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Mom Who Has Spent 20 Years Saving People's Sex Lives Can't Believe Talking About Pelvic Floors Is Still Taboo

Mom Who Has Spent 20 Years Saving People's Sex Lives Can't Believe Talking About Pelvic Floors Is Still Taboo
Kegel8®/ PA Real Life

An entrepreneurial mum who is celebrating 20 years of helping to save people's sex lives through her business is horrified that talking about pelvic floor problems is still so taboo.

Quitting her job as an air hostess when it stopped suiting her lifestyle after having her son, Luke, 31, single Stephanie Taylor, 58, launched a condom mail order company in 1988, particularly targeting women, followed by a “non-salacious" sex toys start-up, which grew into her latest venture selling devices to strengthen the pelvic floor.

Launching Kegel8 in 2000, where her son now heads up the IT department, the business is such a resounding success that Stephanie now employs 40 people, ships her devices across the world and hopes to crack Australia, New Zealand and the USA in 2020.

Stephanie Taylor (Kegel8®/ PA Real Life)

The high flyer, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, said:

“My business isn't just about making money – it's more about the message we're selling."
“I'm on a mission to encourage women everywhere to take back control and proactively look after their pelvic floors."
“Pelvic floors need to be taken care of – just like if you don't brush your teeth they'll fall out, and if you don't do your pelvic floor exercises your vagina might fall out."

Stephanie Taylor (Collect / PA Real Life)

She added:

“And by improving the strength of the pelvic floors it'll stop leakage and also increase sensation and give you a better orgasm."

Stephanie says her interest in helping women to strengthen their pelvic floors was a natural progression from her other businesses, as they brought to her attention how many women lost sensation in that area after childbirth.

Once she had spotted the link between lack of sensation and weak pelvic floors, it seemed only natural to start selling medically certified devices to help strengthen them.

But, 20 years after launching her venture, Stephanie is dismayed by how many women are still trying to see the “funny side of laughter leaks" and do not understand the “crushing" implications of not doing their pelvic floor exercises.

“To be honest, I think it's really sad that not many women have as much knowledge about their pelvic floors as they should have."
“Not maintaining the pelvic floor can have a horrific physical impact. It can cause a prolapse or incontinence and it can have mental repercussions too."
“It could be a real block on a person's love life, because you either won't feel the orgasm or you won't be able to control when you leak or, in some cases, you won't be able to control your wind."
“People don't realize how serious it is."

Meanwhile, Stephanie believes being a successful entrepreneur was always her destiny.

Stephanie Taylor (Collect / PA Real Life)

She said:

“Being a business owner is always something that's appealed to me. I like my independence and I've always been a hard worker."
“I grew up on a farm and I worked on the farm from the age of eight, so I've had a strong work ethic since I was a child."

An air hostess in her early 20s, which included a stint of living in the Middle East and took her all over the world, she had the time of her life.

But falling pregnant made it impractical and in 1987 she quit.

“I loved being a new mum once Luke was born, but I still needed mental stimulation."
“Whenever he was asleep, I would research ideas for what business I could start."

Stephanie Taylor (Kegel8®/ PA Real Life)

Always “passionate about intimate health" Stephanie soon had a lightbulb moment.

“It was around the time of the AIDS epidemic, so I thought about doing something with condoms."
“I'd always felt there was a bit of a taboo around women carrying them. To me it felt like women were judged for carry a condom around with them, when in reality, all they're doing is looking after themselves."

Stephanie Taylor (Collect / PA Real Life)

She said:

“The negative outlook always bothered me."

With that in mind, in 1988 Stephanie's first business Passion8—a condom mail order service—was born.

“I started out selling condoms by mail order, then I branched out to supply condoms for the take-out adverts you used to get in the back of glossy magazines."

Stephanie Taylor (Collect / PA Real Life)

“I also secured a contract to supply condoms to the NHS."

With her safe-sex start-up proving an instant success, Stephanie continued to grow the venture with “non-salacious" sex toys.

“I started selling sex toys to clinics and to private therapists."
“It was successful because I wasn't selling products with salacious packaging or any sort of lewd connotation—it was matter of fact."
“It was more like, 'Here's a sex toy that will help improve a struggling couple's sex life,' and I sold them into clinics."
“We also sold sex toys for women who had suffered with a loss of sensation for whatever reason—birth trauma, poor pelvic floors, or something different—into psychosexual clinics."

