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Let's Talk About Sexual Wellness by Meagan Nicholson & Pepper Together


Photo Credit: Angela Roma


We are sexual beings by nature. Human beings are built to yearn for both emotional and physical connection with one another. How satisfied or dissatisfied we may be feeling in the bedroom can certainly translate to other areas of our life. The sexual experiences that we have can impact our mood, self-esteem, health, and how we may view the world around us. While having sex won't fix our mental health challenges, it can certainly have a positive impact on our overall wellness. When we are cultivating our sex life, whether it may be with a partner or solo, we are also taking care of our overall health. But how exactly does sex impact our mental health?


Studies have found that having regular sex can lead to a boost of serotonin production in the brain, improve self-esteem, distract us from anxious and stressful thoughts, and improve the quality of our sleep. Having regular sex can also lead to an increase in feelings of happiness and overall wellness, while also decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety. A 2021 study had found that participants that were sexually active during the Covid-19 related lockdown scored significantly lower in anxiety and depression than their non-sexually active counterparts. So now that we know how sex can positively impact our mental health, how might we cultivate our sexual wellness?


To explore this more in depth, I had an interview with Sarah and Lincoln Spoor, as well as their team at Pepper Together, a luxury sexual wellness brand based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Pepper Together defines themselves as curators, bringing the best in "lifestyle products, apparel, and toys, while providing information that encourages closeness and new channels of connection."


Can you share about what made you want to create Pepper Together?


Lincoln and I felt like the sexual wellness industry was antiquated – with typical “sex toy” stores often feeling dark and creepy and with so many sku’s that it felt overwhelming. We imagined a new experience for people – one where you felt safe and excited to walk through the doors, where the products were high quality and nicely curated and where employees at the store were able to answer any question that you had and made you feel comfortable.


We designed Pepper for just that reason. Our flagship store on the Las Vegas Strip is 6,000 square feet. It is also light and bright and very inviting. People feel comfortable as soon as they walk through the doors. One of the best parts of the store is the “toy bar” where people can sit and ask our Connection Concierges anything – whether it is how to spice up their relationship or what products to use after chemotherapy treatments. We create an environment that invites conversation and play. This is the heart and soul of Pepper.


How does Pepper Together define sexual wellness and why is it important?

 

Sexual wellness is about focusing on everything from pleasure to health. This can include

exploring your sexual preferences, finding ways to reconnect with your partner, finding new

ways to enjoy each other and so much more.


We believe it carries so much weight because it impacts anyone at any stage in life. It also gives

people another outlet to help them focus on their well-being. Someone’s sexual wellness does

not just affect their sex life it can make an impact on so many factors in one’s life. When your

sexual wellness is being overlooked you may be missing something that’s causing issues in your

daily life.


I really love how your company talks about changing the conversation

surrounding sex, making it easy, accessible, and fun. As a therapist, I find that many things can get in the way of people feeling comfortable talking about sex. Stigma and shame typically seems to get in the way often. What do you feel helps people to feel more comfortable talking about sex?


 For us, the hardest barrier to break down is that shame and stigma. Sometimes this means it

takes a little more time and patience to get to the root of an issue or truly get to know a client

before they can start to ask questions. Starting with an easy conversation and letting them see you on a very human level is a great way to start. We all talk about the weather, our jobs, and our travels, now maybe they’ll realize talking about sex can be just as simple a conversation.


It can take us sharing a little more personally with other clients and empathizing with a specific experience or feeling. For example, some of our other team members are experiencing menopause symptoms and find it easy to relate with a customer who is also at that stage. Once the customer feels you understand their experience, they feel more comfortable opening up and asking for recommendations or advice.


I truly admire how your brand and marketing features people of diverse ages, backgrounds, and body types. This is something that I feel the wellness industry as a whole is truly lacking. Can you share why it was important for Pepper Together to feature diversity?

 

Being in Las Vegas gives means we have an endlessly diverse clientele. We live in a city with so

many cultures giving it its heartbeat, and our hotel brings visitors from all over the world. I

think with a subject that can already feel inaccessible showing diversity upfront piques the

curiosity of those who haven’t been represented.


