Everyone can think of a time in their lives when they’ve said no when they wanted to say yes. And when it comes to sex, we can bring so many anxieties, fears, and hesitations into the bedroom with us. I’ve had a few disappointing moments of self-denial, and one of them led me to become the founder and CEO of my company Lorals. Lorals makes ultra-thin latex panties designed to help people reclaim oral sex and maximize their pleasure.
Here’s my story: I was on the most romantic vacation of my life, with a partner I loved and trusted, escaping my daily job as a lawyer to have a no-holds-barred romantic experience. But there was a problem: we wanted a dental dam, and we didn’t have one. It’s hard enough to find dental dams in the U.S. these days, but abroad it was impossible. And even if we had been able to find one, physically keeping the dental dam in place is always so awkward, and the product itself can be a mood-killer. I was so frustrated, because everything else about the trip was so perfect, but I ended up saying no to awesome pleasure, even though I really wanted to say yes.
When we went home, I started talking to my friends about their experiences with oral sex. It turned out that so many of them regularly turned down oral when they really wanted it. The reasons were as varied as my friends themselves: frustration with scratchy facial hair, trauma that made oral feel too vulnerable, anxiety about not feeling their freshest, fear of STIs. Since then, my company has done a survey that shows 80% of women turn down oral sex despite wanting to get down.
This is a big problem, because, to be blunt, oral sex is incredible! I mean, there are 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris, and giving it some love can be key to sexual satisfaction. Oral is three times more likely to lead people with vaginas to an orgasm than intercourse. And orgasms are critical for our general wellbeing, beyond being just really fun. Orgasms alleviate anxiety, boost our immune systems, strengthen our relationships, and even help us live longer! So, how are we supposed to close the orgasm gap if we’re turning down oral? Everyone deserves pleasure, and hesitations about skin-to-skin contact shouldn’t be a be-all-end-all.
The more I thought about it, the more I wished there was a latex panty that could function like a dental dam but without being awkward to use. Actually, as long as I was daydreaming, why couldn’t this panty be fun to use? I finally decided this would be one time I wouldn’t say no when I wanted to say yes. So I quit my job to start Lorals.
Creating the product was the most challenging, and most rewarding, accomplishment of my life. We had to make sure Lorals would make our users really happy. So, we had to make the panties extremely thin so the receivers could feel every single little sensation. We had to make sure the design looked amazing on all body types. And we had to remove the stereotypical latex rubbery scent so that the experience was great for the giver too (the final product is silky-smooth and tastes like vanilla!). And we had to do all of that while also completely reinventing the wheel. Mass producing thin latex clothing had never been done before. We ended up using the same basic technique as condom manufacturers, but with a completely different shape and goal, we had to be really innovative.
The final product is everything we wanted it to be, and more. You can even snap, stretch, or rip through the slinky latex to kink things up. Finally, that fun I wanted from the dental dam! Plus, we were able to make the panty opaque for a confident, empowered feeling, even if you’re not interested in baring it all.
Ultimately, what has made this journey really worthwhile is all the stories from users who have reclaimed their pleasure. The grandmother in her 60s who is excited to make oral sex part of her sexual repertoire for the first time. The trans man who wants to be able to enjoy oral sex while lessening the association with his genitals. The teacher excited to try rimming without being worried about poop. The couple enjoying period sex without the mess. The single woman feeling comfortable and confident having oral with new partners. Emboldening people to say yes to the pleasure they want and deserve is what Lorals is all about, and I’m over-the-moon that we’ve been able to make a real difference in people’s lives.
- Melanie Cristol, Founder & CEO (Let's connect on Twitter! I talk about oral sex and entrepreneurship.)