This brand is changing the face of sexual wellness and smashing stigmas around sexual health
Sexual wellness brand HANX wants the world to stop being weird about our sex lives, pronto.
Written by HYER NEWSROOM
Sexual wellness brand HANX wants the world to stop being weird about our sex lives, pronto. Co-founded in 2017 by schoolmates Dr Sarah Welsh and Farah Kabir, a gynaecology doctor and investment banker respectively, HANX was inspired by the experience of being embarrassed to be seen shopping in the condom and lubricant aisle.
Realising this embarrassment came from both the stigma around sexual health in general, as well as the “penis-centric messaging” of most standard products, Sarah and Farah decided a female-oriented intimate wellness brand was well overdue.
While it may feel in 2022 that there are few issues people aren’t vocal about, the topic of sexual and intimate health is still relatively taboo in many communities. In an environment where people are increasingly comfortable discussing previously hushed topics, from mental health to politics, why are we still so squeamish about sex?
This is precisely the problem HANX is seeking to address. Not only can a lack of holistic approach to sex education cause serious stigma, but it can also cause genuine health concerns. With such a vast amount of products being geared towards males, vaginal health is often neglected altogether as a consideration – an issue co-founder Sarah encountered firsthand as a gynaecologist.
Interview with Dr Sarah Welsh, CEO & Co-Founder
“Poor sex ed, enduring myths, misconceptions, dangerous viral health hacks on social media and misogyny have turned sex and vaginal care into taboo topics – and it’s impacting our collective health.”
Dr Sarah Welsh, Co-Founder
As well as offering their own sustainable, gynae-backed sexual wellness products (all of which are vegan certified, biodegradable and 100% natural), HANX is also hoping to open up the conversation and empower people to own their sexual health journey. With an approachable tone of voice and access to expert information, HANX is much more than just a condom brand. You don’t need to search very hard online to find a vast array of hocum when it comes to women’s intimate wellbeing.
There are a huge number of myths on the topic which circulate online, most of which propagate toxic body messaging and exist to sell products women not only don’t need, but can have an actively negative effect. HANX wants to make women reconsider how they treat their bodies, considering everything from physical health to emotional wellbeing. With a focus on education, the aim is to break the negative cycle which plays on insecurities, enabling a sex positive environment in its place. A lot of this starts with navigating the taboo of talking about such topics, in order to change the conversation.
Of course it isn’t just online that misinformation around sexual health circulates. School-age sex education in the UK still leaves a lot to be desired, particularly when it comes to women and people with uteruses. The gender medical gap often goes unacknowledged, yet women’s health is under-researched, under-funded and often still shrouded in stigma and taboos. Lack of extensive knowledge also leaves people unable to advocate for their health, to confidently communicate and feel empowered to make decisions to protect themselves and their partners.
Factor in the judgement and ostracisation many people, particularly ethnic minorities, can face from within their community, and this can lead to detrimental health ramifications. For example, untreated syphilis can cause long-lasting damage to the heart or brain – all because individuals may feel too ashamed, or not have the appropriate knowledge, to seek the help that they need.
“Every single person on the planet should be able to know exactly what they’re putting into their body, how to keep themselves safe and feel empowered to have and discuss sex on their own terms.
The world doesn’t need a one-size-fits-all solution. It needs the tools to help each and every one of us figure out what that looks like to you personally.”
Dr Sarah Welsh, Co-Founder
HANX has already enjoyed several key successes since its conception, hitting 1 million condoms in circulation in 2021 and having been featured in the likes of Vogue, Forbes, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and beyond. In response to the lack of access to sexual health clinics brought about by the pandemic, they launched their hormonal contraception service. With a trusted pharmacy partner, they have supplied many with much-needed birth control pills and the morning after pill. HANX is also proud to partner with charity organisation School of Sexual Education, supporting their work bringing a more inclusive, sex-positive future of sex ed to classrooms all over the UK.
Co-founder Sarah describes seeing the impact of HANX in daily messages from customers, ranging from those who never knew that lubricant wasn’t supposed to sting or that they could compost condoms, to people who used HANX for their first time having sex.
One of the founders’ favourite messages they’ve received was from a customer expressing her gratitude that the brand exists for her baby daughter. Empowering future generations of girls and women to own their sexual health journeys is a step towards the progress HANX is hoping to bring about. In an ideal world, all people would confidently and comfortable own their sexual wellness free of shame or embarassment.
With decreased stigma around buying the products, the hope is for more people to feel at ease with not only discussing the topic of their intimate wellbeing but also to actively prioritise it as a health concern. Looking to the future HANX hopes to be a household name, providing products for every stage of the journey – from the first time having sex, right through to first childbirth and beyond.
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