You can buy a sex toy in almost every shape, size, and color, but they still don’t run the gamut. The pursuit of personal pleasure largely excludes non-binary bodies. Fortunately, a handful of brands with a focus on gender-free sex toys recognize the need for improvement. Soon, anyone with the desire for some self-love will have a toy at the ready in the drawers of their nightstands.
“Making a sex toy gender-free makes it more accessible to everybody,” says Amy Boyajian, CEO and co-founder of Wild Flower. The adult store for sexual well-being will release its first gender-free vibrator, Enby ($74), at the end of this month. “We want to bring queer experiences to the forefront because gendering sex toys—or subscribing only to certain ways of using a toy—often leaves out queer bodies and experiences.”
“When we label a sex product ‘for women’ or ‘for men,’ it doesn’t take into account all of the people who don’t identify with those labels.” —Logan Levkoff, PhD
The marketing of personal pleasure products can also be damaging to those who don’t identify within the gender binary, according to Logan Levkoff, PhD, a relationship and sexuality educator. Much of the market stills splashes the toys in colors traditionally associated with being male or female (i.e., cotton candy pink and baby blue). And the slogans are no better. “When we label a sex product ‘for women’ or ‘for men,’ it doesn’t take into account all of the people who don’t identify with those labels and winds up preventing people from exploring their sexuality using these items, because of an assumption that it’s not ‘for them,’” Levkoff says.
Brands like Wild Flower—and PicoBong, the maker of another gender-neutral toy called the Transformer ($130)—are re-writing the rules. These companies design toys that accommodate the needs of every gender, and thus revolutionize the way people masturbate and/or play with their partners.
The inspiration behind Enby is one example. After going through a gender affirmation surgery, one of Boyajian’s friends shared that she had to throw out all of her sex toys and start over. “That was one of our light bulb moments: we wanted to create something that could take you through any transition, no matter your anatomy or identity,” says Boyajian. “No one should feel like their body or sexual desires are an afterthought.”
“No one should feel like their body or sexual desires are an afterthought.” —Amy Boyajian, CEO and co-founder of Wild Flower
The innovative curves of Enby reveal how it can caters to the sexual hotspots of every body. But Boyajian says the sexual creativity Enby encourages is the biggest source of pride. “We had folks of all anatomies and identities test Enby to ensure we were meeting all their needs. Many of them came up with even more creative ways to use Enby, so the possibilities are endless,” says Boyajian.
The hand-sized device really is a giant step in a more inclusive direction. And they’re only just getting started. Picturing the future of the industry, Boyajian sees a world where users—not brands—dictate the use of each device. “For too long, the sex toy industry has prescribed identities and preferences onto its users. When we give customers the room to explore, we’re creating space for them to prioritize self-love and pleasure on their own terms,” says Boyajian.
Just another day at your friendly neighborhood sex shop
By: Emma Chekroun
Having a part time job in college isn’t uncommon. Some students wait tables, others have jobs through their university, and some, like Haydin Wellens, a junior at the University of Minnesota, work as a cashier at a sex shop. Similar to other students, Wellens goes through his week’s worth of classes before working eight to nine hours on the weekend. Wellens fights exhaustion and tries to keep up with homework while working his late night shifts. The highlight? Much better party stories.
Wellens revels in the opportunity to talk about his job. “People will be talking about their jobs, and I usually start out with I work at a sex shop and…” pause for reaction. What usually comes next is smiles and stares of anticipation.
That anticipation lingers. There is something exhilarating in talking about and going to sex shops. Staring wide eyed at all the toys and tools that decorate the walls is enough to make anyone feel eager and anxious.
While customers may only dedicate a few hours to browsing a sex shop, for those maintaining these glimmering palaces of self-love, it’s a lifestyle.
Not Just a Job
Vincent Valcroft, assistant manager at Bondesque near Uptown, said he loves building people up through his work at the BDSM and fetish wear specialty shop. “I get to contribute to something that helps people,” he adds, “to bring greater wellness, meaning, and pleasure into their lives and relationships.”
Wellens, cashier at Lickety Split, and Cat Charles, website manager at Smitten Kitten, both said the best part of their jobs was answering questions and giving customers a safe space to ask them.
Charles said it’s “delightful and fun” to have sex as the subject manner of work. They enjoy making sex a normal and comfortable topic for shoppers.
Education also takes an important role in working at a sex shop. At Smitten Kitten, every employee is trained in the store’s sex ed curriculum. The shop also holds periodic free sex workshops, such as “Anal 101.”
Bondesque also holds workshops centered around BDSM, which Valcroft hopes contributes to a “holistic kink experience” in the store. Meanwhile, Wellens takes on an informal education outside of work, utilizing the internet to be better informed.
“I love figuring out how the different toys and interests work,” Wellens said. “Doing research into products on my own time doesn’t really feel like work.”
Education is a major way these sex shops pay it forward to the community. A shop’s attitude also has a big impact on its workers and the community. Wellens described how his manager created a position for him when he applied to Lickety Split back in June of 2018 and how that contributed to the family-like workplace he enjoys so much.
Valcroft went as far to say at Bondesque it’s “not a sale, it’s a celebration” and described the fun and explorative setting he strives to achieve at the store. When the community you and your store are a part of branches off into a spectrum of gender identities, orientation, and age groups, it’s important to “celebrate people,” Valcroft said.
Even a community saturated with pleasure and support has its occasional negatives. From drunken shoppers to more dangerous exchanges, it’s not always easy being the purveyors of pleasure.
Wellens has had his fair share of run-ins that range from hilarious to horrifying. One particularly frightening story involves a knife and customer named Jelly; “we learned he was called Jelly after the fact,” Wellens clarifies.
Jelly became irate, yelling slurs at Wellens’ co-worker. Wellens went on to say, “He got super frustrated and pulled out a knife.” He adds, “It was more funny after the fact,” although that seems hard to believe.
Wellens’ stories only get wackier from there. At one point, a man came in waving around a sizeable chunk of marijuana for no apparent reason. Drunk frat guys have played leapfrog, Wellens added. “One time a guy bought a cock ring,” Wellens continues, “and tried to put it on in the store.” This patron wasn’t drunk or high—just “very excited,” Wellens clarified.
For Valcroft, there hasn’t really been one defining hard part of his job, except maybe when “the gimp gets loose,” he explained, only half kidding while a devilish smile spread across his face.
But all laughs aside, the world of sex shops, is just that: a world.
There’s a Whole World Out There
Even sex shop workers encounter kinks they’re not familiar with. A resounding response from all three sex workers, no matter the kink, is that sex shops are a judgment-free zone. Don’t be afraid to have questions, just leave the nitty gritty personal experience out, according to Wellens.
Your kink isn’t that weird, Charles assures. They also encouraged beginners to be open to new experiences and not be discouraged if something doesn’t work out for you.
