Interview: Stephanie Berman (Maker of the Semenette Pop)

Hello my lovely readers,

Today I get to share with you my in depth interview with the highly insightful and extremely innovative Stephanie Berman.

For those not in the know, Stephanie is the mastermind behind the groundbreaking Semenette POP dildo. The POP provides a body safe ejaculating dildo like no other and, as you can tell from my review, it really is a marvel to experience.

Stephanie is an amazing woman, who brings her extensive health experience and professionalism to everything she does. The POP is no different and it’s clear that Stephanie has a real passion for the project.

I could go on, but I feel Stephanie has some incredibly important things to say and I don’t want to delay any longer.

Firstly, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview and for providing me with the POP to review!

The POP is clearly a very personal project for you—having been born out of your desire to conceive in a way that felt more intimate. Can you walk us through some of the thought processes that led to you deciding to fill such an important gap in the market and the emotions behind it all?

I have spent the last 14 years of my career working for my family business, which specializes in women’s reproductive health. As a result, I had a wealth of knowledge going in, regarding the ins and outs of the “trying to conceive” process for all couples. There are so many struggles regarding infertility for men and women, but when it came time for my wife and I to start our own process of creating a family, I noticed an even larger gap in the technology that was available to us. We could have gone to a doctors’ office for inseminations, but for me, as the non-carrying partner, I wanted something that allowed me to be much more involved in the process – the idea of having a doctor inseminate my wife wasn’t appealing to me.

As for our options for trying at home, it came down to using a needle-less syringe or a turkey baster (and yes, lots of women actually DO attempt to use a turkey baster!). As you can imagine, both of those options didn’t seem all that enticing; however, that’s what was available to us, so that’s where we started. After a few attempts with the syringes and turkey baster, my partner and I were both left feeling very unsatisfied with the process. It was then when I began doing research and looking for other options for us. When I came up empty handed, the idea for a sex toy to provide the same function as the syringe, but provide a higher level of intimacy and pleasure, dawned on me, and that was really how the idea for this product started.

For something that was derived out of necessity, it has been incredible to see how POP has filled a gap in this segment of the adult toy market.

The individual behind it all.

I remember seeing the Semenette page back when it was targeted mostly at lesbian women trying to conceive but since then you’ve obviously expanded to accommodate for all the different individuals that the POP can benefit. What was it like discovering that there were so many people who related to your product? Had you considered them all beforehand or were some of them completely new territory for you?

Three years ago, when I first entered the adult novelty industry, I had no idea there would be such a captive audience and need for a product like POP. I got an education like no other when it came to all of the different uses for the toy! Not only was I learning from a retail perspective, I got my best education directly from my customers – they are my driving force when it comes to learning about all of the ways POP can be used and desired. I had wives emailing on behalf of their husbands, looking for something to help ease the stigma and shame around the issue of erectile dysfunction; men with physical disabilities who had been searching for an option like POP; each story has been educational and eye-opening for me. I started to quickly realize POP was not just for same-sex couples looking to conceive at home, and was eager to make this toy as inclusive as I could. One of the most rewarding parts of this journey has been to receive emails and testimonials from customers who have utilized POP to help them, whether in the functional sense or just for pleasure. Seeing POP have a positive impact on people’s sex lives has been truly humbling and very exciting.

I expect that the sex positive community and the LGBTQI+ community have eagerly welcomed the invention of the POP but what about mainstream media? How have the reactions different when it comes to the reception of the POP?

Surprisingly, mainstream media has been as welcoming as the LGBTQI+ and sex positive communities. I believe that has a lot to do with how POP has affected my life personally, in that it is responsible for the conception of both of my children. In some ways, I am living the all-American, entrepreneurial, dream. I saw a need for something and decided to create a solution to it, not having any idea how it would positively affect many other people’s lives as well as my own.

I was at a BBQ the other day, with many of my friends, and realized there were 6 children at the function who were created by my product – talk about humbling! I was overwhelmed with emotion and pride at that moment, and I believe it’s those kinds of stories that mainstream media has taken notice of when it comes to my product.

The POP has been very well-received.

Following on from the previous question what advice would you give to anyone wanting to promote the POP (either professionally or among family and friends) who are met with resistance and judgement?

Like any good product, there will always be someone who is hesitant and resistant. I think one of the main reasons for resistance is lack of education; people tend to fear what they don’t know. The biggest piece of advice I could give would be to try and educate before coming to any conclusions.  The “trying to conceive” process can be extremely sensitive, daunting, scary, and emotional. It’s common for someone to feel scared at using this sort of product at home; however, I have designed POP to not only be safe, but also provide pleasure and intimacy, which can actually help in the process. The success rates for inseminations at a doctors’ office (IUI’s) versus home inseminations is nearly identical (5-25% success rates for both).

