This guide summarizes the purpose and use of the most popular types of sex toys, with a focus on what is likely to make the biggest difference for most people. For each type of toy, we've identified which specific model seems to be the best-made and best-designed of those currently available. And for those who want to obtain a particular item, the links for each are to that item's page on the Babeland web site (which is far and away our favorite sex toy store - they're women-owned, they've won a multitude of quality and customer service awards including those from The Village Voice and Zagat, they can knowledgeably answer whatever questions you might have, and all shipping is done with complete regard for your confidentiality and privacy).
If you're female, or have a female partner, a vibrator is the toy most likely to make the biggest difference to your sex life. Many women have their first orgasm with a vibrator, and most women find it easier to reach orgasm with a vibrator then by any other way. Furthermore, most women cannot reach orgasm through intercourse alone (not through any lack of appreciation or love for their partners, and not through any failing at all on their partner's part, rather just through how the female body is constructed), so if you're a male with a female partner and think it would be sexy and hot for her to have an orgasm while you're having intercourse, a vibrator could be the best present you could get.
Note that in this section we're just talking about vibrators that are meant to stimulate the clitoris, i.e. which are used externally, rather than inserted into the vagina. Regardless of what image may pop into your head when you hear the word "vibrator," the external kind is by far the most effective for having orgasms, and by far the most commonly recommended (not to mention that they can then also be used during intercourse with a partner).
If you buy only one vibrator, we recommend buying one that uses an electrical outlet rather than batteries: they last longer (potentially decades), they never run out of power just as you're about to have an orgasm, and since they're made by mainstream electronics companies and sold in everyday stores (people actually DO use them on their aching backs and feet) you don't even have to be embarrassed if someone else finds it.
Of the outlet-powered vibrators, the preferred choice is still the Hitachi Magic Wand: in comparison to other plug-in models the Hitachi Magic Wand is easier to use during sex with a partner, it's easier to put a condom over the end in case someone else wants to use it, and the optional penetrative attachments that you can get for it are higher-quality.
Tips: Use it through panties, sheets, or a thin towel if the vibrations are a little too intense for your bare clit. If you want to go for multiple clitoral orgasms, then after the first one back off on the pressure while keeping the vibrator moving, avoiding direct contact with your clit until your arousal level builds again. Moving your hips while using your vibrator - perhaps also squeezing and relaxing your "PC" muscle in time with your breathing - is something else that can enhance the whole experience. And finally, when it comes to using your vibrator during intercourse with a partner, you'll probably find that "doggy style" is the most convenient position to use the vibrator in.
Even if you already own an outlet-powered vibrator, picking up a separate battery-powered one can still make sense: the smallest of them can easily be kept in a purse, you can use them more discreetly and spontaneously, they may be more convenient for partner sex if you and your partner like to change positions a lot, obviously you can use them when you're not near an electrical outlet, and some of them can be used in or near water (which is nice if you have a hot tub, or if the bathroom is the only place in your house where you have some privacy).
Right now the most versatile choice is probably the Waterdancer: it's very small, very well made, and completely waterproof, with a design similar to that of the famed (but non-waterproof) "Pocket Rocket."
Tip: Make sure you have spare batteries.
Once you've become comfortable using a vibrator on your clitoris, there are two different directions it might be fun to explore: either using a firm G-spot toy to also deliver firm pressure against your G-spot, or else using a dildo so that you can enjoy a fuller and more satisfied feeling while using your vibrator. Before beginning, please keep in mind that any toy you penetrate yourself with is going to feel better if you first apply a little water-based lube to it: good lube choices are covered a little later in this guide.
We realize a lot of fuss gets made about the "G-spot," and not every woman finds pressure on this area of their vagina to be enjoyable, but the people who like it often find that they really like it, so please bear with us for a quick recap...
Basically, the G-spot is an area on the forward wall of the vagina (i.e. in the direction of your belly) about two to three inches in (i.e. just beyond the pubic bone), which particularly when you're very aroused may feel a little different from the area around it. One way to find and stimulate your G-spot is with a partner, using his or her first two fingers inside you to press firmly upwards, and perhaps stroke the area of the G-spot with a slight "come to me" motion. The other way to find and stimulate your G-spot is with a rigid curved toy.
So, if you own a Hitachi Magic Wand, one way to get started is to pick up the Gee Whiz attachment for it. If you don't currently own any sort of vibrator but want something that can stimulate your G-spot as well as your clit, then the Tiger Vibe may be your best bet.
Although G-spot stimulation isn't something that's enjoyable for every woman, if it works for you then the point is to either deepen and intensify the orgasms you get from your vibrator by stimulating your G-spot as you approach and go through your clitoral orgasm, or else to enjoy the G-spot stimulation as a sensation and source of orgasmic release completely on its own (maybe after first having one clitoral orgasm to warm up, or maybe not).
Tips: the first big tip about G-spot stimulation is that it's probably only going to be fun once you're aroused, and the more aroused you are the more fun it may be. The second big tip about G-spot stimulation is that the pressure may need to be quite firm and focused in order to work for you.
