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When it comes to men’s sexual health, it can be a little difficult to discuss. Okay, fine, it’s rarely discussed. That’s where the fellas over at Pure for Men come in. If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, they offer various products from fiber supplements to bidets to skincare products…and more.
If you’re on TikTok or Instagram, you may have noticed their ads focused on men’s wellness and personal care. I had a chance to sit down with the team and learn more about the company and the men behind the products.
I met with Lawrence and Fabian the co-founders and CEO and CMO respectively, as well as team members Chris and Ryan to discuss the men’s wellness products and why they decided to create the line.
Read on for the full interview with the guys at Pure for Men.
How did you get your start in the supplement business?
Pure for Men founders Naaman Esquivel, Lawrence Johnson, and Fabian Prado (L to R)
Photo courtesy of Pure for Men
Lawrence: We considered ourselves serial entrepreneurs during our high school years by selling anything from candy to music CDs. When we were sophomores in college, we came up with the idea that anal sex needed to be clean and worry-free. Google was less than 5 years old at the time and didn’t have a lot of tips on how to stay clean. We were trying to figure out how porn stars were able to have anal sex with no issues.
One piece of advice we were given was to get more fiber in your diet. Back in 2003, we didn’t know much about marketing or promotion and there certainly wasn’t anything marketed to gay men in terms of sexual health and preparation.
We eventually created an early version of the Pure for Men website and sold one product which was a trial packet of a fiber supplement. Nothing really happened so we moved on into the world of start-ups in the tech industry. We learned all about start-ups, incubators, and how to market and promote products. We then applied our start-up knowledge and revisited the fiber product. A fiber recipe was developed and tested and we came up with a proprietary blend of soluble and insoluble fibers to help flush out your system and stay ready.
Once the formula was set, Fabian started marketing and promoting the product on social media. The fiber supplement quickly became a hit.
How do you approach the stigma of identifying as a top, bottom, or versatile?
Fabian: We were new to the market and in 2015, there was a stigma about talking about gay sex and being a bottom when it came to the gay community. There was a lot of bottom shaming. We had to rely on sex workers to launch and promote the product because they had a large social media following and because viewers knew what their job was and what positions they were in the videos. It was easy for them to engage with their followers and get them to share information about the product. After a time the taboo and stigma of being a bottom faded away. We came up with the slogans “Stay Ready” and “Bottom with Confidence” as more of an empowerment to the gay community and wear it with a badge of honor.
All of a sudden, there was user-generated content with people posting images of themselves holding the product saying “I stay ready.” The brand is about confidence and sex but it also makes you feel good. You’re regular, you feel lighter, and not bloated. It’s not just for bottoms, it’s also for anyone looking for a plant-based product that is safe for everyday use. I
Lawrence: When we first kicked this off, there were no content restrictions on social media and they decided to make a big splash. One of their first ads was “clean sheets, zero stains” and we were spotlighting the problem people wanted to be solved. Once the algorithms were updated, they needed to be more tongue-in-cheek.
Is the majority of your customer base gay or queer men?
Fabian: Yes, we launched Pure for Men in the beginning and we had some feedback from the trans community stating they could also benefit from the product so we developed and created Pure for Her. Also, at the same time, gay men talk to their best girlfriends and by word of mouth, a lot of straight women use the product too. Our market has always been anyone under the LGBTQ+ umbrella but straight people also benefit from the product.
What is the Reset supplement?
Joe: I tried the Reset supplement and it works. Maybe a little too well. My husband is diabetic and the medicine messes with his body. It makes him bloated, constipated, and uncomfortable. I gave him the detox pills and told him to use them. They worked great for him too.
Fabian: There are people that we have worked with where certain medications make them feel nauseous and woozy. There is an HIV medication that makes people feel nauseous and if you take Pure for Men, it will help make it feel better. If you suffer from diarrhea, it can help and that’s why we say it’s not just for bottoms. It’s for anyone and just makes you feel better. Fun fact: only 18% of men get enough fiber in their diet and the majority of men are walking around not getting enough fiber in their diet.
