This is the s3x toy market.
In a society where people can hardly speak openly about sexual problems, Saturday Punch’s investigation shows that some vendors sell sex toys worth millions of naira every month.
A sex therapist and prominent s*x toy vendor, Mrs. Iheoma Obibi, explained that contemporary Nigerians are gradually coming out of some sort of “sexual darkness” and this is creating a boom in the market with an attendant influx of fake sex toys.
For the last six and half years, Kemi Fawole, a certified s*x therapist, has been dealing in adult products including sex toys.
She said that she sells at least N7m worth of s*x toys yearly. It is about the same for actress-turned s*x toy vendor, Bisi Ibidapo-Obe, who told a correspondent, “I cannot estimate how much of s*x toys I sell in a year but I know that in about three to six months, I rake in more than N3m.”
Yet, these two are just a small fraction of the numerous s*x toy vendors who now trade in the country.
Every now and then, a new vendor like Japhet Okoromadu enters the market and soon realises how supply of sex toys pales in comparison to the deluge of demands by Nigerians.
A correspondent met Japhet Okoromadu, who has just started selling s*x toys online about a year ago.
He said, “I sell penis enlargement pumps and vaginal tightening cream as well. Right now, the demand I get for s*x toys is more than my available stocks,” he said.
“I get male customers as much as female. Some ladies even chat with men, complaining bitterly how they are suffering in silence, and how their husbands cannot satisfy them. Eighty five per cent of complaints about sex that I get from clients is about not being satisfied by spouses. Unfortunately, most of the women cannot voice out their concern to their partners.”
Fawole also said some of her vibrators are as cheap as N5,000 while some are as high as N150,000. She said the common vibrators are between N5,000 and N20,000.
In Ibidapo-Obe’s store at Magodo, in Lagos, the cheapest s*x toy in her store sells for about N30,000 while the most expensive is about N200,000.
Judging by the volume of sales that many of the sex toy vendors our correspondents spoke with make annually, there is no doubt that the industry runs into several millions.
Crave for sexual fulfilment driving a multi-million naira market
“Why can’t you tell your husband you are not satisfied?” As innocent as this question is, when our correspondents interacted with some users of sex toys, it turned out to be at the heart of the demands that drive the adult products industry in the country.
At 32, Jane Adebola (not real name) has been married for three years. But that was enough time for her to almost give up hope of ever getting the level of the sexual satisfaction she deserves in her marriage.
When adebola shared her story with one of our correspondents, it was not in the coy, carefree banter in which issues of sex are often discussed among friends. She was serious. For her, it was not something to be joked with.
“Before I was married, I was sexually active for at least five years. That does not mean I was hopping from bed to bed, though. But the truth is that throughout that five years, I never experienced an orgasm. I was looking forward to my marriage because then, I knew I would get all the sexual fulfilment I wanted,” she said.
She confided in a correspondents that now, despite having a wonderful marriage and a husband that dotes on her, the sexual expectation she took into the marriage has all but waned.
“I realised that the issue of not reaching orgasm is a very big problem. I do reach orgasm, but only when I pleasure myself after my husband is done,” Adebola said.
But Adebola is not alone.
Planned Parenthood reports that one in three women has problems reaching orgasm with their partner, while up to 80 per cent of women struggle to orgasm from just intercourse.
S*x therapist, Funmi Akingbade, cited a report, which suggests that only 29 per cent of married women admit that they have orgasm with their husbands.
But for women like Adebola, the solution only lies in being “bold and experimental” in seeking sexual satisfaction.
Adebola said after suffering for so long and pretending that she was having a swell time anytime she had a sexual contact with her husband, she summoned the courage to tell him one day.
“He was shocked when I told him that he had never made me climax before. He believed that since I never complained, all was well. But we sat down and talked about it. I told him of my intention to buy a sex toy and he was very supportive,” she said.
Few months ago, a courier service delivered a nondescript package at their doorstep. That was the day “Jessica Rabbit” came into their lives.
It was learnt that there are two main types of vibrators (penile shaped s*x toys), the normal one that serves the purpose of penetration and another – Jessica Rabbit – that not only penetrates but also stimulates the clitoris in the process.
Since Jessica Rabbit came into Adebola’s home, life has not remained the same.
“I would never think about cheating on my husband. Today, I have no complaint. What my husband cannot finish, Jessica Rabbit perfects. With so many sex toys available these days, no woman should cheat on her husband just because he cannot satisfy her anymore,” she said.
