Alexandra Fine, Credentialed Sexologist, M. Psych | Written by Dame
Many vulva-havers can probably relate to this dilemma.
You’re enjoying the company of a new sex partner. The encounter may be going well, and you want to add even more excitement. Or the encounter hasn’t quite met your expectations, and you think a little “assistance” might be in order.
Do you reach into the nightstand to pull out your favorite vibrator? There’s some risk involved in that.
Your partner might see it as an invitation to take things to a new and more exciting level – or they might see it as a reflection on their contribution to the evening and be highly insulted.
Maybe that means you should have chosen a more open-minded partner. Or perhaps it means they aren’t aware of the many types of stimulation and satisfaction that couples using sex toys can experience.
In any event, you should be aware of the potential benefits. If you’re not, you will be after we spend some quality time together, discussing the infinite possibilities that sex toys can bring to a relationship.
The Joy of Sex Toys
We use the title of this section with gratitude to Dr. Alex Comfort, whose detailed 1972 best-seller, The Joy of Sex, was the first extensive “user’s manual” written for a popular audience.
We’re going to get more specific, though, by focusing on the benefits that can be realized by bringing sex toys to bed along with a partner.
It’s certainly not hard to understand why someone, particularly a vagina owner, would want to use a dildo or vibe as a solo masturbation aid.
Toys, of course, can help produce satisfying orgasms among those who have trouble reaching climax (or whose arms get tired before reaching pay dirt). Sex therapists and clinicians regularly recommend the use of sex toys for vulva-havers who are diagnosed with anorgasmia (inability to achieve orgasm), sexual arousal disorder and similar issues. Similarly, toys are often suggested for penis owners suffering from sexual dysfunction.
But vibrators and other sex toys are also the perfect way to stimulate multiple erogenous zones simultaneously, and to provide different types of sexual satisfaction than can be achieved with hands alone.
Studies confirm their effectiveness, too. For example, vulva-havers who have “positive feelings” about vibrator use have been shown to score much higher on scales measuring arousal, orgasm and satisfaction. The same is true for penis-havers with those “positive feelings,” as they score higher on scales measuring erectile function, sexual desire and orgasmic function.
That’s really no surprise to a majority of those with vulvas, and a significant minority of those with penises. Studies show that more than half of the first group uses vibrators regularly, and that nearly as many of the second group does as well. What those studies don’t usually reveal, however, is how often the toys are used for solo play vs. partner play.
It’s necessary to look at other research reports to determine how often dildos, vibrators and other sex toys are used by partners during sex – and there is plenty of data suggesting that it’s quite common.
One study found that more than 90% of “heterosexually identified men” have used a vibe during play with a partner, and that more than four-fifths have used one during intercourse. Another study reported that about 65% of “gay and bisexually identified men” reported vibrator use during foreplay and almost 60% said they used vibes during penetrative sex. And not surprisingly, a third research project found that “lesbian/bisexual identified women” used vibes with their partners very often, although no numbers were provided.
So the number of couples who use sex toys is more common than you might expect, and those using them are more sexually satisfied than those who don’t.
We have a few words of caution, though, before you surprise a new partner (or a long-time one) by taking a huge vibrator out of your nightstand in the middle of a steamy sex session.
Introducing Sex Toys into Your Relationship
Thankfully, a growing number of people now understand that mutual consent is necessary before beginning sexual activity. However, some still think that “a wink and a nod” constitutes consent.
Needless to say, it doesn’t. That’s why the vast majority of colleges now educate students on the elements of sexual consent. Here’s what’s most important to this discussion: agreeing to one activity isn’t an agreement to participate in any activity. Willing (or eager) participation in a “vanilla” sexual encounter or relationship doesn’t automatically mean that a partner is automatically fine with the use of sex toys.
That’s the textbook explanation, but there’s a more practical way to describe the issue. Pulling out a vibrator, a strap-on or a butt plug in the middle of an evening of oral sex and intercourse – without any warning – could start an angry, mood-killing “discussion.” At worst, it could send your partner running from the bedroom.
Never introduce sex toys into a relationship without a full and honest conversation ahead of time. A partner, even a long-time spouse, has the right to consent to any type of sexual activity before they’re faced with a split-second decision.
Talk during the play, too. You’ll each get the most enjoyment from toys when they’re being used to provide the maximum stimulation and pleasure. And once you’re done, talking about the experience will let you know whether sex toys will be a welcome addition to future sessions.