While G-spot toys are designed to intensely stimulate one particular part of the vagina, most dildos are designed to give you a more generally satisfying feeling of fullness, and perhaps feel good when gently moved in and out. When you have a clitoral orgasm with your vibrator or fingertips they give you something firm and satisfying to clench your vaginal muscles around, and if you like having sex with men they give you a feeling at least a little bit like intercourse with your partner which may help you fantasize. They're also available in a wide variety of shapes and textures, so you never have to get bored.
Your first choice in selecting a dildo is the material you want it to be made out of, and these days that's a no-brainer: you want silicone. Silicone is hypoallergenic and non-porous (meaning that if you like you can either clean it with hot water and anti-bacterial soap or else completely sterilize it by boiling it for five minutes), it feels warm to the touch and retains body heat, it transmits vibration beautifully, it can be made into toys that range from floppy to almost completely rigid, and if taken care of (i.e. not exposed to anything sharp that could puncture or tear it, and not exposed to silicone lubes) your toy could last a lifetime. In short, it's the perfect material to make a dildo out of.
Your second choice is selecting a width and length, and of these getting the right width is by far the more important (since you can always just not insert the dildo as far, or else wrap your fist around the base, if it would otherwise be too long). One way to pick a width is to use a rule of thumb: if you know that having two fingers in you feels just about right then select a dildo between an inch and an inch and a half in diameter, but if three fingers feels better to you then pick something slightly larger than an inch and a half in diameter. If you'd like to be more sure than this, you could first purchase some inexpensive non-silicone dildos in a variety of widths and then choose the width of your silicone purchase based on which felt the most comfortable to you.
Your third choice is whether or not you want your dildo to resemble a human penis (though note that the "non-realistic" models are available in a variety of abstract textures and shapes, so in other words you don't have to miss out on any interesting kinds of friction just because your dildo doesn't have fake veins).
Your final choice is shape. Do you like the slightly eye-popping feeling of first being penetrated? Then pick something with a slightly pronounced head or knob at the tip. Do you like pressure against the forward wall of your vagina? Then pick something with a curve. But in general, it's probably simplest to just look at the shape and imagine what it might feel like inside you, and what it might feel like entering you, and make your choice from there.
So, with all that in mind, here are the links to the silicone dildos that Babeland carries.
A harness is something you strap onto your pelvis to hold a dildo just over your pubic bone, which you can then use to penetrate your partner either vaginally or anally almost as if you had a flesh-and-blood penis. This is a powerful fantasy for some men and women, though certainly not all. However, like anything else in life that's safe, if you're not sure whether you'd like it or not then you're probably better off trying it at least once, so you and your partner can have more time in your lives to enjoy it if you find that it's something you both enjoy.
Tips: When using a harness, imagine that the dildo is actually part of your body (for most people this makes it easier to control). Also, if you have problems with your dildo slipping out of your partner, select a dildo with a slightly bulbous "head" so that the increased resistance will alert you when it's about to pop out.
For almost any kind of penetration (whether with fingers, a penis, or a dildo, and whether vaginal or anal), slippery is sexy and dry is usually uncomfortable. So basically, a bottle of lube is a fundamental thing to have on hand if you're sexually active. Since oil-based lubes destroy latex condoms and silicone-based lubes are only good for very specific situations, a water-based lube is almost certainly what you want.
Water-based lube is your basic, recommended type of lube. It works beautifully with latex, it won't harm any of your sex toys, and it feels natural. For any kind of sex involving vaginal or anal penetration, it can make sex 1000% more fun.
Try BabeLube if you'll mainly use it for vaginal penetration, or Maximus if you'll mainly use it for anal penetration. Both of these water-based lubes are also glycerin-free, which means they're less likely to feel sticky.
We hesitated to mention silicone lubes in this guide at all, since the overwhelming majority of people actually shouldn't buy them: if you accidentally use a silicone-based lube with one of your silicone toys, an adhesive reaction results which will destroy that toy. Furthermore, since silicone-based lube doesn't feel like natural vaginal lubrication, for most people it wouldn't be the preferred choice for any kind of vaginal penetration.
However, there are two specific situations in which silicone-based lube might make sense: when having sex underwater (since water dissolves water-based lubes but not silicone-based lubes), and for lengthy and intense anal penetration.
A good anal toy can be a revelation: assuming you have some water-based lube so that inserting the toy is comfortable, it can provide stimulation to the nerve-rich anus while going in, and once in can intensify in a very interesting way the feeling of the whole pelvic region during sex. There are two broad categories of anal toys: those meant to be left in during play, and those meant to be gradually pulled out or pushed in during play.
These are otherwise known as "butt plugs." They have a special shape that helps them stay in once they're inserted, and can be left in while you have other kinds of sex. Choices include the Little Flirt (small) and the Ryder (medium).
