Sex Toys 101: Playing With Sex Toys

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Sex Toys 101 | PinkCherry


When it comes to adding variety, novelty, and pleasure to your sex life — whether solo, during masturbation, or during sex with a partner (or more!) — there are few ways to do so that are quite so enjoyable than incorporating sex toys. Sex toys are any device that is designed to be used to provide sexual pleasure. This does not necessarily mean all sex toys are designed to achieve orgasms (though many are). Some sex toys, such as bondage gear, provide physical stimulation and sensation, while allowing you to explore different sexual dynamics with your partner (or yourself!). 

However, because of the wide range and variety of sex toys available, it can be difficult — even intimidating — to know where to start. An important introductory step to take is to determine what type of stimulation you find particularly pleasurable, or what new types of pleasure you are curious about and interested in exploring. When using or purchasing sex toys with a partner, always engage in a full, honest discussion first, making sure that each person’s comfort, consent, and boundaries are openly communicated and understood. 

Once that’s done — it’s time to have some fun! Toys are meant to be played with, after all. Here, we’ll provide you with comprehensive information on what sex toys are, by category, and how they can be used for maximum pleasure.

How To Use: A dildo

What is a dildo? 

A dildo is a sex toy meant to penetrate the vagina or anus, and can also be used for external stimulation or teasing. They are usually phallic (penis-shaped), and because they do not vibrate, your or your partner will need to move or thrust it. Many dildos come complete with a base, which can be affixed to a wall or floor, and some more realistic-looking dildos may have fake testicles. 


What does a dildo do?

A dildo can help replicate the sensation of penetrative sex with a partner. Dildos are most commonly used to stimulate internal erogenous zones, such as the g-spot and prostate.


What types of dildos are there? 

Dildos come in all sizes and shapes to satisfy your need, whether you prefer something long and thin or short and girthy (or anything — and we mean anything — in between). Curved and contoured dildos are designed to satisfy specific sweet spots, like the g-spot or prostate. More realistic looking dildos are designed to look (and feel) like a real penis, while strap-on dildos or harness-compatible dildos are designed for those who want to wear their dildo while penetrating a partner (or vice versa). There are also double-ended dildos, which are designed to be inserted by both you and a partner simultaneously. Dildos also come in a variety of materials, including silicone and glass, and can vibrate, though that is usually not the case. 


Generally speaking, a larger dildo will stretch and stimulate more dramatically, while a smaller one will feel more manageable for beginners and people looking for a more subtle sensation. If you’ll be attaching your dildo to a harness or strap-on system, pay attention to the base. Read the measurements to make sure it’ll work with your harness, if you already have one. 


How do I use a dildo?

How you use a dildo will depend on what type of pleasure or stimulation you’re seeking. If you are using a dildo during masturbation, you may find it more comfortable and pleasurable to apply lube to the dildo before penetration. It is best to ease the dildo into your vagina or anus slowly, to avoid any discomfort or pain — go at your own pace! Since each dildo is shaped differently, how you experience pleasure will be entirely unique. Thrust as slowly or as quickly as you prefer, and explore the dildo’s positioning to stimulate your internal pleasure spots, like your g-spot or prostate. The same rules apply if using a dildo in partnered sex: if you are using any type dildo to penetrate a partner, communicate with your partner about what feels good, and be sure to take things at their pace. In all cases, if you plan to use a dildo for anal penetration, be sure to choose one with a base. 


How to Use: A Vibrator

What is a vibrator?

A vibrator is a sex toy that can be used for vaginal or anal penetration, external stimulation, or both. Vibration comes courtesy of an embedded electric, battery powered or rechargeable motor.


What does a vibrator do?

A motor within the toy oscillates, which can be felt through the surface of your vibe. When vibration is applied to the skin, it causes blood vessels to dilate. This does two things: first, it increases blood flow to nerve endings, which triggers your pleasure receptors. Second, this signals your brain to release feel-good endorphins, causing arousal. Vibrators are commonly used for clitoral stimulation, but are also great for internal stimulation of the vagina or anus. 


What types of vibrators are there?

Where to begin! From discrete little bullets to the mack daddy Magic Wand, there is truly a vibe for all types. 


All vibrators share the same basic workings: they vibrate, stimulate, and often help those using them to achieve orgasm. Small vibrators, like the compact pocket rocket or bullet vibrator, are discrete and effective, and may be good for beginners. Those looking for a bit more power may like a traditional vibrator, which is phallic in shape and designed to be insertable in addition to being great for external stimulation. The rabbit vibrator is designed with an insertable shaft, as well as an external component that is positioned to stimulate the clitoris — it’s a two-in-one pleasure-giver! There are also vibrators designed for double penetration, vibrators specifically designed for anal penetration and prostate stimulation, and vibrators that are wearable or harness compatible. Thrusting dildos help mimic the feeling of penetrative sex by extracting back and forth — no wrist-action needed. 


