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Sex Toys - Everything you need to know

Sex toys might be new to you but they are not a new idea, archaeologists have been digging up phallic objects made of stone for decades. Of course, there has been much debate over whether they were used as ornaments or even as knife sharpeners but there is a dedicated school of thought which supports the premise that these are the earliest manifestations of the sex toy. If actual ‘hard’ (!) evidence is yet to convince you, then try this – the dildo has been appearing as a representation on Greek vases and in Japanese art from around 30,000 years ago so there is just overwhelming evidence that the idea of items to enhance enjoyment and sexual play is really not a new one.

Summer of 69

t was the 1960s and the Summer of Love which brought sex toys firmly out of the drawer and cupboard but they were viewed with suspicion as part of the bra-burning movement of female liberation and the independence and freedom of women to enjoy sex and their own bodies.So then, sex toys were viewed with suspicion as something dangerous partly because, as Lieberman maintains, they are about female sexuality unshackled from the male and therein lies the threat.It’s all about the socio-positioning of men being sexually active and women being sexually passive so the concept of a woman having her own sexual agenda was not well received in the ‘so-called’ liberated 1960s and is still often not well received today..

It is an interesting observation that some of the sex toy marketing now is geared towards reassuring men that they are not going to be down valued or even replaced; this is not a new theme. 

Often sex toys are marketed in the concept of couples and the other sales positioning is that they are very much not going to replace the real thing in the bedroom.  There is still a distinct shyness about being upfront and bold about a woman using a sex toy for her own gratification.  Another advertising trend which perhaps reflects the requirement to sell them as ‘novelty’ items is the trivialisation of sex toys, the design of them as fun or childish objects perhaps to diminish the supposed ‘threat’ level for some people. Carried right through to the title, there is a movement to replace the actual moniker, ‘sex toy’ which is the embodiment of frivolity and juvenility but the jury is still out on a suitable new title…’ pleasure product’ is about as far as anyone has got with this task which does little to really inspire or excite.

Are sex toys more popular amongst men or women?

It is difficult to harvest data on this point as so much purchasing is done remotely on the internet and no-one organisation or body has yet taken the time to collate sales figures and look at trends.

Historically, the positioning always has been that men were the main purchasers and also the manufacturers of these products but that is certainly changing as more and more female entrepreneurs come into the market designing and making condoms and a range of sex toys which are totally female-centric. And it’s not just about the product, it’s about the design of the packaging, the name, in fact, the whole presentation. It’s not rocket science, as Polly Rodriguez from the company, ‘Unbound’ says, it is difficult to make pleasure items for a part of the body that you don’t have..

From a vibrator that doubles as a necklace (only a woman could ever have thought of that) to a crystal dildo, these toys are chic, slick, innovative and very non-threatening

The whole direction and approach of these female makers is so radically different to what has gone before them that they might as well have come from a different planet…oh that’s right, they have, Venus isn’t it?  The creative process is so female from inception through to design, ultimate manufacture and presentation, even right down to the names.  Only a woman could design sex toys that double up as a piece of art or stylish jewellery.  So, if men were the main buyers of sex toys historically, perhaps that will now change, driven by women who are making toys for other women?  Apparently, some guys behind the mainly male-driven sex toy industry have been completely taken aback that women didn’t actually want dildos that just looked like the standard male penis only longer.  Women have a much different focus, mainly revolving around pleasuring the clitoris and couldn’t care two hoots about length – if anything, it is width which matters more.  The only people who care about the length of a dildo are other men.

So are sex toys just for women?

There is this accepted premise that sex toys are for women and are designed and manufactured by men.  Well, now women are taking matters into their own hands, literally, when it comes to making sex toys so that’s one theory exploded and the other is that only women buy sex toys, they don’t.

There can be a stigma around the concept of men using sex toys as if this demonstrates some sort of inadequacy but it really doesn’t.  Male sex toys are available in a variety of vibrating and non-vibrating styles for both external stimulation and internal play.  There are a variety of male masturbators available and prostate stimulators, the prostate being the equivalent of the female G-spot.  Of course, these can all be incorporated into partner play but it would be wrong to think that men don’t play with sex toys on their own – they perhaps just don’t talk about it or admit to it as much as women!  Prostate massagers are often recommended by doctors to help deal with conditions like Erectile Dysfunction or ED and some medical experts think they can also help to reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer by almost as much as 25% by flushing away impurities and bacteria.

