Just because you have difficulty with mobility in your hands or arms doesn’t mean the rest of you stops working like it used to! It was that thought that inspired Aussie sex-toy creator JD Ryan to work on a pleasure device for people with hand or wrist conditions.
Ryan, who’s worked in the adult industry for 25 years, came up with the idea after suffering from arthritis herself, revealing that experiencing the pain firsthand helped inspire her vision.
“I have a sports injury and when you get to a certain age, everyone you talk to is complaining about something feeling sore. We’re all going, ‘Oh my God were turning into grumpy old people’! But we all still feel like ourselves,” she says.
“Even people in their 90s still feel like themselves,” she adds. “[Some people] might feel surprise about mature people still wanting to have sex. I just think we’re all people, we grow old with the things we like to do and who we are [as people], and some of the physical ageing things can get in the way.
“I wanted to address the simple thing of stopping any physical issues getting in the way of somebody maintaining their sexual health or simply having pleasure.”
Her invention, named the AVA, is designed for both solo use and use by couples, with both male and female sleeves available.
While she acknowledged that some women can lose desire as they get older and go through menopause, others still have plenty of sex drive and should have an outlet for that – whether they’re in a relationship or not.
“I want this product to be available so you choose when, how and where you have that pleasure,” she reckons. “It’s on your own terms.”
So, how does the AVA make it easier for people with arm, hand and wrist conditions to use a vibrator? Ryan explains that her device has a flared handle at the top that can be held between just the first and second finger of the hand. Meanwhile, the switch is placed close to it so it’s fairly easy to operate with the thumb.
“The weight of the original AVA sleeve is designed to point downwards when you just hold it, without any flexing of the hand,” she adds. “Some of those elements are perfectly comfortable to use if you have arthritis … I have arthritis in my hands, I have friends and test pilots with various tendon problems in their wrists and hands too. They’ve all tested it.”
Of course, Starts at 60 needed to put these claims to the test, so we recruited a reader who was happy to give the AVA a go. She requested that we keep her anonymous only to avoid embarrassing her adult son with her revelations!
The reader reports that the AVA was perfectly comfortable to use and while she doesn’t have arthritis in her hands herself, she believes it could be easily held by anyone suffering from hand or wrist pain.
“Handling it wasn’t an issue,” she says. “To use it one only needs one’s thumb and forefinger rather than having to grasp it with one’s entire hand, so anyone with arthritic hands wouldn’t have a problem.”
She describes the experience of using it as “very, very interesting”.
“Having coated it with a liberal amount of personal lubricant, we set about the task at hand (so to speak),” she reports. “But, at this point, I would have to say that it was no substitute for the real thing as there are some things that one might do during coitus that you wouldn’t do to a vibrating, rubber gadget!”
The AVA’s silicone sleeves don’t absorb lubricants or body fluids and are removable, so can be sterilised separately to ensure they’re thoroughly cleaned.
Sure enough, our reader says: “It was easy to clean. In fact, both parts of said implement were left draining in my dish rack to air dry.”
Explaining how her vision first began, Ryan said she previously worked as an artisan producing other sex toy products from medical-grade silicones.
She had initially quit her government job to open a small boutique specialising in the products, before going on to design her own – using her passion for technology to help her come up with innovative ideas. Unfortunately, while her team worked on a range of new products, they couldn’t scale them and struggled with matching supply and demand. That’s what led her to specialise more specifically on the AVA sex toy.
“We were absolutely devastated not to be able to take up those opportunities,” she admits. Luckily, AVA is more scaleable and is already proving to be a success.
To find out more about AVA and other Downunder Toys products, you can visit the official website here.