almanac

Sex Column: Toys and Tools

Sex Out Loud offers tons of opportunities for UW students to get involved and help spread the word about having safe sex.

Image By: Image Courtesy Sex Out Loud

Why do we use toys?

Toys are not essential to have great sex, but many people love to incorporate them into their sex lives! Why?

  • If we’re feeling like we’ve fallen into a routine with our partners, we can add in toys to change things up and make sex even more fun and exciting.

  • Toys can help us to do activities we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. They’re great for people who don’t have penises and want to use strap ons for penetrative sex or to affirm their gender. They’re also great for people who can’t hold certain sex positions for long periods of time and like using specialized pillows like the liberator wedge.

  • Toys are super sexy to wear and use, they can be a big visual turn on! They come in all shapes and colors that can appeal to our personal aesthetics.

  • Toys are great ways to start conversations about sexual likes and dislikes. For example, if we want to work towards some butt play we can talk to our partner about introducing anal beads or butt plugs.

  • They feel great! That’s their whole purpose, after all!

If you have more questions or want to see real examples of any of the toys in this article, stop by our office on the third floor of the Student Activity Center!

Safety first!

When we’re buying toys we want to look at what they’re made of as well as the physical features that we enjoy. We want to find body-safe materials like high quality silicone, glass or metal. We especially want to avoid BPA and phthalates. If the packaging doesn’t say “BPA-free” or “phthalate-free” we probably want to avoid that toy! However, body-safe toys do tend to be more expensive. So if all we can afford are the cheaper, less safe ones, then we can always put a condom on them to avoid those materials from coming in contact with our bodies! We suggest shopping in person at a store where we can really see and feel the material or buying from a reputable online source that has a physical store attached to it, like Smitten Kitten or the Tool Shed.

Anal toys

Anal toys come with a few important tips:

  • Use lube!! The anus isn’t self-lubricating, so it’s super important to use lots of lube. Stop by the Sex Out Loud office and check out our lube samples for some great recommendations.

  • Anything that goes in the butt has to have a flared base. This means that the bottom of the toy is larger than any other part of the toy and prevents it from getting lost inside our body.

Anal toys fall in a few categories:

  • Butt Plugs, which are worn in the butt and usually feature main shafts of different sizes and a flared base.

  • Prostate toys, which look similar to a skinny butt plug but with a curved tip that is meant to hit the prostate in people who have them. These sometimes have handles instead of flat bases.

  • Anal beads, which are connected beads that are usually made of silicone of varying sizes that can be inserted and removed from the butt at varying speeds.

Vibrators

Vibrators are probably some of the most common toys out there, and they come in any shape and size imaginable. Vibrators fall into two sensation categories: buzzy or throbby. These are hard to describe in words, so feel free to stop by the office to see our example toys!

Some classic vibrators include:

  • The rabbit vibrator, which has a body that is inserted and a second motor that sits outside on the clitoris

  • The bullet vibrator, which is an external vibrator that is around the size of a lipstick tube

  • The vibrating dildo, which is insertable and usually comes with multiple vibration settings

  • Wand vibrators that look kind of like ice cream cones where the cone is the handle and the scoop is what vibrates. These are generally used externally

Dildos

Dildos come in all shapes, sizes, and materials imaginable! They’re generally used for penetration and can look phallic or non-phallic, whatever we prefer. We can explore sizes from pinky fingers to full fists and different skin tones or color patterns. Some have suction cups that can hold them steady and some attach into harnesses for wearing. Harnesses can be anything from a scarf we tie ourselves to specially made, gender-affirming boxers sold by companies like RodeoH. There are even strapless strap ons made to be worn inside a vagina and then used to penetrate a partner. Again, we strongly suggest either stopping by the office or buying in person to get a feel for what options are out there! An easy way to measure or visualize how big a toy will be is by thinking about it in terms of how many fingers wide it is.

Sensation

Sensation toys are a huge umbrella encompassing everything from ice cubes to floggers. They’re used to bring new feelings and pleasurable (or painful) experiences into the bedroom. Some you can see examples of in the office are:

  • Nipple clamps, which are worn on nipples and act as a blood-restriction toy as well as a sensation toy. While they’re worn, they can be tugged on or manipulated. When they’re removed, the blood rushes back into the area and leaves the nipples extra sensitive. As with any blood restriction, we don’t want to leave these on more than 20 minutes!

  • Floggers are like whips but with many, many tassels. For a lot of these, their bark is worse than their bite. We want to use these in a sort of figure-eight motion for the best results.

  • Feathers are fun to use either on their own or with a blindfold to tickle or tease our partners!

  • Blindfolds are a sensation toy that takes away a sense! When consensually combined with other activities, they can add an element of surprise to our play.

For more information or to answer any questions you may have, please stop by our office in the SAC 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or email us at ask.sexoutloud@gmail.com! If you have a group of 10 or more people, we can also come do a program for you. We talk a lot about toys in our kink and advanced pleasure programs. Visit our website at sexoutloud.com to request one!

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