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Good vibrations, sweet sensations: picking the right sex toy

While there are probably couples out there who are perfectly content with sweet vanilla missionary — and power to them — it’s natural to be curious, especially when it comes to sex.

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By Roxy Nova (Sexpert) – Email

Print Edition: July 16, 2014

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While there are probably couples out there who are perfectly content with sweet vanilla missionary — and power to them — it’s natural to be curious, especially when it comes to sex. Just like an experienced hiker will start tackling bigger and bigger hills, it’s normal for anyone regularly doing the dirty to start to wonder what else is out there. New positions? New scenarios? New partners? New…?

One of the ways to increase your sexy repertoire is to add a little something to the routine — and today that something refers to sex toys. 

As a brief aside, I personally hate the phrase “sex toys,” which gives these friendly sexy devices a weird, cutesie, juvenile connotation that I don’t really agree with. Chances are you also have a bias against sex toys; they tend to get a bad rap in general, although society is slowly becoming more inclusive of these helping hands. The truth is, sex toys are more useful, quiet, and well-designed than ever — and this goes for both solo and multi-player arrangements. 

Finding your mechanical sex friend

Take a gander through a couple internet catalogues, preferably when you know no one’s going to walk in on you, and see what catches your fancy. I enjoyed reading through the archives of Erica Moen’s comic review blog Oh Joy Sex Toy when I was looking for inspiration, and she has a couple of other suggestions for places to look. For some psychological reason, looking at cartoon images of sexy positions and ideas is a little easier than facing naked examples head-on — pun intended. You might find it a little easier to swallow cartoon depictions of how-to guides if this is your first foray into the beautiful land of sex toys. 

When considering whether you want to invest in a mechanical sex friend, imagine yourself using it: does it interest you? Excite you? Turn you on? Can you picture adding another person to this hypothetical scene? 

The most important part of exploring sex toys — or anything new in sex, for that matter — is being completely honest with yourself. Don’t dismiss anything out of the gate because it looks weird or because you think others would judge you for it. The nice thing about a sex toy is that it can stay safely tucked in your bottom drawer, and no one else ever has to know. 

This is your happiness and your orgasm we’re talking about — and no one can tell you what’s right or wrong for you. And keep in mind it might take a couple of tries to find something you really like. A certain toy might work for 99 per cent of the population and not for you, and that’s totally okay. 

Things you need to know

There are a couple of tips, tricks, and myths to get straight before we dive into the what and the how. First of all, using a vibrator on your bits will eventually make them less sensitive — temporarily. Think about how your hands feel after clapping for a long time, and that’s exactly what happens to your genitalia after long-running use of a vibrator. This is more noticeable if you use it on a daily or semi-daily basis, especially if you’re using a toy with more horsepower. The good news: by giving it a break for a while, you’ll regain all the sensation you had before. You won’t sustain permanent damage from using a vibrator unless you put it in your eye. 

Secondly, the composition of your sex toy is important. You don’t want anything that’s going to play host to bacteria, so look for something non-porous. The phrase “medical-grade” is often a good sign. You also want to stay away from scary chemicals: find something proudly phthalate-free, and do your research. Anything bendy, squishy, or skin-like is more likely to have phthalates, which are linked to a host of unpleasant possible side-effects. Silicone is good; PVC and vinyl can be bad. 

Finally, know how to store the damn things. Wrap them in a protective layer before laying them to rest; if silicone toys touch for extended amounts of time they melt, so it’s always better to tuck them individually in a towel or a sock. For this same reason, use a water-based lube with silicone toys if you need a little extra slip and slide, and leave the silicone-based lubes in the bottom drawer. 

A cornucopia of sex toys

The range of sex toys is enormous, from the Rolls Royce of Lelo brand to the humble bullet vibrator. There are cock rings and sleeves for those with penises to play with, dildos for the vagina clan, and vibrators and butt plugs to suit all parties.  My advice for the beginning toyer is to start with a vibrator, something with a few speeds and a friendly shape. Vibrations are an interesting addition to any sexual activity, often adding a new and intriguing layer to acts you already enjoy — be it masturbation or being bent over. 

What your preferred toy looks like is up to you. Try out anything that looks interesting, and invest in a better model when you find something that you like. Like most things, cheaper toys tend to last not as long as quality ones — but the last thing you want is to waste a chunk of change on something that doesn’t work for you. 

A masturbatory guide for him:

Try: a cock ring. It fits around the penis, scrotum, or both, allowing an erection to last longer than normal by reducing blood flow to the penis.

Try: a Tenga egg. This style of sex toy functions as a soft and comfortable sleeve to mimic a vaginal or anal passage. You still control the speed and tightness with your hand as per usual, but stimulate more of yourself by surrounding the member in question with a snug sensation. 

A masturbatory guide for her:

Try: a vibrator. The simplest advice is to place it on your clit and let the toy do the work for you, increasing speeds as necessary (if necessary). You can combine this with fingering or other toys to get to your ultimate destination. 

Try: a dildo. The vagina likes to be filled, no matter which way you swing, and sometimes you don’t have a partner around to fill it for you. This is where your friendly dildo comes in. Use it to a depth and with a speed that you would want from sex, and you’ll be done before you know it. 

Duos (and trios! and quartets! And…!)

For multiplayer action, refer to the masturbatory aids above — and combine with the genitalia of your favourite sexual human(s). Put your partner on the other end of the toy to combine your favourite masturbating techniques with the thrill of giving up control, or use a toy on yourself or a partner as you pursue other tandem activities. 

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