Some words that just makes sense to describe sex. Sexy words, sensual words, erotic words, words like voluptuous, curvy, ergonomic … wait, what?! That's right, I said ergonomic. It might not be the first (or 50th) word to come to mind when you think of sex stuff (if you're like me it probably makes you think of office chairs) but when we get talking about sex toy design, it should 100% be on the list. Why? Because sex toys should meet our physical needs, not just our orgasmic ones.
What Ergonomics Means
So, what does ergonomic mean? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, it refers to “the design characteristics of an object resulting especially from the application of the science of ergonomics." Since that is not entirely helpful, let's take a look at what "the science of ergonomics" involves. Once again, according to Merriam-Webster, ergonomics is “concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”. Tl;dr? Something that is ergonomic is designed for efficient and safe use.
What Ergonomics Means When It Comes to Sex Toys
Now, what does this have to do with sex toys? A lot, actually. From size to shape to weight to button placement and beyond, there are a lot of factors that go into making a sex toy that is usable by as many people as possible and ergonomics should be one of them. After all, whether you have physical issues or just get off often, pain is the last thing you want out of a sex toy.
So now that we've cleared that up, lets take a look at some of the things that go into making an ergonomic sex toy!
Handles to Hold
How do you hold a sex toy when you are using it? For many of us this isn’t even a concern - we just hold it the way that makes it work for us. However, for folks with arthritis, any kind of issue that affects grip strength, or folks for whom reaching down to their genitals is difficult, the kind of handle a toy has (and that it has one at all) are a pretty big deal. Lots of toys are straight or short or straight and short and this requires some angling to get the toy into place. Additionally, in the case of things like dildos, toys sometimes require an awkward, claw-like grip for use. These factors are not ideal for some people. In such cases, toys with longer handles can be far more comfortable.
Tantus, for example, makes some of their dildos (like the Echo) with handles on the bases, making them a bit easier to hold for extended periods. Additionally, wand-style massagers can be good choices because, generally, they have longer handles than the standard vibrator. Handle shape also matters as a handle that isn’t straight can help cut down on the need to twist the arm, bend the wrist, or otherwise maneuver the toy into place. The O-Wand, for example, is designed to be ergonomic and therefor super user-friendly.
How you have to hold a vibrating toy becomes a moot point if you can’t turn it on. So, look at where buttons are placed. Are they easy to reach? Comfortable? One of my favorite design choices in recent years was made on the Mystic Wand Rechargeable by Vibratex. The small, light curved wand had buttons placed in multiple locations (the front and back of the handle and down near its base) making it easy to find a button regardless of your hand placement. Another way to make sure you don’t get tripped up by buttons is to look for a toy with a remote control. Toys of all different styles have them these days and they enable the user to control the toy without having to mess with one’s grip during use. When you're considering a toy, look at how it's designed to be held, how you think you would hold it, and whether the button placement makes sense for you.
I spoke earlier about wand-style massages and how their long handles can make them a more accessible choice and that is true; however, many wands fail the ergonomics test based on their weight. For some users, a heavier toy is just not comfortable to hold. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when the simple act of holding your toy up is causing discomfort. This where lightweight toys can be super-helpful. The new Le Wand Petite Rechargeable Massager weighs in at 0.47 lbs (7.52 oz), making it one of the lightest wands and a great accessible option.
You can do away with the issues of weight, grip, etc., by choosing a hands-free options. Toys that are hands-free can be great ergonomic choices as they don’t require the user to hold them in place at all. Some hands-free toys are designed to be worn on the body, some (like dildos and some strokers) can be suction-cupped to flat surfaces for hands-free use. Another way to go hands-free with a toy is to use something like Liberator’s various sex toy mounts. With options for dildos, wands, strokers, and more, they offer a variety of ways to make your toy situation a bit more ergonomic.
Speaking of Liberator, sexual ergonomics needn’t be limited to toy use; sex furniture can be a great way to support the body during toy use for better comfort. For folks who can’t comfortably hold themselves in certain positions they can be a sex-life-saver! Don’t be afraid to use a Ramp rather than trying to hold yourself up on your hands and knees, or to place a Wedge under your partner's hips so oral doesn’t put you, as brilliant sex educator Ducky Doolittle once said, “in the same position as scrubbing your bathtub.” If you don’t want to invest in sex-specific props, consider using sturdy cushions (like the ones on your couch- they won’t squish down like bed pillows) to support you and keep your body comfortable. If you get the right props, you will more easily be able to use any sex toy you want.
So there you have it! Ergonomic sex toys are definitely a thing and, frankly, should be even more of a thing than they currently are. Do you find using toys difficult? Keep these factors we’ve discussed in mind when shopping and speak up when toys don’t work for you. Often - in sex toys as in many aspects of life - accessibility falls by the manufacturing wayside, so let companies know if you need more, better or just different ergonomic sex products. Pleasure is for everybody and EVERY body. Ergonomic sex toy design helps ensure that more people can get all the pleasure they should out of a good sex toy - without the pain.