When a customer can see there are women of all ages and backgrounds ready to talk to them about this issue, they are more engaged and enthusiastic. This opens your eyes to the fact that we all still overcoming the ways we have been told to put all sexual conversations in a box. It reminds us that we would miss out on empowering so many women without focusing on diversity.


There are many different barriers that can get in the way of women connecting to their sexuality (i.e. body image, sexual trauma, religious trauma, shame, anxiety, etc.) What can people do to cultivate their sexual wellness?


Opening your mind to the idea of cultivating your sexual wellness can be a big step for many of

us who have felt stuck behind these barriers. And I think that being ready is the first big step for

many. Finding a partner, friend, or even family member to help on this journey is also

important. For some, it can be a very solitary journey but finding someone you can open to that

can also help you push your boundaries in a good way or help you ask questions will keep you

from staying stuck.


Can you share the benefits of using toys during couple play or while solo?


New sensations! Nothing is more fun than experiencing something brand new, on your own or

with a partner. Solo play will help you learn and get a feel for what’s pleasurable for you. It gives you your own one-on-one time for yourself, something I find a lot of us forget personally and sexually.

Pampering yourself brings many mental and physical benefits. Solo play is just another one of

these moments dedicated to you.


Couples’ play is for experimenting with each other and finding more ways to excite each other.

With couples new and old there can always be something new to discover about the other.

Sensory play can bring in new stimulants and tease the partner. Bringing in BDSM elements can

help strengthen communication and trust in a relationship. A favorite tip we give for couples is

the fun of remote toys. Having control over a partner’s orgasm can be quite a ride. It’s

sometimes forgotten how much pleasure it can bring you to see your partner in ecstasy.


Can you share how toys for solo use can be beneficial in helping women claim their sexuality?

 

I think for us this is something that is at the forefront. We meet all kinds of people and couples,

but we primarily work with women. For some of these women, it’s a big hurdle to jump, coming

in and asking questions. You can always see a shift in confidence during the experience when

they realize the things making them nervous or scared are things everyone can experience and

that they aren’t alone in asking these questions. I think once they realize they can take control

and claim their sexuality they gain confidence that stretches into other parts of their life. Solo

play may also give you the confidence to ask for something specific with a partner or empower

you to teach someone how you would like to be pleasured.


What advice do you have for anyone that is beginning to explore their sexuality with the use of toys?


Approaching the subject with an open mind finding those people you feel comfortable asking

advice or recommendations. Most cities don’t have an experience like Pepper, so maybe find

someone like a partner or a friend, that has been wanting to take this journey too. Everything is

easier with a little help; it’s just about finding a comfortable space to ask these questions like a

book or even this blog. Even solo exploration of what you like sexually before you buy a toy.

What zones on your body are most sensitive? Where do you find the most pleasure? This will

help you get started in a realm where you may not be able to ask as many questions at the toy

store itself.


What advice do you have for couples that are wanting to feel more intimately connected?


It’s ok to feel disconnected at times, but communication is the best thing to get you out of a funk.

Have a conversation about whether it’s sexual intimacy that needs a boost or finding the one-on-

one time you need to get on the same page. Yes, sex brings pleasure and there are so many ways

to explore, but without a focus on a good connection at the forefront that may be all you get. Ask

questions, touch base with each other, keep an open mind; and remember seeing your partner

pleasured sexually and emotionally can be superbly fun and enhance your connection. You won’t

make progress unless you are both ready to work as true partners.



Although a variety of barriers can get in the way of many being able to cultivate their sexual wellness, sex is still and always will be a very important part of life. Sex isn't a taboo topic and should be openly talked about. When we tend to our sexual wellness, we are taking care of overall health and giving space to a very important part of our identity. By exploring new things in the bedroom, whether it be with your partner or solo, you are able to find new ways of connection and closeness.




Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7584428/

https://www.ohsu.edu/womens-health/benefits-healthy-sex-life