She said:

“We supplied what we called 'the magic wand,' which was a sex toy with a stronger vibration, and it helped the women to feel some sort of sensation again."

Finding out what caused women to lose feeling, coupled with the changes Stephanie experienced in her own body after childbirth, gave her another business idea.

“Lots of women were complaining of a lack of feeling or sensation after child birth."

Stephanie Taylor (Kegel8®/ PA Real Life)

“And after I had Luke, I noticed huge changes in my own body—especially as I suffered with nerve damage and had to have stitches."
“Especially if you've had a bit of a difficult birth, it's important to make sure your pelvic floor is strong."

These thought processes led to the birth of Stephanie's second business, Kegel8, in 2000, which she runs from headquarters in Hull, East Yorkshire.

Stephanie Taylor (Kegel8®/ PA Real Life)

“Now I sell Kegel devices, which cost anything from £30 to £169 ($40-$221), which are used to exercise the pelvic floor."
“When I first launched the business, they were only available in clinics, so I decided to approach the manufacturer and see if they'd work with me directly."
“Talking about pelvic floors can still be deemed embarrassing, so sometimes people will put off going to the doctors about it."
“By selling the device directly to women they don't have to go through the embarrassment of speaking to a doctor about it – they can just buy it online."

She added:

“The device is just a probe, a bit like a tampon. You insert it in the vagina, and it sends electrical impulses directly to the pelvic floor."
“Now we sell Kegel devices on Amazon and on our own website as well as selling them to NHS clinics and private practices."

Her business has made Stephanie acutely aware of the importance for women to strengthen their pelvic floors after childbirth.

Stephanie Taylor (Kegel8®/ PA Real Life)

“Life is busy and new mums are always charging around looking after their baby and their own health goes to the back of the queue."
“New mums need to take care of themselves and their pelvic floors."

And it's not just after giving birth that weak pelvic floors can come into play, according to Stephanie, who insists they can occur in women of all shapes and ages.

“I really admire body positive activists who are 'Big and Proud' and embrace their curves."
“But what they probably don't realize, because it's not talked about, is that weight gain can have a profound impact on the pelvic floor."
“A lady can be a healthy size 12 or 14, but if she puts on a bit of weight, say seven pounds, it can be the difference between wetting herself and having control."
“Extra weight puts extra pressure on the pelvic floor."

According to Stephanie, the menopause can be a cause for concern too.

“When the skin starts to sag—the boobs and bum start to go—the pelvic floors start to go, too."
“Especially in later life, if you've not done your pelvic floor exercises you can become incontinent."

Luke Taylor (Kegel8®/ PA Real Life)

She said:

“After dementia, incontinence is the second largest reason why people end up in care homes earlier—so basically, do your pelvic floor exercises or it could lead to a fast track into a care home."

And Stephanie has not just shared her insight into maintaining pelvic floor muscles with women.

Realizing that men also need to maintain them, as they support the bladder and bowel, while strengthening them could vastly improve their sex lives, Stephanie launched a male pelvic floor toner in 2011.

Stephanie Taylor (Kegel8®/ PA Real Life)

“The male version of the device is designed to strengthen and invigorate the pelvic floor muscles."
“Having a weak pelvic floor can be a serious issue for men, too. But if they strengthen them, they'll get a better sensation as a result."
“In the last year we've had record sales of the male devices and sold 350 % more than we did 2018."

She continued:

“I don't know if women now taking control and looking after themselves has had a knock-on effect and they're now encouraging their husbands and boyfriends to do the same – or, if the men are just doing it off their own back."

One thing Stephanie is positive about is that her own unshakeable belief in her products is responsible for her enviable business success.

“I think I've made my business a success because I believe in the products so much."

Stephanie Taylor (Kegel8®/ PA Real Life)

“For me, it's not about making money it's about making sure people hear my message. And I'm certainly not afraid of a bit of competition. 'Bring it on,' is what I say. The more people we get talking about pelvic floors the better."
“For men and woman the consequences of having weak pelvic floors can be life crushing."
“We need to do all we can to maintain them and keep control."

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