The world of sex toys and bedroom accessories is vast and, if you’re a first-time visitor, a little overwhelming. To help you get over the hump, we’ve broken down the steps that’ll take you from novice to expert in the toy department.
Eliminate the embarrassment
The trickiest thing about shopping for your first toy might be coming to terms with the reality of what you’re doing. When TV and movies depict sex shops as places frequented by trench coat-wearing deviants or the very kinkiest of couples, finding yourself in one can fill you with a cocktail of shame, embarrassment and giggles. But there’s nothing to feel weird about – in fact, that around 44% of women between the ages of 18 and 60 have used sex toys, and around that simulate intercourse. You might visit sex shops – or use what you buy there – solo, but you’re definitely not alone.
Identify what you’re into
Every sex advice column will tell you to communicate your likes and dislikes, turn-ons and -offs with your partner. We know identifying those interests to a partner is super important. But you should also have that conversation with yourself before handing over any cash at a sex shop. Think about what you like, who (if anyone) you plan to use it with and what effect you want to get from it. The answers to these questions will help to guide you away from what’s wrong for you and towards what’s right. As well as vibrators and dildos, your shopping list could include blindfolds or bondage accessories, penis rings, restraints (like handcuffs), masturbation toys (like Fleshlights), insertables (like plugs, prostate massagers or beads) and plenty more. There is no ‘normal’, and there’s definitely no ‘weird’.
It’s all in the details
Now you’ve got a starting point, you can focus on the nitty-gritty.
When deciding between materials like silicon and plastic, consider any allergies as well as the sensation. Don’t forget to purchase a non-toxic cleaner for any toy used in or on the body to make sure you can use it with or without a partner and be totally safe and hygienic.
Depending on what you’re buying, the price of toys can vary greatly – a silk blindfold obviously costs a lot less than a rechargeable vibrator. When comparing costs of products in the same category, remember that a more expensive toy is likely going to last longer or be made from higher quality materials than a cheaper one, but both are probably going to give you similar results. You can’t put a price on an orgasm.
Anything that hums, wiggles or vibrates will generally be powered by electricity, battery or USB so consider the practicalities of these options. Is your bed close enough to a power outlet to go for a vibrator with a cord? If you opt for a battery-powered toy, will you have a back-up pack of AAs on-hand in case it runs out in the middle of things?
In , some of the most common criticisms are that toys are “too noisy”, have overpowering smells or short battery lifes. Look for reviews that mention the toy is “easy to clean” and “easy to insert”.
The last thing you want your new toy to feel like is a nuisance, so factor these into your choice to make sure you’re investing in something you’ll pull out of the drawer again (and again).
Where to now?
All the factors that affect your decision-making – the noises, sensations and smells – are pretty impossible to imagine when you’re shopping online, which is why your first-time purchase should be made IRL if possible.
If you live near a metropolitan city, you can find a few sex-positive toy stores like Passionfruit (in Melbourne), Oh Zone (in Sydney) and Everything Adult (in Brisbane) where staff can answer your questions, demystify confusing details, and remind you that there’s nothing weird about what you’re doing in person. People who trade in sex toys every day are really handy for reminding you how common your purchase is and how it’s no big deal to ask a lot of questions and explore options before making a final decision. Once you’ve made a few trips to stores, it’s easier to make the leap to online stores like JouJou and LoveHoney.
The new normal
Now you’re all set on your new path of sexual satisfaction, we’re going to remind you one more time that buying sex toys is a totally normal transaction. Whether you’re vibing alone or adding accessories to a session with a partner, there’s absolutely no shame in the game.
You might not chat about it over dinner with your grandparents, but that doesn’t make it something to feel weird about.