What can a sex toy do for your relationship?

Having waxed lyrical (and a few other locations too) about Lieberman’s book, perhaps this section should actually be entitled, “what can a sex toy do for you or your relationship?” 

Sex toys don’t have to be about your relationship but if you enjoy using them then it is perhaps inevitable that eventually, the subject will come up. Sex toys can be about solo pleasure or a dual experience which can be shared on different levels or hardly shared at all.

Sex toys won’t compete with your relationship because they don’t offer the same experience, they offer something different, a new variety of experience which can bring couples closer together.  Sex toys can:-

  • Lengthen foreplay and make the build-up more intense
  • Introduce self-pleasure into the relationship as part of couples’ play
  • It will provide an insight for your partner into what makes you feel good and how you can make yourself feel good

How to introduce Sex Toys

If you love your rabbit and want to share that joy with your partner, one of the biggest challenges you will encounter will be embarrassment so never spring a surprise as that has the prospect of seriously backfiring.  Things are improving as sex toys appear on cult TV shows like Sex and the City – remember that famous scene with Charlotte York  – and the blockbuster movie, Fifty Shades of Grey but introducing the topic by a keen male or female toy user will require some diplomacy.  Here are some techniques to try :

People’s response to sex toys varies.  Your partner may be relieved that you have mentioned the subject as they have been dying to try one for ages but equally, they might be embarrassed at the prospect or feel threatened by where the whole topic might lead particularly in an established relationship.   Talk about what you want to do and how much you would like to share the experience with them and about their enjoyment either of the new sensations they experience or the new route they will have pleasuring you.  The conversation needs to be inclusive, mutual, not jokey or judgemental.  Don’t worry if their initial reaction is not positive; sometimes, people just need time to think about it and get used to the idea so don’t foist your desires on your partner but mention toys in a low key and relaxed way and leave the suggestion with them.  Try not to make the age-old (mainly male) error of gift wrapping a vibrator or a dildo, this can radically backfire.

What are the most popular sex toys?

VIBRATORS

Vibrators, the most popular sex toy for single and duo play, vibrators can generate better arousal, desire and ultimately orgasm which is perhaps the reason why so many women use them.

Many women struggle with achieving an orgasm and that might just be historical or it could be that their partner just is not hitting the spot for them.  Herald the arrival of the vibrator which can make light work of hitting the G-spot and achieving that orgasm over and over.  In the female brain, the sexual response mechanism has two parts: a sexual driver or accelerator and sexual brakes or inhibition.  The accelerator is designed to respond to sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste but the brakes reaction to this stimuli is to well…put the brakes on.  Brakes can manifest as the worry over unwanted pregnancy, the problems of relationship issues and body dislike or self-criticism – the list goes on.  Orgasm requires disabling all the brakes and turning them off and letting all the accelerators run riot and mechanical stimulation via a vibrator is able to override anything negative and get straight to the point.

Some women just adore their vibrator whilst others feel a reluctance to admit that they need help but vibrators are not an ‘instead of’ experience, they are just there to augment what will come naturally.  Some women also worry that they will become addicted to their vibrator but that is not possible or likely.  A vibrator will never replace all of the other aspects that your partner can offer, it just adds a certain frisson and if you are on your own then a vibrator is the best stress reliever going.

However, some partners will worry but a vibrator will never replace your partner, how could it?  It is an assistant, not the main event; it doesn’t love you, talk to you, laugh with you and share affection, pleasure and emotion with you.  If your partner feels threatened by a vibrator then it is worth pointing all these things out.

Don’t feel guilty at enjoying sole pleasure with a vibrator, it’s not against the rules, using a vibrator for pleasure is no different to settling down with a steamy novel and a glass of Chardonnay or a box of chocolates or a spa day with your bestie.  There is nothing wrong with some self-indulgence.  Not every woman enjoys using a vibrator, there is no rule that says you have to use one or enjoy it.  But it can be nice to focus solely on your own pleasure and needs without having to think about anyone else.

