A guide to sex

Introduction to Sex Toys | A Sexual Health Educator’s Guide:

A sexual health educator is the best resource to teach you an introduction to sex toys. Let’s face it . . . . there are lots of sex toys out there and choosing the right toy and understanding why you need that toy can be very confusing.

Sex toys have amazing benefits!

  1. They stimulate your most pleasurable areas.
  2. They let you try things you might not normally do.
  3. They add pleasure, fun, and playfulness to your sex life and relationship.
  4. They let you explore what feels good, mix things up, and experiment with new types of sensation.

Luxury Vibrators

Many objects vibrate, but only vibrators are meant to help you orgasm. Vibrators come in many shapes and sizes. These days, vibrators are not just for women — they are also for men too! Types of Luxury Vibrators Include:

Clitoral Vibrators and Massagers

Clitoral vibrators and massagers stimulate the clitoris and the vulva. Most clitoral vibes are meant to be used externally but some can be used internally as well. Some clit vibes have a point on the end for pinpoint clitoral stimulation, while others are designed to rest comfortably on the vulva. A small discreet clitoral vibrator is a good choice for a first vibrator.

Rabbit Vibrators

Dual stimulation or rabbit vibrators stimulate both the clitoris and the G-spot either at the same time or one at a time. These vibrators were made popular in Sex And The City.

See our picks for the top 5 best luxury rabbit vibrators here.

Vibrating Eggs or Bullet Vibrators

These luxury mini vibrators are as small as an egg and are meant to be used externally, but can be used internally. Their small size helps them stimulate the clitoris (or inside the vagina), which also makes them excellent beginner vibrators.

G-spot Vibrators

G-spot vibrators and sex toys are internal vibrators that focus on the G-spot. They are usually much more firm than a clitoral vibrator and have a curved tip to stimulate the G-spot. These vibrators can also be used externally to stimulate the clitoris as well.

Finger vibrators

These types of mini vibrators are actually worn on one or more fingers so that you can put direct pressure on the clitoris. Some finger vibrators can even be used internally!

Wand Massagers

Wand massagers and vibrators are the traditional handheld massagers. Originally designed to massage your entire body, vibrating wands massagers have since come to be known to massage the clitoris and the vulva. Wand vibrators can have different attachments depending on what kind of stimulation and touch you like.

Hands-free and Wearable vibrators

These vibrators are hands-free and wearable vibrators that can be worn inside panties or snugly fit inside the labia. These mini vibrators are meant to stimulate the clitoris.

Some hands-free and wearable vibrators also do double duty as Kegel exercisers. See more below.

Couples Vibrators and Sex Toys

Couples sex toys and vibrators are very popular. They add variety and fun to the bedroom. Couples vibrators also create more intimacy because you are trying new things . . . together. The main use of a couples vibrator is to be used while having sex so that BOTH partners experience pleasure. Usually, one part stimulates the clitoris and the other part goes inside the vagina and stimulates the G-spot. Meanwhile, the penis fits inside as well so that both partners feel the vibrations.

See our picks for the best sex toys for couples here.


Pulsators are the newest type of sex toy. They actually do not vibrate. Instead, they pulsate mimicking the back and forth movement of penetration. In other words, they are a mini sex machine!

Pulsators can be used both vaginally and anally and can be used hands-free.

Luxury Dildos

Luxury dildos are penetrative objects that do not always vibrate. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Choose the size and the design that works for you.

Dildos should always be used with personal lubricant. Even if there is enough natural lubrication, more is always better.

The best luxury dildos are ones that are not porous. We believe that the best materials for luxury dildos are 100% silicone, stainless steel, and glass.

Double Dildos

Double dildos are double-sided where either side can be inserted. Each end offers you a different type of stimulation, whether it is bigger for a fuller feeling or has ridges.

Strap-on Dildos

Strap-on dildos are meant to be used with a strap-on harness, but it can also be used without the harness. These dildos always have a flat base which makes it easier to use with a strap-on harness.

Vibrating Dildos

Dildos that vibrate add extra sensation during insertion. Most vibrating dildos are also strap-on dildos with a flat base.

Strapless Strap-on Dildos

Strapless strap-on dildos are meant for two people either for pegging (when a woman penetrates a man anally) or lesbian sex. More often than not, both ends vibrate. Bonus: a strap-on harness is not required for a strapless strap-on!

Anal Toys

Anal toys include anything that goes inside the butt. Since there are many nerve endings in that area and the clitoral legs extend all the way down to the anus, many people find anal play pleasurable. Anal play toys also massage the prostate, and some people believe that a prostate orgasm is better than a penile orgasm.

Remember to always lubricate (thicker anal lubricants are recommended). Our favorite is Sliquid Sassy.


Starts at $13.99


(Discreet shipping)

There are several types of anal sex toys:

Dildos can also be used as anal toys. They are meant to move back and forth to achieve orgasm. You can choose one that vibrates for extra stimulation. (see above)

Butt plugs are meant to stay put and create a sensation of fullness. Some butt plugs even vibrate for extra stimulation! Start small and then work your way up. Always choose an anal plug with a base so that it doesn’t get lost inside.

See our picks for the top 5 best butt plugs here.

Anal beads are a string of beads that graduate in size and are pulled out when close to orgasm. Some anal beads also include vibration for extra stimulation. Anal beads are for more advanced anal play users.

Prostate Massagers and Stimulators

Prostate massagers are specifically designed to massage the prostate. Some prostrate massagers vibrate for an added pleasure. Many of these sex toys for men massage the perineum (taint) as well.

Penis Toys

Sex toys are not just for women anymore! Male sex toys are very popular as more men get comfortable with using adult toys. Penis toys include:

Penis Rings

Penis rings are worn around the base of the penis (and the testicles too) to constrict blood flow so that erections last longer producing better more intense orgasms. Just make sure not to wear a penis ring for more than 15-20 minutes. Some penis rings vibrate for extra stimulation (and this stimulation is excellent for couples play!).

Learn more about penis rings here.

See our picks for the top 5 best penis rings for men here.

Masturbators and Masturbation Sleeves

Masturbators for men are masturbation sleeves or tubes are used during masturbation or couples play. These sex toys for men provide extra ribbing and texture, which is different from the natural hand. Some masturbation sleeves vibrate for even more pleasure.

