The physical and emotional issues people face when it comes to sexual intimacy can greatly impact their overall quality of life. These issues often ebb and flow throughout different life stages, but what you may not realize is that pain and discomfort during intercourse are actually quite common.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, three out of four women have experienced pain during vaginal intercourse at some time during their lives. And while there are many reasons for this, among the list are hormonal changes, childbirth and menopause.

Discomfort during anal sex can have the same impact on a person or couple. A 412-person survey conducted by the San Francisco Aids Foundation found that 86 percent had experienced pain during anal sex, at least once. Sixty-four percent of those who had anally penetrated a partner have been asked to stop because their partner asked them to due to discomfort.

With so many people experiencing intimacy issues, we’d expect to see their doctors recommending treatment, but that is not always the case. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, only about 40 percent of the obstetricians and gynecologists who participated in the study inquired about sexual problems with their patients. As little as 29 percent inquired about sexual satisfaction.

Collectively, these statistics tell an important story. Discomfort during sex is more common than people realize, and the individuals experiencing these issues need some assistance. This is where our industry comes in!

Adult retailers have various tools that can help increase intimacy, decrease discomfort during sex, and improve overall sexual health and well-being.

Here are five tips on how we can help customers take charge of their sexual health:

1. Create a dedicated wellness area in-store and online. This may include dilators, pelvic floor exercisers and other wellness type products. Create an area that is inviting and informational. And, as always, it’s important to recommend that your customers speak to their doctor first before starting any sexual wellness routine. Pro tip: If you notice a customer browsing this section, talk to them and offer your assistance. This can help start the conversation and build a better relationship with that customer.

2. Train your staff. It’s important to have a staff that is well-trained on the products you carry, but it’s also crucial that your staff can talk openly about a variety of sexual topics.

Offer training covering a range of topics, and ensure your staff has additional resources they can turn to when needed. Pro tip: it’s ok not to know everything; being compassionate and honest is a great first step when speaking to a customer. Saying things like “I’m sorry you are experiencing this issue; let me look into some resources for you and I can get back to you” is a great way to acknowledge the issue while also gathering more information.

3. Partner with local doctors. It is exciting to see how many doctors are open to the idea of referring patients to adult stores that carry dilators and lubricants. Many are unaware we offer these types of items, so it’s important to reach out to local doctors and let them know what you have available. Pro tip: offer special discounts to the medical community and their patients when visiting you for the first time.

4. Provide educational content. Blogs and educational books are a great way to help further support customers on their sexual health journey. This content can also help store employees answer some of the sexual health questions they may be asked. For example, an employee can say, “We have a great book that may help you with that” or “Did you see our latest blog on (insert topic here).” These types of conversations allow employees to be helpful, and give the customer even more information on the subject they need. Pro tip: Reach out to manufacturers for content. For example, CalExotics offers a variety of sexual health and wellness content that their customers can use. This includes helpful information, videos and training from CalExotics partners like Ob/Gyn Dr. Sherry Ross and Dr. Jill McDevitt.

5. Offer education events. Events, virtual or in person, allow you to better connect with your customers. Plus, it builds an even stronger sense of trust and loyalty with customers. Pro tip: bringing in experts like local physicians or sex educators can be a great way to elevate your events; plus, the information provided can also be a great training tool for your staff.

These tips can be a great place to start furthering the conversation on sexual health topics and the products that may help.

Lupe Martinez is an international business development executive for CalExotics.

XBiz