5 sex toys that will spice things up in the bedroom

Sex toys - positive peers

By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

Toys can make everything about sex more fun. There’s a lot to look forward to if you’ve never tried them. But if you’re thinking about trying sex toys (or maybe you already have a sizable collection), we suggest talking to your partner(s) first.

To some, sex toys are unknowns and can creep them out. Others think their fingers, lips, hands, and tongue are all the sex toys they need. Breaking out your sex toys without talking about it first can send some lovers running for the door like they’re suddenly competing in a 100-meter dash. It’s important to never play without asking for permission.

It’s also a good idea to keep them clean so you don’t chance either of you getting an STI or another type of infection. Other than that, there’s not a whole lot to worry about.

But wait, what about HIV? Can’t sex toys spread HIV? Simple answer: It’s extremely unlikely. HIV can’t live very long outside the body, so even if it comes in contact with a sex toy, it dies so quickly that it can’t get much of a chance to infect anybody.

Now, on to the fun stuff.

5 kinds of sex-toy fun

Sex toys - positive peers

1. Rings

These go around the base of the dick, increasing pleasure during an erection. The most sensible rings are made of rubber, latex, or another flexible material that will adjust to the size of your equipment. Rings made of metal are for expert users only — a ring with no flex can cause major pain down there. You put a ring on before your penis is fully erect; you don’t want to try to apply one with a full hard-on.

Sex toys - positive peers

2. Vibrators

If your sex life needs some buzz, a vibrator will definitely bring it. The real trick is figuring out which kind works best for you. It can get confusing because there are so many shapes, sizes, configurations, and price tags. Vibes are mostly designed to get women off — and the word on the street is they work like a charm — but there are guy-oriented models that go safely into the anus to stimulate the prostate.


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3. Butt plugs

These guys take a bit of practice to get used to, and you really need to lube them up and start out with smaller versions. Butt plugs are equal-opportunity pleasure devices: men and women can both enjoy them. The most serious precaution with butt plugs is making sure yours has a flared base at the bottom so it won’t slip up into your rectum where it really won’t be easy to get it back. It might be best to avoid needing to have your doctor remove stuff from your butthole — it’s an expensive habit.

Sex toys - positive peers

4. Dildos

Dildos can be large or small, hard or squishy, and every color of the rainbow. Some vibrate and include attachments for extra-sexy stimulation. They are designed for penetration, but, of course, it’s not required. Sometimes it feels great to just rub the dildo against certain sensitive body parts.

One thing to keep in mind with dildos is that just like real dicks, they can damage the tender tissues of the anus which can increase the risk of HIV transmission for the receptive partner. Our recommendation: Get the squishy, smooth dildos as they’re less likely to damage your beautiful buns. 😉

Wait, didn’t we say sex toys didn’t have much risk for HIV? Yes, but there is one crucial exception. Imagine you’re the receptive partner and your lover gets too carried away with the dildo and causes bleeding in your rectum. If your partner then plows you real good with their own dick without any protection while your butt’s still bleeding, you’re at a high risk for infection if your partner is living with HIV and has a detectable viral load.

This isn’t meant to scare you; it’s just to prepare you! Dildos are still amazing, we’re just suggesting you go slow, use lots of lube, and work your way up to whatever size feels best for you.

Sex toys - positive peers

5. Bondage

Handcuffs, ropes, blindfolds, and many more devices can add to the pleasures of bondage. It’s not all about whips and chains, by the way. It’s about trust and communication — warning your partner not to go too far and your partner backing off the moment you say so. Agree on a “safe” word because saying “no” might be part of the bondage fantasy. We suggest you take it slow and consider getting a bondage kit.

Sex toys - positive peers

Always remember, there’s no fun without consent

Since we just brought up bondage, it’s a good time to talk about consent. The whole point of bondage is both sides getting equally hot and moist from the experience. Some people are turned on by the contrast between erotic stimulation and pain, and that’s OK. Both sides just need to understand the limits, create boundaries, and agree to tell each other exactly what they like. Bondage is a sexual fantasy with pleasure, restraint, dominance, and submission — but it has to be make-believe for both parties. If it’s not make-believe and there’s no consent, then it’s a sex crime.

Sex toys - positive peers

Cleaning and maintaining your sex toys

The downside of sex-toy fun is your fluids bring on the funk. You need to clean up every time you use one or germs will spread on them and start to stink things up real quick.

Every device has different cleaning and maintenance instructions, so we recommend you don’t throw away the packaging until you’ve figured out exactly how to clean it real good. Warm soap and water works for most toys, but some sex shops sell anti-bacterial cleaners that work real good, too.

Anything with a battery or electronics probably needs more careful cleaning because water can foul up electrical circuits. Also, it’s good to take the batteries out of devices when you’re not using them.

One final pro-tip: Never stick any toy into the vagina after it’s been stuck into the anus unless you clean it first — rectal germs can cause nasty vaginal infections and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Toys are for fun

Moral of the story: Sex toys are fun! Choose the right toys for you, keep them clean, and make sure you and your lover are always on the same page. Happy shopping!

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