Lawrence: The Stay Ready fiber supplement should be a daily ritual. It’s like the gas going into your tank. The Reset is like an oil change. After the weekend, or Thanksgiving meals and you feel bloated and full, you need to hit the reset button. Incorporating the two into your diet will deliver a good experience if your a bottom or taking too much protein, or just want better movement.
Can we talk about the Bum Balm and Body Scrub?
Fabian: I love both products. The scrub is just for full-body exfoliation. People can suffer from butt acne or stretch marks. It helps to exfoliate and keep clean. Removes scents and you feel fresh and rejuvenated.
When it comes to the butt balm, it helps to keep it moisturized and deodorized, and clean throughout the day. Say you’re going out dancing and you’re going to be in a jock, this will help keep you from getting musty and stinky. It helps keep it fresh. We call it a bum balm but you can use it anywhere. You can use it on your hair, as a deodorant, and on your balls. It is made with food-grade material and it is safe to consume.
What are some of the other products in the line?
Fabian: The Vitamin C Serum is great. There is another product called Hydrating Gel Toner and works great. I’ve put it on my shoulders when I’ve had too much sun. It’s a cooling sensation and works really well.
The multivitamin gummies have an extra dose of biotin which is why we call it the Beauty Boost. Biotin is great for hair, nails, and skin. It tastes good too. The reason for the product is we wanted supplements that were more universal and not just considered for bottoms and sexual cleanliness. Every man needs a good multivitamin.
The bidet is a natural progression and you can never go back to life before a bidet. It’s life-changing. We rounded out our line with a bidet. The cool aspect is you can control the angle and the pressure of the water flow. We’re in the business of cleanliness and clean bums.
Lawrence: We took a weekend trip in Texas and one of the rooms had a bidet installed in it. After using it for a weekend, realize how much cleaner you can walk around. I couldn’t believe how I would go to the bathroom and wipe and go about my day. The bidet experience is just so much cleaner. You use it long enough, it’s harder to go without.
Our approach is to find out how we can make what people are buying better, more convenient, or more affordable. If you’re a friend or family member of mine, you’re getting a bidet as a gift.
What made you decide to use the name Pure for Men? There seems there would be some controversy as far as gender identity. What do you do about DEI?
Lawrence: We’ve had heavy discussions about topics such as representations of race and the models in our social media posts. As gay men’s products went, there were blue-eyed blonde-haired unrealistically amazing bodies with a lot of unobtainable features that were not reflective of our customer base, the country, or the world as a whole. Thankfully as a result of our discussions, we always yield to what’s right. We reflect the world we want to see through the ads we create. The company name dates itself. The imagery we came up with was clean, fresh, pure. The name Pure for Men basically manifested itself. It was natural sounding.
Over time, our first hiccup wasn’t just the trans community saying hey, I am a woman and I want to use your product but I don’t feel right having a bottle of Pure for Men in my cabinet. It was also women who are straight, or not, that liked our product but the pills were like horse pills so we created a smaller version of the same formula so they are easier to swallow. That is how we learned to adjust to the world that’s coming. We’ve done surveys and roundtable discussions on how we can improve our products without being unrecognizable to existing customers but also be mindful of new ones.
Fabian: I think there’s also the side that men will see the product and feel that ‘this is a product for me.’ We don’t want to alienate the community that got us to where we are but at the same time, we need to adjust and acknowledge there is a broader community within that we need to recognize.
We all know what water-based lube is, but can you tell me about the coconut lube?
Lawrence: The coconut lube is all vegan and it's amazing. I am a lifelong silicone lube user but it can get your sheets messy. Silicone lube has a better sensation and experience than water-based. The coconut lube is so great, I haven’t used silicone in such a long time. This coconut lube is the best of both worlds. It tastes amazing, smells great, and there’s no friction. It’s the best.
What’s Next for Pure for Men and Team?
Fabian: We do have some projects in the works that we’re really excited about and are along the lines of cleanliness, but not necessarily supplements.
Lawrence: Our mission has always been to make sure our products are helpful to bodies in the long run.
Pure for Men available at CVS Pharmacies
Photo courtesy of Pure for Men
While it may seem a bit unnerving to chat with a group of men you just met about sex products, sexual health, and general health supplements overall, it’s a conversation that needs to happen, and it needs to happen more often. The LGBTQ+ community is doing a better job of discussing once-taboo topics and opening up about not only sexual health but mental health as well.
