A sex toy
is an object or device that is primarily used in facilitating human sexual pleasure
. This term can also include BDSM
apparatus, sex furniture
, or angled cushions and shaped pillows. The most popular sex toys are designed to resemble human genitals and are classified as vibrating or non-vibrating. Sex toys do not apply to items such as contraceptives
, or condoms
Related terms include adult toy and marital aids, although marital aids are broader in the sense that it is applied to drugs and herbs marketed as supposedly enhancing or prolonging sex.
Types of sex toys
are vibrating devices intended to stimulate the pleasure points of the body. Vibrators intended for sexual use are often dildo-shaped, although they also come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, allowing internal as well as external use.
- Penetrative Vibrators''' usually measure twelve to eighteen centimeters (five to seven inches) in length and two to five centimeters (one to two inches) wide often to mimic the size of a penis.
- Anal vibrators are typically shorter than general penetrative vibrators, and have a flared base to prevent the device from becoming lodged in the rectum.
- The G-spot vibrator is curved at one end to facilitate stimulation of the female G-spot. Some are small and can fit on to a finger.
- Bullet vibrators are small, bullet-shaped vibrators that can be used for direct stimulation or inserted into other sex toys to increase stimulation.
- Vibrator wands, such as the Hitachi Magic Wand, are large vibrators that generally plug into a wall (versus operating on battery power) and are marketed as back massagers. They are typically used for clitoral stimulation.
- The rabbit vibrator, of which there are several variations, is a popular female sex toy popularized by the television series Sex and the City. It comprises an insertable shaft which often has additional functionality, such as rotation and internal beads or a thrusting action. Attached to the shaft is a vibrating clitoral stimulator. For most rabbit vibrators this comes in the form of "bunny ears" which sit either side of the clitoris.
- Luxury Vibrators entered the market around 2000 with an increased focus on design and the use of precious materials that appeal to the more upscale fashion market. They are designed by companies such as Jimmyjane and sold by high-end retailers such as Fred Segal.
- "Pocket pussies" or "vaginas" or "masturbators" are modeled to accept a penis for simulated intercourse. They can be shaped like vaginas, anuses, or anything with a hole for penetration. The Fleshlight is a popular variation.
- Cock rings prolong male erection by witholding blood inside the penis. A man may wear a cock-ring to combat erectile difficulties, or because for the sensation of tightness and engorgement that wearing one provides. Some models include a protruding clitoral stimulator, designed to stimulate the clitoris during sex. Others vibrate, either vibrating the ring itself, or in a popular 'Dolphin' variant by using two removable bullet vibrators to provide stimulation to both the testicles and clitoris. Some cock rings also have vibrators attached which can be worn to stimulate a partner during sexual intercourse, especially in the scrotum or perineum.
- A triple crown is a special cock-ring that has additional rings for restraining the testicles. In orgasm, the testicles usually retract toward the body before ejaculation. A triple crown changes and intensifies the sensation of orgasm by forcing the testicles to stay away from the body.
- A cock harness is a more elaborate harness designed to be worn around the penis and scrotum. Its function is similar to that of a cock ring. These devices are often associated with BDSM activities such as cock and ball torture.
- A ball lock is an ordinary padlock fastened around the male scrotum, separating the testicles away from the penis and not removable except by key or combination.
- A penis sleeve is a cylindrical device that is placed on the shaft of the penis, with the aim of increasing stimulation for the person being penetrated. They often have soft bumps intended to provide further stimulation.
- A penis extension is a partially hollow device like a very short dildo, with the hollow end placed on the end of the penis, intended to increase the effective length of the penis, again for the benefit of the person being penetrated. These are generally worn with condoms to prevent them from falling off during use.
- A docking sleeve is a cylindrical device similar to a penis sleeve, but is open at both ends, so that two men can dock.
Glass sex toys
Glass sex toys are commonly made from clear medical grade borosilicate glass (“hard glass”) of which Pyrex is a brand. This material (essentially “lead-free crystal”) is completely non-toxic and will withstand extreme temperatures as well as physical shock without compromising its structural integrity. Glass toys made of borosilicate are completely safe. A properly annealed inch thick piece will withstand up to 3,000 lbs of pressure and extreme heat and cold. Glass dildos are also non-porous and can be sterilized to help prevent infection with reuse. These types of sex toys are not only durable, but also visually appealing, often considered by some to resemble works of art. Glass sex toys are a long lasting alternative to less expensive toys. The toy can be heated or chilled before use. Some higher end glass dildos feature Swarovski Cristals, an example being Sensiglass.ca Other toys are covered in 24-carat gold, an example being found
- A nipple clamp is a clamp used to stimulate the nipples by applying varying degrees of pressure.
- Suction devices are generally either rubber or glass, fit around the nipple, and cause nipples to become more sensitive due to engorgement. Glass suction devices may use either heat or a pump to create suction.
- Butt Plugs are often shorter dildos intended for anal insertion. They tend to have a flared base to prevent the device from becoming lodged in the rectum.
Butt plugs are usually used covered by condoms for hygiene, and to allow for the easy disposal of any feces that they may come in contact with. They should not be shared with other people, due to the risk of blood-borne diseases, including HIV that can arise from the transfer of body fluids from one person to another. These should also never be used to stimulate any area other than the rectum, though they often are.
There are butt plugs that "ejaculate" by squirting water or other viscous fluids into the rectum. There are also vibrating butt plugs, and butt plugs that can inflate and expand. Butt plugs can be moved in or out for pleasure; for this type of activity ribbed butt plugs can increase pleasure. They can also be worn continuously (or be lockable) for long periods of time.
