Is it a good idea to include toys in your sex life? It seems from my experience with my clients, there is a lot of curiosity about them from non-users. The same questions tend to come up repeatedly, so here are answers to five common ones.
What can toys bring to my sex life?
Lots! New sensations, new routes to orgasm, new ways to play with a partner… Here are some things to consider:
Toys have movements (which enable sensations) that can’t be produced with bodies.
Toys provide identical, guaranteed movement each time – this can allow you to experiment with other aspects of pleasure such as breathwork (deep breathing instead of the typical holding of breath leading up to orgasm) or edging (coming to the brink of orgasm repeatedly). You don’t have to wonder if your partner (or your hand) is about to change movement or pressure or run out of energy. Just make sure you’ve charged toys up if they are powered!
A toy can take pressure off a partner (or you) to be physically able to perform, and allow a different view of another person enjoying pleasure - relax and observe.
There are toys for all genitals and couples toys too!
If physical flexibility, body size or shape, or disability restrict your access to your own genitals, toys can give you that access (choose one with a long handle for example – there are toys shops online dedicated to your needs – see list at end of blog).
App-controlled toys can allow couples separated by distance to give each other physical pleasure.
In other areas of life you probably enjoy accessories and technology to enhance your pleasure or physical experience: the electric blanket on your bed, the running trainers purchased after a gait analysis, the NutriBullet or bread-maker in your kitchen, the hair straighteners, the PlayStation Virtual Reality headset or wide-screen TV… Why should your sex life be any different?
Are sex toys safe to use?
The materials used in sex toys are generally not subject to the same testing as materials used for medical purposes, and manufacturers may get around requirements by listing the items as ‘novelty item’ on the packaging. However, reputable brands will have taken concerns such as phthalates in plastic into account and use body-safe, medical-grade materials.
Use common sense. Common sense care includes washing toys after use according to manufacturer’s instructions and storing them somewhere clean. Also pay attention to instructions about what types of lube are safe for the toy material – for example oil-based lubes may degrade some plastics. Common sense use includes using them in the manner and in the orifice they are designed for – for example only insert toys designed for anal play, with a flared base (so they can’t get ‘lost’ internally), into the anus.
After a long session with an intense vibrator to the clitoris the person may feel numbness for a short time but don’t panic - this should resolve within a few hours.
Will I get addicted?
If you use a sex toy as your only route to orgasm over a period of months, your body can become accustomed to the type of stimulation (typically intense and not easily replicated by a body), and it can initially then be hard to orgasm another way. When you realise that, you can worry “have I broken myself?!”. This can be seen in other sexual scenarios too… It’s the same reason someone with a penis can find it difficult to cum with penetrative sex with a partner, if they have been single for a while and masturbating a lot - the grip and speed of their hand, which they have become used to, is so different.
But you are not addicted! It will just take a period of readjustment if you want re-learn how to cum another way. Take orgasm away as a goal and instead just enjoy giving yourself pleasurable sensations, without your toy. It will be tempting to reach for it as your brain wants the chemical hit of orgasm and knows it can get it quick with the toy. But resist, and you should find it doesn't take too long for you to become re-sensitised to other types of touch.
You can then reintroduce the toy, but less often. Also be aware of this potential scenario if you get a new favourite toy. I bought my first clitoral stimulation toy recently and it's tempting to want to use it every I have sex, but I am saving it for every third or so time, so I don't get desensitised to other stimulation. I want to suggested introducing a toy but I am worried my partner will feel threatened
It’s easy to make this assumption but you may be surprised. I’ve never had a client in this position whose partner wasn’t open to this, or even excited or relieved (“The responsibility isn’t all on me now to give you pleasure”).
Before you have the conversation, think about how you’d feel if your partner came to you first with the suggestion (to buy a toy of their own, or to buy one for you). When would you want them to ask? What would your concerns be? Your questions? Put yourself in their shoes and take that insight into account when you plan what to say.
Choose the right moment – probably when you’re both in a sexy frame of mind but not actually having sex. Certainly not when your partner feels they have just failed to bring you to orgasm!
Be careful with the language you use, to make clear this is something for you BOTH to enjoy. If you are excited by finding ways for you both to enjoy new sensations, make that clear.
If a shopping trip is required, you can choose together. There are toys for all genders, and couples toys – ask whether they are interested in having a toy of their own! Discuss how the experience can be shared – for example your partner is the one holding/controlling the toy, or decides when to bring it in to sexual play. I’ve never had a sex toy, how do I choose one?
Have a browse of a sex toy website with lots of choice, such as www.harmonystore.co.uk or www.lovehoney.co.uk. Depending on your tastes the branding may not appeal, but sites like this are good for general research.
You’ll see there are toys designed for insertion into the vagina (the traditional idea of sex toys, though not all are phallic-looking these days), clitoral stimulation toys (including the new breed of ‘pleasure air technology’ toys), toys which stimulate the vaginal internally and the clitoris at the same time, toys for penises, anal toys, and couples toys…
What does your body need and what appeals to you? Read the details and the reviews.
You may also want to take into account eco credentials (is the toy made from an environmentally renewable material? Are the parts recyclable?); power/charging (do you need to buy batteries? Or is the toy rechargeable? Or is it mains-powered?); and manufacturer (do you prefer to buy from small independent producers or from big brands?).
Here is a flavour of some of the variety available:
www.lelo.com – top high-end brand www.finebone.co.uk – hand-made porcelain ‘pleasure tools’ from this small UK company www.womanizer.com – leading the revolution in ‘pleasure air technology’ www.pleasuregardenshop.co.uk – dedicated to helping people with disabilities find the right toy www.tenga.co.uk – manufacturer of the biggest range of masturbation sleeves for men If this article has made you decide to try toys, bear in mind there is a lot of information to take in. Go slowly and view the process as a long steady experiment into pleasure.