For the first time, users can share their pleasure data for science, and researchers can use real world sex data for groundbreaking research.
This is Liz, co-founder and CEO ofLioness, the company behind the first smart vibrator that uses biofeedback, precision sensors, and data to help people learn more about their own arousal, orgasms, and pleasure on their own terms.
Our team is excited to announce the launch of the first-of-its-kindLioness Sex Research Platform.
Previously, one of the most cutting edge studies on physiological sexual function was conductedback in 1980s with no more than 11 participants in a lab. And more recent followups have all used similarly small sample sizes.
Lioness has been able to analyzemore than 50,000 fully anonymized orgasms fromthousands of users around the world since launching our first product in late 2017. These are sessions from real-world scenarios — not in sterile labs, but in bedrooms and anywhere where someone wants to experiment. This opens up a lot of possibilities for new research and exploration in understanding sexual response in a lot of different people and in a lot of different scenarios.
There’s so much potential for what we can learn from our pleasure — answers to so many unanswered questions, including and questions we don’t even know we have yet. Our team is excited to use our technology to connect researchers and interested users to accelerate our collective understanding of sex, pleasure, and health.
Why does the Lioness Research Platform matter?
1. Our knowledge about physiological sexual function hasn’t progressed much since the 1980s.
A lot has changed since the 1980s. We have iPhones instead of Sony Walkmans; the Human Genome Project was started and completed; we discovered Viagra and have a better understanding of health risks associated with having erectile dysfunction.
But our understanding of physiological sexual function and orgasm — especially for women and people with vaginas — has been practically frozen in time for generations.
Certain things like the acknowledgment of the clitoris had its redux during the Cliteracy campaign. But it was the same news, different day. The acknowledgment of the clitoris has been discovered and buried over and over again for centuries.
The lack of new research and difficulty to make it happen in our current socio-political environment means that our knowledge base on sexual function has been relatively standstill since the 1980s. There’s still so much we don’t know about how our bodies work in general and especially in terms of sex, pleasure, and orgasm. Through the Lioness Research Platform, we strive to help usher in this new era with the technological capabilities we’ve built over the last decade. We’re using cutting-edge, contemporary technology to cut through the fog that’s stuck around for decades.
2. For decades there has been a lack of financial and institutional support for sex research, especially research using physiological data from people with vaginas.
As one of our research partners, Dee Hartman, co-founder of the Center for Genital Health and Education has said, “Historically, quality, prospective, evidence-based research on normal sexual function in women has been difficult to impossible to carry out, as requests for funding have been viewed as too ambiguous or risque. The Lioness Research Platform will allow CFGHE to support broad-based and ongoing studies that are sorely missing and needed.”
Our belief at Lioness is that we can help open up new opportunities for research that has been difficult to carry out by providing more options. The Lioness Research Platform is not meant to replace current ways of doing research but is meant to expand options available to researchers given the historical challenges in this particular field. Instead of just working from a lab to collect physiological data, researchers have the option to conduct some studies remotely, use real-world data (instead of or in addition to lab-data), recruit participants from all over the world and not be limited to a geographic location, recruit current Lioness users or select new people based on their own criteria, and ask about existing data rather than needing to gather new data.
3. Drug studies have historically focused on male subjects — and that has unintended consequences for women, transgender people, and non-binary people.
About 80% of rodent drug studies are conducted only on males before the drugs are given to patients. People can metabolize and react to drugs differently depending on their biological sex, hormones, and a number of other factors, so the focus on male subjects can have unintended consequences for women, transgender people, and non-binary people.
Additionally, eight out of 10 drugs withdrawn from the US market by the FDA between 1997 to 2000 posed greater health risks for women than for men. Studies have shown that women are 1.5 times more likely to develop an adverse reaction to prescriptions than men.
The Lioness Research Platform is open to people of all genders, but because of the nature of our product, the group of opt-in participants will primarily include cis-gender women, transgender people, and non-binary people — people who are from representative groups that have been historically ignored in medical research. This research platform can not only help usher in research about sex, it can also help usher in more individualized research that’s not primarily focused on cis-men.
4. Doctors need this research and education, too.
Most doctors don’t get adequate education on sexual response and orgasm. The average medical school student receives just 3 to 10 hours of sexual health education. And most of that consists of STI prevention and pregnancy education.
We’re also seeing a massive OB/GYN shortage in the United States. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimated in 2017 that "half of all U.S. counties lack a single OB/GYN." At the same time, many practicing OB/GYNs are increasingly serving as a patient’s main doctor and do not have time to help patients with other sexual wellness needs. As a consequence, it’s been really hard to prioritize sexual wellness as a topic worth studying.
Our hope is that the Lioness Research Platform will make it easier to do important research that specialists in the scientific and medical communities have been wanting to do for decades, and subsequently make it easier for healthcare workers to learn more about the role of sexual function and wellness in health and apply it to their work with patients when necessary.
5. Our understanding of sexual function could be a missing puzzle piece for a variety of health conditions.
There's vast potential for the better understanding of sexual response is vast. Not only could we use this technology to better understand pleasure and why different things work for different people, we could better understand how sexual function can affect our health as well as how our health plays a role in our sex lives.
