Rated 4.9

STI Fear Culture: How destroying the stigma around STI’s can increase sex toy sales 


This article outlines how destroying the current STI stigma of embarrassment and ashamedness will help boost sex toy sales. The STI stigma is strong where 20% of US college age males would not tell their sexual partner of their STI diagnosis, due to the fear culture. Furthermore, this article explains why the 32% decrease in England STI diagnoses between 2019 and 2020 is still a concern to Public Health authorities, and how you can help your customers easily treat their STIs through partnership to e-Pharmacy. 

What is an STI? 

An STI is a sexually transmitted infection. There are many different types of STIs, including Chlamydia, Genital herpes, Gonorrhoea, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, Pubic lice, etc. It is important STIs are treated as in some cases they can lead to serious consequences, including blindness, infertility, mother-to-child transmission or birth defects [1]. Therefore, it is important to eradicate the STI Fear Culture as if they are left untreated, they can have serious consequences.  

What is the current stigma around STIs? 

STIs can be described as ‘socially stigmatized’, as people are often judged and condemned for having them [1]. Although we currently live in a sex positive society, people with STIs are often judged and mislabelled as ‘dirty’ or ‘slutty’. In turn, the negative connotations attached to those having an STI appear to have detrimental effects on STI rates, as people are often to scared to get tested or be vocal about their STIs, due to the ‘shame’ and stigma [2]. A US study of college age males indicates that 20% of males would not tell their sexual partner if they had an STI due to shame, embarrassment, and misinformation [3]. Therefore, more must be done to break down the stigma of STIs, as rates are still high and a ‘concern’ to Public Health England (PHE). 

What are the current STI rates? 

In 2020, England experienced 317,091 new STI diagnoses which was a 32% decrease compared to 2019 [4]. Regardless of the fall in STI rates, Public Health England (PHE) still state STI rates remain a concern, with Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Herpes being the most common STIs.  


On the surface, the lower STI rates may appear to be positive news for England. However, there was a 10% decrease in STI consultations at sexual health clinics between 2019 and 2020, and a 25% decrease in sexual health screens between the same period. This implies that although STI rates appear to have decreased, less screenings may be the reason for this.  

How does e-Pharmacy treat STIs? 

e-Pharmacy offer a wide range of STI treatments to ensure customers have the most effective and affordable treatments at hand. The STI treatments offered include: 

Several studies on the effectiveness of these treatments highlight takers of the above medicine should start to feel better after a couple days of taking treatments, although they should continue till they finish their full course of treatment. With common side effects affecting only 1 in 10 people which include minor symptoms such as headaches, feeling or being sick, and being sensitive to sunlight [5].  

How will treatment of STIs help boost the sex toy industry? 

Case Study: How will eradication of the STI Fear Culture help drive Lelo’s sex toy sales?

Through partnership with e-Pharmacy, our experts will help embed our API prescribing platform on to Lelo’s website. In turn, it will give Lelo’s customers easy and affordable access to medication and prescribing services for any health-related conditions, but more specifically STIs such as Chlamydia and Herpes. Through easy and affordable access to STI medication, the current stigma surrounding STIs will be reduced, as well as the promotion of positive sexual health. With users feeling more comfortable with their sexual wellness, they are more likely to buy sex toys. Particularly, a study on the reasons people buy sex toys highlighted that 68% do this to keep up with their sexual health [8]. Therefore, through Lelo’s customers being able to access STI medication, they will be able to boost their sexual wellness, which is also one of the main reasons consumers buy sex toys, and thus feel more comfortable buying more sex toys from Lelo.

hrough treatment the current stigma around STIs should be reduced, due to eradication of the fear culture currently surrounding them. In turn, this will help promote a positive sex culture – a key element within the sex toy industry. Studies on the reasons people buy sex toys highlight similar reasons including orgasms, masturbation, sexual intercourse, and treatments of disorders such as erectile dysfunction and orgasm disorder [6]. These reasons coincide with the view that sex toys have transformed in purpose: from pleasure to sexual wellness [7]. Many sex toy companies are now creating adult toys which promote sexual health and maximise user wellbeing, including brands such as Lelo and Womanizer. 

How can a partnership with e-Pharmacy help your sex toy company? 

Through partnership with e-Pharmacy, our experts will help incorporate the e-Pharmacy API software onto your sex toy company website. From this, your customers will gain access to important and relevant prescription and over the counter treatments, in addition to your existing products. In the context of this article, customers can easily access affordable STI medication from your website. Therefore, your company will benefit from an additional revenue stream, as well as a boost in sex toy sales – driven by: customers feeling more comfortable through access to treatment, and treatments promoting sexual health (one of the main reasons customers also buy sex toys for).  


[1] WHO | Four curable sexually transmitted infections – all you need to know | https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/four-curable-sexually-transmitted-infections—all-you-need-to-know  

[2] verywellhealth | STDs Are Socially Stigmatized | https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-stigma-stds-have-in-society-3133101 

[3] The New York Times | Why Sexaully Transmitted Infections Can’t Shake Their Stigma | https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/13/style/sti-stigma-sexual-transmitted-infections.html  

[4] NCBI | Willingness to disclose STI status to sex partners among college-age men in the United States | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4748392/  

[5] UK Government | STI rates remain a concern despite fall in 2020 | https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sti-rates-remain-a-concern-despite-fall-in-2020  

[6] NHS | Doxycyline | https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/doxycycline/  

[7] Planned Parenthood | Sex Toys | https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sex-pleasure-and-sexual-dysfunction/sex-and-pleasure/sex-toys  

[8] Wired | Sex toys are switching from hedonism to health| https://www.wired.co.uk/article/sex-toys-health-whats-next-2021  

[9] PRN |Wellness Month: New Survey Finds 61% of Respondents Use Sex Toys to Enjoy With Their Partners | https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wellness-month-new-survey-finds-61-of-respondents-use-sex-toys-to-enjoy-with-their-partners-301134614.html