I obviously can’t guarantee conception will occur with POP, but a doctor can’t make any guarantees either – and why not try an option that allows both partners to connect intimately, privately, and with some pleasure, which is also less expensive than the IVF process?

There is also some data to support the theory that when a woman has an orgasm after an insemination, it makes her “cervical os” (the opening of the cervix) pulse, which serves as a vacuum to the sperm and can increase the chances of conception.

There really are so many fun facts to learn, and so many ways POP can be utilized…so that would be my answer to anyone trying to promote POP to those who are resistant.

The POP is clearly a fantastic stride forwards when it comes to increasing intimacy but its girth and firmness might be a hindrance for some. Are there any plans to release a slimmer or softer POP further down the road? What can we expect from Semenette in the future?

I agree with you, and yes, I have definitely plans to create a smaller version of POP. My ultimate goal would be to create a version of POP as a pack-and-play – with extreme flexibility, but doesn’t lose any of its function. I have lots of ideas on how to enhance POP, especially now that the tech is patented, so I urge people to stay tuned for future iterations!

There’s always more to be done.

One of the huge advantages of the POP. is the safer sex options that it presents for individuals with HIV. How strong has the reception been towards this? Do you think enough people are aware of the various options available to them or is there still work to be done?

I will never forget when I received my first email from a customer who was HIV negative, and their partner was HIV positive. They wanted to try and conceive, but were concerned about the obvious transfer of bodily fluids. POP was the perfect solution for them – and at that moment, it opened up an entirely new audience for me. My customers are largely responsible for educating me on the different ways POP can be used!

I do my best to educate each community about POP, and how it can help, but there is definitely lots more work to be done, especially for those with HIV. The more my company grows, the more I want to focus on education and awareness for all people and communities.

Thinking more broadly, what potential do you think adult products have for physical and emotional wellbeing? Do you think adult companies have a duty of care when it comes to their customers?

I think a lot of adult toy companies are starting to really focus on sexual health when creating products, so I absolutely believe there is huge potential for sex toys to affect physical and emotional wellbeing. It’s not just about vibrators and dildos any more – companies are creating toys to help people with sexual dysfunction, and provide pleasure at the same time. I have always felt a sense of duty to my customers, which is why I never skimp on quality or function. If it’s not a product I’m going to use myself, I won’t sell it.

Body safety and hygiene are priorities that we both share, and the POP’s disposable tubes make it an incredibly safe option, but it does arguably cause excess waste. How do you balance environmental concerns with the essential need for body safe products?

This is an area I would like to work on improving in future iterations of the product. First and foremost, safety will always be number one for my customers, but I would also like to be more conscientious of the environment.

My response to that question now would be that it would depend on what purpose you are using the toy for. You could re-use the tubes that come in the kit, for instance, providing you take extreme precautions to clean it properly between uses. For example, if POP is being used for pleasure purposes only with a body-safe lubricant, such as for pegging, I would feel more comfortable with someone cleaning the tubes and reusing it. However, if you are using this for insemination with sperm, I would not suggest trying to clean the tubing, and strongly urge using new tubes with each insemination.

Next on the agenda is waste management.

According to your site 60% of women and lesbian couples use novelty sex toys during their activities together—a fact that may surprise some. For anyone who struggles to grasp why this is the case what would you say?

For those that may struggle to grasp that statistic, I would say it’s probably because there is still some stigma around people admitting they use sex toys at all, so there is a shyness or hesitancy to own up to it. I personally think sex toys are amazing! They can bring such a different level of excitement, pleasure, and variety into anyone’s bedroom. In the lesbian community, the phrase “lesbian bed death” is often referenced; that’s one of the reasons I love this particular statistic.

Sure, there will always be couples struggling with intimacy and confidence in the bedroom, and those people are probably the ones who would question this stat. I would encourage them to be open to the idea of sex toys, and experiment with themselves and their partner. Masturbation is also something women still feel can be shameful – but the more you love your body and know it well, the better lover you will be! So – go explore!

And, finally, something I’ve asked my readers too (and which I’m very keen to get your response to): What does ejaculation mean to you? What significance does it have personally and culturally?

What a loaded question (no pun intended)! Of course, ejaculation has had an impact on my life personally and professionally. I find it quite fascinating and unique. The fact that POP is able to re-create a real human function of the body is fascinating to me. For those who are transgender, or want to explore gender role-play, how cool is it to be able to now wear a dildo and have a super realistic “finish”? I love how, by creating a toy which ejaculates realistically, POP creates yet another layer of connection for people. I also, obviously, have a very personal connection to POP, as it helped to conceive both of my children.

I think my view on ejaculation may be more matter-of-fact and medical; however, I love that my eyes have been opened to so many other worlds when it comes to my connection and relationship with the term “ejaculation.” Not to mention my nickname is “Spermin’ Berman” and my business card is the shape of a sperm, so the significance for me is quite obvious! J