There’s more than one way to use these toys, of course, and the wide variety of sex toys available for couples’ use can boggle the imagination.
Let’s sort them all out before you go shopping.
How Couples Can Use Sex Toys
The phrase “couples using sex toys” may immediately bring to mind intricate contraptions designed to fit into multiple orifices simultaneously.
Those certainly exist. But they may a bit much for your tastes – particularly if it’s your first time introducing toys into a relationship. The simplest way to begin using toys with a partner is with simpler sex toys, which may already be hidden away in your bureau or nightstand for solo use.
The two common choices are dildos and vibrators, most of which are designed in the general shape of a penis. As you probably know, the major difference between the two is that a vibrator vibrates, and a dildo doesn’t. (Duh!) One exception to that rule: some dildos are built to accommodate a small, insertable vibrator.
The easiest way for a couple to use penis-shaped sex toys is for one partner to pleasure the other with the toy in the same way it is used for masturbation. There are four important reasons why many couples find this activity more rewarding than toy-less sex.
- First, it frees up one partner’s hands. That allows them to stimulate additional erogenous zones while their partner uses the dildo or vibrator to provide – just as examples – vaginal or clitoral stimulation. The toy can also be used by the partner to stimulate harder-to-reach zones, like the nipples or the nape of the neck.
- Second, it allows one partner to become more familiar with the other’s body. They can learn what excites their partner and what doesn’t, which erogenous zones respond best to stimulation, and what types of movements and actions provide the most pleasure.
- Third, it can provide the toy user with an extra level of satisfaction, knowing that they were largely responsible for inducing a strong response or climax. Longer and more enjoyable play sessions are often possible because vibrators make techniques like stimulating the g-spot or edging (bringing your partner close to climax and then backing off for a bit) easier. Orgasms may even be stronger (or different) than ones produced by solo play or sex without toys.
- Finally, most couples who include toys into their sexual activity say the shared activity brings them closer and strengthens their emotional bond.
Couples can also choose from a wide variety of sex toys that aren’t shaped like penises. We’ll be describing them more fully in the next section, but here are some of them as a teaser (please forgive the pun):
- Egg and bullet vibrators
- Finger vibrators
- Oral sex vibrators
- Wearable and remote-control vibrators
- Anal vibrators
- Butt plugs
- “Triple play” vibrators which contact three erogenous zones simultaneously
- Cock rings
- Vibrators designed to stimulate two partners at once
Whew! That’s a lot of potential pleasure.
Let’s break them into categories.
The Many Types of Sex Toys for Couples
One note before we start: use your imagination!
We’ve put these toys into separate categories for ease of browsing, but most can obviously be used for other purposes and on other areas of the body. (We say “most” because the majority of sex toys can’t be used for anal sex; specifically-designed anal toys should be used for backdoor play because they’re made to fit into the smaller anal cavity.)
Toys Primarily Used for Clitoral Stimulation
Penis-shaped sex toys like dildos and vibrators used for clitoral and vaginal stimulation have already been addressed in this article. And we won’t spend a lot of time discussing the very popular but rather unwieldy magic wand (known to Sex and the City fans as Samantha’s neck massager. But there’s a wealth of other clitoral vibrators to try.
- Bullet vibrators: Most are shaped somewhat like a small penis, but they’re not large enough for penetration. Instead, they’re easily manipulated and terrific for stimulating external genitalia like the mons pubis, clitoral hood, labia and clitoris (whose real name is the glans clitoris; the clitoris is a much larger organ that extends throughout the body).
Bullet vibrators can also be used effectively to stimulate erogenous zones throughout the body (including the frenulum on penis owners, if done carefully, and the perineum). Some models are designed to fit into “static” sex toys to turn them into vibrating toys.
- Finger vibrators: These small, vibrating toys slip right onto the finger for easy stimulation of the glans clitoris or other areas of the vulva. Finger vibes are particularly useful during penetrative sex, because they allow either partner to provide external stimulation without having to manage a more awkward toy.
They’re also great for quickly stimulating blood flow to the genitals during foreplay, not to mention the fact that they’re discreet and easy to pack for a trip. The oval-shaped Fin from Dame Products is a very good water-resistant model to check out.
- Sonic wave stimulators: Not all vibrators require contact to work well. There are models like the Lelo Sona 2, which uses sonic waves to effectively stimulate the clitoris and other genital areas.