To find out more about the Pure for Men or the Pure for Her line, visit the Pure for Men website or check your nearest CVS store to see if they carry the line. If they don’t, ask them to immediately. You won’t regret it.
Finding suitable healthcare can be difficult for everyone, but those in the LGBTQ+ community have an extra hurdle to contend with: finding a healthcare practitioner who is not only supportive of LGBTQ+ folk but also experienced in treatments that are more likely to be required by members of the community.
Everyone deserves to be able to access healthcare that suits them, so why is this often so hard for LGBTQ+ people to find?
Seven out of ten LGBTQ patients report having negative experiences while accessing healthcare, and this is completely unsurprising when you consider the shortage of healthcare practitioners who are well-versed in issues that are overrepresented in, or even exclusive to, the LGBTQ+ community.
Hormone replacement therapy, experience treating intersex patients, gender affirmation surgery, and HIV treatment and prevention are only a handful of things that a professional working closely with members of the LGBTQ+community should be experienced in and comfortable with, but how many are?
Unless your healthcare practitioner takes a particular interest in these areas or has significant experience in dealing with them, it’s likely that they have only spent a measly five hours studying LGBTQ+ issues as part of their medical training. This can create an unfortunate catch-22 situation where doctors do not feel comfortable treating these conditions, leading to avoidance and lack of opportunity to build up their knowledge and real-world experience.
Under-representation Of LGBTQ People In The Medical Community
While more comprehensive training would go some way to increasing access to high-quality healthcare for LGBTQ people, studying can only go so far; those with lived experience of the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community can offer insights and empathy that those outside the community cannot, despite their best efforts.
Stanford University conducted a study that found that 30 percent of medical students who were part of the LGBTQ+ community hid their sexual or gender identity. In addition, around 40 percent of medical students who self-identified as “not heterosexual” said that they were wary of facing discrimination. If we extrapolate this to healthcare professionals in the workplace, it’s not surprising that it can be hard for LGBTQ patients to find a practitioner who is also openly part of the community.
Encouraging more LGBTQ people to enter healthcare professions, and ensuring that those who are already working in healthcare feel able to embrace their sexuality or gender identity, are key to helping LGBTQ patients find healthcare that meets their needs.
Bias And Stereotypes
Whether intentional or subconscious, bias and harmful stereotypes are endemic throughout the medical community. “For example, from the moment you enter the waiting room and are handed paperwork asking your gender, with only male and female boxes available to tick, you can be made to feel unwelcome, misunderstood, and alienated,” explains Benita Martines, a journalist at OXEssays and Paperfellows.
Due to previous negative experiences, LGBTQ people can feel reluctant to offer information about their sexual orientation or gender to a healthcare provider. Equally, professionals can be wary of asking for this information in case it offends the patient. As this information can have a very real impact on medical decisions, it’s crucial that the medical community get comfortable with discussing these issues in a way that includes and empowers LGBTQ folk.
Lack of Transgender Care
“The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force recently conducted a survey which revealed that a shocking 19 percent of trans and gender non-conforming people have been refused medical care,” explains Mark Dobbins, writer at Boomessays and UKWritings.
In addition, transphobic terminology is rife in the medical community and is often used without consideration of how unwelcome it can make trans patients feel. Worryingly, the same survey found that half of the respondents have had to explain some transgender-specific medical terms to healthcare professionals.
Although the healthcare industry has a long way to go in becoming inclusive, accessible, and supportive to members of the LGBTQ+ community, progress is being made. For example, John Hopkins University School of Medicine has updated its curriculum to help its graduates care for a more diverse range of patients.
In the meantime, finding a healthcare provider who is understanding and supportive of your needs can feel like an impossible task, but don’t give up; everyone deserves good healthcare, and there are some excellent LGBTQ+-friendly practitioners out there.
- How to Find a Queer-Friendly Therapist that Works - OutVoices ›
- Top 5 Mental Health Apps for the LGBTQ+ Community - OutVoices ›
Therapy has so many benefits and the key to getting the most out of your therapy sessions is finding a queer-friendly therapist that works for you. Opening up about your deepest thoughts and feelings puts you in a vulnerable position, so you need to feel comfortable.