For example, thanks to the introduction of Viagra and Cialis to address erectile dysfunction, doctors know that ED in men and people with penises can sometimes be a symptom of underlying cardiovascular problems and indicate a higher chance of having a heart attack.
We don’t have an equivalent of this research for women and people with vaginas, even though heart attacks are the leading cause of death for women in the United States — killing more women than all forms of cancer combined — and according to the CDC, only "about half (56%) of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer." For various sociological and feasibility reasons, it hasn’t been possible to do the same kinds of physiological studies for women as it has been for men. The introduction of Lioness’s devices and platform can make research like this more possible than ever before.
Imagine if we tried to study the heart without knowing much about the heartbeat. We’ve been trying to study the orgasm and have mostly ignored the physiology of the sexual response cycle. It’s about time we change that.
How the Lioness Research Platform works
1. Lioness has the largest data set on sexual function in the world. It is the only entity that has the tools and capabilities to make a platform for crowdsourced sex data possible.
Since the product first came out in mid-2017, Lioness has analyzed more than 50,000 fully anonymized orgasms from thousands of users across different ages, ethnicities, gender identities, and backgrounds around the world. With this platform, opted-in users can share physiological data paired with user-submitted tags to help track subjective aspects and behaviors with each session.
2. Users can opt in to research they care about and engage with (or not) research however they are comfortable.
We don’t want to keep these capabilities locked up for ourselves. However, we're also mindful of creating this platform fairly for users to participate if they want to and consent, and for researchers to use the platform if it can benefit their work.
Some of the benefits of providing this platform for researchers and consenting users include: for Lioness to be able to provide more insights and capabilities to our users, for researchers to enrich their studies with data they’ve never had access to before, and for users to enrich their sex lives and overall wellbeing.
As such, we want to make these tools available for medical and academic researchers to connect with users who want to contribute to research and opt in.43% of Lioness users across age, gender, and location have expressed interest in participating in research to learn more about themselves and to help our society better understand sexual health and pleasure.
3. One of the first users of the platform will be the Center for Genital Health and Education (CFGHE), a non-profit research center focused on evidence-based research for people with vulvas.
“Our first goal is to validate the Lioness as a viable research tool. From there, we’re excited to use the technology for studies related to arousal and orgasm behaviors across a broad demographic,” says Dee Hartmann, co-founder of CFGHE.
On an ongoing basis, Lioness is also notifying researchers from international medical and academic communities about this technology and platform to encourage them to incorporate it into research across multiple disciplines related to sex, health, medicine, psychology, sociology, and more.
While 2020 has been challenging at best, we hope the future of sex will be bright—
Both for our users’ personal enrichment and for our collective benefit. Our team still has a lot of work to do as we continue building and refining our tools and the research platform over time. We will keep fine-tuning our technology to make it more and more accessible, but establishing this platform is a big first step toward achieving our lofty goals.
It’s a tall order, but at Lioness we’ll do our best to keep accelerating our understanding of sex into the 21st century and beyond.
Lioness (www.lioness.io) is women-led company and a recognized pioneer and innovator in the Sextech and Femtech industries. Their in-house ex-Google X and ex-Amazon engineering team uses cutting-edge technologies to create new experiences for sexual exploration that were previously unimaginable.
Although their first product, the Lioness Smart Vibrator, may look like a basic sex toy, it's the first and only vibrator to improve orgasms through biofeedback and data. The Lioness Smart Vibrator was developed from over half a decade of research and development with sex researchers and doctors as well as conducting numerous user studies, analyzing 50,000+ orgasms, and incorporating the latest machine-learning developments. Lioness brings patented biofeedback technology previously only ever seen in research labs into a sleek, easy-to-use vibrator with an intuitive mobile app.
Today, the Lioness Sex Research Platform connects users and researchers to accelerate our medical and academic understanding of sexual wellness, health, and pleasure. Lioness is committed to its mission of destigmatizing female pleasure and correcting the systematic imbalances in sexual health research and education.
The Lioness Smart Vibrator took home multiple Best of awards at CES, won the Women's Health Innovation Spotlight Powered by Johnson & Johnson, and was a finalist for Last Gadget Standing, one of the longest-running events produced by Living in Digital Times (LIDT) in partnership with CTA. Their engineering lead and Co-Founder Anna Lee is on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2020.
Contact Liz Klinger Co-founder and CEO of Lionesspress@lioness.io
CFGHE is a non-profit, independent research center founded by sexuality educator Elizabeth Wood, MSW, CSSE and pelvic floor physical therapist Dee Hartmann, DPT, PT — pioneers in their fields with over five decades of combined experience.
Their mission is to provide high quality, evidence-based, independent research that will provide practical information to advance three main goals:
Champion the study of genital diversity as the norm for all vulvas
Advance education of sexual pain and pleasure by researching sexual function in the bedroom and out of the research lab
Understanding pleasure, arousal and orgasm throughout the lifecycle
For more information visit:www.genitalhealth.org.
Contact Dee Hartmann, DPT Co-founder of Center for Genital Health & Educationdee@genitalhealth.org