See our picks for the top 5 best masturbators here.

Penis Pumps and Enlargers

Penis pumps and enlargers are excellent if you experience premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction (ED). Penis enlargement pumps or vacuum constriction devices keep the blood flowing into the erectile tissue to create and maintain an erection.

Penis enlargers, stretchers, and enlargement devices safely help you grow your penis without surgery by using penis traction.

Please note: While penis enlargement pumps increase your penis girth and slightly enhance your penis length, these gains are mostly short-term. It takes several months of prolonged use of penis pumps to permanently change the size of your penis.

Cock Cages and Chastity Belts

Male chastity belts and cock cages restrict a man from touching his genitals. Placing a man in chastity gives the Keyholder control over his orgasm. Many couples use this as a way to add excitement to their sex life.


Kegel Exercisers

Kegel exercisers, kegel balls, or ben wa balls strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Stronger pelvic floor muscles not only help you achieve better orgasms by increasing the blood flow, but they also help with bladder control and pregnancy and delivery.

Some Kegel exercisers are hands-free and can be worn throughout the day to help you exercise your pelvic floor muscles. Some kegel balls have little weights that vibrate inside them when you move for an interesting and pleasurable feeling! Also, some Kegel exercisers vibrate for added stimulation while you are exercising.

Everyone has pelvic muscles and everyone needs to strengthen their pelvic floor for better overall sexual health! Therefore, Kegel exercisers are not just for women and men.

Vaginal Dilators

For many women, sexual issues can lead to vaginal dryness, atrophy, and other physical changes that can make sex painful and not fun. Vaginal dilators can help restore the health and elasticity of vaginal tissue making sex more comfortable and pleasurable.

Progressive vaginal dilation therapy can strengthen and develop vaginal muscles, which help with orgasm, or for other sexual health purposes. This therapy involves the careful, comfortable and slow insertion of vaginal dilators into the vagina.


Sex toys are not as scary as you think. As long as you know what you are shopping for, you will have an easier time finding the right sex toy for you. Using sex toys is about experimentation and variety.

Just think of it like this: you don’t always go back to the same restaurant or always like a new restaurant that you decided to try. Sex toys are very similar! You won’t always like all of the toys that you try and you might want to use different toys to try something new or change things up!

If you want more sex education, host a sex toy party workshop or sex ed class with a professional sex educator today! Learn more about hosting a sex toy party workshop or sex ed class here.

Important Safety Tips For Your Sex Toys To Always Keep In Mind

Guide by Mia Hart

Guide by Mia Hart from BLISSFULCHERRY

So you’ve just bought your first sex toy, in which case – congratulations!

You are taking the first step to finally being able to fully control your own sexual satisfaction.

(And if you didn’t buy one yet, check out all of our high-quality sex toys to get up to speed with the rest of us).

However, with a brand new sex toy in hand, comes a plethora of other health concerns.

While using a sex toy is an amazing experience, there are still various aspects of owning a sex toy to consider.

Ones that directly affect your overall sexual health when using your toy.

Below we’ll list out the most important tips when it comes to sex toy safety.

Wash your sex toys – often

This is the most import tip of all, hands down.

Not only from a safety perspective, but also from a maintenance one.

Every time you use your sex toy, you are getting all sorts of fluids onto your toy.

And while most of your internal fluids are not dangerous outright, if left untouched it can led to bacteria growth.

Meaning the next time you use your unwashed sex toy, you are putting your body in contact with all sorts of nasty bacteria.

Which is something I can guarantee that nobody wants.

Just about all sex toys can be washed with simple soap and water.

You can’t get much simpler than that.

Meaning you have no excuses for not washing your sex toys often.

There are no excuses for not washing your sex toys when you have everything you need to do so at your bathroom sink!

But how often is “often”?

The simple answer is to make sure you wash your sex toy in between every use.

Whether that means just before you are planning to use them again, or just after you finish using them is up to you.

We personally at Blissful Cherry recommend washing it immediately after every use.

(Or at least within a few hours of use – do not let the sex toy sit unwashed overnight).

This is because the other alternative, while perfectly safe for your own sexual health, can be somewhat unsanitary in general.

Just knowing that your unwashed sex toys are a breeding ground for bacteria to develop should convince you to wash them ASAP.

But again, it really all depends on you personally.

As long as you are always have a clean sex toy before every use, you are taking care of the most important aspect of sex toy safety!

Do NOT share your sex toys

This is somewhat of a follow-up to our first tip above.

You see, in a perfect world, if the sex toy is perfectly cleaned before or after each use, partners could share sex toys without any issue.

The problem is that in the real world, things never play out that way.

One of two things could potentially happen if you share your sex toy.

First, he or she may simply not wash the toy well enough after they are done.

They either aren’t used to sex toys and don’t know how to properly wash them.

Or they simply don’t care enough since they know it is not their sex toy to wash.

In either case, you leave yourself vulnerable not only to bacteria, but now potentially STIs as well.

The only time possibly would condone sharing sex toys is if the following applies to your significant other:

  • He or she is completely free of any STI’s.
  • You know outright or trust completely that you are his or her only sexual partner.
  • You trust that he or she will wash your sex toys thoroughly each and every time he or she uses it.

If all of those apply to your partner, then you risk for sharing sex toys is relatively low.

But in all other cases, you should keep sex toys for your own personal use only.

Note that this isn’t to say that you can’t use your sex toys together during sex.

But rather that the sex toy should only be physically used on yourself.

The One Exception – Condoms

If you really want to share your sex toys between partners, using condoms is a viable option.

All you need to do is cover your sex toys in a condom before each use.

Condoms are a (temporary) solution for sharing sex toys between partners.

While this is a solid workaround, because of constant need for new condoms with every use, it should ideally be just a temporary option.

But it sure can come in handy if necessary.

And most importantly helps keep your and your partner safe with every use!

Battery Safety

If you aren’t using sex toys that run on battery power, then you can potentially skip this section completely.

(i.e. if you only use dildos or simple anal toys like anal beads).

However, if you are more of an avid sex toy user, you probably have at least one battery powered sex toy in your collection.

In which case, you should keep in mind all of these various safety tips when handling such sex toys:

Only wash the outside of your sex toys

This tip is for sex toys in which you manually have to insert and replace batteries into the device.