Valcroft described BDSM and fetish as a “journey,” which the other sex workers agreed with—it’s a journey to find what you like.
Lots of communities are included, so there is a good chance you can find what you are looking for. Smitten Kitten specifically identifies as “queer-centered.” Every shop mentioned here has some form of gender expression or cross dressing inventory, gender expression involving toys, and other items for persons in the transgender community to express their identity. This can include strap-ons or realistic artificial penises.
A tour of Bondesque illuminates several kinks that fall under the radar of popular culture, such as sex toys for electrosex, which involves electrostimulation, and is surprisingly safe. There are also tools/toys for medical fetishes and latex fetishes.
And yes, for those interested in feet, Lickety Split sells silicone feet, according to Wellens.
Aside from kinks, a few new things discovered this week through interviews, an anal workshop, and a sex shop tour: silicone lube is not good for silicone sex toys, fetish parties are like raves mixed with fashion mixed with latex, and there is something out there for practically everyone. Most importantly, sex shop workers make a rewarding career not only out of selling toys but also out of making comfortable environments for sexual deviants and newbies alike.
Lubrication is one of the main ingredients for a successful sexual experience.
It turns out, however, that many women are experiencing sexual discomfort, and are reluctant to use lube for a variety of reasons. What might be even sadder is that there is a big disconnect between women having painful sex and men’s awareness of it.
A study by Durex found that 73% of British women have had discomfort during sex, but only 57% of men have noticed it with their female partners.
One third of women said discomfort made them want sex less, and 9% said it had affected their relationships as a result.
Surprisingly, however, only a third would use lubricant in bed despite 9 out of 10 agreeing that sex felt better with it.
This resulted in a number of those asked saying they’d faked orgasms, hurried their partner to finish, or quit having sex altogether due to the pain.
Although the reasonings behind the discomfort range from simply feeling drier at points in their menstrual cycle to not enough foreplay, it’s odd that this taboo still exists around using lube.
This study clearly shows that lack of lubrication is a common problem faced by women of all ages, even if it is one that isn’t often publicised.
Durex’s campaign aims to take a stand against the idea that we’re supposed to lie back and think of England, and instead asks why we’re still putting up with pain during sex that could be easily rectified.
They’ve got a number of influencers on board to raise awareness, including author Chidera Eggerue, who says: ‘In a world where women are constantly scrutinised for existing, it isn’t surprising that so many of us choose to silence ourselves in exchange for comfort or safety. But it’s time we choose ourselves for once.
‘We’re calling for all women to stop suffering in silence and prioritise their pleasure!’
Which lube should you go for?
Steer clear of sugars in lube (if you want to try something with flavour, look for those with aspartame or stevia instead to avoid thrush).
Water-based lubes are best for use with condoms or sex toys.
Silicone lubes can be more long-lasting, which is better suited to anal. Just make sure you don’t use these with silicone sex toys, as they can make surfaces more porous and more likely to harbour bacteria.
Try a small bottle first, and stay attuned to whether your body reacts well to it. You can then decide whether it’s the one for you.
Don’t bother with DIY solutions. Although you might that think the coconut oil or petroleum jelly in your bedside cabinet will do the trick, neither of these are condom-safe, and could cause a reaction.
Use as often and as much as you need. Forget the stigma, and forget putting up with uncomfortable sex.
Hannah Witton, British sex and relationships YouTuber echoed Chidera’s statements: ‘Using lube should be a totally normal part of sex as not only does it avoid any discomfort, but it’s also really fun! The female body is an amazing thing but depending on where we’re at in our monthly cycle, we shouldn’t have to ‘grin and bear it’ by pretending we’re enjoying sex when really we’re uncomfortable.
‘I hope this campaign encourages women to put their pleasure first and enjoy sex without compromise.’
The Durex study spoke to over 1,200 people, and the breadth of those grinning and bearing vaginal dryness issues is staggering.
It shows that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and that taking control of your sex life is something we should all be doing, whether that’s using lubrication for ourselves, or being more in tune with our partner’s needs.
Sex can be painful for women. There, we’ve said it. Now let’s talk about natural ways to deal with it.
We’ve all heard that women experience vaginal dryness after menopause, but what some of us on the Ellementa team have experienced goes way beyond a moisture-free environment.
“It feels like jagged razor blades slicing me up inside during penetration,” she said.
“It’s like having little elves with knives inside my vagina, cutting away.”
That is what we were hearing around our virtual water cooler when the topic of menopause and sex came up.
Being on a mission to help women better understand the health and wellness benefits of cannabis and CBD, one of our intrepid founders decided to try cannabis and CBD products to address unpleasant symptoms from menopause. She confessed that for the past year she had been experiencing mind-blowing pain that put a damper on any possibility of mind-blowing sex.
“Here I was telling women how beneficial cannabis and CBD can be for our health, and I wasn’t addressing a very real health and wellness issue of my own,” she said.
One evening, she decided to try some of the sample products she had received to review. And they worked!
Here is the recipe for relief that she found useful:
Use a natural vaginal lubricant daily. Many women don’t realize you can apply lubricants daily, particularly after a shower or bath, inside your vagina. We’re not talking about drowning your vagina in oil but applying it internally using a small amount on your finger. Organic coconut oil can be a natural vaginal lubricant, and can be used intra-vaginally if you’re not allergic to coconut. Other fast-absorbing oils include Jojoba and Sweet Almond.
Use a THC-based sexual lubricant or topical 20-30 minutes before sex. Note that many of the THC-infused sexual aids may not be very lubricating but are more warming as well as offering the analgesic effects of THC. THC shouldn’t actually numb the vaginal area but instead reduce the sensation of pain while increasing blood flow to the vagina.
Add a CBD-based lubricant. Our intrepid team member tried a sample packet of Privy Peach’s Personal Lubricant with 250mg CBD. The product claims to “help stimulate your body’s own lubrication, increase circulation, and alleviate any present discomfort.” Note: NOT FOR USE WITH LATEX CONDOMS as any oil may degrade latex.
The results? Nearly pain-free penetration, and definitely pain-free, awesome sex.
This information was a revelation for another one of our founders who went into surgical menopause after a hysterectomy.
“I was just so unprepared for menopause,” she said. “I had no idea my sex life would end, and that I’d have my own private desert.”
As with many other women, she hadn’t looked up THC- or CBD-infused sexual products.
“I’m always taking care of everybody else,” she admitted but vowed to search her market for the right products to relaunch her sex life.
It’s Not Just Older Women Experiencing Painful Sex
“I personally faced quite the battle with my vagina the minute I started having sex,” Cyo Ray Nystrom, the founder and CEO of QuimRock, recalls. “I’ve had years of awful UTIs, forcing me to take intense rounds of antibiotics that, in turn, killed off all the natural vaginal flora and caused yeast infections. It affected my life and sex life greatly as vaginal health is such an important part of intimacy and sex for so many people.”
