Sex + Love

May 16, 2012

M is for Masturbation: Kristi talks plugs, sleeves and dildos

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Written by: Kristi
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masturbation feature

May is National Masturbation month (hooray!); and while not required, sex toys are a great way to enhance your masturbation! And since it’s the trendy thing to write about this May (jezebel!) I’m going to write about selecting your first sex toy.

Buying a sex toy, especially for the first time, can be a difficult venture rife with buyer’s remorse; but not if you are armed with information, common sense and lowered expectations!

Where to Buy

The most logical first question for buying your first sex toy; where the hell should I get it?! In today’s sex-saturated marketplace, you have a lot of options. I got one of my favourite vibes of all time, a hitachi-style electric ‘massager’ wand with a warming head, at a Shopper’s drug mart for $39.95 (mind you, because it wasn’t made for the rigors pregnant-and-horny me put it through, it died after three months). If you’re willing to improvise, you can find your next toy pretty much anywhere. But, for a first toy especially, you’re better off buying from one of the more sex-oriented sources as seen below.

Online

Widest selection, best prices and easily accessible from your own home. Great if you are an experienced buyer, and buying from a reputable outlet. Not so great if you are shopping for your first toy, since you have no way of checking it out in person (vibration speed/intensity, texture and density are all important in a sex toy and are all pretty difficult to gauge from a thumbnail on the screen). Examples include Good Vibrations and Babeland

Sex Toy Party

Fairly limited selection, lots of massage oils and aromatherapy items, reasonable to high prices. But very, low quality. Unless your toy party is being thrown by a representative from a company that is dedicated to selling phthalate-free items and does NOT operate as a multi-level marketing opportunity (hint – if you can sign up to become a sex toy sales rep at the party, steer clear) do not buy your toys at a party (I could talk more about this, but will leave that to a future post). Examples include Passion Parties and Sensual Secrets.

Porn Store

Experience will vary widely. Some of the seediest, window-less sex shops, meant to cater to the guy-in-hoodie Saturday night crowd, can surprise with an impressive selection of toys made by reputable companies. But there is no guarantee. Great source for porn, not so great for toys. Fairly straight dude-centric though. Example includes Source Adult video

Chain Boutiques

Usually have a decent selection, and the prices will be more on the reasonable side compared to Specialty Boutiques. Usually caters to women and couples and will carry a selection of high-quality sex toys from reputable companies, lots of poor quality bargain-priced toys as well as some porn, bachelorette/bachelor party supplies and lots of novelties. Examples include The Love Boutique and Cupid Boutique

Specialty Sex Boutique

Fabulous little stores, usually owned and staffed by some very dedicated people devoted to promoting sexual health. Almost every major city in Canada has at least one really fabulous sex shop. Prices are usually a little higher, but these shops offer additional experiences worth a look if not a purchase. Some have sex toys out of their boxes and on display for you to examine; staff are smart and helpful and can help you select the right toy for you. Many are dedicated to selling only safe, phthalate-free toys, carry a variety of ‘green’ toys and provide other services and workshops for the community. For your information, here is a non-exhaustive list (feel free to recommend others in the comments!):

Kristi Recommends:
In Vancouver check out The Art of Loving, Womyn’s Ware, Priape (the latter open to everyone but specifically caters to gay men). In Calgary your options include A Little More Interesting, Priape (again specifically catering to gay men), and in Edmonton there is The Traveling Tickle Trunk. In Saskatoon check out Positive Passions. Ontarians, you have the options of  Venus Envy in Ottawa, or  Come As You Are, Good For Her (women & trans only on Sundays!), Priape (open to everyone but specifically caters to gay men), Red Tent Sisters (lady-specific) in Toronto.  Sex toy mecca Montreal features great finds like  Joytoyz, Priape and La Boutique Erotique offers some good options in Quebec.  Out East? Try Venus Envy in Halifax or Our Pleasure in St. John’s.

Who makes your toy can also make a big difference; reputable companies care about selling high-quality, safe products whereas novelty companies don’t necessarily. Since sex toys are not regulated in Canada, it’s really important to ensure that the sex toy you are purchasing is safe, and not made with harmful chemicals like phthalates (which lots of toys still are!). The easiest way to do this is either to shop at a specialty boutique dedicated to toy safety, or to ensure you are buying from a reputable brand. Some well-known awesome toy companies are (but not limited to!) Lelo, Fun Factory, Jimmyjane, Tenga, Aneros, nJoy, Vixen, OhMiBod, We-vibe, etc.

You can (and should!) learn more about sex toy materials and their safety in this article! And a last note; for reference, water-resistant vibes can be used in the shower (not immersed in water) whereas water-proof vibes can be used in the bath.

