Sex toys

Sex toys are becoming an increasingly common part of people's sex lives, with over half of women owning at least one vibrator. The Mix explores the options available, how to use them and how to deal with any dilemmas.

Three young people are sitting on a wall, having a conversation about sex toys

Sex is fun. Toys are fun. So surely combining the two = massive fun? Whether youre using it for self-love purposes or to enhance things with your partner. But, like with anything sexy-time related, its all down to personal taste.

Do I want to use a sex toy?

Some people feel insecure about their partner using a toy. However, masturbation and sex are two different things, and most people enjoy solo-pleasure even if they’re sexually satisfied in their relationship. Men often find a novelty toy or a modest-sized vibrator far less threatening than a huge fake penis.

If your partner wants to use toys with you, but you’re not keen, don’t feel pressured. It takes more sexual confidence to say ‘no’ than ‘yes’. However, it’s worth looking at why you don’t want to. Do you feel threatened or insecure? If so, talk to your partner about your concerns. Communication is a key part of a good sexual relationship after all.

Sex toys for boys

Butt plugs

As the name suggests, a butt plug is designed for anal stimulation. They come in various sizes, from the width and length of your little finger to fist-sized and beyond. Butt plugs have a flared base or ‘stopper’ to prevent them from sliding in too far. Never use anything anally that doesn’t have this, otherwise it could get stuck. If you’re going to experiment with a butt plug, start small and use lots of lube.

Wanting anal stimulation doesn’t mean you’re gay – men have a prostate gland in their anus, also known as the male G-spot, so it’s not surprising that many find it enjoyable when it’s stimulated. Some women also enjoy using butt plugs.

Masturbation sleeves

Generally made from rubber or silicone, these textured pads are designed to fit in the palm of your hand and add extra stimulation when you masturbate. Always use them with lubricant to avoid chafing.

Masturbation sheaths

A masturbation sheath resembles either a torch, with a hole at the ‘light’ end, or a can with a removable top, inside which is a simulated vagina. Some of these are disposable, and others have a hole at both ends for ease of cleaning.

Sex toys for girls


Vibrators come in almost every shape imaginable – from the classic ‘straight and phallic’ to the popular ‘Rabbit’, which combines a rotating shaft with a beaded base and ‘bunny-eared’ clitoral stimulator. You can also get ergonomically-designed non-phallic toys, for labial and clitoral stimulation. Of course, some men will get a kick out of  vibrators too.


A dildo is like a vibrator, but doesn’t vibrate. Some are designed to fit into a harness to form a strap-on (see below), others have a suction cap on the base so you can attach them to a surface and bounce around, while others are just designed to slide inside you. Only use them for vaginal stimulation, however, as they don’t generally have a flared base so can get stuck if used anally.

Clit stimulators

Smaller than a vibrator, these come in various styles including the ‘butterfly’, which you can attach to yourself using thigh straps, or a non-vibrating massager that fits on your finger (and should be used with lube).

For couples


According to one leading sex shop, a third of strap-ons go to straight couples who want to experiment with the woman ‘taking’ the man. Strap-ons are also used by lesbians for vaginal or anal penetration. Most comprise an adjustable harness and separate dildo or vibrator that’s slotted through the harness, so you can vary the size of toy used.

Vibrating tongue studs

Designed to screw onto a tongue stud or fasten onto the tongue with an elastic band if you don’t have a piercing, the most well known of these is the ‘Tongue Joy’. It can be used to enhance oral sex on a man or a woman, or attach to the finger and used on the clitoris or frenulum (the stringy bit under the base of the penis) Its size makes it too small to condom up, so instead clean thoroughly with alcohol after every use.

Cock rings

Designed to help a man sustain an erection for longer as they hold the blood in the penis, cock rings can increase pleasure for both partners. To use, simply slide down to the base of the penis. Some come with vibrating attachments or clitoral stimulators. However, it’s best to avoid metal ones as some people have reported problems taking them off, and the last thing you want is anything getting stuck. Instead, go for rubber.

Anal beads

One of the oldest sex toys, anal beads get their name from their resemblance to a string of beads, generally of graduating sizes. Simply slip them in one by one then pull them out at the point of orgasm to enhance pleasure. Never use normal beads as they can get stuck.

Using sex toys safely

Anything that goes up internal orifices need to be treated with a bit of hygienic respect. Used incorrectly, sex toys can lead to the transmission of STIs and other bacterial nasties. Try to follow this advice:

  • Sex toys should be cleaned after each use. Read the instruction leaflet and safety information for each toy before using it.
  • If you plan to share sex toys, use a condom every time. And change condom whenever you change person.
  • Don’t use the same sex toy for vaginal sex after using it for anal sex.

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Emily Dubberley

Updated on 29-Sep-2015