This info was compiled by a sex positive activist at Columbus Public Health:
SEX TOYS 101
When you are thinking of buying a toy there are a few things to think about before going into a store. There are an overwhelming amount of options out there and it can be helpful to narrow it down before starting.
How much do you want to spend?
If it vibrates, how strong should it be?
Do you want something that is internal, external, or both?
Will you be using the toy with multiple partners? How easy should it be to sterilize?
Do you want something that is eco-friendly? Rechargeable?
What aesthetic appeals to you?
Do you have a preference for what it is made out of?
Don’t let this be an overwhelming quest! Choosing a toy can be exciting and fun. There are a lot of online resources that can help you find a toy that you might like. Here are a few websites worth visiting.
Toys for Penises
- Pros: Cheapest, can be used with any toy, easy go-to lube, can be “re-activated” with more water, saliva, or natural vaginal lubrication.
- Cons: Can dry out quickly, doesn’t offer the same level of protection, usually need to use a larger amount.
- Pros: Lasts for a long time, offers more protection, a little goes a long way, best for anal sex, generally hypoallergenic.
- Cons: Doesn’t taste good, stains sheets, on until you wash it off, expensive, cannot be used with any silicone toys.
- Pros: Very easily accessible (coconut oil, vaseline), can come from natural sources, long lasting.
- Cons: Destroys condoms and wears down plastic toys.
Hybrids and Silks
- Pros: Lasts longer, closest feel to natural vaginal lubrication, doesn’t stain sheets, can be used with silicone toys if they are washed off immediately after.
- Cons: Still doesn’t taste very good, doesn’t last as long as silicone, you have to run off and wash your toy.
A quick note on silicone:
Silicone is its own worst enemy. When silicone comes in contact with other silicone (like a lube and a toy) it creates a bond and you are left with a gooey, gross mess and a ruined toy. Do not use silicone with silicone and do not store silicone toys together for a long time. Medical grade silicone is the most resistant to this process, but can still get destroyed. If you love silicone lube, here are a few other materials that toys are made out of that you can use: glass, stainless steel, hard plastic, wood, ceramic.
A quick note on “jelly” toys and phthalates:
Soft plastics make with phthalates are bad news in toys. The limit for phthalates in children’s toys is 0.1%, but there is no limit in sex toys and it can be upwards of 70%! Phthalates are a rubber softener that is everywhere, but is toxic to the human body. If you aren’t sure, just smell the toy! If it smells like a new car it contains phthalates.
Lubes Part 2
Great for making oral sex fun, especially popular for analingus, many organic lubes have started offering flavored options. Many contain sugars and glycerines that can bring on yeast infections or urinary tract infections for people who are sensitive.
Warming and Cooling
These lubes are fun, but can also be irritating. Cooling is usually menthol and warming is usually cinnamon. These can be more intense, even painful, when used anally. It can also take some time to loose effect.
Organics and Hemp
There are a ton of new natural products that are organic or naturally based. Sliquid Lubes have an organic line, O’my has a hemp based lube, and more are coming out all of the time.
Never, never, never use numbing lubes! Sex should NOT hurt and numbing your body makes it open to potential serious and long term injury. This is often used in anal sex, but numbing does not relax the muscles that are causing potential pain in the first place.
This was a popular spermicide that is still used in lubes and on condoms. This is frequently the reason behind post-sex irritation or yeast infections. It can be abrasive on membranes, creating a higher potential for STI transmission. It is also not very effective as a spermicide.
These are harmful toxins that are quickly absorbed into skin and have been linked to breast cancer. Many lubes now state “paraben free”
Always pee after any kind of sex! Many people suffer from post-sex urinary tract infections, especially women. Peeing after sex clears the urethra and stops the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.