QuimRock is a cannabis-infused self-care line for women’s intimate care.
Cyo says cannabis can be “powerful sex-medicine for anyone using it intentionally and with her own personal needs in mind.” She also notes that the shame that’s historically associated with vaginal health issues, including those related to menopause, can be “particularly scarring.”
“Personally, cannabis has always been a great tool for getting me into my body, which is essential for me to really show up in my sex life,” Cyo explains, adding, “Cannabis has helped me in many ways—from cramp relief after getting a UTI to pain relief-focused topicals to the amazing benefits of cannabis-infused lubricants.”
What Does a Medical Expert Say About Cannabis to Relieve Painful Sex?
One of our Ellementa Advisors, Dr. Elaine Burns is the founder and medical director of Southwest Medical Marijuana Evaluation Center and founder of DrBurns’ ReLeaf tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) products. Dr. Burns was working with bio-identical hormones for women before she entered the cannabis industry seven years ago. We asked her about cannabis and specifically CBD for women’s sexual health during peri-menopause and post-menopause.
According to Dr. Burns, menopause is a “multifactorial issue,” meaning no woman can expect that what worked for someone else will work for them, too. She also emphasized that cannabis is only part of an overall health-care plan that could include botanicals (such as black cohosh, evening primrose and chamomile) for women before menopause or bio-identicals—non-synthetic, all-natural hormone replacements—for women no longer experiencing menses. She told us she would never solely recommend cannabis or CBD to relieve menopausal symptoms.
THC, by the way, can also be helpful with low libido and stress related sexual dysfunction. Dr. Burns reminded us there are two parts of support during menopause:
Relief from unpleasant symptoms ranging from vaginal dryness to hot flashes to painful sex.
Prevention of diseases such as osteoporosis.
Depending on your health goals, cannabis—and specifically CBD—can be integrated into your overall care plan to alleviate specific menopause symptoms and also help with general good health as you age.
As Cyo from QuimRock explains, “It’s hugely important to figure out what turns you on and what turns you off.” And that takes time and trying different things. Just as menopause is a journey, so is naturally addressing your sexual health with botanicals like cannabis.”
There is no doubt that sex is great. However, it can use something to make it more passionate and wild from time to time. The best thing to achieve that is to find the right “hardware” for your games and let it all play out really really well.
Besides making sex better, sex toys can bring many different benefits to the table, or into the bed, however you like it (this is a judgment-free zone). But among all the physical benefits, there are some psychological ones, too.
Some people are shy about their sexual lives or talking about sex in general. What is more, at the very mention of sex toys even they can get all giggly and blood rushes to their cheeks like they are teens again. However, what not many of us know is that if you get over it and talk about sex toys, you can actually feel more confident to talk about sex.
Sex toys are not a taboo anymore and everyone uses them; either with their partners or by themselves. So, if you are able to talk about them in any way, be sure you will be more free to talk about sex with your partner, for example. You will eliminate that shyness, guilt or embarrassment you might be feeling, and your sex life will get better and more satisfactory in no time.
“Cure” for sexual dysfunction
There are both men and women who can have sexual dysfunction, and sex toys are something that can aid in that. For example, there are women who suffer from anorgasmia, which means they can hardly reach orgasms while having sex. That is why vibrators and relaxing sex toys, are recommended. As far as men are concerned, a helping hand of sex toys can make them climax without having to get an erection. There is no harm in trying kinky toys like Hustler Hollywood has, for example, and giving it a shot.
Plus, if you manage to finally get that orgasm, there is no doubt that your confidence will rise. Another positive thing is that they will take the pressure off of you because you won’t be overthinking what you’re doing in bed. You just need to relax and let the toys do their thing. And, at the end, you will feel confident about your relationship, things will get back on track sex-wise and you will relieve stress!
Great sex equals a great relationship
You might have that spark with your partner, but things are bound to get boring sometimes. That is why you need to communicate. Surprisingly or not, sex toys will lead to better communication with your partner. Even a simple visit to the sex shop with your partner will make you communicate better. You do need to be open about what you want, like and dislike, so it is a great way to get to know each other better.
Furthermore, you will learn how to “navigate” your partner better. Without the toys, you might feel shy about telling him “a bit to the left” or her “to use less teeth”, but with sex toys, things can change. If you’re using vibrators you will be more relaxed and open about where he or she needs to go in order to hit the spot. Plus, some toys can reach places no man or woman has ever touched.
According to Bustle, you can say that sex toys can improve your honesty and communication because they will spark the conversation and make your relationship even better.
They just make you feel good
The mental benefits of using sex toys are almost the same as the benefits of sex. But double the dosage! Sex boosts your confidence, but with the use of sex toys, you are even more confident because you managed to go pass that stigma and taboo.
Sex leads to increased intimacy, love and trust in a relationship, but with the toys, you two can get even closer. This is because your aforementioned communication is better, you made that special bond when buying sex toys and you learned new things about each other and your bodies. Plus, a lot of oxytocin is released after each passionate, sweaty and successful round in the bed, which only leads to stronger relationships and more respect towards each other.
After all this, we can say for sure that sex toys are beneficial. Forget about all that kink-shaming and go a little wild. Your relationship can use a little something new and fun, and your partner will be happy about it, too! Not to forget about that confidence boost and more happiness in your lives. So, take your partner’s hand, find the toys you both like and go on an adventure of kinky fantasies and plenty of fun.
A personal massager, a sperm counter, virtual-reality pornography, something described as “the world’s first ebook-driven sex toy”: All of these products have been exhibited at CES, the country’s largest consumer electronics convention. Two of them won awards there.
So Lora Haddock was surprised when Osé, a hands-free sex toy she designed with a team of engineers from Oregon State University, had its CES Innovation Award revoked after three weeks. In an email explaining the convention’s change of heart, which Ms. Haddock shared with The New York Times, a representative cited a clause in the awards’ terms and conditions that disqualified products deemed “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image.” (CTA refers to the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES.)
“I was shocked,” Ms. Haddock, 33, said, “and then I was angry.” The award “signified a shift in inclusion,” she said. “And then it was actually, no you’re obscene and you’re indecent and immoral, and you’re not innovative at all.”
Last year, CES had more than 180,000 attendees from around the world and racked up more than 100,000 mentions in media outlets, by its own count. For start-up companies like Ms. Haddock’s, exhibiting at CES is crucial for attracting investment. It’s all the more important for sexual wellness companies, which by their nature have a difficult time placing ads on platforms like Facebook, in magazines and in public spaces.
ohn Parmigiani, the director of the Prototype Development Lab at Oregon State University, first met Ms. Haddock in 2017, shortly after she had officially started her company, now called Lora DiCarlo. Over the years, Mr. Parmigiani — who has worked with companies like Boeing and Daimler Trucks — had become a go-to person for entrepreneurs seeking expertise in mechanical engineering.