Even if the sex toy is completely waterproof, this does not include the internal components of the device.

And even if the batteries are removed from the sex toy beforehand, washing the inside can cause corrosion and will simply damage your sex toy.

Just don’t do it.

Keep your sex toy sealed before washing it.

Speaking of which…

Ensure a tight seal before submerging your sex toys underwater

For toys that are actually waterproof, this is just about the only caveat you need to be aware of.

Although many sex toys are waterproof, you still need to make sure batteries are sealed off before submerging them in water.

If the sex toy is cracked open even slightly, water can slowly seep in.

And similar to above, this can lead to irreversible damage to your sex toy.

Not to mention a potentially dangerous situation assuming that you are also submerged in the water with your sex toy.

Make sure your sex toys are completely dry before recharging them

This is the one tip battery related tip specifically for rechargeable sex toys.

Before you plug your charging cable into the device, always make sure that your sex toy is completely dry.

Especially around the hole where the charging cable plugs into.

Rechargeable sex toys must be completely dry before attempting to recharge them.

Again, when you are messing with electricity and charging, you need to make sure that there is no water that can cause an electrical short.

Not only damaging your sex toy, but potentially yourself as well.

This applies to both after washing your sex toy, as well as after using your sex toy in the shower or the bathtub.

Simply make it a habit to check your sex toy for any moisture, and dry it accordingly before bringing your charging cable anywhere near it, and you should be good.

As you can probably tell, all of our battery-related tips are specifically tied into water.

Which should make perfect sense, since water and electrical components do not go together.

So while you should definitely be comfortable using battery-powered (waterproof) sex toys in general, there are a few scenarios that must always be considered.

Follow our tips above and you’ll be all set to use battery-powered sex toys in a 100% safe manner!

Store your sex toys in a cool, dry place

When you aren’t using your sex toys, you probably already have a “secret” spot to store them until they are needed next

Somewhere that your friends and family would not be able to find easily.

However, something that you should also be considering is to keep your sex toys in a relatively cool place.

This is because if you leave your sex toys in a warm environment, they may start to deform over time.

Potentially causing them to provide you with less sexual pleasure, or even worse – making them unsafe to use completely due to their extremely deformed shape.

So keep your sex toys away from the sun and away from any heaters or other sources of heat.

In addition, you should also make sure that your sex toys are in an environment that is relatively less humid.

If your sex toys are constantly subjected to moisture, over time they can deform your sex toys (slightly) as well.

And for battery-powered toys, the higher humidity could even potentially be another source of corrosion.

High humidity isn’t typically an issue with most homes, but can be a problem in older homes with thinner walls.

In any case, making sure that the physical storage conditions of your sex toys are just as important, if not more important than where they are actually stored from a secretive point of view.

Sex toys last the longest when stored in a cool and dry place.

Use the sex toys as they were intended (more or less)

Our last tip in this guide is at the end for a reason.

And it is simply because it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) apply to most of you guys.

Basically, to ensure that you are safe when using your sex toy, you need to make sure you aren’t getting too crazy with how you use them in the first place.

For example, when using a butt plug, always make sure to keep the lip outside of your body, to keep the toy from slipping inside of you completely.

Or if you are using a vibrator, don’t try sticking the wrong end of the vibrator into you.

Or (depending on the size and shape of the vibrator) into the wrong hole as well.

The lips on butt plugs are there for a reason – don’t try and change how your sex toy should be used, especially if doing so creates a safety hazard!

If you don’t know how your sex toy works, make sure to check out our comprehensive sex toy guides to learn more about using them properly.

A lot of this is common sense, but definitely bears mentioning just to be extra cautious.

And while there is room for experimentation, don’t overdo it and always think about how safe it would be to do what you are doing with your sex toy.

What may seem like a fun kinky experience now could potentially end up ruining your night, or even something much more serious.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Safely Using Your Sex Toys is an Absolute Must!

As easy as it may be to focus only on the pure bliss that your sex toys will bring to you in the bedroom, it is important not to overlook how to use said sex toys in a safe way.

This will first and foremost ensure your own physical safety in the long run.

But using your sex toys in a safe manner can also prolong the life of your sex toys in general.

Meaning that instead of replacing your sex toy after just a few months, you will be using your sex toy for multiple years!

Especially when it comes to the pricier sex toys, it’s definitely a good feeling knowing that you are truly getting the most out of your purchase before having to replace it.

So never forget the importance of using your sex toys safely.

And follow our tips above to ensure that your sex toys are a fun and safe way to get yourself off!

Tom Medvedich

Once upon a time, I thought I was far too cool for sex toys—too young and creative to need such props. Vibrators and handcuffs were for the orgasmically challenged or bored housewives trying to “spice things up,” I (incorrectly) assumed. In my naïveté, I thought it was lame to spend my hard-earned dollars on cheesy porn accessories when my partner and I should obviously be able to create more than enough excitement ourselves.

That is, until I got an education. I’d owned a vibrator for years—a cool, cutting-edge thing that looked more like a jump drive than a sexccessory—but I’d rarely used it. Other toys never intrigued me enough to seem worth trying, let alone buying—until my boyfriend dragged me into one of L.A.’s more famous sex shops, Hustler Hollywood, saying he wanted to try something new.

MORE: How to Have (Good) Sex in the Water

A longtime Dan Savage devotee and dedicated believer in his “GGG policy”—that all partners should be good, giving, and game in bed—I knew it would be lamer of me to snub my boyfriend’s idea than to give it a shot. And with that, we bought a butt plug—“Good for beginners!” promised the overenthusiastic saleswoman—and a pair of handcuffs (“These ones are way uncomfortable; get the velour pair,” she advised).

That night, we tried them out, with a little boozy, stoned buzz to take the edge off. And there was definitely an edge: The “beginner” butt plug hurt like a motherfucker. But once I got over the initial sting, I found it to be a shockingly sexy bonding experience. It was a breakthrough of sorts: We still use those toys (and more) regularly; and I’ll tell any friend who will listen why it’s worth paying a visit to a sex shop, not just to say they did—but to add an extra spark to their sex lives, no matter how hot they might already be.

