It's fair to say that sex toys have had a big year. As lockdowns forced us indoors; sex toy sales skyrocketed as forward-thinking sybarites geared up to spend some sexy times alone.
Maybe that wasn't you; but it's never too late to get on the fun. Whether you're exploring toys solo or with partner/s, a whole new world of very exciting and hot possibilities awaits you. It can feel tricky to get started though; whether it's being overwhelmed with choice or anxious about broaching the topic with your partner/s.
That's why I spoke to Vanessa Muradian – sexologist and the founder of the womxn-focused sex & wellness community Mia Muse – to get the lowdown on navigating this space.
Hello, Vanessa! So lovely to chat. We'd love to know what advice you have for first-time sex toy users.
Listen to your curiosities and your body. I know this can sound a bit strange, but even creating an intention around listening to what you want and what feels good will amplify your ability to follow your pleasure. Make your room feel sexy. I like low lighting, a playlist and a clean space.
Before you use toys, looking at your naked body, breathing and even touching yourself in new ways can help you find ease around being with yourself and ultimately your pleasure.
Sounds sexy. I personally love to listen to Kehlani while having solo playtime. When starting off, how should we navigate the big world of sex toys and figure out what to buy?
An external vibrator is a great place to start. Something like this can be used around or on the clitoris, vulva, gooch (also known as the perineum or space between the genitals and anus) and around the anus. These external toys are sometimes called ticklers and are great if you enjoy clitoral or vulval stimulation. Ticklers will fit roughly in the palm of your hand.
If you are curious about penetration with a toy, there are some great toys that are also a great external vibe. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, you might find a vibe that is a dual stimulator, one that has a shaft and a tickler. This means you can have two vibrating parts on one toy. If you want to explore anal play, starting with a small butt plug can be great (a plug won't vibrate unless the toy specifically says so). Go slow and use lubricant.
If you want to go into harness play or wearing a strap-on for the first time, finding a queer-friendly sex toy shop like Mia Muse and Nikki Darling is a good idea; as these shops have expert, open staff who will answer your questions. Stores like these prioritise good quality products and celebrate diversity. With a strap-on, you want something that is sexy, adjustable for different bodies, makes you feel like a BOSS and honours the beginner's DOM within!
There are also products that are good for gender exploration, like packers, binders, STP (Stand To Pee) harnesses and dongs (dildos that don't vibrate), shops Mia Muse, Nikki Darling and Amor Binders are local and awesome.
And lube is a must?
There are some awesome lubricants out there made from natural products. You can use a good quality silicone lube or water-based lubricant with toys – just wash them quickly with silicone on silicone. Lubricant can be a great enhancer for play with yourself and others.
If you have a vulva or vagina and experience pain, using lubricant and dilators are recommended but talking to a sexologist and/or a pelvic floor physiotherapist would be awesome, as they'll guide you on how to best use these products to experience more pleasure and shift pain. (Editor's note: Please visit your GP in the first instance.)
Remember: TREAT YOURSELF! If you're buying a sex toy, it's for your pleasure, so priortise having a good time while buying it and using it. Make sure the toy is made from good quality silicone, plastic or medical grade glass.
How would you recommend people broach the conversation with a partner about adding sex toys into play?
I recommend people sharing with a partner they're curious about exploring toys, and asking them how they feel about it. If you watch a movie, listen to a podcast or read a book that features sex toys, share this with your partner and then ask or see how they respond to the experience. This can be a smooth opener to introducing them into your sex life.
Toys are just like adding spices while cooking. It's not about what your partner isn't, it's about exploring new sensations and discovering different kinds of pleasure, alone or together. Your sexuality is your own and something you share with another or others. Ideally your partner is into exploring toys with you; [but] if they feel opposed or ambivalent, talking to them about why is important. Maybe they need support, or maybe they need to shop with you!
What do you think the main benefits of playing with sex toys are?
Liberation! Personally, sex toys helped me gush for the first time! Which in turn, showed me I could! Then I knew what to practice and where to keep exploring edges, with or without the toy. So in that way, I think sex toys can show us what we're capable of!
Toys encourage different kinds of play and ways we can feel in the privacy of our own space and time, which can really empower confidence when with other people. Toys can also totally enhance the experience between people. Exploring new things together is hot, specifically if there's mutual respect, consent and fun. Toys can help us move through and with gender curiosities; specific products can affirm gender and gender non-conforming identity, body identity and exploration.
You can find more of Vanessa's amazing work, tips, tricks and toys at Mia Muse.
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