By now, after three years of working in a sex shop, I am completely normalized to the presence of sex toys. They are all over my life, and I forget that that could even possibly make someone uncomfortable. I pull vibrators out of my purse while I'm looking for a pen; I leave dildos on my kitchen table. It don't mean a thing.
But there are moments when I realize not everyone feels this way; when people come into the shop giggling uncomfortably, clutching their friends, and whispering their uncertainties to one another.
I get it. I can remember my first time walking into the store I now work at. I was terrified. I was the one clutching my friend, fiddling with my hair. Too nervous to even ask questions, I grabbed the first vibrator I saw -- a bulbous, pink hunk of plastic that then sat in my underwear drawer for two years, unused.
Sex toys can be nerve-wracking. How is one supposed to know what's going to feel good? It's a bit of a gamble, and a hard question to ask.
But sex toys can also be a whole lot of fun and are worth a try for everyone, whether you're 19 and have never had an orgasm, 85 and want to start having orgasms again, or even if you're a 45-year-old orgasm-machine just wanting to try something new. Because, as exciting as it is, a lot of the time even sex can get boring. Vibrators and dildos can really spice things up.
Let me break down some basic sex toy categories so that you can wander into your local sex shop and grab a little somethin' somethin'.
A whole lot of things can provide your body with some nice vibrations, from washing machines to motor cycles. And if sitting on a Maytag or a crotch rocket is doing a fine job of getting you off, then by all means stick to it. But vibrators, the sex toys themselves, are nice in that they are specifically designed for the purpose of providing orgasm-inducing pleasure (unlike that rinse cycle).
Vibrators can be hard or soft, big or small, powerful or subtle, phallic or egg-like. They can be battery powered or rechargeable, expensive or inexpensive. You can put them against your clitoris, inside your vagina, in your bum, against your scrotum, perineum or penis, or in your ear if that's your thing. Talk about versatility! They are all a pretty good time, in my humble opinion, but if you haven't used one before I recommend starting cheap.
Buy something that is well-shaped to be used internally or externally, has a range of speeds, and doesn't cost a pretty penny. Then you can just try it out to see if you even like the feel of vibrations. Not everyone does. Some people find that having vibrations pressed against their body is actually just more numbing than a good time. That's why some vibrators have the option of providing a pulsing beat, which is another feature to consider when buying your first one.
Once you've selected the toy for you, you've gotten it home, unwrapped the tacky packaging and are ready to have fun, don't expect instant orgasm. For some people, vibrators can get their hearts from flatlining to racing in 60 seconds, but not everyone. Take your time, play with it, figure out how you like to feel it and where to use it. It is a toy, and playing is the point. So just have a good time with the toy and with your body and don't feel too nervous. There is no right or wrong way to use a vibrator!
Dildos are penetrative objects that most often don't vibrate. The point of them is to penetrate a bodily hole! Like vibrators, they can come in a plethora of materials, sizes, shapes, and colours. They can look like human penises, they can look like E.T's funny little finger, or they can look like anything in between. When choosing one, the thing to consider is what size works for your body. Everyone is different.
Another thing to keep in mind is the material. I think silicone is really the best option because a silicone dildo can be sterilized by boiling it in a pot of water for two to five minutes. This way you can share your toys after disinfection if you want to, but be sure to exercise caution as sex toys can transfer infections and diseases (or don't share them at all).
Another piece of advice: if you are interested in using a dildo, add some lubricant. Just as that crab from the Little Mermaid crooned, "Everything's better when it's wetter," and penetration is no exception (although use caution when combining certain products).
Butt toys are, obviously, things to put in your bum. This could mean a dildo, as mentioned above. Or it could mean a butt plug. Whereas dildos are well-designed for the act of thrusting, plugs are better suited for sitting still. They are meant to rest inside your bum to create a feeling of fullness. This is a great way to start experimenting with anal play because it doesn't let anything get too complicated -- all you have to do is put the plug in and then play around however you see fit.
When choosing the perfect plug, there are three things to consider. One is size. Starting small is the safest bet. While the anus can expand to remarkable widths, you don't want to shock your body into feeling uncomfortable. I recommend you choose a plug that is roughly the width of your finger. Two is lube. Here again, wetter is better. And the third is a base. If you were to stick something in there that didn't have a base, there is the risk that it could get sucked up into your body, which would then require an embarrassing trip to the emergency room. So make sure that any toy that you are going to insert anally has a flange.
Another style of butt toy is the infamous anal beads. Anal beads are a string of beads that graduate in size. The intent is to insert them anally and then to remove then when you feel like you are coming close to orgasm. The beads removal will cause your anal sphincters (we have two anal sphincters, an internal and an external) to contract, leading to a potentially bigger and better orgasm. These can be a fun way to play, but they definitely take some practice. Timing is everything and safety is essential.
Lastly, some anal toys are designed specifically for prostate stimulation. People whom are born with a penis are also born with a prostate. The prostate is a gland located below the bladder, found just inside the anal sphincter. If you curve your finger upward, you should be able to feel it. It feels kind of like a walnut, a little lump protruding from the walls of the anal tract. Functionally, it serves to both help control urination, and to produce a fluid that constitutes about a third of semen (semen is also made up for sperm and enzymes). When someone ejaculates, the fluid that the prostitute produces makes said ejaculate that white-ish colour. When the prostitute is stimulated, say by a finger or by a prostate toy, often a deep, ache-y feeling occurs, ultimately leading to orgasm and ejaculation. The ideal prostate toy is a hard texture (so that it will be firm enough to provide a lot of pressure) and is slightly curved upwards, so that when inserted its curve faces up towards the belly button.
Sex toys are not just for vulvas! Who started this rumor? There are a lot of fun things out there to please a penis.
Cock rings are one option. Cock rings are meant to be worn at the base of the penis, typically pressed against the body around the testicles and the shaft (but you could choose to instead place it just before the testicles, around the shaft). Practically, they work to compress the veins and so to stem blood flow out of the penis, which can help to maintain an erection for longer. By allowing blood to engorge the penis, it can also make the whole thing feel more sensitive to touch. So, the pressure created by a cock ring can feel pretty good. When choosing your first one, select a flexible, soft material. You should want it to feel snug, but not uncomfortably tight. When using one, keep in mind that you wouldn't want to wear a cock ring for longer than 20 minutes or if he experiences discomfort. Stemming the blood flow from any area of your body for too long isn't the best idea, and the penis is a pretty valuable body part.
Another thing for penises is masturbator sleeves! These are textured tubes meant to add some extra ribbing that a hand just can't provide. They often look like a vulva or bum, and are made out of a material that feels really nice and soft. The Fleshlight is the most infamous of masturbator sleeves. It looks like a rather large flashlight, but when you twist open the cap, a body pat (that could mean avulva, a bum, or a mouth) is revealed, complete with a hole for penetrating. The Fleshlight is fun, but there is wide array of fun, masturbation accessories like this one that run at a lower price, and are a good way to start experimenting.
These are just some basics. The best way to figure out more, and to figure out what you like, is to try it all out.