The world of sex toys is an expansive and confusing one – with all the kinds of different functions, materials,design, price points, and more. There is no brief way to go over the nuances of all products in this post, but we can go over some of the basics.
There are a lot of benefits to introducing sex toys into your play – whether that’s a vibrator, a cock ring, or some sort of sensation play, there is a lot of potential for adding something new and exciting to your solo or partnered play. Though it’s true that some people feel inadequacy when a toy is introduced – like they’re being replaced, or that the toy means they aren’t good enough at something – that is absolutely not the case. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, sex toys of all kinds can add something great to your sexual encounters. Think of them as enhancing rather than replacing – taking what you already have and making it even better.
Let’s go over a few of the most basic kinds of toys, what they do, and how they can help. All body parts will be talked about with medical terms, for the sake of clarity since different people have different words and different setups!
No matter what your built-in equipment is like, vibrators are pretty great – though it has been proven that up to 70% of people with vulvas can only orgasm with clitoral stimulation, and vibrators can shake up the internal portion of the clitoris (it’s like an iceberg; most of it is internal) to get the blood flowing, which makes it much more sensitive. Vibrators can also stimulate other parts of the body, though, which is a fact that is often overlooked whether it’s the nipples, testicles, the base and head of the penis (especially during oral), and any other sensitive bits.
Kinds of Vibrators:
- External Only, which can be small like the We Vibe Tango or large like the Magic Wand Original, or Hitachi Magic Wand wand style vibrators.
- Internal – which can be straight or curved, the latter being for G Spot stimulation.
- Cock Rings – an easy solution for people who want to use a vibrator during penetration but don’t want to hold it in place. More info below.
- Plugs – a rarity, but some sort of flared base is necessary for anal use. More information on this below.
How they can be incorporated into partnered play: pretty seamlessly, actually! Small external vibes can be used during penetrative intercourse, there are a lot of products that are specifically for use during penetrative intercourse (like vibrating cock rings and “couples” vibes), and there are a lot of creative ways to use vibes with a partner, whether that’s with a remote-controlled toy in a restaurant or them watching you use one.
Plugs can be used by anyone with an anus – I think it’s fair to say everyone. And they have the potential to feel good for most people! Dr. Jack Morin’s Anal Pleasure and Health is a good place to start. Anal play does not need to be painful, and plugs can be an integral part of helping your body learn to feel it as pleasurable. It is important to note that you need a flared base on your anal toy of choice – or it can get sucked into your rectum and lead to an unpleasant ER visit. So make sure there is a flared base that will keep it firmly anchored on the outside of your body! Once you’ve ensured that criteria, there are a ton of options in size, materials, and even decoration – you can find plugs with swarovski crystals, real or faux tails, and even silicone puppy tails that wag. Depending on what you’re into, some of these options might be really great for you.
How they can be incorporated into partnered play: Plugs can be worn during different parts of intercourse and feel really great – they can also be used as a warm up for larger penetrative objects, and some more comfortable designs can be worn throughout the day, which offers a lot of imaginative options.
Believe it or not, lube is a sex toy in it’s own right. Although it can be useful for people who don’t experience “enough” natural lubrication on their own – which is completely natural and normal! – the fact of the matter is that friction decreases moisture no matter what you’re doing, and anal play of any kind requires lubricant. Not only can lubes make things more slippery than we normally can achieve, they can also contribute sensations like warming or cooling, and flavor. Lubes are a fairly complicated subject with a lot of bad ones out there, and I’ll cover that more extensively at a later time, but have some tips below.
Kinds of Lube
- Water Based – the most complicated, with different thicknesses as well as flavors, sensations, and more. Many Water based lubricants contain harmful or irritating ingredients. You can learn a little more about that here. Water based lubes sink into the skin or dry up fast, so you’ll need to reapply them – but are compatible with all sex toy materials and condoms. I recommend: Good Clean Love, Sliquid, Blossom Organics
- Silicone Based – These are very simple, do not interact with your body as they are completely inert, can be used as a hypoallergenic massage ‘oil’ and never dry up – a little goes a long way, and you’ll still be slick the next morning if you don’t wash up with soap and water. You can even use silicone lubes in water, but be careful using them in the shower as they can make the tub just as slippery. These last forever and are great for people with sensitivities, but may try to “bond” with silicone toys (so don’t use them with silicone!). They are used for lubricating most latex condoms and actually condition latex, so they’re fine with condoms! I recommend: Most silicone lubes are created equal, but Uberlube has a nice pump top and also includes Vitamin E.
- Silicone/Water Hybrid – The best of both worlds. More long-lasting than water, easier to clean up than pure silicone, and they won’t interact with your silicone toys. Like their two components, they are condom safe, but some hybrids have the nasties found in water based lubes. I recommend: Sliquid Silk.
- Oil Based – complicated. Very complicated, but worth it if you do it right. Mineral Oil based lubes should only be used externally and maybe anally, but plant based oils are safe to use vaginally. They’re ideal for anal use because they’re long lasting and luxurious, and super moisturizing. These are not latex and polyisoprene condom safe, however, they can be used with polyeurethane, nitrile, and lambskin condoms. They cannot be used with porous sex toys, but are safe for use with silicone, specially treated wood, glass, metal, and other non-porous options. I recommend: Yes Organics Oil, Coconu Oil.
How it can be incorporated into partnered play: Pretty straightforward! Lube can make everything all slippery and fun. If you’re working with plain silicone lube, it can also be used as an unscented massage ‘oil’ that’s safe for your bits and for condoms – but don’t use actual massage oils on your junk or near condoms, which they can degrade!
Another thing that can “assist” but still doesn’t mean that you’re inadequate in some way if you use it. I like to describe cock rings thusly: there is a natural ebb and flow in penile erections. When you use a cock ring, it brings you to your physical best length, girth, and firmness, and helps reduce the extremity of the ebb and flow. In other words, you get harder and for the most part, stay harder. Trapping blood in the penis also makes it more sensitive and can make the veins more prominent, which can create a different texture. Add some vibrations to the mix, and things can get pretty interesting.
How they can be incorporated into partnered play: whether a “plain” cock ring is used just for the effect, or you use a beautiful one in order to dress up, or you add vibrations to the mix, cock rings can be a fantastic addition to both solo and partnered play.
These are just some of the most basic toys you can pull into your partnered or solo experience to spice things up – there is a whole world of interesting sex toys to bring into your play and make things more interesting. The best advice I can give is to research, explore, and have an imagination. Play is supposed to be fun, after all.