“I went into the meeting with Lora having no idea what her product was,” Mr. Parmigiani said in a recent interview. “The third sentence she said was along the lines of, ‘I didn’t have my first blended orgasm until I was 20-something years old.’” Mr. Parmigiani said he was briefly taken aback but he kept listening.
“I thought, it’s a little out of my comfort zone,” he said, “but there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Ms. Haddock had used a term that describes a sexual climax reached from simultaneous external and internal stimulation. Her first blended orgasm, which Ms. Haddock said occurred at age 28, “knocked me off the bed onto the floor. I laid there wondering, how do I do that again?”
That wasn’t what sold Mr. Parmigiani on the project.
“I gave him a list of 52 functional engineering requirements that would be needed to produce this product,” Ms. Haddock said. “And that’s when he lit up.”
Ms. Haddock, who previously worked in health care and served in the Navy, is a self-described anatomy nerd. She knew she wanted her product to be customizable, so she started gathering data for where the G-spot and the clitoris are located on different bodies. “I tried to have that conversation with every single person with a vagina that I knew,” Ms. Haddock said. “I literally asked them to measure it with their hands and a tape measure.”
Osé, which will be available this fall for $250, expands, according to user preference, once placed on the pelvic girdle. It doesn’t vibrate but uses gentle, autonomous motions and air flow to enhance stimulation. Eight patents associated with Osé are pending. The team that built it includes Dr. Ada-Rhodes Short, who specializes in robotics and artificial intelligence, and Lola Vars, a current doctoral candidate in design-focused mechanical engineering at Oregon State University.
In follow-up emails, officials from CES and the Consumer Technology Association appeared to step back from the earlier assertion about the product’s violations of the morality clause, writing instead that Osé did not fit into the robotics and drones category, nor into any of the other product categories.
“It certainly is a robotic device if you look at a definition of a robotic device,” Mr. Parmigiani said. “There is no justification. Lora DiCarlo should have won the award.”
In a statement provided to The Times, Gary Shapiro, the president and chief executive of the Consumer Technology Association, said: “We have apologized to CEO Lora Haddock for our mistake, as the Lori DiCarlo product does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program. CES is a professional business show, and porn, adult toys and sex tech products are not part of the event. CES is a large show with over 4,500 exhibitors. We acknowledge there are inconsistencies in exhibiting companies, and these will be addressed.”
But Ms. Haddock believes that what happened was more than an accidental oversight or a clerical error. So she published an open letter accusing CES of gender bias last Tuesday, Jan. 8, the first day of the convention. It is not the first time the trade show has been accused of gender bias: In 2018, numerous people in the tech industry criticized CES for having no female keynote speakers for the second year in a row, a failing CES attributed to “a limited pool when it comes to women in these positions.”
This year, of the 89 judges for innovation awards, 20 were women. CES said that it is committed to diversity, and pointed to its announcement this year that it will invest $10 million in venture firms and funds focused on women, people of color and other underrepresented start-ups and entrepreneurs.
On display at CES was a wide array of female-oriented products, including breast pumps, fertility trackers and skin-care tools, but critics point out that many of them exist to enable women to support something or someone else. “They’re in service of fertility, of society as a whole, of the household,” said Ms. Vars, the technical director at Lora DiCarlo. She noted that a sexual health company that has exhibited at CES for years, OhMiBod, won a prize in 2016 for its Kegel exerciser. “It’s something construed as good for men’s pleasure or fertility,” Ms. Vars said. “I hear that as a joke from men: ‘I like to sleep with women who do their Kegels.’”
“Sexual health wellness is something that can only happen behind closed doors, especially for women,” said Polly Rodriguez, the chief executive of Unbound, a company that makes lubes, vibrators and other sexual wellness products. Ms. Rodriguez has never applied to CES because of its reputation for gender-based discrimination. (Earlier this year, Unbound was in the news after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rejected the company’s ads on the grounds that they violated rules against obscenity.)
But other female-driven sexual wellness products have gone the way of Ms. Haddock’s.
Karen Long, who has been in health care technologies for more than 20 years, was told that her company’s libido enhancing device, Fiera, did not qualify for the health and technology category in 2015. A later email from convention organizers added: “As a practice, we don’t allow sexual wellness products at CES.”
“We’re a consumer product that’s very clinically driven, with studies to support our product, validated surveys, OB-GYNs on board and everything,” Ms. Long said.
“We’re all sick and tired of this,” Ms. Haddock said. “It’s not just about our product. It’s about something bigger. It’s about really embracing an understanding of human sexuality, of recognizing innovation. When you call something obscene just because it has to do with a vagina, technology as an industry starts to lose out.”
Liz Klinger, the chief executive of Lioness, which makes a smart vibrator for women that collects data about sexual arousal, was similarly appalled. (She applied to CES in 2017 and was rejected.) “They said they weren’t going to include any new adult products in this space,” Ms. Klinger said. “That they had bad experiences in the past and didn’t want any new products on the floor.”
Later she found out that another applicant was approved to rent an entire room to show VR porn.
Sex is sex, right? There can’t be that much you can change about it.
But sex trends do indeed exist, whether in terms of the tech we’re using to get off, the type of relationships we have, or our views of sexual acts.
The good news is that as long as you’re having consensual fun, it really doesn’t matter if you stay ahead of the curve.
If you are keen on being at the cutting edge of sexual stuff, though, you’re in luck, as sex toy brand Lelo has just released their predictions for the top sex trends of 2019.
Just do everything on the list then pat yourself on the back for being the trendiest, sexiest person ever. Congrats.
Open relationships and polyamory
Of course, polyamory is not a new concept. But thanks to documentaries (oh hey, Louis Theroux), celebs and influencers sharing stories of how polyamory and open relationships can work, the idea of non-monogamy is becoming more widely accepted.
Think of how BDSM was pushed on to everyone’s radar by Fifty Shades Of Grey. The same sort of thing is happening with polyamory.
Not the ones you’re imagining, blow up ones with holes for mouths.
We’re talking fancy sex dolls made to feel and look incredibly lifelike, made with silicone and internal skeletons for a more human feel.
With the rise of household devices such as Alexa and Google Home, it’s no surprise we’ll start using artificial intelligence in the bedroom, too.
This can range from vibrators that collect your data and adjust to give you an orgasm every time to sex robots who respond to dirty talk and adjust their personalities to fit your desires.
Yes, the techphobes among us will be freaked out, but 2019 will be a cool year when it comes to seeing how far we can take sex tech.
Blame Ariana Grande.
Lelo reckons that in 2019 we’ll see more women remaining happily single later into their lives, with no desire to get into relationships.
Self-dating will be on the rise, as will treating yourself to all the toys you could ever want to provide satisfaction solo.