DILDOS

Dildos a bit like the real thing, come in all shapes and sizes.    Dildos have moved on a bit from the early days when they were penis shaped and often hugely oversized.  Nowadays, dildos are being continually reinvented in terms of shape and size, colour and texture.

Dildos can be made of rubber or plastic, metal or glass which is, in fact, Pyrex and thankfully, totally shatterproof.  Whether you opt for hard or soft is completely a matter of preference.  One of the main considerations with a dildo is how you will use it, is it for self-pleasure or is the idea to use it on your partner?  Some women use a dildo on their guy anally – this is called pegging – so if this is to be a shared toy then you will need to consider two sets of preferences.  For those who are new to shopping for dildos, dildos have balls attached and dongs don’t.

For some reason, the overwhelming temptation with dildos is to choose a large one mostly because this is perceived as being ‘a good thing’ and perhaps some sort of backhanded compliment to the man. In fact, it is far better to start small particularly if the dildo is for anal penetration.  Dildos can be created to be very realistic in terms of their shape and colour and come in a huge variety of different lengths and widths which is referred to as girth.  There are also dildos which offer different stimulation options such as G-Spot or P-Spot for specific arousal and just like condoms, there are ribbed, bumped and swirled textures to choose from.  Colour is a thing.  Most non-phallic dildos come in the most amazing array of vivid colours but traditionally shaped phallic dildos are usually either white, brown or black, the perfect opportunity to fulfil some fantasies about different lovers.

Always be aware of the material the dildo is made from and don’t get carried away with the appearance and features.  Some of the realistic skin options are made of TPE or Thermoplastic Elastomer but you should always aim for silicone as the most body-safe material.  Silicone is hypoallergenic, non-porous and odourless.  It is also incredibly easy to clean and very hygienic, important if the dildo is visiting more than one location although, in order to avoid getting confused in the heat of the moment, it is better to have more than one available otherwise you risk transferring bacteria from the anus to the vagina.  If you do use a dildo made from a semi-porous or porous material then you must use a condom because these products can harbour bacteria and transmit infection.

One of the biggest decisions facing the dildo buyer is whether to opt for a vibrating or non-vibrating dildo.  Using a dildo doesn’t have to mean you ditch those vibes that you love.  Some dildos come with a harness feature which offers a space to insert a vibrating bullet so you can have the best of both worlds. Lube is really important with a dildo particularly for anal play otherwise it can be uncomfortable and may even cause some damage.

ANAL TOYS

Anal toys are a class of sex toy designed to stimulate and penetrate the anal region of female and male users.  Anal toys usually feature balls or spherical elements which are designed to titivate the erogenous zones inside the anus.  They may be used for solo play or within a partnership scenario.

The most common types of anal sex toy are plugs and beads and there are also devices called butt plugs which beginners like as they are easy to use.  A good toy for a beginner would be a small butt plug, an anal egg or a bullet vibrator as it can take time to get used to the sensation of something being present in the anal passage.  More experienced anal players will enjoy larger and more intensely stimulating toys like prostate massagers, dildos, anal beads or anal vibrators.  If you are really not sure what any of this means let alone what it might feel like then good sex toy companies will sell an anal set for beginners sometimes also called an anal trainer kit which includes a range of toys in different sizes for you to try.  Because so much about anal play is based on experimentation, these represent great value for money and there is always something to hand that is the right size and perfect for that particular occasion.

Anal dildos and vibrators are shorter than those intended for vaginal use so it is important to use dedicated and specifically designed toys for anal play to avoid injury.  Keeping and storing your anal sex toys totally separately also helps to minimise the risk of bacteria being spread to areas where you really don’t want it as this can cause STIs or other infections like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections and Urinary Tract infections.

MENS SEX TOYS

Most sex toy websites have a category or store for men’s toys which just goes to show that men do use them too.  Cock rings are probably the best introductory toy if you haven’t used one before but choose from a big range of dildos, masturbators and penis pumps, even sex dolls if that takes your fancy.

