Ask A Sex Therapist: A beginner’s guide to sex toys

Sex toys – without much introduction to the topic, you probably already know that sex toys are kind of a big deal right now. Once reserved for the top drawer of the bedside table, or deep inside some hidden space in the wardrobe, I might not be too far from the truth in saying they now deserve prime position next to the candle and lamp, out for the world to see.

As a symbol of one’s commitment to sexual self-connection, sex toys are becoming increasingly normalised and, without getting all funny about it, have become a simple addition to a self-care routine that values mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.    

There’s really never been a better time to jump on the sex toy bandwagon. If you’re new to the game, I have you covered! While I’m a sex therapist three days of my working week, the other two days I spend sourcing for, curating and building my own sex toy store (very very exciting!) So, in short, you’re in good hands.

When purchasing a sex toy, the best place to start is at a reputable sex toy retailer. Thankfully, you have more options these days. Finding a store that is inclusive, steers away from heterosexism and operates within your value system, is going to be a good start. Perhaps you want a store that has a great aesthetic, a luxury feel or a well-curated product range.

My advice is to be picky with your sex toy retailer. What you buy from them will make its way into your body, your relationship and your sex life, so you want to be sure you’re buying the right product.

From here, getting to know the kinds of materials that are good and not-so-good will be fairly important. If you’re shopping from a good retailer, like I mentioned before, you won’t have to think much about this one. If not, make sure you know what to look out for. The materials we like are glass, 100 per cent pure silicone, medical-grade stainless steel, ABS hard plastic and glazed aluminium.

What we don’t like are crystal, jelly, and rubber because these materials are either toxic or porous, meaning they have little crevices for bacteria to hide in. Obviously, we don’t want any uninvited guests to our masturbation party – it’s strictly guestlist only.

So now you know what materials to look for, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to stimulate. For vulva owners, the clit is a great starting place. And you have a plethora of options available to you. There’s your standard clitoral vibrator which you can find in virtually any shape, size and colour that you wish. There’s also a bullet vibrator, which is a small, usually hard vibrator that comes at a lower price point – perfect for those on budget.

You also have wand massagers, which are large and powerful toys that look something like a power tool. Wands are great for people who want broader stimulation, rather than something more focused. Other clitoral stimulators include air suction toys, which use a vacuum-like technology to create a sucking sensation on the clitoris. If you are a penis owner, these also work wonders on the frenulum.

If you’re keen on clit stim, but don’t want to forget your beautiful vagina (she/he/they/it deserves some attention too!), there are heaps of toys that provide double stimulation. Whether it’s a rabbit, a dual g-spot/clit stimulator, or a couple’s toy that delivers internal and external stimulation while leaving enough room for a penis to fit (if you are that way inclined), there’s truly something for everyone!

Now, although the fancy tech stuff is pretty impressive, it’s also important to mention the more beautiful and intuitive sex toys that exist – glass, metal and aluminium wands. These don’t have any fancy technological features, but aesthetically they beat the tech ones by a mile. You can explore temperature play or work on a slower, and arguably, more powerful build-up with these toys. And as they don’t have any fiddly buttons or funny vibrating noises, they are far more intuitive to use. It really all depends on what you want to get out of your toy.

Despite what you might think, vulva owners aren’t the only ones who get to enjoy the fruits of the sex toy industry. There are also toys available for le penis. Masturbators have become the crème de la crème for penis owners, that these days, come with fancy warming, vibrating, and air suction options depending on what you like.

There are also penis rings, that can vibrate or add tension to the penis to heighten the sensation of an erection. And as mentioned earlier, couples sex toys are a great way for penis and vulva owning partners to receive pleasure at the same time. Two genitals, one toy!

The other area that must not be forgotten here is the anus. Anal pleasure might take a bit of warming up for the unseasoned sex toy user. If you want to enter the butt-play game, try using a small glass toy first. Its smooth surface provides a silky sensation that silicone toys don’t. And if you want to up your anal-play game, have a look for wearable anal training dilators. These are made to help acclimatise your anus to a bigger toy or penis.

In saying all of this, what you must do when buying your first sex toy is get a good lube. If you’re playing with silicone toys, a water-based lube will be a great option. Otherwise, silicone-based lube will be what you want. It’s smooth, silky and can be used with condoms and any kind of sex toy besides a silicone one.

So now you know what to avoid, and what not to avoid, buying your first (or next) sex toy should hopefully be a little easier. Whether you want to stimulate your vulva, penis or anus, there’s truly something out there for everyone.

And if you’re looking for more info on buying your next sex toy, or just want to be amongst a community of like-minded people discussing sex, keep an eye out for my sex toy project I mentioned earlier. Called Posmo, it has been created to provide a judgement-free space for open-minded, curious, and sex-positive people to connect and explore their sexuality. The Posmo community will be a warm hug for all you sex-posi huns out there! Watch this space.

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