Therefore, a lot of queer people find it helpful to have a therapist that’s either queer themselves or is well versed on issues that the LGBTQ+ community can face. Let’s face it, it’s nerve-wracking enough to attend therapy, never mind wondering if they’re going to understand your identity and give you the respect you deserve.
There are lots of reasons you might feel more comfortable with a queer-friendly therapist, but how do you go about finding one? It’s not as hard as you might think, so let’s take a look.
Do Some Research
LGBTQ+ heart in open hands.
The first step is to do some research and think about what sort of therapy will be suitable for you. There are lots of different therapy types, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and psychodynamic therapy, just to name a few.
Think about what issues you want to address specifically. Doing a bit of reading on different therapy types will give you a clearer understanding of what might work best for your needs.
Each therapist will offer different approaches, so this helps to narrow the search down right away. If you aren’t sure what’s best for you, don’t worry you can still use the rest of the advice here!
Utilize Online Resources
One of the best ways to find a therapist that is LGBTQ+ friendly is to use online resources. There are some great websites that can help you find therapists near you (or an online therapist if you prefer).
The list below includes websites that allow you to filter by therapy type; the issue you want to address; gender (you might feel more comfortable with someone who shares the same gender identity as you), and whether the therapist is LGBTQ+ friendly.
- Psychology Today
- Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality (their search feature allows you to search for all types of LGBTQ+ friendly medical professionals but you can narrow it down to psychological therapy)
- Online Therapy
- The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN)
- Lighthouse LGBT
These are just a few options, there are lots more on offer. You may be able to find a local mental health center that can provide a list of local queer-friendly therapists. It’s also worth checking out mental health charity websites, as they tend to have a lot of relevant information.
Talk to Your Doctor
Sometimes talking to your regular doctor can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you have had bad experiences with doctors (a lot of us have). But it’s worth speaking up about what you’re going through if you can, as they might be able to refer you to a suitable therapist. They may even be able to give you a list of local resources that could work for you.
If you are already under the care of a mental health professional but aren’t currently receiving therapy, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask for what you need. Sometimes word of mouth can be best, so if you have a friend or family member who knows a good therapist that helped them, it’s worth checking out their recommendation.
Check Their Credentials
Of course, you want to ensure that any therapist you choose is appropriately qualified, so always check their credentials. You can also check their website or online listings to see if they have experience dealing with the specific issue you want to address. They’ll often list conditions they have experience treating and therapy types they’re qualified in.
Their listing may specifically state that they’re queer-friendly or have experience dealing with LGBTQ+ issues, which is always a ‘green flag’. If you want to talk about gender-related topics, check to see if this is something they mention.
Woman on phone making notes.
Once you have a shortlist of therapists that seem like they might work for you, you can start reaching out to ask questions. You can email or call them, and they’ll typically arrange an initial phone call or in-person session. This is usually a shorter session and is typically free, to help you both figure out whether you’re a good fit.
Make sure you speak up as this is your time to figure out whether this person can really help you. It’s helpful to prepare a list of questions you want to ask, in case you get flustered (it’s totally normal to feel a bit overwhelmed and nervous).
We've included a few example questions you might want to ask to help you get started if you’re feeling a bit lost:
- I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community, do you have experience working with people in my community?
- How do you make your sessions a safe, inclusive space?
- Do you have training that involves LGBTQ+/gender issues?
- Do you have experience treating ‘your mental illness’?
- What sort of approach would you take towards ‘a problem you want to address’?
Consider Other Factors
Although for many people finding an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist is crucial, for some people other factors might be more important. For example, if you have a complex mental illness, it might be more important for you to find someone highly qualified in this area even if they aren’t trained in queer issues.
Some people might prefer someone of a specific gender or someone who shares the same religion, background, or race as them. This is all completely valid – you need to figure out what is going to make you feel most at ease.
Unfortunately, costs and availability where you live can also play a part in choosing your therapist. Therapy can be pricey and tricky to access, but if you are in a position to attend therapy, it’s a fantastic investment for your mental health.
Remember You Can Keep Looking
Young woman with pride flag.