If you are new to men’s toys then try and follow a blog or access authentic reviews which will help you learn about what each toy can offer you.  Some toys are sold as private use, others are marketed for couples so a bit like women’s toys, you don’t have to keep them to yourself if you don’t want to. Another popular first-timer male sex toy is a sleeve or stroker.  These are small and discrete and amazingly easy to use.  The concept is pretty basic so you might wonder when you look at them what real difference they will add but sleeves and strokers can actually generate some remarkable sensations along the length of the penis and they are very low key and non-threatening for couples’ play.

HOW TO USE DIFFFERENT SEX TOYS

VIBRATORS

It sounds obvious so surely they are easy to use but in fact, there is a bit more to it when it comes to playing around with vibes and there is nothing wrong in not knowing how to use a vibrator.  Here’s how.

  • Get to know your vibrator – there are in fact lots of different types of vibrator, some are aimed at clitoral stimulation externally, others for the G-spot so work out what yours is supposed to do
  • Get familiar with the settings – almost every vibrator has a power setting that will alter the level of intensity of the vibrations and also the pattern settings or rhythm pulse. Play around with it or consult the manual or look online for a review or demonstration; there are dedicated review sites for sex toys like Oh Joy Sex Toy.  It’s always worth doing this as many women only discover different (and potentially even more explosive settings) months later that they never even knew were there
  • Get turned on first – this is a fundamental and basic error that many women make; a vibrator is not superhuman, it cannot lift your mood after a bad day at work or a row with your boyfriend. If you are not relaxed, receptive and just a little aroused then you will find the strong pulses of some vibrators most unwelcome.  Relax in a warm bath, enjoy a warming oil massage and let the vibrator just rest against your body, don’t go straight in for the kill but let the pulses on a soft setting lightly tease you and help begin the process leading to a climax.  Vibrators are very sensuous if used against the thighs and the breasts as a prelude to achieving an orgasm
  • Always use lube – sounds obvious but so many women don’t use lube thinking it is just for dildos or anal toys. Lube will totally enhance the feel of the actual vibrator against your skin particularly if you want to move it around. Without lubrication, the vibrator can catch or tug a little but with lube, it will feel silky and sensuous.  If you are using a vibrator designed for penetration as opposed to just a clitoral stimulator then lube is essential.  Make sure the lube is compatible with the material your vibrator is made from
  • Start slow – okay so you have made it to the genitals, now lower the vibration and set it to a constant rhythm for a while. Vibrators can be so intense that they can easily be too much particularly if you are already well aroused.
  • Work out the level of contact that you like – play around with the level of contact you like between the vibrator and your skin. Some women like holding the vibrator directly onto their clitoris, for others this is too much information and they find that resting the vibrator against the inside of the thigh is infinitely more pleasurable.  As a midway option, you can hold the vibrator against your labia which stimulates the clitoris indirectly.  Or, keep your underwear on and use the vibrator over the top of it, definitely the way to go if you are in the office restroom
  • Locate your hot spots – most vibrators are designed to be used externally on the clitoris purely because the majority of women need direct clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. But you can experiment with using a vibrator internally as well as some are designed for penetration and there are even models which do both.  Perhaps buy two types and see which you prefer or invest in a rabbit?  Some women enjoy the in and out feeling of penetration more than others.  The G-spot is located on the side of the vagina so underneath your abdomen.  Pressure there can feel really good because you indirectly stimulate the fibres of the clitoris and this is the way to go if you find direct clitoral stimulation too strong

DILDOS

Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?  Yes, it is, but a dildo can end up becoming something a bit clumsy and crude whereas, in fact, it has the potential to completely change up a sexual encounter either solo or duo.

