Discover the ultimate beginner’s guide to pleasure with sex toys as we lift the stigma and shame around them. Learn about the benefits of DAME products, and embrace a healthy approach to personal and partner pleasure.
Much like van living, tiny homes, and adaptogens, despite their increased appearance on social media, sex toys are still shrouded in mystery.
Sadly, sex toys are encased in shadowy unknowingness by societal design. As evidenced by the fact that less than half (18) of the states require sex-ed to be factually accurate, the truth is we live in a sex-negative world where pleasure is seen as superfluous at best, and shameful at worst.
But pleasure isn’t extra, it’s essential — and exploring pleasure offers a number of mental, emotions, and physical health benefits, according to Lisa Finn, a sex educator with Babeland, one of the sex-toy retailers that carries Dame Products. “Experiencing pleasure and exploring different means of pleasure can teach a person more about their body, flood an individual with feel-good hormones, help them cultivate body awareness, improve confidence in the bedroom, and help them access orgasm, if that’s something they want to be able to access,” they say.
One of the best tools for enhancing your pleasure? Sex toys. Engineered to provide sensations at an intensity, quality, consistency, and duration that the human body is physically incapable of providing, “sex toys allow you to experience different types, degrees, and consistencies of pleasure while you masturbate, have partnered sex, or explore group play,” says Finn.
But, as the saying goes, the first bite (step) of eating an elephant (exploring pleasure) is the hardest. That’s why we put together this beginners guide to using sex toys in a way that feels good. Scroll down to get all your questions about how to use a sex toys, answered.
The Benefits of Sex Toys
The benefit of sex toys, put simply, is that they feel good! And the fact that they can help you feel good — or even great — is reason enough to use them.
However, there are a number of happy mental, emotional, and physical side effects of incorporating pleasure products into your life, according to Finn. “Using sex toys is a good way to learn about your body and understand that you can be an agent of your own sexual pleasure,” they say.
Further, because sex toys can provide sensations at intensities and patterns that the human body cannot physically create, some people are able to orgasm more easily with sex toys than without them. Orgasm floods the body with a rush of feel-good hormones, says Finn, which is why using sex toys can also reduce stress, relieve menstrual cramps, and even ease pain associated with chronic issues like migraines, arthritis, and endometriosis.
In a partnered and multi-partnered setting, the best sex toys can improve intimacy, as well as your ability to communicate about sex, sexual fantasies, needs, and more, adds Finn.
Choosing the Best Sex Toy
First things first: Choose the body part you’re hoping to stimulate with a sex toy.
True, most toys can be used on (or in) a variety of body parts. But if you’re specifically interested in internal or external anal stimulation, you’ll want to choose a toy with a flared base that anchors the toy firmly outside your bum. (The anal canal does not have an anatomically stopping point the way the vaginal canal has the cervix).
Similarly, if you’re looking for a toy that can simultaneously stimulate two erogenous zones at the exact (!) same (!) time (!), you’ll want a toy with a two-in-one design. Rabbit vibrators, for instance, can stimulate the nerve-clusters inside the vaginal canal (like the G-zone) and clitoris at the exact same time. Meanwhile, prostate massages with attached c-rings can pleasure the chest-nut sized hot spot in your anal canal while also promoting a harder, bigger, and longer-lasting erection.
Having a hard time figuring out which body part you’re hoping to stimulate? For your first sex toy, it’s best to choose a toy that stimulates a body you already know you enjoy having stimulated either by yourself or a partner. (If you are hoping to use a sex toy to learn that information about yourself, start with a wand vibrator like the Dame Arc or Dame Com, which can be used to massage a wide variety of pleasure points).
Next, you want to narrow down your selection to those made by body-safe materials. As a general rule, you want to opt for a toy made from a non-porous — meaning, without microscopic holes — material like medical-grade, silicone, stainless steel, borosilicate glass, and ABS plastics. Toys made from other, porous materials cannot be cleaned completely and therefore can harbor bacteria. (Keep it easy and shop for the toys from Dame, all of which are made from non-porous, medical-grade silicone).
Finally, think about any other features you need your toy to have in order for you to enjoy it to its fullest. If your go-to spot to rub one out is in the bath or shower, make sure the toy is water-proof (not just water-resistant). Meanwhile, if you plan to cart your toy cross-country to enjoy with a long distance lover, make sure it has a travel lock.
Once more for the readers in the back: The fact that sex toys can bring you oodles and oodles of pleasure is reason enough to reach for them. But they have a side benefit, as well: They can be used to support vaginal health.
“Using vibrators can increase arousal,” explains Alex Sage Fine, co-founder and CEO of Dame Products. When you’re aroused, blood rushes to and engorges your genital tissues. Boosting blood flow to your vulvar and vaginal tissues is an essential step in promoting lubrication, lengthening the vaginal canal, and helping the pelvic floor muscles relax — all of which are essential for pleasurable penetration. Plus, “when sex feels good, you want it more,” says Fine. So, many people report an increase in libido when they start to incorporate a vibrator into their sex life, she says. (Side bar: Another fun way to boost libido is with the help of Arousal Serum).