Not sure where to start? Join the club. Below, I got advice from sexologists and real women alike about seven essential types of sex toys—including what they’re for, how to use them, and insider tips for getting next-level pleasure from each one.

Tom Medvedich


While they might seem almost quaint in comparison to all the vibrating, high-tech, action-packed toys available now, dildos remain a classic that plenty of women and even more men are super into. “I’ve seen people move from secrecy, silence, and shame into an open, cool, and trendy attitude toward sex toys of all kinds, from dildos to anal beads,” says clinical sexologist Marlene Wasserman, DHS. “I like when people stretch their sexual boundaries to leave their comfort zones, which can turn into a wonderful feeling of personal success and newly discovered pleasures—or dislikes. Either way, you’re learning something about your body and your partner.”

If you’re looking for the feeling of penetration that’s closest to a real penis, dildos are the way to go. They come in a variety of shapes, lengths, and widths, so take those into account when you’re shopping (some women may find that slightly curved ones are better at getting them off, since they’ll give your clit and G-spot more direct action), and consider using them both vaginally and anally. “My ex liked to dabble with a dildo—for him, not me!” says Audrey, age 30, of Los Angeles. “I wasn’t that into it; I prefer real D or a vibrator while we’re going at it, but he seemed to like the novelty and forbidden feeling of the dildo.”

MORE: 5 Sex Positions That Basically Guarantee an Orgasm

Tom Medvedich

Butt Plugs

Consider butt plugs your introduction to anal play. “Anal toys are popular with women even though they have no prostate or nerves to directly cause orgasm within the anus, they can be a huge mental turn-on,” says Wasserman. “If you’re a beginner, start with a shower and get clean beforehand, and then have your partner stimulate you with his fingers—or tongue, if he’s adventurous—before inserting a plug, vibrator, or beads.” She also suggests using latex gloves or condoms on fingers for cleanliness and anal lube for comfort and glide.

“I’ve found the key to introducing toys, whether anal ones, clamps, or otherwise, is all about expectation-setting and preparation,” says Katie, age 30, of New York City. “I mean, butt plugs are honestly a bit scary looking—even if they’re pastel pink—and if your partner’s only knowledge about using them is from porn, the night probably won’t end well. I like to get in teacher mode to walk them through how it feels for me as we’re doing it. And it never hurts to get comfortable with the toy solo beforehand, to explore how your body reacts.”

Tom Medvedich

Nipple Clamps

Attaching these guys to your nips hurts—but it’s supposed to. So much of BDSM play is about the hurts-so-good kind of pain that can be a super-hot sensation for many people, if for no reason other than the fact that it’s so different from what we feel on an everyday basis.

Says Sarah, 27, of London, “It’s when my boyfriend takes the clamps off that it hurts the most—and I love it. The blood comes racing back into my nipples after being cut off, and it feels incredible. But don’t leave them on for too long, or you can cut off circulation to your nipples!” Many clamps come with fancy features like adjustable pressure, a vibrating option, and waterproof coating, but Sarah says she’s heard that clothespins can be just as effective, if you don’t want to buy real ones.

Tom Medvedich


These should be your go-to sex toy, for solo and couple’s play, says Wasserman. “I suggest that women have a variety of vibrators—different shapes, sizes, and types of stimulators to match their mood and whatever sensation they’re looking for at that moment. Sometimes you might want a big, vibrating dildo that you can thrust at your own tempo, and other times you might want to use a vibrating butt plug.” Don’t worry that using a vibrator regularly will overstimulate your clit or mess with your ability to come with a good, old-fashioned penis—“that’s a myth,” says Wasserman. “It’s women’s responsibility to find what does it for them and be sexually vulnerable. Sex toys tend to predictably bring women to orgasm, so go ahead and use them!”

“My boyfriend and I had a perfectly good sex life, but bringing my vibrator into the mix stepped things up a notch,” says Amy, 29, of New York City. “Sometimes it takes me a really long time to come from regular sex, whereas that’s rarely the case for him. When we don’t have the time or energy for an hours-long sesh, the vibrator comes to the rescue by getting me off faster and with less work on both our parts.”

Tom Medvedich


Handcuffs are more about the mental and emotional turn-on than the physical sensation, says Wasserman. “It can be very arousing to discuss the scene you’ll set up and get the necessary consent,” she says. “It’s fabulous fantasy play and gaining more popularity because of recent exposure and normalization in the media.”

Just be careful—if you’re going for a super-authentic prisoner fantasy that involves real metal cuffs, they can hurt. “Soft, cushy ones are a must,” says Jen, 30, of Rutland, Vermont. “I love feeling a little out of control when my partner cuffs me up—especially when every other part of my life requires effort and attention.”

MORE: 7 Yoga Moves That Will Improve Your Sex Life

Tom Medvedich

Clitoral Massagers

For women who have a tough time coming from other sex toys (or partners, even) a vibrator that focuses purely on stimulating the most sensitive part of your vagina could be the silver bullet. Wasserman is a big fan of women advocating for their clits. “Distressingly, men don’t spend enough time on clitoral play, and women remain silent about their clitoral needs,” she says. “Use your clitoral massager while being thrusted; use it afterward when you’re swollen and he’s fallen asleep; let him or her see you using it so it becomes a couple activity,” she suggests.

“I used to think I wasn’t able to orgasm, because nothing seemed to work on my clit,” says Emily, 30, of Boston. “A clitoral stimulator—which I now own several of—changed that. They rock my world every time, and the rest of my sex toy collection goes pretty much unused now.” Sold yet?

Tom Medvedich

Anal Beads

Slightly different from butt plugs in that they insert one individual bead at a time, rather than smoothly and gradually like a plug, anal beads provide a pop feeling with each larger size that goes in. And while any sort of anal toy and play will help prep you for actual anal sex, butt plugs might be a bit more similar to how that will feel.

“I’ve used both plugs and beads, and I like both, but I think it’s more important to invest in a high-quality set of beads if that’s what you’re into,” says Alyssa, age 26, of New York City. “The last thing you want is a cheap pair of beads breaking when they’re inside you! Oh, and with either one, make sure to use a ton of lube, otherwise it’ll be more pain than pleasure.” Good to know.

Originally published June 2016. Updated September 2017.

This is the first story in a four-part series on sex hacks for the digital age.