  • Start on your own – even if you plan on using a dildo with your partner, it is nice to check it out and play with it on your own first, it will make you feel less self-conscious and you can explore the different sensations without the added pressure or distractions of your partner being present
  • Turn it on – you will need a level of arousal so if you are a vibrator expert then start with your favourite device and then move onto to experimenting with the dildo. Once you have some experience then a vibrating dildo might make the perfect addition to your bedroom toy cupboard
  • No rush – take time to move the dildo over your body on the outside, use it to stimulate and massage sensitive and intimate areas externally – the vulva, the labia or the anus. Imagine it is the real thing and begin a slow build-up using teasing motions.  The penetration will feel quite different and this is because it is you controlling it so although the concept is the same, the reality can be quite different
  • Experiment with rhythm and speed – this is totally down to you as you control the dildo so you have total control, not always the case with the real deal!  Once you work out what you like then you will be able to share this knowledge with your partner
  • Explore hidden depths – long dildos are not always the best place to start, they can be intimidating and uncomfortable. However, they are definitely something to work onto but even with a more modest dildo, you can adjust the length simply by changing where you hold it – grip it around the shaft rather than the base.  Experiment with the amount of penetration and also different positions so that you alter the feel
  • Add clitoral stimulation – dual stimulation can really enhance the action of a dildo and change the way the penetration feels. It does take a bit of perfecting but isn’t play what it’s all about?
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  • Using a dildo with a partner – there are endless possibilities, you can use the dildo on yourself or your partner can use it on you. You can also buy a harness strap-on kit and you and your partner can take it in turns to use it on each other.  Only ever do what is comfortable both physically and emotionally
  • Keep different sizes for different moods – some people start with a small dildo and then when they are aroused, move up to something bigger. Sometimes the size you want might change based on your mood and how aroused you feel.  Dildo aficionados often have a collection and it’s all about choosing the right one for the right moment
  • Double penetration – this is about penetration in both the anus and the vagina simultaneously and it is not for everyone regardless of what you have seen in the movies. Use lots of lube and take things nice and slowly, only go at a speed you are comfortable with.  Most people use a penis and a dildo but you can buy double dildos designed just for this occasion.  Always use plenty of lube

ANAL TOYS

Using anal toys is all about relaxation and it takes time to learn the art of relaxing the muscles in the anus; it is an instinctive reaction to tighten them when a foreign object is introduced and this can make anal play or anal sex unpleasant, uncomfortable and maybe even painful.  It can be far better to experiment with anal toys on your own as duo anal can seem a bit daunting at first.  Being in a safe space means there will be no pressure, no judgement, no persuasion and you can try out different products and options stopping and starting whenever you want to and without having to circumnavigate the complexities of your partner’s wishes and desires which may not be the same as yours.  Learning about your own body will help you understand how your partner’s body might respond and what to expect in a duo situation.

One of the biggest challenges for many people with anal sex is what cleaning decisions they should make prior to getting stuck in.  This is very much personal preference.  Some people just stick with a bath before anal play but if there is no time for that then a quick clean with alcohol-free or unscented hypoallergenic baby wipes will do.  Other people prefer to feel fully vacated before anal play so timing can be a challenge or you can use an enema if you want to have total control and not wait for nature to act.

  • Butt plugs – there is a common fallacy (couldn’t resist) that butt plugs are just an introductory toy to get the anus ready for anal sex but in fact, if you overlook butt plugs as just a toy on the way to somewhere else, then you could really be missing out. One great advantage of butt plugs is that once inserted, they can be left in place leaving you free to focus on other pleasures so don’t overlook them as some kinda warm-up act or beginners toy as you could just be opting out of a really great experience.  Butt plugs facilitate pleasure because they apply pressure to the erogenous zones and create a feeling of fullness.  This is one of the key sensations essential for experiencing arousal and also climax and is often overshadowed by the thrusting penetrative motion of a penis or dildo.  Choose a butt plug about the size of your finger that is easy to insert and is teardrop or bulb-shaped so a narrow neck and a flared base for safe and easy insertion
  • Anal beads – anal beads are designed to stimulate inside the anal passage and move in and out. The beads are usually on a string and will vary in size often and are inserted one at a time into the anus not only creating that sensual feeling of fullness but also offering other opportunities for arousal due to the variety in size and the speed and rhythm that they are moved back and forth.  As the beads are removed, they arouse the sensitive nerve endings of the double-ringed sphincter muscle which is highly pleasurable.  Small graduated beads are the best for new starters as there is plenty of flexibility on bead size depending on the level of relaxation and arousal on that day
  • Vibration – why not consider a vibrating butt plug if you love your vibes? This is a great way to relax the anal muscles and also stimulate other areas of the genitalia without touching them.  For the guys, vibrating butt plugs can stimulate the prostate or, the perineal sponge and anterior fornix erogenous zone in women also known as the A-spoT.

