I've been around sex toys for so long I often forget that what seems like common knowledge to me is actually new and important information to someone else. The letters and tweets and messages I get are a testament to that. I have chosen some of the most common questions I get asked in a basic run down of what I believe to be the most important and necessary information to help when it comes to buying, using, and looking after your sex accessories.
It's cheaper online. Should I just buy sex toys off a website?
If you know exactly what you are looking for, like you're replacing a toy or you've seen one that a friend has and you want it, then yes. Buying online can definitely work out cheaper, but there are a few reasons why I don't often recommend it.
- You often have to wait up to a week to get it!
- If you haven't seen it it can be hard to get a sense of how big/long/thick it is, even with the specs laid out.
- You won't know how powerful or not it is.
- You won't know how it fits in your hands, or how easy or hard it is to press the controls.
- You don't get any real customer service, help, information or even deals and discounts. Some websites have a customer service tab, but face to face contact is always so much better and more personal.
But aren't sex shops sleazy and gross!
The short answer to this is no. Most adult shops these days are bright and friendly and set up with a female market in mind. They often have women working behind the counter, and are usually set up in a way that the hardcore stuff is not totally in your face. There are so many benefits of going into a shop and talking to the sales assistant. They've heard it all and there's no such thing as a stupid question. (disclaimer... There are actually such things as stupid questions, but a professional will never let on that you've just asked one).
- They can show you how the toy works, all its features and cool stuff.
- They can give you advice on storing, cleaning and looking after it.
- They can show you other products that can work in similar ways.
- They can answer all your questions no matter how silly or small you think it may be.
Surely all sex toys are safe to use and good or your body!
You'd like to think so, right? That items you buy to place in your most intimate areas are perfectly body safe and come under a stringent set of rules and laws and regulations... Unfortunately this is not the case. See the thing is, there are NO regulations and laws in place. Sex toy companies can get away with saying and selling pretty much anything they like. If you ever look on a sex toy packet you will see a disclaimer similar to “For Novelty Purposes Only. Not To Be Used Internally”. This basically covers their arse if something goes wrong. Which it can. Latex allegies and sensitivities to other chemicals and additives can really stuff up your bits. Companies also like to make up buzz words and name materials that sound safe or “healthier” for you, but in all reality, these are just buzz words. Unless your toy is made from pure silicone, or glass or metal, you're going to find it can harbour all sorts of nasties, even when cleaned regularly.
- Silicone is NOT see-through. If anyone tries to sell you a jelly-looking toy and tell you it's made of silicone they are lying. It will most likely be a form of TPR/TPE gel.
- TPR gel, no matter what anyone tells you, is porous. This means it will trap bacteria and, over time, become dangerous to use. I usually recommend you throw them out after six months.
- Even silicone is porous. The higher the quality, the longer it will last, but you still need to be aware that bacteria can get trapped in it.
- Only glass and metal is non-porous.
- Covering toys with condoms can help in a way, but if your toy is one with a bit of an oily feel (many gel ones have this) then really, you'll most likely end up degrading and breaking the condom anyway.
I can just use soap and water to clean sex toys, yeah?
No. For a few reasons. The main one being that soap can totally screw up the body's natural pH balance and cause all sorts of imbalances. Antibacterial toy cleaners are probably your best bet, however, as mentioned in the above section, a porous material on a toy, no matter how often you clean it, will still hold on to mould and mildew and other yucky things.
- If a toy is pure silicone, stainless steel, or glass you can put it in the dishwasher or even boil it on the stove. (if your toy has a power source I would not recommend these processes, even if the toy is fully waterproof)
- An unscented baby wipe is better to use than soap.
- Soap can dry out certain materials and cause the toy to crack and break down.
Why do I even need lube? Can't I just use spit?
Well, yeah, sometimes spit will do the job fine. But really, not only is it a bit gross sometimes, it's also not exactly the best replication of natural lubricant. It dries up very quickly, it's nowhere near as slippery or viscous. Lube has a whole range of benefits and styles to suit all sorts of different people and play.
- Silicone lubricant is great for play in the shower etc because it doesn't wash off with water. Be aware though that that means it can be super hard to clean up. And can make the shower etc SUPER slippery.
- If you find your water-based lube is drying up, a little sprinkle of water over it will rejuvenate it.
- Oil based lubricants (like coconut oil etc) are great for massage and for sex, but they can degrade condoms and make them unsafe, so please be aware of this.
- Silicone lubricant can damage silicone toys. Always use a water-based one with silicone toys.
- Most companies have “natural” lubes which have far less chemicals and additives in them. These can be really good for people with skin sensitivities.
- Always use lots and lots of lube for anal sex. The best sort is thick, gel-type lube as it will last longer. Some specific anal lubes have a relaxant ingredient which can make the initial process a lot more comfortable. (but please don't buy lube that numbs you. It can be very dangerous if you can't feel what's really happening down there)
Can I just use any old sex toy for anal play?
No. No you cannot. The thing is, the anal passage is just that - a passage - that goes all the way from your butt to your mouth. Yes, there are twisty turny bits, but essentially there is nothing at all to stop that toy from being sucked up and up and up. And that is NOT a trip to the emergency ward you want to take. The vagina has the cervix which, although doesn't mean a toy won't get a bit stuck if it's small (or a condom or a sponge), gives it a barrier to stop it getting completely lost. Not so with the butt.
- Always buy a specific anal toy with a flared base.
- Do not buy numbing cream for anal play. You need to feel what's happening there, you can do a lot of damage if not.
- You can buy relaxant lubes which can help ease you into play without losing any feeling or sensation.
- The thicker the lube the better for anal play. It lasts far longer.
General Tips and Points
Although the above are probably the most common things I get asked, there are some stand alone topics I want to address too, because the more information we are armed with, the more positive our experiences and purchases will be.
- If your toy uses batteries use the cheapest batteries you can buy. Do not use rechargeable or really even heavy duty batteries. Low alkaline, el cheapo ones from the supermarket will be fine. If you use too strong a battery the little motor will not be able to cope and you will burn through the toy quicker than if you use cheaper ones.
- Only use the charger provided. Even if you have a similar one at home. The power which runs through them is specific to the battery of your toy. Too much can damage it, and too little means it can take forever to charge.
- Remove batteries when you are not using the toy, it will help it last longer.
- NEVER store jelly toys together. They will melt and go gross. Always use a toy bag or the box it came in.
- If you are using a toy for both anal and vaginal play ALWAYS USE A CONDOM AND CHANGE IT BETWEEN PENETRATIONS! The bacteria found in your anal passage is super SUPER bad for vaginas.
- Be aware of all warranty information and be sure to adhere to it. Just using the wrong sort of lube can void a warranty, even if your complaint has nothing to do with the lube you've used.
- Your vagina will not be stretched or damaged if you use a big toy. Vaginas do not work that way.
- Although you do not damage nerve endings, your clitoris etc can get used to certain frequencies and patterns so it can be good to change them up every now and then and give your bits a new sensation to enjoy.
I hope these points have eased your minds a little and answered those questions you've always wanted answers to but not known who to ask. I cannot stress enough the importance of knowledge and arming oneself with all the facts, so never be afraid to ask. Your local adult shop professional will be happy to help!
Until next time, happy buzzing, my friends.