Will 2019 be the year we finally accept that men can enjoy sex toys too?
The sex toy market will launch a bunch of new male sex toys this year, including prostate massagers and masturbation sleeves, which will hopefully normalise something that’s, well, very normal: using tools to masturbate more effectively.
Vibration is great, but Lelo says 2019 will see the rise of newer, fresher ways to stimulate pleasure.
The brand’s Sona sex toy, released in 2018, uses sonic waves to stimulate the clitoris, to drive pleasure much deeper in the body.
You’ll also spot more toys that use pulsing or suction.
Sometimes a long-distance relationship is unavoidable. Here are some expert tips and clever tech we suggest to keep an intimate relationship lively and hot from miles away.
Tristen Weedmark, Global Passion Ambassador for vibrator company We-Vibe, recommends that long-distance partners look into Avocado or Couple, apps that both offer multiple ways for couples to connect in daily life. They are multi-purpose apps with built-in capabilities for partners, such as sharing sexy photos, working simultaneously on doodles, sending virtual “kisses,” or coordinating calendars and to-do lists.
Lay the Ground Rules
There are so many different options for connecting remotely. Texting, photo chats, live video, and phone calls are just a few options, and each comes with its pros and cons. “Figure out what works best for you in an LDR,” says Weedmark. “For some it might be constant texting throughout the day, while others prefer long phone calls a few times a week.” Mix and match your options and see what sticks. Once you can settle on a style that suits you both, you might be amazed at how multi-faceted LDRs can be.
Just because you’re separated doesn’t mean you’re not part of each other’s lives. Take the time to celebrate special days, like birthdays, anniversaries, or life achievements in ways that are memorable. Send cards, flowers, or homemade gifts the old-fashioned way. To keep track of past efforts and future events, consider the two-person messenger app Twyxt, which auto-generates a relationship journal from your messages and allows users to make a “Keepsake” collection of their favorite messages and photos.
Rules of Sexting
A couple can be great at texting, calling, and sending presents while skimping on more intimate ways to relate. “Without the regular sexual contact that many couples take for granted, you may start to feel more like friends rather than intimate partners,” says Weedmark. The trick here, she says, is to develop intimacy in other ways, which comes down to being more straightforward about your desires and emotions. It’s also probably time to boost your virtual sex skills. Learn how to avoid saving sexy pics and video to the cloud and be careful not to sext anyone you don’t mean to. Then, try something new with your partner.
There are many sex toys that allow couples to pleasure each other from afar. Weedmark’s company has the We-Vibe Sync, which is an app-enabled, adjustable vibrator that allows a woman’s partner to control the toy while also sexting or chatting in the app. Toys like this can help make partners feel more in tune with their partner during long-distance sex.
Trying to visit each other is a no-brainer, but it’s worth some extra effort to make the experience as exciting (and easy) as possible. First of all, consider coordinating itineraries through using an app like TripIt, which can sync with email and calendars, skipping the need to forward and record travel details. It can be a blast for partners to play host to their other halves, while enjoying their own city from a fresh perspective. Or couples can choose to meet somewhere in the middle, which may land them in unusual but story-worthy spots.
You’ll find no shortage of explanatory pieces on the Internet when it comes to butt stuff. There are so many ways to explore the butt. Some people use fingers, while others prefer dildos or butt plugs. And, of course, people enjoy a mix of things. Yet in all of this ongoing hoopla, we’ve forgotten a key player: anal beads.
Anal beads are the unsung hero of butt play. They are freakin’ amazing, and yet when asked about butt play from readers, I never get questions about anal beads.
Butt plugs and anal beads are two different toys, although they both go in the anus. “Anal beads provide stimulation through movement, while a butt plug offers internal ‘fullness’ or pressure,” explains Alicia Sinclair, a certified sex educator and CEO of the butt-centric company b-Vibe. “Unlike a butt plug, which is often used in preparation for penetrative anal sex, and is only meant to go in and stay [in place], anal beads were designed to stimulate inside the body and specifically to move in an out of the bum.”
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about wanting to explore butt stuff. Will there be some poop? Possibly, but if you clean up thoroughly, you’ll be just fine. You might come in contact with some fecal matter, but this simply goes with the territory. The sooner we move on from that, the sooner we can delight in the butt fully. I love butt play of any kind because it is an equalizing sex act that everyone can enjoy, regardless of gender. Everyone, after all, has an anus.
“Playing with products like anal beads allows you to really create equality in the bedroom and experience pleasure for the sake of pleasure, rather than tying it to identity in any way,” Sinclair adds.
The anus is a huge area of pleasurable possibility. You don’t need to put anything all the way inside of the butt to enjoy it. The anal opening is clustered with nerves, making any play with toys very enjoyable.
“As the beads are removed, they arouse the sensitive nerve endings of the sphincter muscle,” Sinclair says. “This stimulation creates a series of pleasurable sensations, like having a muscle massaged. The beads can be removed at varying speeds, depending on the desired effect, and can amplify the intensity of orgasm or even initiate for some. A great element is that using anal beads can be a hands-free path to stimulation, which means you can use your hands for other important erotic matters.”
Sign me up, please. Here is what you need to know about anal beads and all their multidimensional wonders.
Anal beads can be for newbies.
If you’re unsure if you’re ready for le beads de anal, Sinclair assures me that anal beads are totally fine for butt play beginners. While your forays ought to begin with a well-lubed finger or two, she assures SELF that there are “anal beads available in sizes for folks at all entry levels.”
Where to begin as a newbie when you’re looking for that perfect fit? Sinclair says that if you’re a beginner, it’s best to choose beads with “graduated sizes.” Meaning, ones that start small on the string and grow in size as you move up. “This allows the user to start with the smallest beads and then works towards the larger beads as they become comfortable with the sensation,” she says.
You should start with anal beads that come with three to four beads. You don’t need some long, snaking set of 15 balls when you’re starting out—that could be a little intimidating. “Make sure there is a good-sized flared base or circular handle at the end of the beads, otherwise there the beads may get lost inside the body,” Sinclair adds. Yikes. No one needs a trip to the ER, amiright? The rectum is not a closed area like the vagina; once something goes up the butt and disappears, it probably won’t be coming back on its own.
Stick to medical grade or body-safe silicone.
Materials for anal beads, like all sex toys, vary widely depending on where you buy them. Simply put: Do not buy cheap, crappy sex toys. If you buy beads made of jelly or non-ABS plastic (the only non-porous grade of plastic) then you risk leaving bacteria behind. These materials can never be fully disinfected. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: Your anal beads will have lingering poop on them.
“Silicone is my go-to material of choice,” Sinclair tells SELF. “It’s body-safe, non-porous, and all you need is mild soap and warm water to clean.”