- Oral sex vibrators: These intricate machines like the Satisfyer are designed to simulate the sucking and/or licking movements common during oral sex. They may not be ideal for most couples to use together, but do have their place in some shared bedrooms if one partner gets off on watching the other control the vibrator and orgasm. These vibes are more commonly designed for use on vulva-havers, but there are some for penis-havers as well.
Toys Primarily Used for Vaginal Stimulation
Once again, we won’t describe these sex toys at length since we’ve already discussed partner play with standard penetrative dildos, vibrators and g-spot vibrators. (Most g-spot vibes have a curved shape to be able to hit the spot properly). We’ll also skip lengthy looks at “combination” vibrators like rabbits which are designed to provide clitoral and vaginal stimulation at the same time, since they can be used by couples in the same way as dildos and standard vibrators.
Another toy in this category should be considered for partner play, though: the egg vibrator. We don’t have to tell you what it’s shaped like, of course. What makes it a lot of fun, though, is that not only does its shape allow it to be used for clitoral stimulation, it’s also small enough to fit into the vagina.
And – wait for it – most egg vibrators have remote controls. That gives one partner “control” over the other’s pleasure by teasing, providing or withholding stimulation, and speeding up or slowing down the vibe. Some might find it perfect for fetish or BDSM sessions (fetish play doesn’t always involve handcuffs and Liberator sex furniture!). But many use egg vibrators simply to spice up their sex life in bed – or when out in public. Let your imagination run wild on that one.
Egg vibes are the most popular type of sex toys that can be worn and controlled remotely, but there are many others. They include hands-free penetrative, g-spot and rabbit vibes, to more exotic choices like vibrating panties and remote-control cock rings for penis-owners. These can easily be found in brick-and-mortar toy shops, in online sex toy stores like Good Vibrations, Lovehoney or Babeland, or on Amazon.
Many of these wearable toys aren’t just controlled by remotes. Some can also be controlled by apps, perfect for those in long-distance relationships who once had to rely on phone sex or online chats for mutually-satisfying “sex.”
Toys Primarily Used To Stimulate Penis-Havers
The vast majority of sex toys are designed to be used by (or with) vulva-havers. The manufacturers haven’t completely forgotten about penis owners, though.
We just mentioned cock rings, which are designed to create stronger and firmer erections while possibly rubbing up against and stimulating the partner’s genitals. But vibrating penis rings add another dimension; they not only increase penis stimulation and prolong erections, but can function as a vibrator for a partner’s genital area during penetrative sex.
Other possibilities that can be used in couples play: vibrating wraps for the penis, Fleshlights and similar masturbation aids, and oral sex simulators.
Toys Primarily Designed for Anal Stimulation
This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (although you might be orgasmically surprised if you gave it a try!) so we’ll keep this brief. Despite common beliefs, anal toys aren’t just for penis owners – although there’s no question that they’re a revelation for many penis-havers who’ve used them for the first time.
Curved prostate massagers and vibrators are the most common version of these toys. They’re used to stimulate the prostate, a gland only present in those assigned male at birth. Since the “p-spot” has to be reached through the anal canal, it’s necessary to go in the back door to produce the body-shaking prostate orgasms that many say are far more satisfying than penile ones.
Slim anal vibrators can also be used by (or on) vulva-havers to create strong pleasure or powerful orgasms, since the wall of the anus is located very close to the vaginal canal and the g-spot. Other anal toys that can be used in couples’ play include butt plugs and anal beads, some of which are produced in vibrating models.
How can couples use them? The same way they can use vibes made for vaginal penetration – satisfying each other, or during mutual masturbation.
Vibrators Designed for Couples
Most of the toys we’ve listed so far are primarily designed to deliver stimulation to just one partner. But more and more couples’ vibrators, which can physically satisfy both partners at the same time, have hit the market in recent years.
A groundbreaking toy in this category was the We-Vibe, a rechargeable U-shaped device which fits between two partners and is able to provide clitoral, g-spot and penis stimulation at the same time. The company’s latest model, the We-Vibe Sync, is also controllable via the We-Vibe App.
A smaller and easier-to-use couples’ vibrator is the waterproof Eva II, which is worn in the vulva. It has flexible wings that tuck unobtrusively under the labia and leaves everyone’s hands free. It’s powerful, though, able to provide three speeds of vibration to both partners’ genital areas during penetrative sex.
Those may be the two best sex toys for couples, but there are lots of others: combination penis rings/rabbit vibrators, double headed vibrators, strap-on dildos and dildo harnesses – and that’s only scratching the surface. Shop with your partner; the fantasizing and anticipation are half the fun.
And don’t forget the lube!