How to choose your first sex toy

Choosing a sex toy can be an intimidating process for newbies. Thankfully, Mia Sabat, sex therapist at Emjoy, the sexual wellbeing audio app for women, is here to help.

NSFW: The following content contains explicit references to self-pleasure, and is best enjoyed in a private moment. 

I’m intimidated by the idea of a sex toy—how can I become more comfortable with the concept?

bed with cndles

Understand and embrace the fact that your feelings are, in every way, valid and valuable. Sex toys are simply tools to help us embrace pleasure, and one of the best ways to overcome feelings of intimidation is to educate yourself not only about the product but about your desires.

When it comes to pleasure and sexual satisfaction, what matters is that we know our bodies and are able to enjoy positive sexual relationships with ourselves and with others. Sex toys serve to help us along this pleasure-filled journey if we want them to. If you’re still struggling with the concept, try shifting your thinking: instead of associating them with feelings of embarrassment, try viewing sex toys as another tool to help you experience pleasure, self-exploration, and fun!

"Seeking intimacy with ourselves is totally healthy and natural"

Understand that sex toys are enjoyed by people of all ages. There is a myth that they’re only used by people who feel unsatisfied; however, in reality, sex toys complement all levels of sexual activity and speak to our willingness to experience new sensations.

Seeking intimacy with ourselves is totally healthy and natural in all contexts, and sex toys are just another way to connect with our minds and bodies and enjoy our sensual moments fully.

 

What should I consider when choosing my first sex toy?

Seeking intimacy with ourselves is totally healthy and natural

There are lots of sex toys to choose from—so many, in fact, that there’s a toy to suit every individual’s specific needs. Although you might feel overwhelmed at first, the wide variety of toy styles and names is actually a good thing, as it encourages you to tune in to your specific tastes, desires, preferences, and personality to help guide you to your perfect toy. Whether you’re exploring toys online or in-store, engage with the toys that make you feel curious and comfortable when you look at them, before exploring other aspects of the toy itself.

It’s very important that, when acquiring any erotic item, you verify its quality before purchase. You can do this by looking at the toy’s description and by making sure that the material is approved by current regulations. Safe approved, and frequently preferred materials include: silicone, glass, and metals like stainless steel, titanium, and even gold or silver (be mindful of nickel, though!). If you’re unsure of your preferred material, hypoallergenic materials are a great place to start with some materials offering the added benefit of temperature play. Avoid materials like rubber, latex or jelly, as they’re unhygienic and can also cause allergic reactions.

"There’s a toy to suit every individual’s specific needs"

Beyond what the toy is made of, I highly recommend reading both brand, store, and user-product reviews to help you decide whether or not to buy a product. Each person of course has their own taste and preferences, but reading the opinions of others will help you know what to expect in terms of quality, sensation, intensity, and more.

I often recommend that women begin with using vibrators or suction-technology toys, as they offer excellent clitoral stimulation but can also be used across our entire bodies to provide pleasurable stimulation. And remember: don’t forget that both before and after using any sex toy, you must wash it with hot water and neutral soap.

 

Do I need different toys for partner play and self-pleasure?

couple in bed

Not necessarily! The key to enjoying sex toys is finding something that matches your desires and preferred forms of stimulation.

Sex toys can be used alone or with another person. When experimenting with toys with a partner, doing so can cultivate a really exciting and intimate experience in many ways. Sex toys can help us to break out of our normal routine and explore other pleasures in an intimate, shared space, and searching for sex toys with your partner can also be a great way to build excitement and explore something that suits both your desires as individuals, and as a couple.

Whether you’re considering toys for yourself or toys designed to be used by two, be sure to have a thorough, open talk with your partner before introducing anything new to the bedroom. Consent and common courtesy are important when it comes to sex toys, too!


Will a sex toy make it easier or orgasm, or will it make my orgasms better?

hand clutching sheets

Sex toys can make it easier for many women to orgasm because the stimulation is both direct and powerful, and often focuses on the clitoris. Some women find that they orgasm in less time, that they can have multiple orgasms, or often that they’re able to experience new, pleasurable sensations. So, the orgasm might not exactly be better or worse but simply different, and that’s okay!

