Toys & Tools - An Introduction
Hi there! New to toys? Let me be your guide.
Sexual health toys and tools can be intimidating, feel "too far out there", or be embarrassing. At some point they were for me too. But they don't need to be. Thank you for trusting us to provide a safe and approachable intro into some of our favorite products.
Would you badmouth your favorite pastry chef for using a KitchenAid...?
Imagine yourself sitting inside a charming bakery, in your favorite city, with your favorite person. The air smells like sweet vanilla and bread fresh from the oven.
"This is so good!" you say, offering a bite of the most perfect pastry you've ever tasted. "You have to try some!"
But your partner only folds their arms. "I'm sure it's great," they say. "But these people aren't mixing their dough by hand. Doesn't count."
Toys and tools can often get dismissed out of hand for a variety of reasons - uncertainty, embarrassment, unfamiliarity could be some of them. But just like many other challenging and worthwhile endeavors in life, starting from a place of curiosity and exploration - two key ideas in many sexual health conversations - can open up new areas and experiences in life that empower, enrich, and increase connection with self and others. If you feel drawn to explore some of these amazing creations, you've come to the right place. Here are some of my favorite tips and reminders:
Start with something that is approachable and intriguing for you. Often times we have innate or intuitive senses within us that can be very helpful. Practice being open to those things that intrigue or excite you without overreaching. As with many things, a good first experience can lead to amazing places in life. While a bad first experience can shut things down before they even get started.
Bigger isn’t always better. There isn’t a right or wrong place to start exploring, but if you’re new to toys you may feel more comfortable with something small like a bullet or finger vibrator. Finger vibrators are simple to use and makes it easy to explore your own or your partners body while not having to pay much attention to the toy itself. Bullet vibrators are also small, simple, approachable and a great way to get to know your own body in a discrete way. Most of these types of toys can be recharged using a standard USB cable and a lot of them let you change settings to make sure you’re getting the pressure or pattern you’re looking for.
What do vibrators and socks have in common? I can’t help but interrupt myself here to geek out about sex research. A few years ago, researchers discovered that 80% of couples reached orgasm if wearing socks. The sock-free group? Just 50%. It turns out socks help dilate the blood vessels in your feet and improve blood flow. It’s the little things!
Toys don’t have to be phallic. I use realistic models to teach sexual anatomy but you can find toys and vibrators that look a lot less, um, organic. Some modern toys are even quite stylish – here is a great leaf-shaped vibrator we love - and others are shaped like ovals, eggs, or rain drops.
Vibration isn't for vulvas only. Another fun intro toy can be a c-ring (short for cock ring). These are worn on a penis and can bring pleasure for the clitoris owner also if it's a vibrating c-ring. Or flip it around and the penis-owner can feel the vibration underneath the shaft. No need to limit yourself with toys though, vibrating c-rings can also simply be held in the hand and used it as a traditional vibrator anywhere on the body. C-rings can also help with erectile issues by keeping blood flow higher in the penis.
Look beyond the genitals. If you’re looking to bring some novelty and arousal in other ways, consider things like nipple cream or vibrating lip gloss. These might be less intimidating than a powered toy while still absolutely bringing in the fun and playful factor you might be interested in.
Consider your context. I love Emily Nagoski’s book, “Come As You Are,” where she explains how important context is. Some days playful sex might call for a vibrator that’s bigger or stronger, and on another day you might decide the mood leads you to a small, quiet design. Just like we use different pans to prepare different meals, different toys are meant for different experiences, and paying attention to what you might like to experience or how the toy could be used can be very helpful.
A FEW OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN CHOOSING A TOY
- Always look for products that support your sexual health. We have researched, carefully selected, and tested each product on our site, and only offer products with body-safe materials. If you're considering purchasing toys elsewhere, look for manufacturer certifications about body-friendly or medical or food-grade materials. One trick to know is the smell test. If products have a strong scent of plastic, they may not be made of the best materials and could introduce chemicals into your body.
- Plan for flexibility. Your body and relationship isn’t always the same, so choose toys that let you vary the intensity. There’s something magical about being able to control the details of your experience.
- Clean your toy after each use. Most toys can be washed with soap and water. No need for a specialty wash.
- Avoid silicone lube with silicone-based toys. Go with water or oil-based lube is using a silicon toy. Water will be the easiest to clean.
- If your vibrator has removable batteries, store them separate from the toy.
If you’re looking for even more guidance on toys, check out BadVibes.org where they provide research and guidance on body-friendly lubes and toys.