The world of sex toys has never been more inviting, inclusive, and destigmatized than right now, offering new possibilities for women and other marginalized identities to explore their sexualities.

Or at least, that’s what should be happening in theory.

Over the past several years, a wave of feminist sex tech companies has revolutionized the male-dominated industry by redefining toys as part of sexual health rather than an illicit perversity. With groundbreaking products engineered for a wider variety of bodies, shame-free messaging, gorgeously empowering design, and anti-male gaze marketing, companies like Dame, Maude, Crave, and Unbound ushered us into a new era of pleasure tech.

“We’re living through a golden age of sex toys, a kind of a renaissance where we have access to such incredibly well-constructed and innovative products,” said Ian Kerner, a sex counselor, psychotherapist, and author of She Comes First.

“We’re living through a golden age of sex toys.”

The trend shows no sign of stopping, either. A 2018 global market report projected the industry would reach $35.5 billion by 2023, tracing its growth to this repositioning and rebranding, and the public’s overall “increase in openness, drive for excitement and adventure, passion for quirky products and heightened desire for experimentation.”

Culturally speaking, the sex toy stigma grows more extinct by the day. But it hasn’t wholly disappeared.

“The shame has lessened, but for some women buying a tool exclusively for their own sexual pleasure is still a big leap,” said Hallie Lieberman, author of Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy. “A lot of women still don’t think that they deserve that or that it will reflect poorly on who they are as a woman.”

To be fair to us, counteracting centuries if not millennia of internalized shame from heteronormative patriarchal society is tough. Many of us might not even fully realize where our hesitation to experiment with sex toys really comes from.

When sex toy company TENGA’s 2019 Self-Pleasure Report survey asked participants why they didn’t, 49 percent answered with a variety of expected anxieties and shame. But an overwhelming 54 percent simply said it was because they didn’t think they “needed” one.

Judging from the well-documented gender disparity in orgasms in heterosexual intercourse, though, it’s clear our notions of who “needs” to (or gets to) feel satisfied in the bedroom is not equal.

“One of the most common reactions to the thought of using sex toys if you haven’t before is, ‘Oh, those aren’t for me.’ At least, that’s the initial thought I had before I owned a vibrator and lubricant,” said Polly Rodriguez, now CEO and co-founder of her own sex toy company, Unbound.

(Note: We’re mostly focusing on heterosexual women and couples here because TENGA’s survey and the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior conducted by Indiana University both suggest LGBTQ folks — especially those with labias — are way ahead of the curve, disproportionately making up the demographic already participating in the sex toy revolution. In this rare case, the straights need more help getting past a heteronormative shame. For LGBTQ folks looking for advice, both Unbound’s and Dame’s blogs publish fantastic LGBTQ-focused guides.)

The Crescendo is designed to fit a variety of bodies and sexual orientations. Scroll to the end for a full review.

Image: Mashable Composite: mystery vibe / bob al-greene / Mashable

As it turns out, despite years of slut walks and the anti-slut-shaming movement, the fear of being categorized as a hypersexual woman still rears its head. But not wanting to be one of “those” women who “needs” a sex toy goes even deeper than that.

It comes back to the historied, outdated (not to mention heteronormative) belief that women’s pleasure should only come from a man, and that her sexual awakening should happen with him during intercourse.

“It’s like, if I have to use this technology to get off, it feels like I’ve failed as a woman,” Lieberman explained. The focus on the phallus as a more “natural” form of female pleasure is why dildos that mimic the male anatomy were such a central focus of the sex toy industry for so long, despite the fact that many other types of toys — like those for clitoral stimulation — were found to be more satisfying to more women.

Some of women’s sex toy shame can be blamed on Freud, Kerner said. He incorrectly theorized that clitoral orgasms were an immature state of a woman’s sexual development, with properly functioning females eventually maturing into vaginal orgasms.

“He never described how this would happen,” said Kerner. “But there’s still this idea that somehow clitoral orgasms aren’t ‘real’ orgasms.”

“If I have to use this technology to get off, it feels like I’ve failed as a woman.”

Meanwhile, research suggests 37 percent of people with vaginas need clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm, while only 18 percent said penetration alone was enough. Yet the unrealistic ideals of what women’s pleasure should look like persists, despite being incompatible with how most people with vaginas reach climax.

“What I hear from some women is that introducing a vibrator into sex is an indirect admission that something is wrong, that the intercourse isn’t working. And rather than thinking, ‘Well, there’s probably a good reason for why it isn’t working for me,’ they instead internalize that as feeling sort of broken or defective,” said Kerner. “So you have a lot of women coming in and asking, ‘What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get off the normal way?”

This unconscious fear is closely tied to another common myth around sex toys: that they’ll replace human (presumably male) partners who can’t satisfy women as well as the technology.

Who can forget the Sex in the City episode when Charlotte needs a “Rabbit intervention” so she can stop getting off so much to her vibrator and go back to being in a real relationship. Lieberman even pointed to this trope being in one of the earliest Greek plays, Lysistrata, where women threaten to replace the men at war with dildos.

In the modern age, the fear that women will become so addicted to toys manifests in memes comparing sex toys to partners, or even Cardi B in Hustlers boasting that her pink vibrator is the best and only boyfriend she will ever need.

The Fin is a life-changing partnered sex vibrator. Scroll to the end for a full review.

Image: Mashable Composite: dame / bob al-greene / Mashable

Women in heterosexual relationships still often worry that asking to introduce a vibrator or toy into the bedroom will make their partner feel emasculated. In his work with couples, though, Kerner has never found this to be the case, with “most men seeming very receptive to wanting to create experiences that are mutually pleasurable.”

If that’s a particular worry, though, partnered sex toys can alleviate the stress of making it about your pleasure alone.

The highly-rated (and also woman co-founded) Crescendo from MysteryVibe is ideal for beginners looking for versatility, designed for solo or partnered play, various positions, and various bodies and sexual orientations, too. For me, something as ingeniously simple, unintimidating, and Intuitive as Dame’s Fin was nothing short of revolutionary, leading to my first simultaneous orgasm with a partner ever.

“The new wave of sex toys have opened people up to the idea that toys and masturbation are not in opposition to a relationship. It’s not one or the other. Women don’t have a limited amount of sexual energy,” said Lieberman.