Think about the type of material that the toy is made from as that too can offer a variety of sensations.  If you like temperature play, then stainless steel is a great way to introduce hot and cold but these toys do have their drawbacks – they are inflexible and heavier than a silicone alternative.  Glass or crystal butt plugs are beautiful to look at and can make a special gift and they are usually lighter than metal but you must always make sure you use a responsible and known brand as the glass should be both reinforced and shatterproof.

One of the keywords if not the keyword with anal play and anal sex is LUBE and lots of it.  The anus does not offer natural lubrication like the vagina so lots of lube is essential otherwise the experience will be unpleasant, uncomfortable and possible even dangerous.  Expect to reapply lube frequently so make sure you have plenty available.

Anal sex inevitably can leave a little soreness so a quick clean up with gentle baby wipes followed by a long relaxing soak in an Epsom salts bath can do the trick and pamper sore areas.  Always clean your anal toys thoroughly in warm soapy water or with a designated sex toy cleaner when you have finished.  Tempting though it might be, don’t ‘double dip’ which is share toys and hands between the anus and the vagina as this is a sure fire way to spread bacteria and introduce infection.

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MENS TOYS

In the UK during the lockdown, there was a 13% increase in the purchase of male sex toys due to social distancing.  According to global stats, this was a moderate increase compared to some other countries.  Here are the most popular male sex toys which can be used either in private or in tandem:-

  • Cock rings – these are worn around the base of the penis and is probably the best type of introductory male sex toy. If you want to share the joy with a female partner then aim for one which is studded and vibrates usually marketed for couples like the Colt Vibrating Stud
  • Masturbators – tech has revolutionised these to provide a variety of manual and vibrating, pulsing and heating opportunities
  • Prostate massagers – this is the equivalent of the female G-spot so these are not toys to ignore. Think carefully about the material you choose as glass and metal offer a bolder and colder sensation
  • Dildos, plugs and beads – available in the most eye-watering range of textures, colours, shapes and girths, something for everyone. Just take note that male dildos or dildos designed for anal use are usually shorter than female dildos to avoid any injury and they have a flared base to make for ease of use.

How to Buy a Sex Toy

Before you rush off and spend hours pouring over page after page of glossy toys online, focus for a moment on what you hope to gain from the toy – is it for your pleasure only?  70% of women need clitoral stimulation to reach an orgasm so a vibrator would seem a sensible choice.  If you are looking for dual stimulation then a rabbit might be the logical option.  Do you intend to play alone or is this something you intend to introduce and share with a partner?  Thinking about these issues before you start merrily clicking away online will help you avoid a purchasing disaster and a disappointing experience in the bedroom.

Which are the best materials for Sex Toys?

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Latex Free
  • Waterproof
  • PHthalate Free

Just stop and think for one minute where this toy is going to go.  It is crucial to choose a body-safe and skin safe product, materials such as rubber and jelly can be harmful as they are porous making them almost impossible to clean so they can harbour bacteria and introduce and spread infection.  More seriously, they can also contain phthalates which are a substance banned from children’s toys because it is harmful to health but because the sex toy industry is unregulated, there are no similar controls on these products.  Body-safe materials are silicone, metal and glass or Pyrex which is shatterproof and these are all safe to use with all types of lubricant – oil, water and silicone.  Remember, you can’t use silicone lube with a silicone sex toy as it will react with the surface of the toy and damage it.

Battery operated versus rechargeable Sex Toys

There are pros and cons to both of these.  Rechargeable sex toys are more environmentally friendly and happily, most are compatible with USB socket chargers like the one you use to charge your cell phone.  They can also be charged in your laptop or computer but perhaps not in the office!  Expect to pay more for a rechargeable toy.

Battery operated toys are just as powerful as rechargeable but you will have to keep buying batteries and make sure you have plenty of spares available as oh boy, do they like to run out right at the wrong moment!

