As of last year, changes in sexual frequency accounted for about one-third of the decline in happiness since 2012 and almost 100 percent of the decline in happiness since 2014. Additionally, nearly 50% of people in relationships report that they’re bored with their sex lives, and 38% of women don’t want sex as much as they wish they did. Without the proper language to communicate these struggles or the tools to effectively resolve them, many people are resigned to thinking their sex life has plateaued.
This is why Isharna Walsh founded Coral in 2018. Sex is one of the primary pillars of human happiness, however, we spend less time working on it than we do other aspects of wellness like exercise, diet and mindfulness. Coral’s first product is an app designed to help you improve desire, sexual performance and alleviate boredom with a personalized mix of informative science, relevant stories and powerful exercises created by experts.
One example of this is the guided audio exercise Coral created for us at Lora DiCarlo, featuring our award-winning robotic clitoral stimulator, Baci. Coral's in-house sex and intimacy expert, Zoe Kors, takes listeners on a soothing audio journey to explore the bounds of pleasure.
We spoke to Walsh about how Coral was born out of a personal journey, the science behind sex and how many people her app has helped so far.
What Drove You To Start Coral?
When I was 26 I was in a long-term relationship and I realized the sex I was having wasn’t great, I also realized how ill-equipped I was to navigate that. I didn’t know how to talk about it in a way that didn’t lead to defensiveness, and I didn’t know what was normal. I had no idea what I had the right to ask for, or what was a reasonable response from my partner.
So I decided to explore. I read books, I did courses, I learned and I talked to a lot of people about it. I realized I didn't really know how my brain and body worked in relation to sex, I only understood my partners on the most basic level and I hadn't explored the extent of pleasure and connection that was possible.
My journey took years, and I wanted to find a way to give that knowledge to people without having to jump through the hoops I did.
What Were Some Of The Revelations You Had During Your Own Sexual Wellness Journey?
In the course of my explorations, I really discovered the extent to which people are unsatisfied sexually. I had no idea about the size of the issue that this is in our society until I set out to learn this stuff for myself.
One of the biggest personal revelations I had was learning that I needed to claim my own sexual pleasure for myself and put away the guilt and shame from it. Exploring my sexuality and pleasure as one aspect of my human experience has been one the biggest shifts in my overall health and well-being.
What’s One Thing You Wish People Were Taught About Sex In School?
That your sexuality is yours, it doesn’t belong to anyone else and you don’t owe anyone anything sexually.
I was lucky to grow up in an environment that was strong on teaching us about sexual health, which means I was given education about contraception and STIs, but I was never taught about pleasure or my role in an intimate relationship. And for women, especially, we aren’t encouraged to have full sexual agency or that we have the right to shame-free pleasure and connection.
How Can An App Help People Have Better Sex?
I’ll let my colleague Dr. Kristen Mark answer that!
“The vast majority of us have received little to no sex education. If we have, it is often biased, shame-based, and far from comprehensive or inclusive. Also, it doesn’t give us the tools to navigate an actual adult conversation with a partner! Sex is something that is universally relevant but no one wants to talk about it. Coral offers an easier way into those conversations through honest discussion forums, real life stories, and illuminating exercises and provides the education to accompany it.”
How Does Coral Work?
We’ve created what we call the three pillars: Learn, Talk and Play. Learn helps users develop a better understanding of their own bodies and minds and how they work in relation to intimacy. That can help them experience intimacy differently. Talk normalizes discussing sexual topics and validates experiences through community stories and discussion forums. Play encourages individuals to explore their pleasure in new ways and couples to connect differently than they may have before. Some of these activities include meditation that connects them to desire or a tutorial on intimate acts.
What Are Some Of The Responses You’ve Been Getting From Users?
The responses we’ve gotten from reviews on the app stores, in emails from users and from surveys and user interviews has been overwhelmingly positive. We know that we are on the right track and that we’re making a positive impact on people’s lives, which is unbelievably rewarding.
What’s Next For Coral?
We’ve just unveiled a new way to interact with Coral, which is where we ask users to choose specific goals that they are interested in pursuing and then we give them personalized content to help them achieve their goals. Next up we’re developing a way for partners to use Coral together to improve their sexual relationship.
General Social Survey (2019)
Institute for Family Studies (2019)
Mark, KP & Kerner, I (2014). Relationship boredom survey. Good in Bed Surveys.
APA Shifren, Jan L. MD; Monz, Brigitta U. MD; Russo, Patricia A. PhD; Segreti, Anthony PhD; Johannes, Catherine B. PhD Sexual Problems and Distress in United States Women: Prevalence and Correlates, Obstetrics & Gynecology: November 2008 - Volume 112 - Issue 5 - p 970-978