Vibrating anal beads can be a super-fun way to ease yourself into playing with this new toy. “It promotes relaxation and can amplify the pleasurable sensations,” she says. “At b-Vibe, we specialize in vibrating anal beads and playing with different points and patterns of vibration.” (If vibration isn’t your thing, there are plenty of body-safe silicone anal beads that don’t vibrate. It’s all about preference.)
If you’re truly not sure what sensation you want to feel, start with a basic set of three to four non-vibrating beads and see how you feel about them. If you’d like to experiment with bigger beads, vibration, or a larger number of beads, go from there. There are so many different kinds to choose from.
Grab some lube.
You can use anal beads alone or with a partner. It can be easier to give toys a try alone for the first time to avoid awkwardness or nerves, but this is completely up to you.
Be sure you have a ton of lube on hand. Avoid silicone-based lubes with silicone toys; in other words, stick to water-based lube. I recommend Sustain Natural for all play, including anal. If you are more of an oil-based lover, I’m obsessed with CocoLube. Oil-based lubes are great for anal play because they are super slippery and don’t need to be applied as often as water-based options.
If you are sharing butt toys, be sure you are thoroughly cleansing them before using them with a different partner. Otherwise, you risk transferring bacteria or STIs.
Relax and breathe before insertion. You can lie either on your back or side, whichever is most comfortable for you. I suggest starting on your side if this is your first time. You don’t want your butt hole to be tensed up. Put the beads in one at a time, checking in with yourself and your partner along the way.
“Once they are inside, you’ll feel ‘fullness’ and receive pleasure as they move inside you,” Sinclair says. “You can stop wherever—there’s no pressure at all to go the full length of the beads. You can then leave them in during partner play or pull them out at varying speeds, depending on the desired effect.”
Sinclair suggests leaving the beads in during intercourse, slowly removing them one by one when you’re nearing climax for “toe-curling orgasms.”
Clean your anal beads immediately.
After you’re finished getting busy, wash your anal beads right away. You don’t want to leave lingering bacteria on your toys. Use a mild antibacterial soap and leave them on a towel to air dry. Be sure to pay special attention to any nooks and crannies. Be thorough.
If you’re really into sanitizing, I absolutely love the UVee Box. It uses UV light to remove 99.9 percent of surface bacteria on your toys. I use it for everything in my house from my cell phone to my jewelry. It’s a worthy investment.
Do away with shame! Go boldly into butt play and have the most fun!
Here’s some straight talk about the value of “the talk.”
Fathers who talk with their teenage sons about condom use can help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies, researchers say.
Condoms are the only contraceptive method that can prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Yet, recent U.S. government data showed that condom use among teens steadily declined over the last decade.
And as condom use dropped, the number of sexually transmitted infections increased, researchers found. In 2017, the number of STIs reached an all-time high for the fourth year in a row, with teens and young adults accounting for about half of the cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two out of three new HIV infections in young people are among black and Hispanic males, and more than 200,000 births a year are to teens and young adults, the study authors noted.
For the new study, researchers interviewed 25 black and Hispanic fathers and sons (aged 15 to 19) from New York City. The research was led by Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, a professor at New York University and a nurse practitioner specializing in adolescent sexual and reproductive health at the Adolescent AIDS Program of Montefiore Medical Center, in New York City.
The interviews made it clear that fathers talking to their sons about using condoms consistently and correctly is not only possible, but acceptable. The sons said they wanted their dads to tell them how to use condoms and problems with them, such as breakage and slippage, as well as incorrect use.
Fathers also saw these conversations as a way to improve their own condom use, the study authors said.
The findings showed that communicating about condom use can be a powerful way to help prevent teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, the researchers concluded.
“Helping fathers teach their sons about the consistent and correct use of condoms by addressing common communication barriers — and focusing specifically on strategies to avoid condom use errors and problems — is a promising and novel mechanism to increase the use of male condoms and to reduce unplanned pregnancies, STIs, and sexual reproductive health disparities among adolescent males,” the study authors said in a New York University news release.
The report was published online Dec. 17 in the journal Pediatrics.
The sex tech industry is booming and you’re the last one to know. How do you feel about that? If I were you, I’d feel lame as hell. So, why not do something about it? They’re all gonna laugh at you either way. At least you’ll be having back-to-back orgasms while the nay-sayers snicker behind your back.
Our beloved gods of good sex have bestowed upon us a myriad of perverted pleasure products that pique every nook and cranny of our depraved interests. It’s time we took advantage of that. In today’s world, it’s possible to find a male sex toy that can do just about anything you can imagine. In fact, some manufacturers still know how to surprise me, believe it or not.
As John James, the Sex Toy Expert, I know all about sex tech and the products that have come out of its catacombs in the last few years. I’ve made it my life’s mission to “stay on top” of every sex toy I possibly could (pun most definitely intended). The results haven’t always been pretty but they’ve almost always been fun.
What Is Sex Tech?
I’m a gentleman and a scholar but even I don’t know the actual definition of “sex tech”. My best guess is that is has something to do with sex toys and technology. As far as I’m concerned, they can fuck off with their technical jargon. For our purposes, the term “sex tech” refers to any sex toy or arousal product that utilizes some form of technology in its design, features and/or functionality. Got it?
What Kind of Toys Are We Talking about Here?
One of the first questions I get when introducing someone to sex tech is, “So, what kinds of toys use technology like that?” I suppose it’s because most people only know about the traditional stuff, having little to no experience with the world of luxury brands and tech-savvy features. That’s okay though, because ole J.J. is here to help.
First of all, there are 5 main types of male sex toys that generally have a techie component or two. Know them and find your way to some of the best orgasms you’ve ever had. Ignore them and keep beating your meat like your granddad.
Known for their durability and simplicity, handheld masturbators allow for manual manipulation of your penis and a fully customizable experience for you and/or your lover. Often made with pre-programmed speed or intensity settings and graced with the ability to connect via Bluetooth or internet for a real-time sex session, today’s masturbator isn’t the simple pocket pussy of yesteryear.
Automatic Blowjob Machines
Once I tried an auto-blow device for the first time I started to wonder why the sex toy industry even bothered making anything else. These things are amazing and I’ll tell you why: Not only do they feel almost exactly like a real deep-throat knob-job but they also work without manual manipulation and can (sometimes) link up to other devices. While some masturbators do that too, only automatic blowjob machines simulate the kind of shameless, enthusiastic head you have to pay good money for.
FUN FACT: Many masturbators and auto-blow machine models come with orifices and/or skin-like sleeves that have been molded after famous porn stars.
If you want to get REAL nasty, go for a humanoid torso that has tech-friendly features like touch-sensitive controls, sync-motion, vibration and Bluetooth connectivity. Among the most high-tech (and most expensive) male sex toys on the market, torsos are also among the most realistic in terms of visuals and can sometimes be have their hyper-humanistic skins and canals warmed.