At the end of the day, therapy is all about you. It’s about you finding a professional that will support you and guide you in a way that allows you to flourish and grow as a person. Keep in mind that you are the priority here.
Even if you spend a lot of time doing research and choose a therapist that seems perfect for you, but after a few sessions you feel you aren’t clicking with them, you don’t have to continue. You can keep looking and try again.
Keep pushing and advocating for yourself until you find what works for you because you’re worth it. You deserve the right help to be the best version of yourself.
Rees SN, Crowe M, Harris S., (2021), The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities' mental health care needs and experiences of mental health services: An integrative review of qualitative studies. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2021 Aug;28(4):578-589.
Without any surprise, one of the most commonly determined goals for this year is to be happier. It doesn’t matter what you secretly want, such as to lose a couple of pounds, build up your muscles or find the love of your life – the ultimate goal of every single one of us is the same – to be happy.
After all, anything that we want from life, we want so that it could bring us happiness. But happiness will not come to whomever, as every person needs to work hard and think long about all the things that make them happy and actually earn that happiness. The end of every year is the perfect time to start thinking about that, to reflect on the previous year, see the negative points that you never want to repeat again and then see what the aspects you need to focus on more are. Take a look at some of the ideas that will help you become a happier gay man in the next year.
Who cares what others have
The first and most important piece of advice would be to be who you are, but since this is as cliché as it can get, let’s say that the first thing to do is not to compare yourself with other gay people. This is something that can create so many different issues – first of all, with your self-confidence and image which can have a big effect on your life, and secondly, it can affect your relationship with other people. There are certain things that are always “expected” from gay men, such as having abs, being very handsome, having crystal clear skin or dressing up in the latest fashion. Well, be who you are and never try to be someone else so that you can stand out. This is the most important tip you should follow as this is the only way you will truly be happy.
Make yourself a routine
Creating a routine for yourself and having activities that you enjoy doing on a daily basis is an essential thing for your happiness. What is important to know is that your habits create your mood, and the more interesting habits you have, the happier you will be. It is always a good thing when you get to come home from work and have certain things that you can get up to. However, it would be good that your routines in 2020 revolve around everything that is natural, healthy and organic. So, buying yourself a gym membership or taking up a sport are two great ideas. If you want to be bolder, you can always hit the best kratom shop and turn to natural products that will make your daily routine much more pleasant, and you happier. Remember that this doesn’t have to necessarily be a daily routine that you have to create, but rather have several things that you like doing and can do from time to time when you want to feel better.
You are enough for you
Next up, we should turn to one of the biggest issues of unsatisfied people – the fact that they’re single. Now, not all single people are unsatisfied, but the majority of people feel dissatisfaction once they have nobody by their side, which is one of the traits they definitely have to change. You do not need anyone else to tell you are perfect or amazing or pretty or beautiful, you do not need anyone so that you could feel validated. What you can do is spice things up, and if you are a sexual being, you can always find someone to spend several hot nights with. However, if you are looking for a relationship, you need to start with yourself and stop feeling sorry for yourself because you are single. This is what shows, and nobody wants to hit on someone who has a lot of negativity going on.
Socialize with positive people
Photo by Ba Phi from Pexels
There’s nothing that works better for your own happiness than surrounding yourself with people that you love and people who are positive (obviously, you get the most of it when you combine these two and spend time with people who are both positive and very important to you). In 2020, it would be best to ditch negativity and leave it behind – even though it might be difficult, limiting the time you spend with negative people can definitely do wonders for your own mood and overall state of happiness.
Finally, focus on yourself. It is 2020, so whatever you choose to do for your own well-being is definitely not something you should be embarrassed about. If yoga is something that is going to calm you down, take your stress away and thus make you a generally less unsatisfied person – so be it. You can also turn to meditation or simply spending time with your friends and laughing. Laughter is also one of the strongest remedies. You know what they say – when life gives you lemons, make a lemonade. Beyoncé made it and it’s the best album of the decade.
Hopefully, you will be a better person in 2020. After all, it doesn’t matter what you do and how others perceive you – if you like yourself, that’s what matters. So, make the following a New Year’s resolution – love yourself.