- Anal Beads are balls or bumps on a string or a semi-rigid wand. They are inserted into the rectum and then removed with varying speeds. The beads can be uniform or vary in size, and number from three to as many as eight.
- Prostate Massage toys are specially curved toys that are designed to stimulate the prostate, such as the Aneros.
General penetrative toys
- A dildo is a non-vibrating device which is used for sexual stimulation of the vagina and/or anus. Dildos are generally made of silicone rubber, but can be made of other materials such as metals or glass. They are often made to resemble a penis.
- A double-ended dildo is a long, usually flexible dildo with both ends designed for penetration. It allows for mutual penetration between two persons (or for double penetration of a single female, both anally and vaginally).
- Ben Wa balls are hollow metal balls inserted vaginally which can be worn inside the vagina for extended periods of time. The internal rolling is claimed to enhance orgasms.
- Kegel exercisers, also known as vaginal barbells or jugglers are designed to improve muscle tone in the pelvic floor, and can be used for sexual pleasure as well as enhancing vaginal response.
Flesh-like materials used in sex toys
- Silicone is soft and lifelike, it is hypoallergenic, warms up quickly to body temperature, non-porous and so is easy to clean (with mild soap and water, or boiled for sterilization). Unlike jelly rubber and other porous materials, silicone can be sterilized in temperatures up to . In addition, it can be bleached in a 10% bleach solution. When using lubricants with silicone sex toys it's important that silicone or silicone based lubricants are not used to avoid damage to the toy.
- CyberSkin is a thermal plastic elastomer and is a close emulation of real skin. CyberSkin is made from ingredients on FDA approved lists and it does not contain phthalates, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), heavy metals or latex. It is easy to clean and maintain by washing it with soap and water, patting dry. Water based lubricants are best and they should be stored in a dry place.
- Latex rubber, also called jelly rubber, is commonly used for sex toys; it is a flexible and inexpensive material allowing the user more options in size and look. While latex is commonly used and less expensive than materials such as Silicone, glass and CyberSkin, it can be allergenic to some people with Latex allergy. Latex is porous and should be cleaned thoroughly with an antibacterial soap and water and not shared with other people. Some rubber toys contain [[Phthalate | phthalates] which are used to soften rubber. Phthalates are controversial due to early studies on lab rats that showed adverse reproductive effects in the rodents. Further scientific research has contradicted these claims. It is recommended by many experts that one use a condom with each use for protection against bacterial infection or sexually transmitted diseases if one is sharing sex toys. Water and silicone-based lubricants can be used with Latex toys, oil-based lubricants and petroleum jelly should not be used with latex as these may adversely affect the toy.
Health and safety concerns
Danish retailers report that they often lack information about the composition of sex toys that they sell. A recent (2006) study conducted by the Greenpeace Netherlands office found high level of phthalates in seven out of eight plastic sex toys tested.
Several countries have enacted laws to ban or curb the use of sex toys.
Sex toys are outlawed in India. Despite a ban, they are widely available at Fort
in Mumbai, and Palika Bazaar
in Delhi. Toys include vibrators and strap-on dildos. The most popular items are inflatable dolls. Sex toys in India find mention in Vatsyayana
's magnum-opus, the Kama Sutra
, where there are references to apadravyas
(dildos), and life-size pratimas
(wooden figures) used in the sexual act are mentioned. Experts such as Dr Prakash Kothari, professor of sexual medicine at Mumbai's KEM Hospital
, questions the ban on sex toys, calling it "pseudo-moralistic." The surreptitious market value for sex toys in India is valued at .
In many areas, such as some U.S. Southern states
, the sale of sex toys is discouraged, or outlawed completely, by laws prohibiting or regulating "obscene devices". As recently as 1999, William H. Pryor, Jr.
, an assistant attorney general in Alabama
commenting on a case involving sex toys and discussing to what end the devices are used, was quoted as saying there is no "fundamental right for a person to buy a device to produce orgasm
". A federal appeals court upheld Alabama's law prohibiting the sale of sex toys on Valentine's Day, 2007.
In February 2008, a federal appeals court overturned a Texas statute banning the sales of sex toys, deeming such a statute as violating the Constitution's 14th Amendment on the right to privacy. The appeals court cited Lawrence v. Texas, where the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 struck down bans on consensual sex between gay couples, as unconstitutionally aiming at "enforcing] a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct".
There are organizations that assist those who sell sex toys to stay within legal limits and provide them with news, legal updates and assistance. One such organization is the National Association for Sexual Awareness & Empowerment (NASAE)
Sex toys and lubricants, have become increasingly available in major commercial retail outlets in the United States as of 2007 and early 2008. On-shelf displays tend to be more discreet than the offerings on the major outlet web sites. These items tend to be displayed in the female health sections of stores.
Globally, the sex toy industry is valued at USD 15 billion, with a growth rate of 30%. 70% of sex toys are manufactured in the China
. According to Dave Levine
, CEO of online retailer, sextoy.com
, sales of sex toys picked up after HBO
's popular Sex and the City
featured a vibrating rabbit
toy. The use of a Silky Dildo by George Clooney
who plays a sex addict in the movie Burn After Reading
has also led to interest in sex toys and has bolstered sales in 2008.
References and further reading
- Timothy Archibald. Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews. Process, 2005. ISBN 0-9760822-3-3.
- Karlyn Lotney. The Ultimate Guide to Strap-On Sex: A Complete Resource for Women and Men Cleis Press, 2000. ISBN 1-57344-085-X.
- Berman, Laura. "Reach your 'sensual potential'" Chicago Sun Times, September 18 2006. Retrieved July 16 2007