Still, the myth of sex toy “addiction” or that vibrators cause permanent desensitization or make it impossible to cum any other way persists. Luckily, there is zero empirical evidence to support these concerns.

“Women don’t have a limited amount of sexual energy.”

What’s funny, Lieberman noted, is that concerns over vibrators being addictive only started in the 1930s, once sex toys began being openly sold in markets rather than controlled by doctors. That’s when the concept of “dildo attachment” came into the conversation, which claimed to make women stop wanting sex with their husbands.

At worst, Kerner said, vigorous habitual use of a sex toy can simply cause over-familiarity with that specific intense sensation that can’t be replicated by a person. But that’s no different than men who develop difficulty climaxing during intercourse because they masturbate with a very tight grip that can’t be replicated during penetration.

Both are easily fixed with a simple break.

“Just stop using it for a few days. It’s not heroin. You can put it to the side, and use your hand or go manual with your partner, and it will return to being just as pleasurable,” said Lieberman.

One legitimate health concern, however, relates to the type of material used for sex toys. Rodriguez emphasized the importance of medical-grade rather than food-grade silicone, since they often go inside the most absorbent parts of your body. Be very wary of buying anything on Amazon, which often sells knock offs.

On the other hand (pun intended), what more masturbation can do is actually improve your capacity to orgasm in general, and give you the space to learn exactly what kind of touch and sensations you like, which you can then communicate to your partner.

But outside of its benefits in partnered sex, the power of sex toys is about rediscovering what pleasure means and feels like to you alone.

Vibe is one of the cheapest, most beloved beginner toys. Scroll to the end for a full review.

Image: Mashable Composite: maude / bob al-greene / MASHABLE

“I think masturbation is one of the healthiest things we can do when it comes to understanding and appreciating our bodies. For me, and for many in our community, self-pleasure helps us reclaim our bodies for ourselves,” said Rodriguez.

At 21, she underwent menopause after a cancer diagnosis and dealt with feeling estranged from her body. “For many who experience trauma, it can be a truly healing process to redefine your sexuality for yourself.”

Another more practical concern for first-time sex toy buyers, found in both the TENGA survey and Unbound’s own community survey, was price. Quality toys can be an investment, and the sheer variety of different types, sensations, and textures can feel paralyzing when you have no reference point for what you like.

That’s why the best first toys are reasonably priced, straightforward, and versatile (scroll to the bottom for our best recommendations). People with labias often find the most success when starting with clitoral stimulators like bullets or lipstick vibes. Unbound has a quarterly, affordable subscription box designed for newbies trying to expand their erotic repertoire.

One revolutionary policy Dame made in order to help get over this barrier to entry goes radically against a key industry-standard: They accept returns. (Unbound accepts partial returns for used toys).

“First of all, be proud of yourself for buying the toy.”

Their policy changed after CEO Alexandra Fine and her co-founder reevaluated the reasons behind this industry standard, which claims that returns are unhygienic. But the more they thought about it, it became clear that other companies accepted returns despite their product being unhygienic to resell, like Casper mattresses and Thinx panties.

“What that kind of policy is almost saying is, ‘Hey, your vagina is disgusting. Obviously, we can’t take returns.’ That in itself has shame built into it, and is counter to us creating a shame-free experience,” said Fine. “We want you to feel comfortable letting us know that something didn’t work for you. Then, we can help you find something that does.”

Still, even when we can get over all those initial walls of shame and finally buy a sex toy, it’s very normal to then face a whole other wave of shame while actually using it. But there are lots of ways to get past that, too.

“First of all, be proud of yourself for buying the toy,” said Lieberman. “Then, accept that your first few experiences may be awkward. I mean, what was your first experience of sex with another person like? You don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a new technology that you’re learning. It could even feel weird at first if you’ve never had something vibrating on your genitals. That’s OK, too.”

Try everything alone first, and on the lowest power setting first — possibly even over your panties or even a towel for clitoral stimulators. People vary on level of sensitivity.

Vesper’s a gorgeous necklace/vibrator confronts the sex toy taboo head-on. Scroll to end for a full review.

Image: Mashable Composite: crave / bob al-greene / MASHABLE

Overall, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got while joining the sex toy revolution is to treat each new toy like a new sexual partner. Give yourself time to learn how it fits your body, or whether it’s a good match at all. View your early experiences as exploratory rather than setting the expectation to cum, which puts undue pressure on you and your new friend.

And honestly, unless you’ve purchased from one of these new women, femme, and non-binary-led sex toy makers, do your best to ignore the marketing and promises on the packaging. Often, you’ll find images of scantily clad women that project a false picture of what masturbation looks like. In reality, it looks more like you in pajamas and a face mask.

Even more importantly, do not believe in the promises of an instantaneous, guaranteed, melt-your-face off orgasm. Again, every body is different, and it’s normal for something that works for most to not work for you. If you’re confused about how to use it (since many manuals are woefully lacking), educate yourself online with reviews that paint more vivid pictures. Many of the companies that are revolutionizing sex toys also provide well-written blogs and step-by-step guides for their toys.

“Me Too let people — especially women — feel more comfortable expressing their need, their demand for sexual pleasure.”

Underlying the new sex toy revolution is a movement that believes pleasure and satisfaction should be a human right. Closely tied to that movement is another one that started in 2017, which finally allowed women to start talking about the ways sex made them feel ashamed, traumatized, and silenced.

“The rise of talking about sexual assault from Me Too let people — especially women — feel more comfortable expressing their need, their demand for sexual pleasure,” said Lieberman.

It’s deeply unsettling (perhaps even related) that, in the midst of this sexual wellness revolution, we’re seeing a vicious legal backlash trying to strip women of basic rights over their own bodies. Whether it’s challenges to Roe v. Wade, other increasingly restrictive abortion laws, or less access to birth control, “at the bottom of it all is people preventing women from having sex without consequence. It’s the belief that sexual pleasure isn’t good in and of itself for women unless it’s to procreate,” said Lieberman.

While it might seem silly (and obviously, different forms of activism are needed to counteract these serious threats), there is power in reclaiming at least one form of control over your body by exercising your right to pleasure with a toy.

“My suggestion is to just give it a try,” said Rodriguez. “I have yet to hear from someone who, after trying a vibrator, regrets it. It’s all about just giving yourself permission to explore — and you are the only one who needs to grant yourself permission, to say ‘yes’ to pleasure. Trust me, you deserve it. We all do.”




