I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Braun Scherl, author of the soon-to-be-released book Orgasmic Leadership* – *Or, Everything I Know I Learned as a Vagipreneur: Profiting from the Coming Surge in Female Health and Wellness.
It’s a catchy name for a book, and a word you’ve probably never heard before. Neither had I, and I couldn’t wait to find out more. Here’s the definition of vagipreneur: Rachel says “Vagipreneur—a moniker I hold dear (thank you to the great journalist, Abby Ellin)…succinctly describes a person in the business of female sexual health and wellness.” “Orgasmic leadership” is Rachel’s umbrella concept for work aimed at improving women’s health and wellness, particularly the sexual aspects.
Rachel is the CEO and Chief Strategist at Spark Solutions for Growth, a business strategy-consulting firm for large corporations and growth-oriented venture-backed start-ups. Facets of her vagipreneur life include being a speaker, teacher, and consultant. Developing these skills arose out of her business strategy for raising capital for Zestra, a topically applied oil that “increases female sexual sensation, arousal, and pleasure.” Along the way, she’s learned how to talk about the complicated interactions of trauma, chronic illness, obesity, hormonal changes, pregnancy, menopause, cancer treatment, and anything and everything else might affect a woman’s sexual health and functioning.
PCOS is a women’s health problem that receives dismal research funding and is poorly understood by researchers, many medical professionals, and the general public. The professionals who work in PCOS (research scientists, psychologists, doctors, etc.) are part of the world of vagipreneurs, even when they are non-profit organizations. In order to create change – better medical care, more funding for research, new products to treat symptoms of PCOS – we must continue bringing PCOS into the forefront of the public’s mind, as well as that of policymakers, corporations, and other influencers. If we are not advocating for our own health and wellness, who will? And the more big business pays attention to these issues, the more likely PCOS patients are to benefit from the expanded awareness, research, and investment into product development.
Many women with PCOS report having low libido, not feeling sexy or sexual, feeling embarrassed or ashamed about their appearance or sexual functioning, or worrying about their ability to please their partners or themselves. We need the vagipreneurs of the world because they are working to destigmatize sexuality, celebrate women’s sexuality, and enhance women’s sexual health and functioning on many levels. The more comfortable we get talking about these issues in public, the better.
In her career as a vagipreneur, Rachel has overcome many hurdles and learned to speak without shame or discomfort about sexual health matters, which makes it comfortable for other people to talk about as well. In fact, she said she had to “talk until my tongue fell out” in order to raise funds and get corporations to listen to the fact that women’s sexual health, pleasure, and well-being are big business. I believe this is a message that we in the PCOS world need to embrace as well. Sadly, money drives investment and research far more often than curiosity or goodwill. But again, we need to be our own best advocates if we are going to improve life for ourselves and future PCOS patients.
Scherl’s book describes creative solutions to product needs, approaches to marketing, products, and educators that maximize sexual health through knowledge, and women working to effect social change with women’s sexual health products. She interviews several innovative entrepreneurs (vagipreneurs), including Betty Dodson, Ph.D. whose motto is “Better Orgasms, Better World.” Featured entrepreneurs include Miki Agrawal of THINX Period Panties. Another educator/product innovator is Wendy Strgar of Good Clean Love, creators of non-toxic lubricants and other sexual health products. Collectively, these women are doing bold, brave work to change and improve how the world looks at female sexual health.
Orgasmic Leadership should be available for purchase now or no later than mid-2018. In the meantime, drop me a line at AskDrGretchen@gmail.com, and tell me what sexual health and functioning information you need to live a happier, healthier life with PCOS.
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