So, you’ve decided to improve the quality of your self-lovin‘ (and couple-lovin’). Good for you! You wander cautiously into your local sex shop or website only to be totally overwhelmed by the selection. Before you “panic-order,” remember this: not all sex toys are created equal! Here are some tips to help you find your next sexy-time gadget.
Very often I get clients looking for masturbatory aides that have never enjoyed a bit of self-exploration before. This is a bit like putting the cart before the horse. There is no toy that will magically hit you in all the right spots, especially if you don’t know where those spots are! So before you potentially drop a hundred dollars on a toy that might work, use the sex toys you are born equipped with: your fingers.
Get a hand mirror and take a look at yourself. This applies to all genders.
Use your fingers and hands to play with yourself. The shower is a good place to start, as you are generally more relaxed and comfortable with your own nudity.
You don’t need to orgasm every time. Or at all. Who needs the pressure? You just need to learn what feels good to YOU.
Now to the fun part: narrowing it down. Sex toys come in all shapes, sizes, and functions. To help you decide, narrow it down:
Types of toys
Clitoral-only toys are typically very small and designed for external use only. They offer direct stimulation for the clitoral area and are probably the most popular style of sex toy because they are not invasive, they are easily portable, easy to hide (vibrating lipstick, anyone?), and less intimidating to first-time users.
Internal toys are designed to stimulate the vaginal canal. Sometimes smooth, sometimes textured, sometimes molded from real penises. Usually good for stroking, they offer a wide variety of options based on your personal preference of stimulation.
G-Spot Stimulators are penetrating toys that are designed to add stimulation directly to the g-spot area. They are usually distinctive in that they have a bend or curve at the tip (like a lower-case “j”) or the entire toy will be curved (like a wide “C.”) That curved tip presses into the g-spot (towards your belly button) and uses pressure to stimulate. These toys are not the greatest for stroking.
Dual Stimulators are basically a combination of a clitoral stimulator and an internal/g-spot toy. The most popular example of this is The Rabbit. Dual Stimulators can be simple (just vibration) or a veritable circus of functions (spinning! stroking! beads! pearls!).
Personal Massagers. Ah yes, the “personal massager” style, home to the now-infamous Hitachi Magic Wand. Large, and marketed for muscle massage, these toys are popular because of their strength. There are attachments made to turn them into internal toys.
Cock rings are basically tight (sometimes stretchy, sometimes not) rings that are placed at the base of an erection. They sort of trap the blood in the penis, increasing sensitivity and keeping you hard. Ever wrap a rubber band around the base of your finger? It’s a lot like that. Start with a stretchy material (elastomer or silicone jelly) until you get used to the sensation. NEVER leave a ring on for more than 20 minutes! You need to take it off and let the blood recirculate, otherwise bruising could happen. No fun.
Masturbators/Sleeves are textured tubes and sleeves a la the “Fleshlight.” These toys aid in stimulation during masturbation by using textures, vibration (sometimes) and natural suction. Some are molded from real people’s body parts, some are more “space-agey” in design with ticklers and suction pockets.
The prostate is the gland that regulates the amount semen ejected during climax. Applying direct pressure and stimulation to it during sex or masturbation creates a larger climax and a much more satisfying orgasm. The toys are designed similarly to g-spot toys, with a curved tip. We’ve been hearing more and more that people who receive regular prostate stimulation during sex are less likely to develop prostate problems later in life. Double win!
Plugs designed to be inserted and left in place during sex. Plugs add a sense of “fullness” and utilize pressure to stimulate the nerves in the rectum. They are also helpful if you are trying to expand your body to prepare it for SAFE anal sex. (A WHOLE other topic on its own.) Always use LOTS of (non-numbing) lubricant with anal play. That part of your body does not self-lubricate. Some companies make great anal toys that are sort of combination plugs and beads. these are usually my recommendation for beginners.
Beads are designed to be inserted one “bead” at a time and pulled out again, stimulating the high concentration of nerves at the entrance to the anus. Time it just right and pull them out at the point of orgasm for an extra big climax! If your beads have fabric or woven string between them, you need to throw them away after one use. The fibers of the string can hold onto lots of pesky bacteria, so it’s best to purchase beads that are all made of one material. Speaking of bacteria, NEVER use a toy (or body part) anally and then use it vaginally! The transfer of bacteria can be crazy-bad. Always sanitize your anal toys.
While any of the toys listed above can totally be used during couple (or group) play, there are also toys out there designed to stimulate more than one person at a time.
The vibrating cock ring is a popular one. It basically has an attachment (or two) that vibrate and stimulate the clitoris/testicles/anus.
The WeVibe (and otherwise inspired toys) is newer on the market. It’s shaped like a sideways “u” and is “worn” vaginally during intercourse. It is very popular with couples right now!
Strap-ons can be worn by any gender and used on any gender. A style that is definitely growing in popularity is the harness-free style. Worn vaginally, the wearer uses their kegel muscles to hold it and it extends a bit more “naturally” from the body.
In every one of the styles listed above, there are non-vibrating and vibrating (or otherwise mechanized) toys available. It really is personal preference depending on the design and style of the toy and what YOU find stimulating. Rechargeable toys are becoming more prevalent (bonus, because there are no batteries rattling around, they are super quiet) and tend to have a longer life span. More and more toys are also being made waterproof as well.
Sex toys can be made from any material out there:
- Hard materials (plastic, glass, metal) are generally non-porous and don’t hold onto bacteria if washed after every use. Hard toys also tend to feel a bit stronger during vibration, because there is nothing to “muffle” the movement. G-spot and prostate toys are good when made from a hard or stiff material because it only adds to the pressure.
- Soft toys are usually silicone based, though you will see a lot of rubber, latex, jelly, cyber-skin, and UR3 (material used in sex toys to resemble flesh) as well. These materials are porous and these toys must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each use. Some people have sensitivity to latex, silicone and silicone jelly.
- In the US, sex toys are imported as “adult novelties” and there isn’t a lot of regulation on them, so check the packaging to make sure it is phthalate-free. If you open a package and it smells funny (or chemically), wash it really well with anti-bacterial soap before using it.
- Water-based lubricant is safe with any kind of toy (ones without glycerin have the added bonus of being more sensitive and don’t get sticky).
- Silicone lubricant is safe with any toy that is NOT silicone. On the same note never store silicone toys touching each other because silicone melts silicone. (Because… science?)
- Wash your toy with mild anti-bacterial soap (I like Dial sensitive skin) after every use, and let it air dry before putting it away.
- Take the batteries out of your toys when they aren’t being used. This will save your motor and battery life. Nothing worse than dead batteries mid-play.
This information is based on my training, education and experience in the sex toy industry. There is so much more I could talk about, and I may have left your favorite type of toy out (sorry!) but I’m happy to answer any specific questions you may have in the comments.