Minimalist, inexpensive, yet powerful, the Vibe’s exquisitely accessible design made it an instant hit for a reason. Its simplicity doesn’t sacrifice function, with a reputation for getting the job done fast. Able to be used externally or internally, it’s the most bang for your buck (and boy, does that buck go).

Image: MASHABLE composite: MYSTERY VIBE / BOB AL-GREENE / Mashable

Mystery Vibe

A Swiss Army Knife of toys, this bendable, inclusive powerhouse justifies its price by letting you experiment in countless ways (their Playbook has some ideas). One con is its overwhelming app with a paralyzing amount of customization options. Like all Bluetooth-enabled toys, it drops connection often, so just preset your favorite patterns onto the vibe. Though I didn’t try it, Unbound’s Bender might be a cheaper, simpler alternative for a similar concept.

Image: Mashable Composite: CRAVE / BOB AL-GREENE / MASHABLE


Break the sex toy taboo with a gorgeous necklace that’s also a pinpoint clitoral stimulator designed to get you off wherever and whenever you want. Wearing the Vesper turns your shame into an unapologetic pride. While not the most powerful, it’s perfect for those nervous about introducing toys into partnered sex since unscrewing it from your necklace is sexier than fumbling for one in your bedside table.

Image: Mashable Composite: dame / BOB AL-GREENE /


In a word: life-changing. The simple genius of the Fin is that it puts the power of a bullet between your fingers, making it seamless to use in any position during penetrative sex and one of the best toys for closing the orgasm gap. Despite access to countless other vibrators 4 times more expensive, I dubbed Fin “old faithful,” cause I could always count on it like clockwork to deliver a geyser-level explosion.

Image: Mashable Composite: we-vibe / BOB AL-GREENE / MASHABLE


A personal favorite as my first vibe ever, the Tango’s been a classic, powerful, beloved bullet for years that’s simple and gets the job done. If you’re more sensitive to vibration, prefer the soft silicone feel, more fluttering sensation, or an adjustable tip, try Dame’s equally great Kip.

Image: Mashable Composite: womanizer / bob al-greene / MASHABLE


Worst name for one of the greatest gifts to clitorises, this legend uses suction instead of vibration. Lining it up is tricky at first, but once I did, the orgasm ripped forth from my body in seconds along with an involuntary scream. No toy is a guarantee for all, but this is the closest and an alternative for those not jiving with vibing. Premium includes a quiet motor and autopilot mode perfect for newbies. But cheaper models don’t disappoint.

Image: Mashable Composite: WE-VIBE / BOB AL-GREENE / MASHABLE


Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend rabbits for beginners because they look intimidating, are a bit unwieldy to figure out at first, and often not all they’re cracked up to be. But since it’s one of the most popular and well-known types, I suggest one of the only ones I found with enough bend, power, and adjustability to provide the amount of clitoral stimulation needed for a variety of bodies.

  • Read more from the series:

  • The best and worst high-tech sex toys

  • Mindful sex: An antidote to the worst of modern sex

  • 5 lessons I learned from hacking my sex life

Sex Toys 101 – A Positive and Detailed Beginner’s Guide

Image Lovehoney

It doesn’t matter if you’re a blushing sex toy virgin or a kinky veteran who is seasoned in the trenches of BDSM (with the cane scars to prove it) – there is always more we can learn.

In this article, we will break down the types of toys, what they are, safety tips, and interesting facts.

And, because there is just too much info for one post, I’ve included MANY links to other articles if you want to get into more detail about one product.


DILDOS – Toys that are shaped like a penis used for sexual stimulation. They come in various lengths and widths. The oldest one found is around 28,000 years old.

VIBRATORS – These are the same as a dildo, but they feature an internal motor that vibrates for extra stimulation. Some are waterproof, rechargeable, or take batteries. A few expensive models can connect with other sex toys via Bluetooth or long distance apps.

NOTE: G-spot toys can be either vibrators or dildos but should have a distinct curve at the end to target the g-spot.

STRAP-ONS – Dildos or vibrators that are meant to be worn with a harness during sexual activity. The key features to look at is how big the “O” ring is. Dildos require a wide base that won’t let them slip through the O-ring.

BEN WA BALLS – Also known as orgasm, geisha, Venus, or Burmese balls.

They are small, marble-like, weighted balls meant to be inserted into the vagina for sexual stimulation but mostly to exercise the pelvic floor muscles.

Not to be confused with anal beads

CLITORAL VIBRATORS – A small vibrator means for external stimulation – never for insertion. Usually focused on the clit, but can be used anywhere.

CLITORAL PUMPS – Similar to the penis-pump concept – meant to increase blood flow to the genital area and help with orgasm.

If you want detailed guides, take a look at:

  • Learn How to Buy Your First Vibrator
  • How to Use a Dildo – Go from Average Moans to Atomic Groans
  • Lipstick Vibrators – They’ll Never Know What’s in Your Bag
  • 10 Discreet Vibrators – Stop Stashing Your Sex Toys
  • 21 Female Sex Toys Essential Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
  • 10 Best Rabbit Vibrators You Need to See Now


MASTURBATION SLEEVES – Other names include “Onaholes” or “Fleshlights” (a famous brand). They are soft, skin-like, flexible tubes to go around the penis and provide extra stimulation during masturbation.

Some have one hole with a closed end at the other or two holes to make an open end. They can look like simple tubes or more elaborate reproductions of vaginas or anuses. The term “Fifi” is a one-use disposable sleeve masturabtor.

EXTENSION SLEEVES – Condom-looking sleeves that go over a penis to add length or texture for a partner’s pleasure. They can also help people who have problems maintaining erections.

PENIS PUMPS – A cylinder vacuum device that fits over the penis. Meant to increase blow flow, engorge the member, and help with erections. They are also sold as penis enlargement devices and sometimes prescribed by doctors.

COCK RINGS – A ring placed around the base of the penis to slow blood flow which makes erections easier to maintain for a longer period of time.

SEX TOY FACT: 70% of sex toys are manufactured in China.

