Gwyneth Paltrow's wellness brand has been on the sexual health beat since the very beginning — albeit with some controversial and not always gyno-approved products and treatments (think: jade eggs and vaginal steaming). But while everyone was giggling about goop's vagina-scented candles, Paltrow has been out here building a burgeoning sexual health empire.
Last year, goop gained major street cred when the brand launched its very own vibrator — and promptly sold out of it in less than 24 hours — plus a Netflix series, The goop Lab. In one now-infamous and eye-opening episode, "The Pleasure Is Ours," viewers learned alongside Paltrow that, yes, there actually is a difference between the vulva and vagina. Paltrow, host and executive producer of the series, also decided to go there and show what real vulvas and female orgasms look like outside of porn, all part of goop's mission to "eliminate the shame around female sexuality."
While Paltrow says her daughter, Apple, hasn't seen the episode (despite being quite skilled at roasting her mom, she doesn't watch anything she is in), she's immensely proud of the response she's gotten from others in her orbit. "The women in my life thought it was pretty punk rock and pretty awesome and I was really happy about it, they were proud," she tells InStyle. "At goop, we're always trying to break down these shame paradigms that we live in and it's so nice to be able to use a visual medium, via Netflix, to do that."
Now, Paltrow is at it again with a new six-episode Netflix series, Sex, Love & goop (out today) which documents four couples who, according to a press release, "learn lessons and methods to enhance their relationships through more pleasurable sex and deeper intimacy." This is goop we're talking about, so expect some unexpected experts coming to their aid, including a "family constellations facilitator" and "sexological bodyworker" — plus touchless orgasms and Wolverine-style sex toys.
Unfortunately, we don't get to see Paltrow go through any of these hands-on exercises herself, but woven throughout the series are refreshingly honest and vulnerable conversations between Paltrow and goop intimacy expert Michaela Baum. In one episode, Paltrow opens up about how hard women are on their bodies, especially as they experience motherhood and aging — herself included. "I drive myself really hard to not age and not be disappointed in the way I look, and I'm still disappointed in the way I look," she says on the show.
In her attempt to normalize conversations around sex and intimacy, Paltrow also lets us peek behind the curtain a bit into her own relationship with husband Brad Falchuk. "As women, we've given ourselves so much responsibility and we work really hard, and we're raising our children, and cooking, and trying to be all these things and we have sort of forgotten, at least for me, the importance of getting completely back into the softness of the body... For me, it's so restorative when I can be completely open and soft and vulnerable and not in control, and I really only have that within the context of my marriage," she tells Baum.
She's not the only one really getting personal this season. "I was most surprised by the length that the couples were willing to go to, to heal their relationships and to get closer to themselves sexually and to be brave in that way," she tells me. "That was amazing to me because it's so vulnerable and, you know, I could never do anything like that in public!" She refers to the show as a "tool kit for finding more pleasure and connection in our romantic lives. And it's full of lessons I wish I'd learned years ago." One such lesson: "For me, I really felt like, God, it's just such a good reminder to communicate with your partner," she says.
That means being able to ask for what you want in a relationship and not feel guilty about it, something Paltrow says she's realized many women struggle with. ("I still think I have a lot of work to do with that," she tells Baum in one episode.)
"I think oftentimes as women, we are not socialized to ask for what we want, whether it's sexually or whether it's a job or, you know, I've seen women be served the wrong thing at the restaurant — they ordered without, you know, pistachios and they don't say anything — we live in this like implicit contract to be compliant and not to cause trouble," Paltrow tells InStyle. "So I liked the idea very much that the show brings forth this notion that, you know, asking for what you want is not subversive. It's not causing trouble. We need to normalize that."
Along with the Netflix show, goop also launched two more sexual health products this fall. There's the not-so-subtly-named DTF ($55; goop.com), a daily supplement formulated to support women's sexual desire, arousal, and mood, which Paltrow hopes will open up the conversation about female libido. "In really speaking to the women in the office and in our lives, what we were talking about is this idea that a lot of women feel like desire changes over life. Whether it's because you've been in a long-term relationship or you've had kids or you're getting older or whatever the case may be," Paltrow tells InStyle. "Women want that desire, but sometimes don't know how to tap into it or they're exhausted or, you know, it's hard for a lot of us to switch from professional mode and mom mode or both mode, into romantic mode and sensual mode."
Then there's the G. Spot vibrator ($89; goop.com), which offers a self-heating function that gently warms the vibe to just above body temperature. "We wanted to make something totally different that served a different purpose. These decisions are made very much by committee because we really like the participation of all the women that work at goop," Paltrow says. "And, you know, the G-spot is kind of an elusive thing for a lot of women, so there was a lot of interest in making a vibrator for discovering a particular arc of the erogenous zone."
Paltrow sees all of these products as part of one mission to normalize female pleasure — and to make sexual health an integral part of overall wellness. "People tend to silo sexual wellness from the rest of their wellness, right? So they'll talk about nutrition and exercise and meditation and breathwork, but sexual wellness is actually a super important part of it," she says. "If you're disconnected from yourself or you have unresolved trauma or, you know, you're white-knuckling through a relationship, it's all going to show up there. And if you get super honest with yourself in the context of your sexuality, your overall wellness is going to start to open up as well." And with this, she hints at the goop universe's continued expansion. "We don't want to become a solely sexual wellness company at all, but it's a very, very important part of the overall wellness."
Sex, Love, & goop is now streaming on Netflix.