Selecting Your First Toy

Selecting your very first toy ever will depend on a few things; first and foremost, what appeals to you the most. If you are typically a person who loves anal stim, then a high-quality plug to be used alone or with a partner may be exactly what you are looking for. If you are a lady with a clit who gets off more while touching her clit than vaginal stimulation, a bullet is probably a better first investment. Think about what you usually get the most pleasure from during masturbation and sex and try to select a toy that will amplify that type of stimulation. Here’s a quick overview of what you might want to try; please keep in mind that you know you best, and that staff at reputable shops should be able to help you so ask questions!

Vibrator

Classic girl toy, but there is an emerging market of vibes for people with boy parts too. There are 4 basic types; external, vaginal, anal and multiple. Pretty self-explanatory, external are made to be used on the clit, penis, taint and the outside of the anus, vaginal are for vaginal penetration, anal are for anal penetration (which means they will have a flared base) and multiple usually means it is meant to be used for internal and external stimulation (keep in mind that all internal vibes can usually be used for external stimulation as well). Not everyone is too keen on the sensation they get from a vibrator, so my recommendation would be to start with a cheaper model of bullet vibe with a versatile array of settings. If it works for you, you can always buy a higher-quality model!

Vibes also come in all sorts of materials (silicone, rubber, plastic, etc), power operation (electric, battery-operated, rechargeable, even hand-powered and solar-powered!) and vibration intensities. Many of the newer and/or more expensive models come with a variety of settings as well as intensities.

Kristi Recommends:
For external vibes: Form 3 by Jimmyjane
Vaginal: The Gigi by Lelo
Anal: don’t actually have one, recommendations?
Multiple: We-vibe by we-vibe
For the Boys: Cobra Libre by Fun Factory

Overall: Hitachi Magic Wand & Attachments

Dildos

Different from anal plugs; any dildo to be used in the ass needs to have a flared base to ensure it doesn’t get sucked up inside (you have little control over your rectal muscles). These come in every colour, size, shape, texture, variations of realism, density and material you can imagine, and can be used either on its own, or with a strap-on (which we will discuss in more detail in a future post). Some even have a hollow base that you can put a tiny bullet vibe inside to make your dildo vibrate! Great if you love that feeling of fullness, either as a stand-alone masturbation took or combined with other external stimulation from either you or a partner or an external vibrator.

There are also a separate type of Dildos known as ‘soft-packs’ which are not really dildos, but a realistic flaccid cock and balls. Soft-packs are meant to be used by Trans men, Drag Kings and others who don’t possess but want a realistic ‘package’. These often can’t be found at your run-of-the-mill porn store, but most specialty boutiques and plenty of online shops carry them, as well as soft-pack pouches (kind of like a man-thong that will hold the pack in place).

Kristi Recommends:
Non-realistic: Silk
Realistic: Bandit

Anal Plugs and Beads

Specific toys meant to be inserted into the ass. These will almost always (and ALWAYS should) be designed with a flared base because, as described above, otherwise you can lose track of them and have to take the most embarrassing trip to the ER you could possibly imagine. Besides being made of designs almost as diverse as Dildos, there are three main types of plugs/beads; one’s specifically designed for use by men for prostate stimulation, and ones that can be used by anyone who has an asshole. While people who don’t have prostates could probably get something out of the prostate stim ones, I would highly recommend a prostate stimulator to anyone with a prostate.

Kristi Recommends:
Prostate Massager: Progasm by Aneros (clearly I don’t have a prostate, but I’ve slept with people who do, and WOW. Have witnessed men pass out from pleasure with this one)
Anal Plug: Sol by Fuze
Anal Beads: Flexi Felix by Fun Factory

Sleeves/cockrings

Just what is sounds like, a sleeve to stimulate the penis or a ring that goes around either just the cock or the cock & balls. Sleeves are usually designed with a vagina, asshole or mouth-like entrance so you can imagine you are fucking one-of-the-above (they even have vampire and Avatar themed ones). Rings can be made from a variety of materials and are meant to increase sensation by trapping blood in the erect penis (great for using if you have trouble maintaining an erection). There are two types of sleeves; the naked sleeve that is usually just a piece of floppy silicone to stroke your shaft with or a fleshlight-type sleeve that holds the silicone inside some sort of solid canister. Thanks to Tenga, there are also now one-use models (although I’m not a fan; too environmentally unfriendly) because clean-up can be annoyingly difficult. I would always suggest using a lube (water-based) with your sleeve; most sleeves have variation in textures and you can get the most out of all those lovely bumps and ridges if your dick is nice and slippery.

Rings can be made of just simple rings, or include a vibrator or massaging texture for use with a partner during intercourse. For first time users, ensure that your cockring is made out of a material that will allow you to take it off easily if it becomes uncomfortable.

