between.

In 2023, more toys for penises will hit the shelves at drugstores, department stores, and local sex shops. Ahead of the trend, ASTROGLIDE’s new Toy ‘n Joy Finisher is paving the way for this movement. Geared toward penis owners, the toy features a ribbed interior for added sensation and a pressure-enhancing ring for more friction and grip.

Prediction #5: Mainstreaming of Ethical Non-Monogamy

Polyamory and non-monogamy are not new relationship arrangements, but they’ve long been relegated to the margins in western culture. In 2023, there will be a mainstreaming of polyamory and other non-monogamous arrangements in terms of conversations, representation, and media coverage.

According to Manhattan psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona, “Polyamory has moved from the far reaches of fringe and is bursting into the mainstream.

From relationships with some level of openness to having three or more committed partners, people aren’t just talking about non-monogamy, more and more are choosing to live it openly and proudly.

In the last year, three US cities have enacted laws recognizing polyamorous relationships by granting them the same rights as traditional married couples. In April 2021, a judge declared a woman the third legal parent to the child of a polyamorous ‘triad.’

Large scale studies show that younger generations are openly embracing and normalizing non-monogamy with 38% of 18-24 y/o Gen Z’ers preferring non-monogamy as a primary romantic relationship structure.”

This trend is being pushed forward by the younger generations, adopting open practices and ways of thinking. Whether you’re open to open relationships or uncomfortable with the thought of opening up, talking about sexual values and expectations is essential to deepening your understanding of the types of relationships that people engage in.

a woman doing research on a laptop and taking notes

Prediction #6: More Sexual Health Research = More Pleasure

We are finally learning more about the clitoris — thanks to queer and trans research.

In October of 2022, Dr. Blair Peters presented their team’s findings at the Sexual Medicine Society of North America and the International Society for Sexual Medicine joint meeting in Miami.

Their research suggests that the dorsal nerve of the clitoris has over 10,000 sensory nerve fibers and there are likely many more nerves involved in erection. Previous claims state that the clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings. If you’re wondering when that claim was made? It dates back to a study of cows that is over 45 years old!

In 2023, we hope to see more of this non-bovine research that helps us to better understand sexual wellness and pleasure. Not only will these findings propel our knowledge of wellness and pleasure, but they are amplifying the voices of research related to gender-affirming healthcare.

According to Dr. Peters (posted on their Instagram account (@queersurgeon):

“Ultimately, this work that we are doing has huge implications for cisgender women and anyone else that has a clitoris. Here is the thing: it is only because of gender-affirming surgeries that I am EVEN ABLE to do this research and this work.

All boats rise. Oppressing and suppressing trans care will only hurt health outcomes for EVERYONE.

I have learned a lot from this work and from intimately operating on the nerves of the clitoris on a weekly basis. Ultimately, I hope to use this experience in the near future to trial surgical techniques to restore sensation following iatrogenic clitoral nerve injuries.

We are better together. Never forget that.”

I can’t think of a better way to end 2022 and move into the new year than with a reflection on Dr. Peters’ wise words. As partners, friends, community members, family members, and global citizens, we are much better together.

Here’s to a happy, harmonious holiday season, and all the best for 2023.