Sex toys have been around for literal millennia—phallic-shaped carved rocks have been found to be used already by the Neanderthals—yet within the past few decades, the toy industry has boomed and there are now more toys to choose from than there ever was. How do you figure out what works best for you amidst this sea of erotic tools and aids? Here is a quick rundown of all the toys out there, and how to choose the right one for you (and make it last as long as possible)!
Types of Sex Toys
True to their name, vibrators provide rumbly, buzzy sensations and can be used to massage the genitals, nipples, or any other erogenous area. They can be rechargeable or battery operated, and are mostly made of silicone or hard plastic. Apart from the classic slim, elongated vibrator, there are many types to choose from:
While they are often no bigger than the size of your palm, they certainly pack a punch, and are incredibly portable and affordable. You can use them on their own, or insert them into cock rings or dildos.
Popularized by the Sex and the City series, this bunny-resembling vibrator has two vibrating “arms”; one meant to be inserted into the vagina, the other one stimulating the clitoris. Since every vulva is unique, it is better to opt for rabbits with flexible arms — a sturdy one might not fit your anatomy!
Even though their bulkiness might be quite off-putting, their strength and versatility has charmed many: you can use them on your own, or for mutual stimulation with a partner, nested in between your thighs.
Meant mostly for penetration, dildos come in many shapes and forms: from soft materials like silicone, or hard ones such as glass or porcelain, simple or double-ended (which can be used by two people simultaneously, or by one person but in two orifices at the same time), realistic (resembling a penis) or abstract, with or without a suction cup, allowing for it to be fixed on a surface. Dildos can also be used in harnesses as strap-ons.
Using air pressure, suction toys simulate oral sex, and are mainly marketed towards people with vulvas. Still, they are not exclusively meant to be used on the clitoris – they are perfect to stimulate the nipples or the penis tip as well.
These silicone sleeves with various textures inside, often called “fleshlights”, are meant for people with penises. By twisting or sliding it up and down on the penis, a heightened sensation is achieved.
There are many toys to enjoy anal pleasure with, but not all toys can be used for anal sex. The anus essentially acts as a vacuum, sucking up anything without a widened end. It is therefore important to make sure that the toy you use has a flared base, so that it cannot get stuck up the anus.
Just like a regular dildo, but with the much-needed flared base, and sometimes shaped specifically to pleasure the prostate.
Unlike dildos, butt plugs are mainly used for longer periods, staying in place – whether to prepare you for further anal play, to slowly train your anus, or to be worn under your clothes as part of kinky yet discreet fun. Some come with vibrating motors too, simulating rimming.
These longer strings of “beads” (usually ball or cone shaped), often increasing in size, also serve for anal training and prep.
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There are many types of BDSM practices, and there are even more tools you can use for it. Unfortunately, not everything that is sold is safe to be used by kink novices, so it is important to first educate yourself on how to use these tools safely!
Tools for Impact Play
These are your regular paddles, whips, and floggers. While whips might give off the kinkiest feeling, they are not the easiest to manipulate – a paddle, perhaps from wood or leather, is a much better way to dive into impact play.
When using these tools for restriction of movement, again, safety is incredibly important. Many bondage skills also require a lot of learning and practice, so do not expect to make elaborate shibari ties off the bat – instead of going for ropes right away, you can experiment with bondage tape, which is much easier to apply as well as take off. You can also add handcuffs—just be careful with metal ones, which can cause serious damage to nerves if worn too tight or for too long—or cuff attachments you can fasten to your bed frame. For restriction of the senses, opt for mouth gags or blindfolds.
For cold sensation play: a few ice cubes or a cooling lube is all you need. If you would rather experimented with heat, opt for body-safe candles to ensure that your skin does not erupt in hives or gets burnt. Soy wax is preferred. Keep in mind that you can regulate the heat and impact of the candle drip by enlarging the distance between the body and candle.
If you want to take your sensation play one step further, you can also experiment with electric play. For that, special electric wands can be purchased!
There are plenty of fetish BDSM tools, ranging from latex clothing or medical equipment like speculums, needles, or Wartenberg wheels, to puppy play toys, and outfits.
Choosing a Sex Toy
Feeling a bit overwhelmed now that you have learnt about all these types of toys? You really want to treat yourself to a toy, but do not know what exactly tickles your fancy? No need to worry! Just take a moment and think about what kind of sensations you enjoy during masturbation or sex: What are your erogenous zones? Do you like light touching or perhaps something more rough? Which practices do you enjoy, and which ones would you like to explore? And, most importantly, what do you not enjoy at all? It makes little sense to buy a dildo if you are not really into penetration, but if you like the feeling of getting eaten out, a suction toy or a rimming vibrator might be the perfect match for you. Toys can also be a great way to try new things out – for example, if you want to try penetrative anal sex, get yourself a training set of butt plugs to figure out if you enjoy the sensation!
It is also great to read reviews by fellow sex toy shoppers, or by sex educators who review toys professionally. Many folks share their experience with this or that toy, allowing us to make up our mind before investing. Visiting a sex shop in person is advised too, as you can not only check out all the toys in person, but their staff is more than happy to help you choose your new sex toy friend.
When it comes to materials, unfortunately, you need to be pretty cautious, as many shops often sell cheap, unsafe, non-lasting toys. Materials to avoid at all costs are jelly, PVC, rubber, or anything with phthalates. On the other hand, 100% silicone, glass, steel, wood, or ceramic are great options.
Sex Toy Care: The Basics
So you figured out which toy you want and have treated yourself to it – what now? How do you make sure it lasts long and stay clean and safe? In fact, there are just a few steps you need to take:
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