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  • Courtney Douglass

How to have fun with your not-so-average toy

A lot of people have it in their head that sex toys are only something people use during masturbation. Or they think that they’re only for people who “can’t get laid.” While lots of people do use them during solo sex, plenty of others use them for partnered sex too!

If a partner wants to use toys during sex, it usually means they’re trying to enhance sex. It doesn’t mean that you are not enough, all on your own. Sex toys can never be replacements for real people. They also don’t impede on intimacy or “natural sex” (whatever that even is). Rather, sex toys often help good sex feel great, or help add something new if you’re stuck in a routine with sex.

If your partner has a vulva, it’s smart to remember that it’s the clitoris that has all the nerve endings. The vaginal canal has very few. Many people enjoy and orgasm from clitoral stimulation. Intercourse, all by itself, can often not feel very good. Some people can’t even orgasm without a sex toy, full stop. For this reason, sex toys are good to have because they help both partners feel as awesome as they can during sex!

And if you’re scared that vibrators might numb your clitoris or vulva, know that that’s a myth. Your clitoris can get used to a vibrator, making it harder to orgasm. But the solution is easy: use your hand and fingers again (or a vibrator with less intensity). When you’re able to orgasm again, then go back to using your toys. But the clitoris cannot go permanently numb from vibrations, the same way your nose and fingers can’t. It might feel funny or numb after it’s been there a long time, sure—but then sensation comes back.

Something to remember about the sex toy industry is that it’s unregulated. That means that the creators can put whatever they want in them. This leads to lots of toys made out of harmful materials. That’s why it’s important to do a bit of research before you buy and to stay away from nonporous materials. Toys made from 100% silicone, glass, and metal (Rest assured, a glass toy from a trusted company will not shatter!) are a safe bet. If a toy isn’t 100% silicone, don’t cross it with another silicone toy. Also, don’t use it with silicone lube—silicone distorts silicone, damaging toys! Hard plastic is also pretty good and is often used with external vibrators.

Try to stay away from materials like jelly, rubber, and cyperskin. Companies aren’t usually honest about what the materials in these toys are. Toxic materials can actually degrade, melt, and grow mold over time. That's not something you want close to or inside your body!

To clean a sex toy, all you have to do is wash it off with soap and water afterward. If you’re using a nonporous anal toy that doesn’t vibrate, it’s a smart idea to boil it between uses. If you want to skip cleanup, you can also wrap the toy up in a condom. If your toy goes inside, you can insert an internal (female) condom inside yourself, too. If you plan on sharing your toy with a partner, switch condoms out on the toy between partners. You guessed it—sex toys can carry STIs unless you wash them between uses!

Let’s talk about the different kinds of sex toys. There are a LOT out there, so this can only be a brief introduction.

Vibrators are amazing. The cheapest ones come in at around $20 or less. These are usually “bullet-and-egg” styled and powered by batteries (meaning that the vibrator tip is literally shaped like a bullet or an egg). These are great for first buyers to figure out if they’re a good fit for you! But egg toys aren't meant to last forever. Rechargeable vibrators can be expensive but will last you years with good care. “Rabbit” styled vibrators go inside the vagina while one part vibrates on the clitoris. The problem is that all vulvas are different. Rabbit vibrators can't “fit” everybody, making them not recommended for first-timers (and not recommended for most people, period.) The Hitachi wand is one of the most powerful vibrators out there--it was first designed as a back massager! Many people can’t handle its intensity without creating a barrier with a few towels first. But it is a classic for a reason.

If you're at a toy store, ask the employees if they can take it out of the package so you can see how it feels. Lots of reputable toy stores do this. This is, also, why it’s important to wash toys before you use them! It’s also a good idea to ask the workers questions, since it’s their job to help you. They’ve also, likely, tried many of the toys themselves and can help you out. A good testing spot for a vibrator’s intensity is on your nose. Silly as it sounds, the nose is a sensitive spot and is a good gauge!

With dildos, you have a lot of options. They can come looking hyper-realistic or super discreet. Some come in interesting shapes and sizes! With dildos, it’s especially important to buy body-safe material. And know that there’s a distinct difference between vaginal dildos and anal dildos. Vaginal dildos can come without a flared base!

Penis toys are simple. They are masturbators, designed to stroke and masturbate the penis. The safest ones are, again, made of silicone, but because these don't go inside the body, the rule is a bit looser. One problem with penis toys is that they can sometimes be much bigger than the average penis is. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy in some people (Fleshlights have this issue). It helps to know that these toys try to fit as many penises as possible.

Penis rings go around the base of the penis and keep blood tightly inside. They help to maintain erection and sometimes delay ejaculation and orgasm. But because they inhibit blood flow, they should only be on you for twenty minutes at most (Hint: if your penis ever feels numb, at any point, take it off!).

The first rule of anal toys is that they should, always and forever, have a flared base. This base should be much larger than the part that goes inside the rectum. The anus can take in a whole toy, and that’s a good way to wind up in the emergency room. All anal toys will have a flared, wide base.

Butt plugs go inside the rectum and stay put. Anal beads can go slowly in and out of the anus. Prostate toys are butt plugs designed to push against the prostate (a small organ involved in creating semen. If you have a penis, you have a prostate). If you’re interested in anal in general, it’s best to start with a small toy before jumping into anal intercourse. As with every time you do anal, go very slow, and use more lube than you’ll think you need. Again, make extra sure that your toy is nonporous. Since anal toys can smell bad, it’s good to find one you can boil between uses.

That’s almost it for sex toys! Bondage toys will have to wait another day. Sex toys are fun, whether you’re using them for yourself or with a partner. Reputable online stores are She-Vibe, Early 2 Bed, Lovehoney, Good Vibrations, and She Bop. If you want to do some extra research, trusted toy reviewers are,, and as always, you can drive to Adam and Eve or Badd Kitty and talk to the employees there!

Have fun, stay safe, and keep up with the good vibes!

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