If you want detailed guides, take a look at:

  • No Need to Be Shy – Learn How to Buy a Cock Ring
  • Penis Vibrators – Comprehensive Guide and Reviews
  • The Magical Pocket Pussy – Buyer’s Guide to Masturbation Sleeves


You’re probably thinking of Hitachi, and you’d be right! However, since this “back massager” came out on the market, there have been many other models popping up – some good some bad.

The good ones are STRONG but not meant for internal use (unless you have an attachment that can convert it). Great for vaginal, penis, or outer-anal stimulation. Also great to use during sex!

Don’t bother with battery operated ones. Stick with rechargeable, cordless versions or corded ones (if you don’t mind the hassle).

Find out more here:

  • Hitachi Magic Wand – Is It Still the Best?
  • Wand Attachments – Turn Your Magic Wand Into a Jack-of-All-Trades!
  • Cordless Wand Example – Domi by Lovense


ANAL PLUGS – Cone shaped toy that goes in the rectum. Shorter than a dildo and have a flared base to prevent the toy from getting lost inside the rectum. Anal Trainers are the same but come in sets (from small to large) to help people ease into anal play.

ANAL BEADS – A long chain of orbs connected by a string or cord. They are inserted slowly into the rectum one by one then pulled out during orgasm for extra stimulation.

PROSTATE MASSAGERS – Men have their own g-spot (called the p-spot). Prostate toys are curved to stimulate this area. Some vibrate, others don’t, but none of them are meant as “thrusting” devices.

SEX TOY FACT: Sex toys are illegal in some countries.


A mechanical device that uses penetration or rotation at various speeds.

Although the attachments are dildos, vibrators, or male masturabators, they deserve their own category.

You can find power tool machines, saddles, monkey rockers, electro stims, or various types of homemade devices.

SEX TOY FACT: Over 50% of women have used sex toys.

  • Learn How to Buy a Fucking Machine


You might be thinking of the novelty items you find a bachelor party (blow up balloons with open mouths).

Although those models, as well as better/nicer versions, are still made, the industry has made leaps and bounds in the way of sex dolls. They now look far more realistic and feel pretty close to a natural skin using body-safe silicone.

The base price is around $2000 and goes up from there depending on the level of customization you want … and boy can they customize.

And don’t worry, ladies, they also make male dolls.

Find more interested sex doll info here:

  • Sex Robots – One Step Close to Demolition Man and West World


NIPPLE CLAMPS – These devices do exactly what they say. They apply pressure to nipples (for both men and women) which cut off blood flow then reintroduces it – pain and pinching levels depends on the strength of the clamp.

They are usually applied in pairs and sometimes connected with a chain, whether tweezer clamps, piercing clamps, clover clamps or clothes-pin styles.

SUCTION CUPS – These are designed to increase blood flow and stimulation to the nipple area. Some women can even achieve orgasm this way. Some look like turkey basters, makeshift breast pumps, or like something you find in a doctor’s office.

SEX TOY FACT: The rabbit vibrator was invented in 1983.

Find out more here:

  • Pinchy Pinchy – Nipple Clamps 101


This includes any piece of furniture that aids in sexual activity. These include sex swings, sex gliders, fisting slings, angled foam wedges, bondage equipment like stocks, smother-boxes like queening stools, love chairs, spanking benches, and sawhorses etc.

The biggest difference between these and sex machines is that furniture has no moving or electrical parts.

Learn more here:

  • Sex Furniture 101 – Guide and Candid Product Reviews
  • The Master Sex Swing Guide


Sex toys is a vague (and huge) category. Although BDSM toys should have their own article, we will throw in an overview here:

MEDICAL THEMED – Electro stim machines, genital pumps, prostate toys, straight jackets or other medical restraints, and enema bags. You can also find speculums (spreader for the vagina or anus), urethral dilators/sounds, penis plugs, protoscopes, forceps, pinwheels, dental retractors, and reflex hammers etc.

Want BDSM toys but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars? This article will help:

  • Cheap BDSM Equipment from the Dollar, Thrift, or Hardware Store


Buying from trusted manufacturers is the first step. There’s not a lot out there made with safe materials or assembly/construction practices.

This is not to say that ALL their toys will be GOOD – just safe.

Je Joue, for example, creates 100% body-safe toys (and I will happily give them points in that department) but their designs, functionality, and pricing is something akin to slapping a hundred-dollar price tag on a silicone casing filled with jittery cymbal monkies that don’t work 80% of the time.

For toys you don’t insert, there are plenty of sellers out there that offer a great variety in a wide price range, and you don’t need to worry as much about body-safe materials (unless you are dealing with latex and allergies etc.)

Here are some sites that have collections from several brands…

  • Lovehoney.com
  • Ann Summers.com
  • Liberator.com
  • Goodvibes.com
  • Holisticwisdom.com

There is Amazon *gag* but I recommend extreme caution when buying from there (with generic sellers that are passing on a name brand, but especially white brands). Yes, you can find fantastic deals, but far too often the quality is crap.

Then again, if you just want something dirt cheap to experiment with before investing in better options, go for it!


  • Even if you’re experimenting and going cheap, don’t resort to dangerous materials.
  • Body-safe materials will be non-porous and made from either medical grade silicone, medical grand stainless steel, borosilicate or soda-lime glass that is made correctly, wood/ceramic/stone with the proper finish to make it nonporous, and ABS (hard) plastic.
  • Wash your toys before and after each use. Dry them thoroughly and store them in a container or bag that will keep them clean. Some male sleeves need to be dusted with cornstarch after they dry.
  • Don’t ignore instructions. Read them carefully.
  • Keep your silicone toys stored separately.
  • Be careful which lubes you use with which material of the toy.
  • If you’re getting into bondage, do some research first on safety and proper knots.
  • If you’re going to share toys, make sure you sterilize them. Even better would be covering it with a condom.
  • With anal toys, make sure they have a flared base so they don’t slide up the rectum to far (even the long toys can get lost up there).
  • Don’t cross-contaminate – make sure you don’t use your anal toys for vaginal play and visa verse.

SEX TOY FACT: Sex toy color preferences vary depending on culture.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

You’re now well armed to go forth and conquer the world of sex toys! YAY!

Also, if you think anything else should be added to the list, you want to recommend some great toys, or you just want to say hi, jump down to the comments section!

Have a sex day,


TagsSex Toys