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Sex toys: tips and lessons to meet all your needs

Welcome, babes of toyland! This week we’ve worked together to bring you Sex Toyz 101: Happy Trail style. Dildos, vibrators, cock rings and, of course, the ubiquitous and ever-useful lube. Learn some lessons and remember the rules—always play naughty, and don’t always share. This ain’t your happy meal toy, sexy thing. These toys are going places (and in places, and up places, and over places…).

(And remember, if you want a sex toy but don’t want to go to a sex shop, try They ship in nondescript boxes so the mail room workers don’t find out about your new 10-inch dildo.)


Vibrators and dildos

When you get a vibrator, you should take some time to think about what really feels good. A hands-on session can help you with that. When your hands are hanging out in your nether regions, even if you haven’t been able to bring yourself to orgasm, you can still take some deep breaths and use your fingers to explore what feels good.

Like to focus on your clit? Try a vibrator meant for clitoral stimulation. These are often the most inexpensive vibes, too—the basic model can be small, plastic, and power your play with just a AA battery or two. These one-setting beginner’s models are also great if you’re new to vibes and intimidated by the big dicks. I am not ashamed to admit that my first vibrator was a bright green caterpillar complete with little stimulation antennae and a silicone-stamped smile.

You can also graduate to multi-setting models, which can offer different strengths or tease you with different patterns—simpler start-and-stop rhythms, and more complex up-and-down waves. Personally, though, I’ve found that simple is best.

Like the feeling of the ol’ in-and-out? You probably have sensitive inner labia and vaginal opening. Vibration can bring this feeling to a whole ‘nother level. There are some great realistically sized vibes which will feel great entering you. You might want to go for length, as a longer vibe will give you better grip and maneuver and the ability to change vibration settings without stopping.

Some people have too much clitoral head sensitivity and can’t handle vibration, even on the lowest setting of a multi-setting model. This is where the penetrative function of toys is great. Hence, the dildo.

Dildos generally come in two aesthetic styles that you may want to consider before going into the store. Abstract dildos are generally sleek and may be phallic in shape (though in reality, it’s vagina-shaped), though not explicitly so. Realistic dildos are explicitly modeled after penises. They may be flesh-toned or not, have veins or not, etc. The lovely employees of Babeland know all about the two types and the proper diameter to choose, so be sure to take advantage of their vast knowledge since purchasing a sex toy can be pricey.

Now, I’m totally of the sensitive labia party (next house party theme?). I love me some in-and-out. But keep in mind that when you’re alone, you’re the only one stuck with the clean up. And I’m a lazy masturbator. The last thing I want to do after a good wank is to give my vibrator (and sheets) a major scrub-down. Not to mention, in-and-out takes work—some serious arm endurance. For me, touching a vibe to my clit gives me the orgasm without the workout (another reason I prefer a vibe to a dildo). Remember, it’s your alone time—you’re allowed to be as lazy as you want. Do what feels best.

A vibrator is also a great way to explore your G-spot. For this, there are special vibes with a curve, but really, if you get the right angle and size, a straight-up phallic vibrator should reach your sweet spot just as well. So the curve can be a help but not a priority—and if you’re trying to get your vibrator to multi-task, it might just get in the way. Really, a vaguely dick-shaped, dick-sized vibrator can be the way to go. You can focus it on your clit, you can penetrate and you can go in deep.

Now, I personally prefer to focus on one feeling at a time, but some people want to do all three at once. Dual/triple stimulation has been popular ever since “Sex in the City” waxed poetic over the Rabbit—a penis-shaped vibe with a bunny attachment that will tickle your clit as the dick part penetrates. A great way to try this out for cheap is the Butterfly Kiss vibe which, with its hot pink clit-tickling butterfly, may look like you’re shoving a Barbie accessory up your vag—but trust me, it’ll be worth it.

During partner play, vibrators shouldn’t make you feel insecure—look at you, you’ve harnessed the power to make your partner come on a whole new level!  Vibes are great if you want to just lay there and watch your partner writhe with pleasure while you hardly move—the vibration does the work for you, especially with the clitoris.

You can also be your own dual-stimulation—f*** her and touch a vibe to her clit. I’ve found this is easiest if the man (or strap-on wielding lady) is standing at the edge of the bed with the woman laying down, her feet on his (or her) shoulders. Or ladies, take the vibe yourselves during doggie style or woman-on-top and double your pleasure.