There are a lot of p-spot stimulation toys out there that are designed with high-tech features and pleasure-seeking settings. Although usually not as futuristic as the auto-blow machines or the torsos, prostate and perineum massagers come in all shapes and sizes from beginner to pro. The higher-end models can be synced to Bluetooth, smart phone apps or other toys for an interactive or long-distance party.
A staple of the modern-day bedroom in my humble opinion, the cock ring is a must-have for any contemporary pervert with something to prove. A good high-tech cock ring can be controlled via wireless remote or smart phone app, plus it’s generally rechargeable and waterproof. Made for discreet guys who like safe restriction and convenient kink, well-made cock rings with high-tech features bring out the animal in any man.
The Final Verdict
Doesn’t it feel so much better to be “in the know” about male sex tech and the options that currently flood the market? I know I feel much better having schooled you on what’s up. If variety is the spice of life, then an existence without several high-tech sex toys must be an extremely bland one. I, for one, have better taste than that.
When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s perfectly normal to develop a sexual routine with your partner. After all, the more often you have sex with someone, the better acquainted you become with their body, their turn-ons, their erogenous zones, their fantasies, and more. But while that level of sexual comfort with a partner can be advantageous in plenty of ways — like knowing exactly how to get each other to orgasm — having a “predictable” (or worse, “boring”) sex life can also be a source of frustration for many couples.
Although refreshing your sex life might sound like a daunting task, rest assured that it doesn’t have to be. In fact, finding new and exciting ways to enjoy sex in your relationship can actually be a fun way to connect with your partner, build intimacy, and experience pleasure. Besides, making an active effort to diversify your sexual routine doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dissatisfied with your current sex life; it simply means that you and your partner are open-minded and willing to grow even closer by sharing new sexual experiences.
If things are starting to feel a little blah in the bedroom, all it takes is a little creativity to heat things back up — and playing a few fun, easy sex games with your partner is the perfect low-pressure way to do so. Whether it’s naughty truth or dare or naked Twister, trying out some flirty and frisky sex games is a lighthearted way to switch things up in the bedroom without feeling like you’re doing a complete overhaul of your sex life.
Here are three easy sex games you can play with your partner that are pretty much guaranteed to make everyone feel like a winner.
If you and your partner are in the habit of breezing through foreplay in order to get to the “main event,” you might be surprised by how much slowing down and focusing on foreplay can transform your sex life. By elongating your foreplay sessions and savoring every touch, you can build all kinds of sexy tension before moving on to intercourse — or maybe you’ll get so caught up that you skip intercourse entirely (after all, penetration is not a prerequisite for great sex).”
“Start a timer and agree for there not to be penetration until the timer runs out,” says Danyell Fima, co-founder of adult pleasure company Velvet Co. “The anticipation makes it all worth it. This is best if you use a random timer, and set it between 10-20 minutes. To go even further, don’t touch each other, just tease each other with a feather.”
You might have the most comfortable bed on Earth, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only worthwhile place to get your freak on. Whether you live in a tiny studio apartment or a multi-suite mansion, there are plenty of opportunities to get creative with where you have sex: a bathtub, a kitchen counter, atop a washer… the list goes on. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to make the whole experience feel brand new — even if you’re not technically changing the way you have sex all that much.
“Make every time you have sex [in] a different place and position,” says Fima. “Alternate which partner has to come up with the location between every time. Pretty soon, you’ll have touched every piece of furniture in your apartment in a new and exciting way.”
When you’re in the mood for a little extra stimulation in your sex life, using sex toys with your partner is an easy way to raise the stakes and experience even more feel-good sensations during sex. If you own a toy or two that can be controlled remotely, try making a sexy game out of allowing your partner to take total control of your pleasure.
“Have sex toys? Hand the controls to your partner,” says Fima. “It’s best when each person has a toy they can use. Last as long as you can! Have multiple sex toys? Pick which ones you’ll use blindfolded to keep things interesting
To be fair, there are a couple of reasons why penetrative shower sex is objectively difficult: It’s dangerous and there is no lubrication. You think that one-legged standing sex position is going to work out for you and then … it really doesn’t. You wind up with this awkward, dry humping and grinding situation that often ends in frustration and general angst.
Fact: The shower is slippery. With all that soap and water on tile or linoleum, you’re very likely to take a tumble if you decide to have penetrative sex. How can you expect to have an orgasm with one leg in the air, praying to the high heavens that you won’t fall and break your leg? It’s just not practical.
Instead of making P in the V sex the end-all-be-all of shower sex success, do other things instead. Have your partner stand with his back to you and reach around for a handy. The dominance is intoxicating. Bend down and suck on her nipples and touch her clitoris with your hand.
We have to stop putting pressure on ourselves to “get it in.” This makes shower sex less fun and ultimately a lot less satisfying.
Don’t rush it.
Enjoy the shower itself. Wash each other. Shampoo your partner’s hair and give them a head massage. Let them wash your back and shoulders. Showering can be very sensual even without sex so lean into that romantic aspect of the experience. There is a kind of primal urge that comes from cleaning your partner. Just look at monkeys picking bugs out of each other’s fur.
Listen to the sound of the water, smell the lovely soaps, and take your time to simply be with your partner. Showering together is basically foreplay with zero effort on your part.
Get comfortable with making out under the water
It should come as no surprise that, in the shower, there is going to be water everywhere. It’s going to run down your face and over your eyes, and probably into your mouth when you start kissing. Don’t let this deter you, let it be fuel for a steamy, wet makeout session.
Haven’t you ever heard of making out under waterfalls and all that other romantic movie stuff? It’s like that. These are going to be wet kisses so, get down with it. Yes, you might have to spit out water occasionally, but this just comes with the territory.
Feel the water running over your body. Lick it off of each other’s chests. Long showers are the best. Kiss and enjoy.
Try some standing sex positions if you’re brave enough
If you insist on having intercourse, there are definitely some positions that are better than others. We have a complete guide right here. Most comfortable for shower sex-ing are a three-legged stand and the 90 Degree Angle. For the 90 Degree Angle, if you’re on the receiving end, be sure your partner has something to hold onto with one hand. Again, slippery = dangerous.
Remember, this is not the only thing that makes shower sex valid. If you start having intercourse only to realize it isn’t working for you, have some hand-sex, oral sex, or any other kind of sexual play you feel like. Don’t force it. That isn’t fun for anyone.
Silicone and oil-based lube are your best friends
There are plenty of amazing (and not so amazing) lubes out there. You want to be sure whichever you choose is paraben, petrochemical, and glycerin free. When in doubt, water-based lubes are your best bet for sex. But, in the shower, water-based lubes don’t have the staying power you need.
Opt instead for a silicon or oil-based lube. These lubes hold up against the water test and will keep things smooth and slippery during shower friskiness.
