There are a lot of sex toys out there. They come in just about every shape, size and color imaginable. But no matter what sex shop you walk into, you'll find they all carry a few basic types of toys. They're all designed for pleasure, but knowing what they are and what they do is a great first step in choosing the ones that'll work best for you. Consider it your sex toy reference guide. You're welcome.
DildosYou probably have a basic idea of what a dildo is, but this is one very diverse group of toys. They can range from very realistic to simplistic to fantastical. No matter what kind you’re looking for, if you want to use one anally or with a harness, you’re going to want a flared base.
My top tip: Even if you’re not into anal, a flared base can still be useful for holding onto; sometimes they also double as a suction cup!
I recommend: Dual-density toys like Vixen Creations VixSkin, the Tantus O2 line, and Soft Skin products from Vamp Silicone. These products have a firm core and soft exterior, which makes them soft, but with a backbone. (Dildos have a fascinating history. Read more in A Long, Strange Trip Through Dildo History.)
WandsThese are insertable toys that range from straight to curvy, and are found in every non-porous material there is. Some famous wand toys include the nJoy Pure Wand and the more recent Key by Jopen Comet G. Many (like these two) are curved for G-spot stimulation.
My top tip: A curve is usually necessary - or at least helpful - because the G Spot is located above the pelvis inside the vagina. A curved toy made out of a hard material is ideal for the pressure a G-spot craves.
I recommend: The nJoy Pure Wand, Jopen Key, and anything by Fucking Sculptures or NobEssences.
Vibrating InsertablesVibrating insertables usually fall somewhere between a dildo and a wand. They are defined as anything made to be used internally that also vibrates.
My top tip: You can use a vibrating insertable anally, but if you do it needs a flared base to keep it from getting lost. Otherwise, it may get sucked into your rectum (especially during orgasm) and you won't be able to get it out - at least not without the assistance of an emergency room. (Learn more about what can go wrong with anal sex in You Shouldn't Have Anal Sex If ....)
I recommend: Tantus vibrators, Fun Factory and Je Joue.
Couple’s ToysWhile I’d posit that any product can be used by couples, this category specifically pertains to c-shaped vibrators intended to be used by those with a vagina to vibrate against the clitoris and G- pot. These products can be used during penetrative intercourse so that the penetrating partner may feel the vibrations as well.
External VibesExternal vibes range from tiny bullet vibes to big, powerful ones like the Hitachi Magic Wand Original and other wand-style toys. They come small, big, wired, wireless, everything in-between and more. These are some of the most popular sex toy styles out there, and the variety available is a reflection of that.
My top tip: If there's a sample of the toy in the store, look for one with vibrations that are deep and thumpy rather than thin and buzzy. These vibrators can be used externally anywhere on the body- nipples, testicles, outside of the anus, on the penis, on the clitoris, anywhere that’s sensitive and external. You don’t want to use these internally because they're either too big or too small to be work well for this.
For toys that use batteries, find out what kind. I’ve seen everything from watch batteries, to camera flash batteries to your typical AA and AAA batteries as well as the rare AAAA, C batteries and more. In general, the smaller the battery, the sooner it will run out. If you want a small toy without the hassle of watch batteries, I’d suggest going rechargeable.
I recommend: The Magic Wand Original if you want a big, very strong vibrator, the Eroscillator if you want something strong but more pinpoint, We-Vibe Touch and Tango if you’re looking for something small but still strong and travel-friendly.
Kegel BallsBen Wa and Kegel balls are becoming more popular every day. Ben Wa balls are usually small and metal. They are designed to be held in the vagina to strengthen the PC muscles; they are often too heavy for beginners and can fall out. Kegel Balls, on the other hand, tend to be larger so they stay in place, and there’s a ball inside of the ball that rolls around and stimulates your muscles, causing them to contract involuntarily and remind you to exercise.
My top tip: Kegel balls usually have a pull string. Those are the ones I'd recommend for beginners.
Anal ToysButt plugs, anal probes, anal beads - all these and more are fantastic unisex anal toys. You’re going to want to look for hard, smooth materials because these qualities make them easier to use.
My top tips: Hard toys are easier to insert, and anything that isn't smooth can be uncomfortable; the anal tissues are very sensitive, so any seams or roughness will be felt. Start small, work your way up. Don’t forget the flared base!
You need to exert pressure on the sphincter with the toy to get it in, but don’t try to force it. If you press the toy against the sphincter and hold it there, it will eventually accept it on its own. You need to find the right medium between too little pressure and too much; pay attention to how your body (or your partner's body) reacts and it should go smoothly. (Get more tips on anal toys in Anal Sex Toys 101.)
Prostate MassagersOK, so a prostate massager is an anal toy too, but it belongs to a group of specialized anal toys that are specifically meant to stimulate the prostate. Everything I said about anal toys applies here, but the shape will usually have a slight curve or a more extreme curve to massage the prostate.
I recommend: Aneros products; they’re the industry specialist for prostate massagers. I also recommend the nJoy Pfun Plug.
Cock RingsThere is a wide variety of cock rings on the market. Some are soft models that have vibrators attached for added stimulation, while others are made out of firm materials and meant more for their traditional use of holding blood in an erect penis to bring it to its full physical potential - and keep it there.
My top tip: No product can make a penis larger, but most people cannot maintain an erection at its fullest physical capability; this is normal. These products are traditionally marketed toward those with erectile dysfunction, but I personally think they’re great for anyone with a penis. Some even have a teardrop shape that stimulates the perineum! (Learn more about this type of toy in Curious About Cock Rings?)
Masturbation SleevesMasturbation sleeves can be very realistic, have a fantasy shape, or be very engineered and modern-looking. Most are made out of porous materials like elastomer and need to be powdered to stay "fresh," although a growing number of these toys are made of silicone. These products are great for enhancing masturbation and foreplay for anyone with a penis. The squish and added texture are completely unlike anything a hand could do.
My top tip: These can be great for stamina training, experiencing the fantasy of a threesome without having to bring in another actual person, and sex in a position that just doesn’t work out physically for you. Get creative!
I recommend: Fleshlight and Tenga are common elastomer products that are very well made in comparison to the rest of the elastomeric hordes and are at the opposite ends of the "realistic" and "non-realistic" spectrum. Bad Dragon makes wonderful fantasy sleeves that are made out of super soft silicone. I’ve reviewed two of their designs on my site here.
I think that’s about all the basics! This is a lot of information, but I intend it kind of as a reference guide. If you have questions, hit the contact button.