Coral is an interactive sexual wellness app designed to help couples enhance their sex lives.
Francesca Krempa tried the app with her partner and shared the experience with Insider.
She says Coral sparked interesting conversations on topics the couple wouldn’t normally bring up.
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Experts agree that communication plays a key role in achieving a healthy and satisfying sex life. But talking about sex with our partners — no matter how long we’ve been with them — can be awkward and confusing.
Layer on a pandemic, which has 75% of couples experiencing a decline in intimacy, and pleasure can get put on the backburner.
My partner and I have only been together for 10 months, but we both agree that we’re pretty happy in the bedroom. Still, it’s not perfect — despite being open with one another about our wants and needs, there’s always room for improvement.
That’s why we downloaded Coral, an interactive sexual wellness app designed to help couples enhance their sex lives.
Originally launched in 2019, Coral was created to help people explore intimacy and personal pleasure in an inclusive, accessible space.
Users can currently download the app for free to access a limited number of steamy lessons, quizzes, and exercises. Or, for $60 a year, subscribers can unlock all of Coral’s content, including weekly lessons, a personalized sex tracker, and unlimited access to the new Couples Connect feature.
This feature, which was released in February 2021, is what drew me to Coral in the first place. Using a series of prompts and guided exercises, Couples Connect is designed to give partners a way to more confidently discuss their relationships and sex lives. Think: an intimacy coach that lives in your pocket.
”We’re taught shame about sexuality,” Isharna Walsh, Coral’s CEO and founder, told Insider.
”There’s another layer of a lack of education,” she added, “and another layer of a personalization. So those combined can make it feel like a highly personalized conversation that may be perceived as a criticism rather than a collaborative conversation.”
Walsh is right: I was even tentative to suggest using the app to my boyfriend, worried he would misconstrue my proposal as dissatisfaction instead of curiosity.
Then in early April, after a couple of drinks for liquid confidence, I brought Coral up casually, presenting it as this non-threatening, flirty app I had stumbled upon that might be fun to try together.
Turns out, he didn’t even hesitate to accept my proposal, and was game to try something we hadn’t tried before.
Excited and intrigued, we both downloaded Coral from our respective app stores (it’s available for both iPhones and Androids) and got to work for a week.
After downloading the app, new users are asked to customize their profiles on their core demographics, like gender, age, sexual orientation, and relationship status. From there, coupled users are prompted to rank their desire levels toward their significant others: “Lower than I’d like,” “Just right,” or “Higher than I’d like.”
The Coral app in action.
”Understanding that desire changes over time and discovering how you primarily experience desire for your partner are the first steps to creating your best intimate life,” Coral read.
Depending on how you respond, the following questions about desire vary. I selected “Just Right,” which spurred a series of prompts ranging from how long it takes for me to get in the mood (“Less effort,” “More effort,”or “About the same”) to what effect connection or novelty play in stoking my arousal (“Necessary,” “Not necessary,” or “A bonus”).
Finally, users can set their “journeys,” a.k.a., goals, for using the app, like feeling more pleasure or having more orgasms. If you’re in a relationship, the final step is connecting with a partner, which is done via a simple SMS code.
Once in the chat, my boyfriend and I were greeted by an automated message:
”Hi, and welcome to day one of your shared journey towards greater intimacy!” it read before stating we would receive daily prompts to answer together. Then: “Tell your partner your favorite part of their body and what you love about it. Whoever’s younger is up first!”
This might have felt less strange had my boyfriend been out of the house, or, at the very least, in another room. But we were sitting next to one another on the couch. So, we both just giggled awkwardly, not really knowing how to proceed.
”Go ahead,” he finally said. “You’re the younger one”
I typed in, “Your mustache,” to which he replied with a peach emoji. Cute.
After that, we started exploring other parts of the app. I scrolled through the games and guided exercises before landing on one called, “What Do You Find Seductive?” which is designed to get couples talking about what they find alluring.
Coral suggests you rank the prompts it serves you using sheets of paper marked, “Yes,” “I’m Willing,” and “No Thank You.” This sounded too complicated — instead, I just read the prompts aloud so we could respond to them together.
At first, it felt a bit clinical, like we were ticking boxes off a questionnaire. But then, it got fun — really fun. As the scenarios got steamier and more specific, the conversation began to flow, allowing us to open up about what turned us on and what didn’t.
Even things we didn’t normally think about (i.e., touching his face when we kiss) or disagreed upon (wearing lingerie — I love it, he couldn’t care less) were brought up in a non-threatening and entertaining way.
Dr. Kristen Mark.
Kristen Mark, a sex and relationships therapist who serves as an expert advisor for Coral, explained this honest, flirty conversation is the whole point of the app.
”Providing those cues to action really falls in line with the science of what we need in order to take action,” she said. “Having that external motivator that’s bringing us together to talk about this difficult topic can be really helpful for couples who are struggling to approach these topics and make changes to their sex life.”
My experience using Coral was certainly amusing and playful. It allowed me to have some interesting conversations with my boyfriend about what we do in the bedroom and helped lighten the mood for talking about sexy things we wouldn’t normally bring up or suggest.
But would I pay for Coral? Probably not. The app itself is a bit glitchy — we only received three “daily” prompts over the course of a week, and I was logged out unexpectedly a few times.
My partner and I also agreed we’d rather not use an app to talk about sex. If there’s something we want to try or have a question about, we trust each other enough to have a conversation about it in person.
Donna Oriowo, a sex and relationships therapist who focuses on Black female sexuality, emphasized that our sex lives are deeply personal and shaped by our education and experiences. What works for one couple might not work for another couple — it all comes down to trust, communication, and openness.
For some couples, Coral might work, as long as they’re also continuing the conversation offline.
”By just using an app, we allow our sex lives to live only in a digital [space] and never in a physical space,” she said. “Think of it as the thing that helps you get to where you’re going, but not the only thing that helps you get to where you’re going. It should be one of many ways of trying to interact with your partner.”