But many people are not as adventurous as edible household food items still bear the brunt of their husband’s laxity.
One married woman disclosed how she was surprised that her friend was still using cucumber and carrot to pleasure herself despite the fact that she could simply order a suitable sex toy online in Nigeria now.
‘A s*x toy cannot break your heart’
Married women like Adebola are not the only ones who are beginning to embrace the use of sex toys in the country.
Rachael, a young single woman and resident of Lagos, who also shared her story anonymously like all the other users who volunteered to speak with our correspondents after much persuasion, explained that she even has two.
She started using a sex toy called “Bullet” in 2014 and has since acquired a second one. According to her, the toys “serve their purpose” twice in a month.
“A sex toy can only break, it cannot break your heart,” she said, a reasoning that underscores why she has resorted to its use.
According to her, since she was sexually active, she could not bear the thought of becoming intimate with a man, whose long-term commitment she is not sure of. Rather than satisfy her sexual urge by sharing her body with someone she could not totally trust, she uses sex toys.
So, her toys “keep the hungry beast fed” while she also does not have to worry about being dumped by a man she has become intimate with.
“The toys don’t get broken easily unless you go out of your way to destroy them. I get 100 per cent satisfaction from them. I had my first s*x toy in December 2014 and the second one in March 2016,” Rachael said.
Rachael said even after she began a relationship with a young man recently, she still continued the use of her vibrator, which she said the boyfriend was aware of.
But then, even men use s*x toys. There are abundant sex toys on Nigerian online shops made for men. As those for women have the phallic shape, those for men come in the shapes of the female genitalia, made with silicon material soft enough to give the necessary sensation.
Apart from the most common handheld s*x toys made for men, sex dolls are gradually gaining traction. Akin, an IT expert and Lagos resident, who admitted to his use of male s*x toys, said he is “lucky” enough to have acquired one, an inflatable life-size doll with a silicon adjustable genitalia.
Akin said the genitalia can be adjusted to be anyway he wanted it, tight or otherwise.
He revealed that after his last relationship ended after seven years, he found it difficult to find love again. He said even though he had had a number of casual s*x since then, it has been difficult finding a woman who understands him like his ex-girlfriend did.
He said, “My ex-girlfriend indulged all my sexual desires and knew exactly all the positions I liked. These days, being an IT man, I am in front of the computer most times and do not have time to search for a lover.
“So, I decided to order an inflatable sex doll. Even though it may sound perverted, I would rather hold on to my sex doll till I meet a suitable woman than waste my time chasing women around,” he said.
But of course, like many people who use s*x toys, Akin could not even tell his closest friend about his bedroom secret.
A society coming out of its shell
In a society where there is still a conservative attitude around s*x, many Nigerians, mostly educated, are beginning to come out of their shells for full sexual expression.
The term “s*x toy” does not exactly convey the seriousness behind the problems that force many married women and men to turn to the use of these aids. In fact, sex therapists and the traders who deal in these devices told our correspondents that it would be better to refer to them as “adult sex aids”.
Obibi, who has practised as a s*x therapist and sex toy vendor in Nigeria for more than six years, said, “People are beginning to understand and accept that it is important to have a healthy intimate life. Having a successful intimate life with your partner of choice is important and a key de-stressor whether male or female.
“As Nigerians have become better educated on the need for a fulfilled intimate life, they are beginning to utilise all possibilities to make this a reality for themselves.”
Obibi told a correspondents that her male customers, most of whom are over the age of 40, spend more on s*x toys than the female.
Asked what reason her customers usually give for wanting s*x toys and she said it is usually about expressing their unsatisfied sexual desires.
“The over 40s are comfortable in their sexual desire and skin and are able to decide if, what type and when they should buy a sex toy. The younger generations are more experimental in the kinds of s*x they engage in but are also willing to engage, to a certain degree, in risky sexual behaviour,” she said.
According to her, apart from requests by her male customers for products that increase the stamina, elongate the penis and delay ejaculation, she gets a lot of orders from women who want Jessica Rabbit.
Obibi said the industry is growing so big that vendors who sell quality products are now having to deal with substandard and cheap products brought in from China.
“The influx of fake Chinese sex toys, which produce odour and have other side effects is something to be concerned about. Yes, these are cheap but are they safe? This is why we cannot really estimate how large the industry has become,” she said.