So why sex toys? I mean, especially if you’re really good at using your hands or you have a partner. Well, sex toys are great in enhancing sexual pleasure, and it doesn’t matter if you have a partner or if you’re playing by yourself. It’s a great way to mix-up your sex routine, not to mention going to your local adult shop can be a fun experience with a partner or close friend. Toys can also be a great way to be sexual but without the risk of STIs or pregnancy. It’s important when using sex toys to make sure your properly cleaning them, as well as using a new condom on the toy between partners or sex acts (most especially from anus to mouth or oral). If it’s your “sexual debut” with sex toys, picking one can be a little confusing so hopefully this information can get you started thinking about what might work for you.

Some questions to begin asking yourself:
• What shapes appeal to you?
• Do you find some sex toys silly looking?
• Do you have a color preference?
• Do you know what materials you like most: silicone, jelly, rubber or plastic?
• Do you want stay traditional or try something new and wild?
• Do you have trouble reaching orgasm during penetration?
• Do you consider yourself to be “clitoral?”
• Do you want to use your toy alone or with a partner?

Materials:
Silicon is becoming a popular material for sex toys due the fact that it’s non-porous, easy to clean, and lasts a long time. Many people like it because it’s also realistic – the texture is smooth, skin-like. Silicon toys are often a little pricier than other materials but since they’re becoming more popular, they’re also becoming more affordable. Use only water based lubricant with silicon toys since silicon lube could degrade the material.

Hard plastic makes up many of the cheaper toys you’ll find. It’s non-porous so it’s easy to clean and take care of. It’s usually a good material for external toys.

Jelly/Rubber offers a certain flexibility to a toy that other materials do not. It’s recommended to use a condom with these toys, even if you’re just using them with yourself, because the material is very porous and difficult to clean. There is also a smell to these toys that might turn off some folks from using Jelly/Rubber toys.

Glass/Metal toys are great for sensation play since you can make these toys hot or cold. It’s important with glass toys to store them safely to avoid chipping, but other than that they are made out of a durable glass. Metal offers a kind of firm pressure and added weight. The firmness could be great for g-spot or prostate stimulation.

While these are the more common materials, there are definitely more out there: ceramic, wood, elastomer, leather, latex, vinyl, etc., that you can explore and experiment with.

External vs. Internal
External toys, like the miniature clitoral vibrators, are usually used for clitoral stimulation but don’t be afraid to try them on different parts of the body to increase sensation. Hard plastic is often the material used for these because the inflexible plastic makes for intense vibrations.

Internal toys can be inserted into the mouth, vagina, and anus to enhance sexual pleasure. Internal toys include dildos, vibrators and anal toys. Dildos are meant for thrusting and come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and materials. Vibrators can be meant to stimulate different parts of body during sexual activity, and when choosing, it’s important to look at the speed and intensity of the vibration and what works for best you. Many of the above toys can also overlap as anal toys, but make sure that it has a wide base so that things don’t end up getting lost. All of these toys can be shaped to stimulate the clitoris, the g-spot, p-spot, or a combination, like the famous ‘rabbit’ toy.

There are also toys designed for penises specifically which are meant to increase stamina, like the cock ring, or meant to simulate the anus or vagina, like the Tenga egg or notorious Flesh Light, and many many more.

Cleaning and AftercareIt’s important to properly clean your toys, especially if you’re not using condoms on them. For most of these, using warm soap and water will do the job. Be extra cautious with the porous materials like jelly-rubber, and to make sure you’re not using materials that irritate your body parts, like bleach (I know it’s a great disinfector but it might be bad for your vagina or anus). Take out the batteries, if there are any, before washing and make sure the toy is completely dry before re-inserting them. Lastly, store them in a safe cool place where they won’t warp or chip.

In the Bay Area, we’re privileged with great sex shops that you can go to, where the trained professionals that work there are a great resource to talk further about what options would be good for you:
Good Vibes has locations in Berkeley and San Francisco.
Feelmore510 is located in Oakland (and it’s also considered a gallery!).
My Pleasure is also a great online resource for sex toy info.
Now that you have this information, go forth and sex toy.

Jeni