The first sex toy I ever owned was given to me on my 16th birthday. It had started off as a joke between friends but I was excited to receive it. The friend in question wrote a cute set of instructions and drew some art alongside it. The toy in question was a teeny, pink vibrator that was described as ‘discrete.’ I hid it behind the electric fireplace in my room and hoped that nobody would find it. I was initially ashamed of talking about what I did with it when my friends asked so I said, “I use it for my cramps…” I just wasn’t comfortable talking about it. That sparked laughter and the continuous dismissal of what I had to say on the topic. I probably should have told them the truth because they were curious but an awkward, inexperienced 16-year-old had to deflect.
Years and many sex toys later, I’ve drawn up a list of some tips for finding and safely using your favorite toys.
Start off with something you feel comfortable with. Buying a 20-inch glass dildo will probably scare you, with good reason, if it is your ‘first time’ buying a toy. Something small and something you can operate will do the job.
It’s better not to buy something you don’t want to explain. If you have parents who may stumble across it or you don’t want to face the horrors of explaining what ‘that thing’ is to a bewildered roommate, perhaps you should buy something more low-key. If you don’t really care what other people think, buy whatever you want. Why should you be ashamed of your sexuality as a human being?
Read instructions carefully. Some toys may not be suitable for certain purposes. Don’t stick anything inside any orifices or under water without checking the instructions. Play safely!
Keep your toys clean, otherwise it can lead to infection or irritation and that won’t be pleasant. Again: read the instructions for each toy. With battery-operated toys, it is best to wipe clean with a damp cloth and a very small amount of soap. Otherwise, it is best to use steam or warm water. Rubber, jelly or anything that feels like skin should be washed more thoroughly because bacteria develop a lot more easily on these materials. Dry all toys and store them away in clean, dry places so bacteria can’t multiply.
If you are sharing toys, use barrier methods. Condoms or latex materials, such as dental dams, are necessary to prevent passing along STDs.
It is best to use your toys at the right time. If you only have five minutes to spare because you’ve got to travel across town for a job interview or you need to pick up your sister from school, it may be best to wait. You want to really enjoy the time you’ve got with your toy so find a relaxing, distraction-free period to do so.
Don’t set the goal of having an orgasm, especially the first time. You want to relax and not get worked up about reaching some holy, celestial state. With practice, you’ll find out what you like and what works for you or a partner. Have a shower, use some essential oils or massage your body – whatever helps you to relax.
Have fun with your toys. This may seem like an obvious one, but you shouldn’t be ashamed of them, as you are accepting a simple part of you: your sex drive. As long as you are exploring your body safely and the way you want to, there’s nothing wrong with it. You don’t have to scream out to the world that you own 25 zebra-print dildos, but you should feel like you have the right to own them!