Good vibrations

So many sex toys are about the vibe but you don’t have to go with a vibrating product, some people actually don’t like them  (although they must be in the minority surely…?).   If you don’t want to vibrate then you don’t have to worry about charging toys up or buying batteries and can just go with a dildo or anal toys.  There are even toys which thrust on their own leaving you hands-free.

Sharing the pleasure

Some sex toys are designed solely for male or female use in isolation whereas there are others specifically created for mutual play so it is always best to use products designed and marketed for couples if that is your intention.  The usual idea is that the toy or device will stimulate both people at the same time.  As an illustration, take a look at the Hot Octopuss Pulse III Duo which has a plate which oscillates and that stimulates the frenulum of the penis whilst also working the clitoris with a powerful vibrating underside all of which can be controlled remotely leaving you to get on and enjoy the action.

What about Bondage Toys?

For those who have fantasies and want to enjoy some role play, there is a great range of bondage kits for beginners or you could just try some fluffy handcuffs to add a bit of spice to the bedroom and see where it takes you.

Sex Toy Essential Purchasing Advice

  • Always buy body-safe products even if they are more expensive
  • Read labelling carefully as some products, for example, silicone can sometimes only contain a very small percentage of the actual material
  • Ensure you buy dedicated toys for specific areas of play, not only will this help prevent the spread of bacteria but anal vibrators and dildos are designed to be shorter to avoid damaging the lower bowel. Most websites conveniently divide up their toys into categories so you can’t get mixed up
  • Only purchase anal toys with a flared base to avoid them disappearing without a trace – this also makes them easier to use and control
  • Don’t forget to click on the lube page after you have chosen your toy – some websites will have lube products alongside their toys to make it easy to choose the right product for that material. Also read our post on why you should always use lube
  • Only use safe and established websites where you can verify the origin of the toys
  • When you have chosen your website and found your toy, go onto review sites and look for reports both positive and negative about both the seller and the toy you have chosen
  • There are lots of bloggers who regularly use and review sex toys so there is plenty of online and real information about how a toy might feel and behave if you are really uncertain what to pick
  • When the toy arrives, check the packaging carefully for damage and appearance – if the toy has come from a reputable seller then the box should appear much as any other product you order online. Relax, sex toy websites are discrete and the packaging won’t’ shout about what’s inside the box
  • Examine the toy carefully for any defects or unusual smells and always wash it thoroughly before you use it
  • If there is anything suspicious about the box, the packing material or the instructions or receipt then throw the toy away. There are plenty of less than genuine sellers who hide cheap or toxic products behind authentic looking and glossy websites.  You can often detect this when the toy arrives by some clue from the instructions or paperwork or the appearance and labelling on the packet
  • If you really want to see the products in the flesh then buy from a high street store where an assistant can also give you some friendly advice or just check them out in a shop and then choose online

Here are some tips for staying safe :

  • Be clear in your mind about the toy you want to buy – this is actually surprisingly important and rather easy to overlook once you start scrolling through page after page of exciting items. Buy a designated toy for the task at hand and only use it where it is intended to go
  • If you are not sure which toy might best suit your purposes then browse in person at a high street store – this will allow you to pick up and handle different toys to get an idea of their weight and feel
  • Don’t buy bargain basement toys as you will almost certainly be straying into toxic territory but don’t also make the mistake of confusing price with quality – this doesn’t always follow
  • Avoid porous toys as it is so easy for bacteria to penetrate and you will never be able to clean them properly. Porous toys are typically made of jelly rubber, latex, PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), thermoplastic rubber (TPR) and thermoplastic elastomer or TPE
  • Jelly rubber toys as well as being impossible to clean also contain phthalates which are harmful to the body and have been linked to certain types of cancer
  • Slightly porous toys – leather, crystal and elastomer – are also be avoided
  • Aim for non-porous materials like silicone, stainless steel, glass and pyrex, many sex toys are made of silicone and this has a lovely silky feel to it. The sex toy industry is not regulated and so just because a toy says it is silicone, it may well only contain a small amount of silicone.  Choose 100% silicone options which use food-grade or medical-grade silicone.  These will be slightly more expensive compared to other toys but in recent times, the price has dropped considerably – silicone toys used to be marketed and sold as luxury items at top dollar prices but prices have come down considerably in recent years