You may have heard of "anal beads." The more durable alternative is a dildo with a series of bulbs shaped like beads, but without a string running through them that can weaken or break. But either way, the point is the same: you insert them, and gradually pull them out during intercourse or masturbation, perhaps leaving a few for the moment of orgasm itself. The impact of this kind of sensation on your orgasm can be dramatic. Right now, the best anal toys created with this kind of play in mind are the Ripple and the Flexi Felix.
To start with, even though the ass is generally cleaner than you might think, if the nature of ass play still leaves you uncomfortable, there's nothing stopping you from using latex or Nitryl gloves for penetration with fingers, dams for rimming, and condoms on any toys that are going to be inserted. There's also nothing stopping you from using the bathroom well before playing, or taking a shower before playing.
Blindfolds are sexy for good reasons: they're a consensual way for the receiver to completely focus on what they're feeling, and they're a way to remove any ambiguity as to who is "running the scene." Unfortunately, despite what you may have seen in the movies, just tying a bandanna around someone's head usually doesn't work very well, so you'd probably want something more secure and simpler to apply. This blindfold is one good choice.
The range of play which falls under the heading of "BDSM" is vast. Stated poetically rather than technically, it's a way to take the freedom to struggle and strain without hurting anyone, combine that with intense sensations which produce the same endorphin and adrenaline rushes you might get from sports, and bundle the whole thing together with sex.
Just by way of example, if your main interest as a couple is one of you being able to prevent the other from moving, then take a look at the Kookie Cuffs (both wrist and ankle).
Similarly, if your main interest is creating different kinds of (possibly intense) sensations for your partner, then examples of things to look at depending on your interests would be nipple clamps and paddles/floggers.
Don't forget: candlelight is the most flattering form of illumination you're likely to find, and when used safely is probably the single easiest way to upgrade the appearance of wherever you and your partner play.
If you're worried about getting sick, or you're worried about getting pregnant when you don't want to be pregnant, then sex probably isn't going to be completely fun no matter what you do. So in other words, gaining confidence in your safer sex and birth control arrangements is one of the sexier things you can do for yourself.
This section will focus exclusively on safer sex supplies: for effective birth control please contact Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-PLAN to arrange a discussion of your options.
From a public health perspective, using latex condoms for penile->vaginal and penile->anal penetration, in any case where one partner may have a transmittable STD which the other does not, is the one habit which would make the biggest difference in the fight against STD's.
A terrific latex condom for most men is the Kimono Microthin: they're thin and transmit sensation well, they're well-constructed, and having no taste that we can discern they're as suitable to oral sex as they are to intercourse.
Tips: Condoms are most comfortable and effective when what they're surrounded by is slippery rather than dry - so either keep a small bottle of water-based lube with your condoms, or failing that a few single-use packets of water-based lube. Also, as an STD prevention measure the uncomfortable and generally questionable chemical Nonoxynol-9 has definitely fallen out of favor - Babeland won't carry any condoms or lubes that contain this substance, but if you're buying at a drug store or supermarket you'll need to avoid them on your own.
Dams are thin rectangles of latex intended for safer oral sex when going down on a woman (cunnilingus), or for safer and cleaner oral sex when licking someone's anus (analingus). For these purposes, far and away the best product is the Glyde Dam. One important tip: putting a bit of water-based lube on the recipient's side of the barrier can help a lot more sensation be transmitted to them.
Unfortunately, if you're used to performing cunnilingus without a barrier, but now feel you must for the sake of your own safety or that of your partner, then making the transition to using a dam can be hard. If this remains true for you, even with practice, then please understand there's no shame in learning to use your hands instead: particularly if you take the opportunity to passionately kiss someone or whisper nasty things to them as you're pleasuring them, sex with hands rather than mouths really can feel awfully good...
Particularly if some of the skin on your hands is damaged (or if there is any chance you'll come into contact with blood) and your partner is of unknown STD/HIV status, latex gloves may make sense for finger or hand penetration. They may also make sense if you want to penetrate your partner's ass with your fingers but you have cleanliness concerns (since after you're done you can just peel the glove off and throw it in the trash).
The black latex gloves offered by Babeland are great choices, since by virtue of the fact that they're black latex they also look cool.
Although in each case the latex safer sex choice is probably the best choice if you can use it, for partners who are allergic to latex (an allergy particularly common amongst medical professionals) alternative safer sex materials may be needed.
If you or your partner is allergic to latex, then for intercourse the FC2 female condom might be worth a try: to use it for anal intercourse the usual advice is to first pull out its inner ring, and then turn it inside out so that when slid into the anus the outer ring still hangs outside the body.
For cunnilingus or analingus, if you or your partner is allergic to latex but some sort of barrier is still needed, your best bet is probably to use regular (i.e. non-microwaveable) kitchen plastic wrap instead.
For hands and fingers, Nitrile gloves may be an appropriate substitute for latex gloves when gloves are needed.
This guide focused on the sex toys which are likely to have the biggest impact for the most people. It did not cover every possible use of each toy, or even all the toys currently available. For that, see Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide, written by the founders of Babeland.
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