Emily Sauer is an absolute boss. She’s a kickboxing (Muay Thai practicing), community leading entrepreneur and sexual health advocate. But you might know her as the “ending painful sex” lady from the NowThis video.
Like many women, she’s suffered from Genito Pelvic Pain Penetration Disorder or GPPPD (i.e. painful intercourse) for over a decade. She met with multiple OB-GYNs, but never got a proper diagnosis and was instead told to “relax,” “have a glass of wine,” and “not worry about it.” That’s when she took matters into her own hands and created Ohnut, a body-safe intimate wearable that’s used to control the depth of penetration.
On average, female pain isn’t treated as seriously as male pain, and even after a diagnosis has been made, however, it’s often not the end of the story. Based on Sauer’s own personal experience, she’s seen that people are often interested in the diagnostic side of painful sex in order to understand the physical reason which can cause emotional upheavals and apocalyptic relationship dynamics.
“Sometimes when we have a diagnosis, the self-badgering, the blame, the judgemental void — it all goes away,” explains Sauer. “However, other times root causes of discomfort aren’t physical. Stress, trauma, and anticipation of pain can actually reinforce pain in their own right.”
When Sauer found herself in an intensely failing relationship with little confidence and no courage to admit that sex was painful, she knew she needed to make a change. After sharing her dilemma with a co-worker, the two came up with a “crazy idea to put a pink frosted donut on a penis” and suddenly Ohnut was born, changing the way Sauer viewed sex forever. The wearable provides up to four rings a penetrative partner could wear that will provide comfort — and enjoyment — for both parties.
Ohnut sparks conversations between partners about how their sex might feel better, and in this way acts as a gentle mental and physical buffer — which alone can cause the body to relax in a completely new, supported way.
Sauer has used her company and platform to do more than just provide a product that makes sex less painful and more pleasurable, the Ohnut website also has vital educational materials on topics like fibroids, postpartum sex, sexy audio apps, and the Pain Perception Project (PPP), which is a first-of-its-kind patient-founded initiative aiming to produce tools for better communicating pain. The PPP gives users the wording they can use to talk to their physicians and provides a HIPAA compliant Pelvic Pain Assessment test, that once completed is a printable PDF that facilitates patient/provider communication and aids the referral process. Ohnut hopes to build out additional free resources like this throughout 2020.
Additionally, Sauer has gone one step further and created a roundtable of empowered women called the Lady Bits League. The women of LBL co-create a deeper understanding of how sexual identity informs individual and collective lives. (Request an invite for the next discussion by giving your email address.)
From living with the lonely reality of painful sex, Sauer has made it her mission to help others (and has even hinted that she may give a TED talk in the future)! She has shown that life is too short to live with pain — and pain doesn’t have to define you.
Johanie Cools is a blogger, writer, book editor, and aspiring author. Follow her on Twitter at @jmartdotcom or on Medium at @jmcools.