Kristi Recommends:
Naked Sleeve: haven’t got one, recommendations?
Canister Sleeve: Flip by Tenga
Cock Rings: Tor by Lelo

There are, of course, a ton of other types of toys, but these four are a pretty good start. Start off simple when buying your first toy; remember you can always buy more when you figure out what you like!

Once you’ve selected your sex toy (assuming you bought it in a store and not at a party/online) and are at the counter, make sure that you or the clerk take it out of the box and inspect it for damage. Also, if it’s a vibe, make sure they test it at the counter to ensure it is working properly. Reputable boutiques often put limited warrantees on their toys, but you can save yourselves a lot of time by ensuring that the product is in good working order before you leave. If the clerk won’t test it in front of you, don’t buy it. There are plenty of places that will.

Selecting a Lube

I’m going to recommend always having a lube handy for use with your toy, even if you don’t need to use it every time. Remember that slippery = better, for everyone. Therefore, it’s a great idea to pick up a lubricant that will be compatible with your new toy when you purchase it. ENSURE that if you are using a silicone toy that you do NOT use a silicone lube (use water-based instead). Silicone lubes are fine to use with metal, glass, plastic and rubber toys (and both latex and polyurethane condoms). There are even some lubes that are vegan, if that is your style. Everyone has a specific type they will prefer. If you’re not sure of which lubes will be safe to use with your toy, ask the staff at a reputable sex shop (most will even let you squeeze some between your fingers to see if it’s to your liking!).

Taking Care of and Using Your Toys

Hooray! You’ve bought a sex toy; congratulations! So where should you keep it? Good question; make sure that you keep your sex toy in a cool, dry place. Lots of shops sell really cute sex toy-boxes that are lined with soft material; some even have a padlock or combination lock for extra privacy. But really, nothing fancy is required, just a clean, dry and cool place where your dog/cat/ferret can’t find this potential new chew-toy. If it takes removable batteries, you can save yourself some embarrassment of it going off in your sock drawer during a marriage proposal or just the annoyance of dead batteries by removing the batteries between uses.

Keep in mind that you are going to have to clean your toy before you use it the first time and after every use to make sure it is safe and bacteria-free.  High-quality toys can typically be cleaned with non-residue (like Dove) soap and water. Some toys are more difficult to clean, like jelly rubber and cyber-skin. For your information, Brown University has a great article on sex toys, including how to clean each type of material. Yes, you CAN catch and transmit STIs through sex toys! So if you know you are going to share a toy with a partner, you need to take precautions to protect both of you. If you are going to share the same toy with a partner, cover it with a condom and change the condom when it changes hands/orifices. ALWAYS use a condom on a toy that has been in someone’s ass if it’s going in someone’s mouth or pussy (even if it’s only been in your ass and it’s only going into your mouth; avoid cross-contamination). Also make sure to inspect your toy for damage or defect every time you clean it. If it’s broken or falling apart, don’t use it anymore!

A final note:

Sex is supposed to be fun, so if you find that your prized new toy just isn’t working for you, don’t force it. Maybe a different type would work better, or maybe toys just aren’t your thing. Part of the fun of toys is exploring your sexuality and new ways of giving yourself pleasure. So have fun and listen to what your body is telling you. Have Fun!



About the Author

Kristi
Kristi
|Sex & Relationships Writer| I am a 20-something straight divorcee with a dirty mind and a loud mouth. I work for a non-profit organization that can appreciate my mad writing and policy development skills despite my outrageous TMI outbursts. I'm a feminist, a mother, a techno-phile, an avid and shameless sex blogger. I'm most often seen having sex or hunched over a computer, writing about sex. Or eating...I like eating.




 
 

 
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6 Comments


  1. Ty

    Holy!

    This is one HOT article.. Lovin’ that you write with such intensity and with a no-holds-barred approach. There’s plenty to learn here and although some are way open to toys and the like, some are still not so open to exploring their own sexualities.

    Good on you!

    PS. For some reason I have Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” stuck in my head after reading this. lol!


  2. Great article Kristi, people need to know more about what they are putting in their bodies. I agree with everything you say – as we promote safer sex toys as well. Love that you are un-biased and tell it like it is. Will be sharing this post!

    Phuong
    p.s thanks for mention Joy Toyz as once of your recommended site, it means a lot.


    • Kristi

      Thanks for the compliment, and for sharing Phuong! I’m always happy to promote fantastic businesses that treat sex as something natural and healthy.


  3. Heather

    Wooooooow! Chocked full of advice! If you can’t find a toy out of this article, you won’t ever find one. Thanks Kristi, bookmarking this one!


  4. Kristi

    No problem J, just cognitively replace the word “vagina” with “lady-penis”



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