Staying Safe with Sex toys

The problem with internet shopping is that unless you use a proprietary website, you can end up buying seriously dodgy if not downright dangerous sex toys lured by silly names and bright colours and probably cheap price tags. Just think a moment about where this toy is going! Sex toy products need to be made from body-safe materials so avoid anything that has the word ‘gel’ or ‘jelly’ in the title. Don’t buy from sites which are cheap or do not look genuine or you could find yourself in trouble with a seriously toxic toy. Believe it or not, thousands of people are injured annually by consumer products including sex toys and even worse, some of the trials that were conducted by different agencies revealed sex toys sold as new that had already been used. Because sex toys are classified as novelty items, there is no actual regulation about their composition and manufacture so it is down to the consumer to ensure they are made from a body-safe material. Sex toys are divided into three categories when it comes to composition – porous, non-porous and slightly porous.

Sexual Lube

Sex toys particularly anal toys just don’t work without lube and lots of it.  Lube is designed to enhance pleasure and most importantly, to avoid tears and injury to delicate structures.  There are three or four different types of lube::-

  • Water-based
  • Silicone
  • Oil
  • Hybrid

The slightly counter-intuitive thing about silicone sex toys is that you can’t use a silicone-based lube with them; only water-based lubes are safe to use and that is because the silicone in the lube can deteriorate the surface of a silicone sex toy.  Tiny abrasions will develop on the surface of the toy which becomes hard to clean and can harbour bacteria.  Water-based lubes are also popular because they wash off easily and don’t stain the sheets.

Silicone lubes are much more long-lasting then water-based alternatives so you won’t need to reapply this one so often and if you want to play in the shower with your toy then silicone lube is essential as it won’t wash away.  Oil-based lubes can double up as massage oils but are associated with higher levels of infections such as bacterial vaginosis not to mention the terminal damage they can do to expensive bed sheets.

Bear in mind that your chosen lube would not want to contradict the healthy pH level of the vagina which is 3.5-4.5 so choose something that enhances your body.  Avoid any lubes which contain these products as they can cause irritation or inflammation:-

  • Glycerine
  • Nonoxynol-9
  • Petroleum
  • Propylene glycol
  • Chlorhexidine gluconate

And avoid parabens if at all possible.  Parabens are a type of preservative first used in the 1950s to prolong the shelf life of many beauty products.  Parabens are usually listed by their chemical name so might not be that easy to spot.  Look out for Butylparaben, Methylparaben and Propylparaben which may be contained in beauty products and lubes and can enter your body through the skin.  There have been links between parabens and certain cancers like breast cancer as parabens are believed to disrupt hormone function by mimicking oestrogen.  Too much oestrogen can be a culprit in the growth of tumours so it is easy to see why they have been linked to breast cancers.  Parabens are also bad for the environment.

Your lube should be friendly to the material your toy is made from and friendly to your body.

How to care for your sex toys

Sex toys can transmit STIs so good hygiene is essential to avoid sexually transmitted diseases as well as other nasties like vaginal bacteriosis, urinary tract infections and thrush

Keep toys for anal play and sex separate from those for use in the vagina.  Clean your toys after use especially if you have multiple partners; hot water and a mild soap work perfectly well or you can buy branded wipes or proprietary sex toy cleaners online from a toy retail store.  A light wash is usually all that is needed.

Sex toys can seriously enhance your life both personally and collectively with other people.  The sex toy industry is a seemingly unstoppable force worth billions and it just doesn’t stop growing, fuelled by a much more open and accepting attitude to sexual pleasure and gratification and, more recently, by the lockdown imposed worldwide by the Coronavirus pandemic.  One thing is for sure, the consumer is faced with an array of choices that just keep increasing so find a good online retailer and stick with their products.  Most comprehensive sex toy sites will also offer guidance, advice, product reviews, new product ranges and associated items like films, lube, massage oils and so on.  The motto is always, play to enjoy but play wisely when it comes to choosing your toys.

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