sex column

Toying around: Getting sex toy-smart

This week, Indecent Exposure is giving a more in-depth discussion about sex toys, the various types, applications and proper usage and maintenance that comes with their use.

Anna Welch

Let’s talk about one of the most beloved sex toys on the market: vibrators! Bad day? Vibe. Boring date? Vibe. Inexplicable attraction to douchey coworker? Vibe. 

Vibrators are either internal or external only. An internal vibe can be used inside the vagina and outside on the vulva and clit. External-only are too small to be inserted and should only be used on the vulva and clit. 

External-only or clitoral vibrators are generally only a few inches long and they vary in shape from the common “bullet” vibe to things as sneaky as rubber duckies and lipstick tubes. 

Internal vibrators come in three main types — realistic, classic, and G-spot. Realistic vibrators are designed to look — and sometimes feel — like penises. Classic or “traditional” vibrators are non-phallic, meaning they generally have a smooth, cylindrical shape with a rounded tip. G-spot vibrators are usually non-phallic as well, but they tend to have a curved design for easier G-spot access.  

Dual-stimulation vibrators look similar to classic internal vibes, but with a fun extra little arm for, you guessed it, dual-stimulation of the clitoris and the inside of the vagina.

Unlike condoms which are highly regulated by the FDA in the U.S., vibrators and other sex toys have zero governmental regulations — meaning a sex toy website could claim a toy is 100% silicone and that could be 100% bullshit. Silicone vibrators are non-porous, making them easiest to clean and generally the highest quality. If you’re using lube with a silicone vibrator be sure to use water-based lube. Silicone based lube can degrade the material of a silicone based toy. 

If at all possible, save the online shopping for Cyber Monday and purchase your vibe in person. A Woman’s Touch in Madison and The Tool Shed in Milwaukee are great local options for body-safe toys. If buying from a reputable sex store in-person is intimidating, check to see if they have a website — tons of sex stores sell online! 

To test the sensation of a vibrator, rest it against the underside of your forearm. For a first-time purchase, try to spend under $20 in case you don’t like the sensation, or you decide you want something stronger or gentler.

Clean your vibrator with unscented soap and warm water after every use to avoid bacteria buildup. If you see a toy you just can’t resist online but you’re unsure of its quality, simply use a condom with it to stay safe and for easy cleanup. 

Sydney Thomas

Dildo here, dildo there, dildos everywhere! Dildos are toys that can be used to penetrate the vagina, the anus, orally, or for any form of sexual intercourse. They can be used to stimulate the clitoris, prostate, and G-spot. These fun toys can be used alone or with partners depending on preference. They can also be attached to harnesses and worn by many different people to satisfy many different needs.

Choosing a dildo can be difficult due to the wide variety on the market. They come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, etc and some dildos do in fact vibrate (a lot of fun ones are animal shaped and have a place to insert a bullet vibrator). They can be made of glass, plastic, silicone, metal or rubber.

Three types of popular dildos on the market are basic dildos, double-ended dildos and dolphin dildos. A basic dildo is your classic phallic shaped toy that is either realistic (i.e. looks more like a penis usually involving veins, glans or scrotum) or they can be more abstract and look more just like a plain penetrative shaft. 

Double ended dildos are made so that two partners can enjoy it at once, or so that somebody flying solo can use one end to penetrate the anus while using the other to penetrate the vagina at the same time, or by using one end as a handle. 

The adorable dolphin dildo is great for people that prefer a more discrete, non-phallic dildo that can be used anally because it has a nice base that won’t get lost in the anus. The finger hole of dolphin vibrators also can be a nice place to add a bullet vibrator and turn up the heat! 

It can be hard to determine the true size and feel of a dildo through online shopping, so try to go to a reputable sex store such as A Woman’s Touch in Madison to get a better idea of what you’re buying. 

A dildo should be cleaned after each use unless it was covered with a condom. Glass and metal (and sometimes silicone) dildos can be boiled. Some toys can go on the top rack of the dishwasher, just be sure not to leave a steam-cleaned surprise for roommates. When in doubt about how to clean a toy, the classic fragrance-free soap and warm water is foolproof.

Ayden Prehara

Anal: The final frontier. With the anus’ densely packed nerve endings, anal play can be an entirely new way for all bodies to experience pleasure. For many of us, the butt is filled with curiosity and anxiety. We often associate the butt as being dirty, for poop and poop only. But think about it, we as humans are clean. If we practice really basic hygiene (wiping after we go to the bathroom and showering), and we don’t currently feel like we have to go to the bathroom, we’re generally safe to play! Protip: If we’re still worried, take a steamy shower with our partner to feel squeaky clean.

Three key rules for pleasurable play:

1. LUBE! Unlike the vagina, the anus does not self lubricate, meaning that lube is absolutely necessary for comfortable and safe anal play. (You can check out our last column for tips on picking the right lube for you).

2. FLARED BASE! We’re going to want to make sure we have a flared base or handle, basically something that will ensure that toy doesn’t get lost or stuck inside us.

3. START SMALL! The anus is the opposite of an elephant – it doesn’t remember a thing. The size of the toy we had in out butt last time doesn’t matter, we’re going to want to start small. Start with a finger and continue to work up to relax the muscles and make for comfortable play.

When it comes to anal specific toys there are three primary varieties: butt plugs, anal beads, and prostate stimulators:

Butt plugs are not meant for thrusting, but rather are designed to give us a sensation of fullness, and for folks with vaginas it can make us feel “tighter.” If desired, butt plugs can also be a great way for our butts to relax before anal!

Anal beads are a string of beads of varying sizes, starting small and working its way bigger. When using beads, we’re going to want to make sure we heavily lubricate them and that we’re mindful not to pull them out like we’re starting a lawn mower. Relax, go slower, and enjoy that heightened orgasm.

Prostate stimulators are insertive vibrators with a curved end designed specifically to stimulate the prostate. Similar to butt plugs, stimulators are not meant to be thrusted, but can offer an intense full bodied orgasm.

Clean your anal toys like you would any other toy, and if we want even less cleanup, we can always slip a condom over our toys. 

Sex toys are a great way to spice up your sex life, find out something new about yourself, or just add that extra oomph to your personal time. Don’t be afraid to explore your different options! If you have topic suggestions or just want some advice, shoot us an email at sex@dailycardinal.com 

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