Experiencing pleasure in different ways helps us get to know our bodies and embrace our sexuality in contexts we might not have considered before. Relax your mind, engage with your body in whatever way feels natural, and embrace the sensations and desire that come to you—whether you’re using a toy, or not!

 

What kind of sex toys do you recommend beginners start with?

If you’re new to sex toys, I recommend starting by exploring toys that draw you in and make you feel comfortable. Whether the item appeals to you because it makes you feel curious, seems practical, or looks beautiful, allow yourself to embrace the experience and explore how it might benefit your sensuality.

"Allow yourself to embrace the experience and explore how it might benefit your sensuality"

I often recommend vibrators as an initial introduction because they can be used externally, give direct attention to the clitoris, are able to stimulate specific points across the entire body (nipples, lips, etc), can be used internally through penetrative play, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. And don’t forget: lube can be a great sex toy, too! Some personal lubricants offer warming, cooling, and even tingling sensations, and lend excellent stimulation if you’re just beginning to test the sex toy waters.

 

What if I don’t want a toy that focuses on my genitals—what do you recommend?

feather in the bed

There are plenty of alternative options for those wanting to stimulate other areas of their body through toy play. We often forget that essential oils and lubricants can heighten, enhance and benefit a sexual experience.

Alternatively, you can consider external massagers in a non-phallic design. These external massagers offer quiet, vibrating stimulation in different levels of intensity, ranging from gentle tickles to intense, pulsating motions. It can be highly erotic to use massager toys to explore your erogenous zones in different environments too, like underwater or while relaxing in bed. Since these toys are often quite small, exploring areas such as the neck, nipples, breasts and groin can be equal parts arousing and comfortable, too.

You can also play with alternative materials like feathers or silk that primarily stimulate the skin to engage with your senses and awaken your mind. Whatever your preference, connect with what makes you feel the most comfortable, sensual, and exhilarated.

 

Should I use personal lubricant when using a sex toy? What kinds of lube are best for different toys and materials?

lubricant

It is always a great idea to use lubricants! Whether you’re exploring internal or external play with sex toys, lubricant is sure to add to your pleasure.

It is, however, very important to make sure your materials and toys are compatible. Silicone toys are best used with water-based lubricants; they are also compatible with oil-based lubricants, however, oil-based lubricants are very difficult to remove from the toy post-play. The use of silicone lubricants with silicone toys is not recommended as they will damage the toy. And remember: if you’re using a condom with a silicone toy, make sure the condom is not lubricated. If it is, make sure that the lubricant is water-based to avoid damaging the toy itself.

Any time you use a sex toy, whether you’re using a lubricant or not, be sure to wash the toy pre and post-play with neutral soap and water, to ensure you’re playing in a clean and healthy environment.

 

How can I introduce bringing a sex toy into the bedroom, if it’s something my partner and I have never tried?

couple talking

I always recommend starting conversations about intimacy in a calm and relaxed environment, to promote open communication. Explain that you would like to try new things to engage with your sensuality both as an individual and as a couple, and explain why sex toys have caught your attention. Involve your partner in the process by offering to show them the toys you're considering and explaining why they appeal to you. You could also ask them if there are any specific toys they’d like to try, either on you, as a couple, or on their own.

Buying them together will be a good way to increase your mutual desire and libido, and will help you focus on making it a fun experience to share together. If your partner perceives this conversation as an insult or threat, offer to come back to the topic at a later time when they feel more ready to listen and are more open to discussing your reasons for wanting to engage with a toy. Approaching the conversation with openness, patience and understanding is the best way to ensure effective, collective communication.

 

Remember that like all sexual practices, toy play must come with proper, thorough hygiene to avoid infection. To ensure you use proper hygiene when using your sex toys, wash them with hot water and soap both before and after using them.

If you want to take your hygiene practices further, you can also use them with a condom to make the cleaning process easier and offer peace of mind.

 

Read more: Why does self-pleasure make women feel guilty?

Read more: The ultimate guide to sharing nudes safely

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