If you go for silicone, we love Babelube Silicone from Babeland. If oil-based is more your style, you can use something all natural like 100 percent organic coconut oil or almond oil. If you’d prefer an oil-based brand, we’re big on Boy Butter in the original formula.
Just keep in mind that if you’re using condoms, oil-based lubes are a no-go. Oil is incompatible with latex and can break down the material, leading to breakage. With condoms, stick to silicone lube.
Don’t forget the toys
The golden rule of sex toy owners used to be: If it has a motor, don’t submerge it in water. Luckily, this is no longer the case for many a vibrator. Many companies have waterproof sex toys that are not only bomb for shower sex, but can even be taken into the bathtub and dipped under the water completely. It’s pretty revolutionary.
“Fundamentally, people who move to live in a care home should be able to have the same rights, choices and responsibilities they enjoyed at home provided that these do not impinge upon the rights of others in the home,” the 44-page guide states.
“Care home staff should strive to achieve a balance between an individual’s right to privacy and control with the need for care and observation, for example, residents remaining in bedrooms undisturbed or with locked doors and staff waiting to be invited before entering,” it continues.
The guide states that: “sexuality remains a fundamental aspect of being human throughout life. It encompasses gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, intimacy, sexual expression and sexual acts.
It goes on to say that sexuality also influences “identity, self-image, self-concept and self-worth. It also affects mental health, physical health, social relationships and quality of life.”
The leaflet sites case study examples of real patients and the problems they have encountered when it comes to sexual activity within their care home including an OAP who was refused help with masturbation because staff “felt ill-equipped to deal skilfully” with the request.
Another case study explained how a resident had ask to watch porn in his bedroom. The guide noted that patient “should be supported” in accessing “the entertainment” he desired.
Commenting on the guide, RCN spokeswoman Dawne Garrett told the Daily Express: “Just because people live in a care home doesn’t mean they lose the same rights, choices and responsibilities they once enjoyed in their home.”
And actually research suggests many of the older generation are likely enjoying more sex than their younger counterparts.
A 2009 study, National Social Life, Health and Ageing Project (NSHAP), conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Chicago, found that almost three quarters (74%) of women aged 75 to 85 believed satisfactory sex was essential to maintaining a relationship, while 72% of men felt the same.
The same study found that over a third of men (38%) and almost a fifth (17%) of women within this age bracket were sexually active. And why the hell not?
Researchers from Coventry and Oxford University in the UK have found a link between frequent sexual activity and improved brain function in older adults.
The study, published in in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences, involved quizzing 73 people aged 50-83 on how often, on average, they’d had sex over the past 12 months. Participants also answered questions about their general health and lifestyle.
The 28 men and 45 women also took part in a standardised test, which is typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults, focussing on attention, memory, fluency, language and visuospatial ability.
Like it or not, we’ve entered the annual period of seasonal gift giving. Hanukkah begins Sunday, December 2. St. Nick’s follows on Thursday, December 6 (leave your shoes out on the night of the 5th). Next up is Winter Solstice on Friday, December 21. And then we wrap up the traditional gifting holidays with Christmas on Tuesday, December 25. Basically, if you’ve got a romantic partner in your life, you’re probably going to be doing a little shopping real soon.
Each year, the staff of the Tool Shed spends about six weeks helping people navigate the fun—but sometimes tricky—adventure of purchasing sex toys for another person. Giving overtly sexy gifts has an etiquette all its own. There are some obvious things (like don’t give an acquaintance a set of vibrating nipple clamps) that are basically common sense. But there are some less obvious things, too. Read on for some important gift giving dos and don’ts from Tool Shed staffers…
Don’t limit yourself to obvious sex toys, i.e. dildos, vibrators, butt plugs, etc. Shy or modest folks may recoil from a gift so blatant. You may also find that a person is just not interested in owning or using a sex toy. And if you’re in a new relationship, getting a sex toy out of the blue can feel like a lot of pressure.
Do remember how many different ways there are to be sexy. TS staffer Stephanie says, “For my sister, I got soap and socks with a gift card. It encouraged her to come back to the store and shop for herself.” Massage oil, books, underwear, and truth or dare games are also fun ideas.
Don’t just buy the most expensive vibrator you can find. You wouldn’t believe how often this happens! A customer will walk in the store, browse briefly, and pick out a vibrator in the $179-$219 price range. Sometimes they’ll ask, “So, is this the best one?” And we’ll try to explain that there’s no best vibrator for everyone. It’s a very individual thing. But because our culture equates cost with quality, they buy the toy anyway.
Do pick a toy that is body safe and reliable, but also that’s likely to make your partner happy. Different things are important to different people. Some people love vibration, while other people find it distracting or annoying. Some people want something small and discreet, but some folks feel that bigger is better. Even color can make or break someone’s relationship with a sex toy.
Don’t buy a sex toy to fulfill your own fantasy, especially if you’ve never discussed it with your partner. For instance, TS staffer Ashe says, “Unless you’ve had a few conversations with your partner about anal play, don’t surprise your partner with an anal toy.” This is also true for BDSM related gifts like paddles, masks, and bondage supplies. New items for activities that you haven’t talked about before can feel less like a special treat and more like an ambush.
Do pick a toy based on what you know about your partner’s pleasure and previous sex toy experience. If the two of you have had your eye on something, but have held back because it seemed too extravagant for a random Tuesday in June, now’s a great time to pick it up. TS staffer Kayla adds, “If you haven’t tried mojoupgrade.com, it might be a great and somewhat subtle way of finding a new gift idea that you would both enjoy. This website allows you and a sexual partner to choose what you both want or desire, then emails you the areas in which you overlap.”
Don’t assume that you’ll get to participate in the using of the sex toy. If it’s a gift, then the recipient gets to decide how they’re going to use it. Before you buy something, ask yourself who will really benefit from the gift. If you want to get your boyfriend a cockring so that his erection will last longer, talk about that ahead of time. If you’re dying to use a vibrator on your girlfriend because you want to see her reaction, be up front about that.
Do give a gift because you want your partner to be happy, and to have some tools to make that easier. While there are definitely toys that are designed for couples to use together, gifts should be things that will bring joy to the receiver.
Don’t use gift giving to make a joke or intentionally cause someone to feel embarrassed. As Kayla wisely says, “Avoid gag gifts or gifts meant as a prank. They may seem funny at the time, but the money you’ve spent could go towards a gift they’ll definitely enjoy, without all the stigma and shame wrapped up around it. Consider getting a hilarious card or funny wrapping paper instead, and have the gift either be meaningful or practical.”
Do pick up supplies and accessories to help the recipient enjoy the gift. That could mean batteries, lube, locking toy box, or instructional book. Consider charging up rechargeable toys so they’re ready right out of the wrapping paper. Make sure you know how to clean and care for the toys, and share that information when you give the gift.