A few final tips: if you know what you like, invest in a rechargeable vibrator. You’ll be saving in batteries, plus it’s better for the environment. And do think about what materials are in your vibe—chemicals such as parabens are converted into estrogen by your body. That’s why I recommend shopping at a place like Babeland, where they are careful to purchase only high quality vibes.


Lubrication is a better sexual experience in a bottle. Whether you’re using it on yourself, a partner or during penetrative (penile or toy) partner sex, the liquid goodness makes things more comfortable, smooth and sensual. To reduce friction with condom use and therefore tearing (which means bad news baby) apply lube on the inside and outside of the condom.

Most sex experts would agree that no sex should be without lube.

Maybe you’re under the impression that pre-cum or vaginal secretions are all you need and lube is an indication of failure of arousal on someone (let’s be real, the female partner[s] involved if there is one).

Au contraire: this is a poor attitude because that puts a lot of pressure on someone to perform. In my experience, the more stress, the less arousal, and with less arousal come less juice flowing. So suck it up and get some lube. It’ll be well worth your money.

You may also be thinking, “But the condom has lube!” Ahem, not NEARLY enough. That shit is gone like three nanoseconds in. If you are too proud to have some lube, even as a backup, it can be a real moodkiller.

A super important consideration in purchasing lube is  if you will be using it in conjunction with condoms. Using oil-based lubricant or massage oil with condoms is risky business because the molecules interact with the latex in condoms and compromise the effectiveness of the condom. So steer clear from the genital area if you’re going to use these products during sexy time.

Water-based lube is pretty chill, but a common complaint is that it gets sticky and needs frequent reapplication. The latter is because vaginal tissue is absorptive and sucks it right up.

On the other hand, the gold standard of lube (sadly reflected in its usually higher price) is silicone-based lube, which is not absorbed by vaginal tissue, making it last much longer—you only need a few drops! This stuff is luxurious, silky, famed for not being sticky or tacky and it doesn’t stain clothes or sheets. One review online I read heralded it as infinitely superior than any lotion, Vaseline, oil, etc. for male masturbation.

As yet another bonus, probably my favorite part about silicone lube, is that it is ideal for penetrative sex in the shower because it won’t wash away. In my experience, shower sex with just a lubed condom is miserable because the water does the opposite of lubricating and it feels awful.

One important caveat concerning silicone-based lube is that it should not be used with silicone sex toys. It will degrade the material and it won’t be pretty.

Spermicidal lube shan’t be left out of this conversation, because it seems appealing on the surface. However, the main ingredient, Nonoxynol-9, is irritating to the genital skin and can increase one’s chance of contracting STDs—mainly HIV. So either skip it or really do your research.

Not to shamelessly promote only the coolest sex store ever, but Babeland in Seattle has great, high-quality products, especially lube. They watch out for sketchy ingredients so you don’t have to, which is important since lubes that aren’t silicone based are absorbed into your body.

So, in conclusion, lube it up as often as possible, but don’t go too crazy because there is such a thing as too much lube.

Boy toys

There are some really great things out there for those equipped with male gear.

For personal exploration and especially partner sex, cock rings are a wonderful, wonderful thing.

These magical rings take advantage of a quirk of the vascular system to keep blood in the penis for a sustained erection and a more powerful orgasm. Since veins (which carry blood back to the heart) are nearer the surface of the penis and arteries (which carry blood away from the heart) are deeper, a cock ring slips over the flaccid penis and balls to compress the “surface” veins. Blood can still pump into the penis through the arteries, but can’t escape.

Once you’re ready to orgasm, you simply remove the cock ring and enjoy. This quick removal is achieved best with a snap or Velcro-closed cock ring. Some cock rings even have vibrators, which can stimulate a female partner’s clit during penetration.

Also available are different toys to aid penile masturbation. There is an assortment of masturbation sleeves and “eggs” which are egg-shaped and focus on the glans and coronal ridge of the last couple inches of the penis. You can also invest in a FleshLight if outward discretion and a realistic vaginal opening or anus appeal to you. These are, of course, all available at Babeland, online or you can even find cock rings in some drugstores!