1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Sex Toys 101

Basics of Sex Toys

By

Updated January 08, 2014

Once considered kinky or exotic, sex toys can now be found on the shelves of small retail stores and  boutique websites as well as major corporate chains and the ecommerce giants. They are also widely considered a positive and healthy way to explore your sexuality by medical and mental health professions. But finding straightforward, honest information about sex toys can still be a challenge. Most sex toy information is created by marketers and publicists, so the messages are likely slightly biased.

Increased media attention to sex toys doesn’t always translate into better information. There continue to be many myths about sex toys, some of which you can find repeated in entertainment media, and even occasionally, news media. Some popular sex toy myths include:
 
  • Only lonely people and losers use sex toys.
  • You can become addicted to sex toys.
  • If you use sex toys too much it can ruin “regular” sex for you.
  • Sex toys can fix your sexual problems.

 

Different Kinds of Sex Toys

There is nothing like the Periodic Table for sex toys; there are no exact definitions or answers as to what is and isn’t a sex toy, or what is the absolute difference between a vibrator, a dildo, and butt plug. But to make life easier, sex toys can be categorized by function:
 
  • Vibrators: A sex toy with a motor that whirrs, it creates extra stimulation beyond how you move it.
     
  • Dildos: Sex toys made for penetration that only move as much as you move them yourself.
     
  • Harnesses: Allows you to use a dildo without holding it in your hands. Most harnesses go around your waist, some go around your thigh, or can be strapped to furniture.
     
  • Anal Sex Toys: Toys that are designed for safe anal penetration. They will have a flared base, and have a smooth and seamless surface.
     
  • Lubricants: Essential for use with other sex toys, lubricant makes sex slippery, often more sensitive and more comfortable. Also required for any anal penetration.
     
  • Penis Rings: A ring that’s worn around the base of the penis that can create pleasurable pressure for the wearer. Some men report rings can prolong an erection.
     
  • Penis Pumps: Pumps will not permanently enlarge the penis, but some men enjoy the pressure sensation and use pumps for masturbation. Pumps may be used on other parts of the body as well.
     
  • BDSM Toys: Also known as power play toys, these include floggers, paddles, nipple clamps, restraints, blindfolds, and more.
     
  • Luxury Sex Toys: A newer category of sex toys, well designed and made from the best quality materials and motors.
     
  • Homemade Sex Toys: Many people find the best sex toys are the ones they make at home. Be careful to use common sense when using homemade sex toys.
     
  • Adult Movies: Sex films can be used as a sex toy to stimulate sexual thoughts and actions whether it’s an individual or couple watching.
     
  • Erotica: Like movies, erotic fiction can be integrated into sex play as partners read to each other, use erotic fiction for inspiration, or directly act out scenes from what they’ve read.
     

Your First Sex Toy

Sex toys are all about experimentation, and you may have to try a few before finding what works. Here are some basic tips when looking for your first sex toy:
 
  • Start inexpensive.
  • Choose something that is versatile and can be used several ways.
  • Start simple. The bells and whistles are nice but usually not necessary.
  • The first time you try a toy, try it alone. You’ll feel less pressure and freer to experiment.
  • Make sure you have lots of lubricant and lots of batteries.
Read More Sex Toy Shopping Tips
 

How to Use Sex Toys

Sex toys are one of the few consumer products in the world that don’t usually come with a user manual. In fact they often come with no instructions at all. Of course how you use a sex toy depends entirely on what you want the sex toy to do, and what works for you. Whether you’re a first time sex toy user or an old pro looking for a few new tricks, here are some ideas on using sex toys.
 

Read More Sex Toy How Tos


Where to Buy Sex Toys

Thousands of websites and retail businesses sell sex toys, which is a boon for consumers who know how to navigate their way around. Avoid getting ripped off and find a great sex shop with these guides.
 


Sex Toy Safety

Most sex toys are perfectly safe, as long as they are used with common sense. But some sex toys are more likely to cause problems (for example allergic reactions or slight abrasions due to rough edges). And even if a sex toy is safe, you may still have a negative reaction to it (from not liking it to finding it a serious turn off).
 


Sex Toy Q & A

Scientists have yet to turn their attention in earnest to sex toys, making it difficult to get well researched answers to common questions. Difficult, but not impossible.
 

Read More Sex Toy Questions and Answers


Accessible Sex Toys

Most sex toys are mass manufactured and not very accessible for those of us with limited mobility or fine motor control, or anyone who is easily fatigued. As with any other device, sex toys can be adapted. It just takes some creativity, and often a little duct tape.
 

Read More Tips on Making Sex Toys More Accessible

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Sexuality
  4. Sex Toys
  5. Sex Toys 101

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.