Because the best sex toys can make it easier to orgasm, Finn notes that many people also experience improved pelvic floor strength. They explain: Orgasms are essentially a series of pelvic floor muscle contractions. So, the more you orgasm, the more you are working out the pelvic floor muscles. (Actually, many pelvic floor therapists prescribe sex toys to people with pelvic floor issues).
Solo Pleasure with Sex Toys
Sure, seeing your (discreetly packaged) sex toy waiting for your front stoop may make it feel like Christmas morning. But using it? Well, that will make you feel more fireworks than the fourth of July or New Years Eve combined.
The first time you use a sex toy, Fine recommends taking time to romance both yourself and your toy first. “You don’t want to go right from zero to sex toy ramped up,” she says. “Instead, you want to get your body used to the sensation that a toy creates by pressing it against your non-erogenous zones,” they say.
This will give you time to learn where the buttons on the toy are and how to operate, as well as will give you time to get in the mood for more genital-focused types of touch. “Even when you’re masturbating you want some pre-play to increase arousal,” says Finn. As it goes, holding the toy against other parts of your body can help ramp up arousal, and get you excited about bringing the toy to more intimate places.
“When you finally do bring the toy to your genitals, consider lubing up the toy and your genitals first,” suggests Fine. Store-bought lubricant like Aloe Lube helps the toy glide over your skin and into your body, she explains. Without it, the sensation of silicone-on-skin can be too friction-y for some pleasure-seekers.
After that, let your body guide the way. When something feels good? Do more of that. When something feels bad or painful, shift angles, intensities, or where you’re holding it. Indeed, your body will tell you what feels pleasurable and what feels not so pleasurable. As a pleasure-seeker, your job is to listen and adapt accordingly.
Once you’ve tried the toy a time or ten on your own, you might consider bringing it into partnered play — assuming your partner(s) are open to using the toy, too. But according to Fine, masturbating with the toy on your own first is usually best. “It’s so much easier to manage sexual experiences solo than it is with another person,” she explains. “After you’ve used it solo once or twice you have a sense of what you like and how you like to use it, and therefore are more equipped to communicate that.” Makes sense!
Partnered Pleasure with Sex Toys
To be clear: There is no wrong way to incorporate a sex toy into partnered play — so long as everyone involved in the play is enthusiastic about the introduction.
Typically, incorporating a sex toy into partnered play is done because one partner has a tried-and-true buzzy buddy that they want to share with their partner(s). Or, because a couple has decided to find and try a brand new sex toy together.
No matter the case, Finn recommends introducing the toy before you are in the bedroom. “You never want your partner to feel pressured into agreeing to try to implement,” they say.
Important: While you can get curious about why your partner(s) is not interested in trying a sex toy, if they’re not, you shouldn’t ask them more than once — doing so can make them feel pressured to say yes.
You also need to get specific, says Finn. “Simply agreeing to use a sex toy is not adequate,” she says. After all, a butt plug and rabbit vibrator are both sex toys. “You want to hash out what sex toy(s) you want to try, who will be touched or penetrated by it, and who will be holding it.”
This might sound like a lot of chitter-chatter, but it’s worth it. These conversations help ensure that the experience is what everyone involved could dream of (and more), says Fine. Plus, chatting will help you both become even more comfortable talking about sex, what you like, your sexual fantasies, and more, she says.
Maintenance and Safety
If you use masturbation like melatonin, squirting like sleep time tea, or erotica as your bedtime story of choice, you might be inclined to roll over and sound off as soon as your bod stops shaking and quaking.
But before you drift to dreamland, make a quick stop at the sink to rinse it with fragrance-free soap and water. “Even if a toy is made from medical-grade silicone — meaning, it’s made from an antibacterial material — you want to wash it between uses,” says Fine. Failure to do so creates an optimal environment for bacteria to thrive, she explains. Introduce that ~thriving and surviving~ bacteria to your body and there’s an increased risk of disrupting your internal anal and vaginal microbiome and causing a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
If you share your bathroom with someone or can’t access the bathroom without assistance, and want to safeguard your privacy, another option is to use sex toy cleaner like the Dame Hand + Vibe Cleaner, says Fine.
Debunking Myths and Embracing Pleasure
For the record: Using a sex toy will not make toy-free sexy time feel worse, nor will a sex toy desensitize you to other kinds of touch. “It would take a lot of mis-use of the toy in order for that toy to injure your ability to experience and enjoy other kinds of sensation,” says Finn.
“While the body can become accustomed to orgasming from certain kinds of sensations and touch, you cannot become literally addicted to your sex toy,” they say. Plus, you might learn that you achieve orgasm faster with a particular sex toy than without it, that doesn’t mean that a toy replaces your desire for a partner.
“A sex toy is never going to be able to tell you how good you feel, and it’s certainly not going to hold after or help you engage in aftercare,” says Finn. And that’s facts even if it’s one of the best toys in the whole wide world.
All in all, sex toys are a beneficial add-in to your solo or partnered sex life. While trying anything new for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking, if you listen to your own body, communicate with your partner(s), taking your sweet time, and lather up with lube, you’ll have a sexperience to remember and — and more than likely will want to repeat.
So go on, take a scroll through some of the best sex toys for women, men, and other genders by shopping Dame. Trust, you’ll be glad you did.