We mentioned the Magic Wand above, and we’ll reference it again to tell you that the wand (and massagers like it) remains one of the top selling and best-loved vibrators of all time. These types of vibrators, in addition to finger vibrators and bullet vibes, are often used for external stimulation of all erogenous zones, which may include the nipples, the head of the penis, the clitoris, and the outer parts of the anus — but, of course, are not limited to those parts of the body. 


How do I use a vibrator?

In many ways, the sky’s the limit! Vibrators can stimulate any part of your body that you find erogenous, which includes the obvious below-the-belt areas, but can also include the inner thighs, underarms, or feet. Do a little exploration to discover what feels good to you, or to your partner, if you’re using a vibrator for external stimulation with someone else! 


If you plan on using a vibrator to stimulate your clitoris, you may find that applying a bit of lube to the toy or to your clit (or both) increases your pleasure. Most vibrators have multiple intensity settings, and many also have different rhythms, so do some experimentation to discover what feels the most pleasurable. You may find that adjusting the intensity or rhythm of your vibrator as you masturbate feels great — and if so, go for it! That’s one of the most enjoyable things about many vibrators: with so many settings, your path to orgasmic pleasure may change every time you use it. (Of course, if you find what works for you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to the script!)


If you plan on using a vibrator for penetration of either the vagina or anus, lube is a must. Just like with dildos, start slow, and pay attention to what feels good for you. Be sure to check in with your partner throughout — there’s nothing sexier than vocal, enthusiastic confirmation that what you’re doing feels good!


How To Use: A Cock Ring

What is a cock ring? 

A cock ring — also known as a penis ring, love ring, erection ring, or enhancer ring‚ is a circular band or strap that fits over the base of the penis (or dildo), or around the base of the penis and the scrotum. Standard cock rings don’t vibrate, but vibrating cock rings… well, they do.



What does a cock ring do?

In most cases, a cock ring is used to help keep blood in the shaft of the penis. When a person with a penis is aroused, blood flow to the penis increases, which can lead to an erection. A cock ring constricts the base of the penis, which traps blood within the shaft. This may lead to longer and harder erections. 

What types of cock rings are there?

The classic cock ring is a simple band or strap. It can be worn around the base of the penis only, or around the base of the penis and the scrotum simultaneously. Most cock rings are made of soft silicone, but there are firmer options, too, often made of metal or leather. Vibrating cock rings still feature a core band or strap, with a removable vibrating bullet or built-in motor above or below the ring. There are also remote-control cock rings, cock rings with attached butt plugs. 

How do I use a cock ring?

Cock rings in softer materials will stretch easily and won’t grip too tight, making them a great choice for beginners. Larger sized cock rings will grip less firmly in most cases, while smaller rings will feel tighter. You can use a cock ring during masturbation, to help extend your self-pleasure session, or during partnered sex for the same impact. Vibrating cock rings are just as great for masturbation as they are for partnered sex — alone, they offer an added buzz of stimulation; together, that stimulation is also felt by your partner. 


How To Use: A Masturbator

What is a masturbator?

Also known as a sleeve or stroker, a masturbator is a sex toy designed for penetration, usually by a penis. Some are small and meant to be held in your (or your partner’s) hand, while others are larger and sometimes more anatomically realistic. 



What does a masturbator do?

A masturbator is designed to either partially or fully envelop a penis or dildo, mimicking the sensation of oral, anal or vaginal sex. 

What types of masturbators are there?

The most famous type of masturbator is the Fleshlight which, as its name suggests, kind of looks like a flashlight on the outside. Strokers that take the same shape as the Fleshlight often have a semi-soft, grippable exterior, and a soft exterior that can be shaped like a vagina, anus, or mouth. Many strokers are modelled off the body parts of adult film stars. Less discrete masturbators may include additional body parts, such as buttocks, while some can be mounted to a solid surface, so you can thrust into them rather than holding them in your hand during masturbation. 

More discrete masturbators are simple elastomer sleeves that add pleasure and sensation to masturbation, but do not feature any anatomical details. There are also vibrating strokers that provide a bit of added sensation, as well as mechanized masturbators, known as “auto-strokers”, that… well, they do the work for you! 


How do I use a masturbator?

Like the vibrator, personal preference is key when choosing a masturbator. Many more anatomically detailed masturbators may be preferable for their sex-mimicking sensation, while those that are modelled from adult film actors may provide an enjoyable bit of fantasy-fulfillment. A more simple stroker may add just enough additional sensation to a solo session or to manual stimulation from a partner. 

In all cases, using a liberal amount of lubricant is key! Apply lube to the inside of the stroker, as well as to the shaft of your penis, and insert your penis into the toy gradually, to ensure it feels good. Then stroke — or have your partner stroke — at a pace that feel the most fantastic to you.  


How To Use: A Penis Pump

What is a penis pump?

A penis pump is a device that uses suction or internal pressure to draw blood into the penis, which can trigger an erection. Most penis pumps are manual, but some are automatic, powered by batteries or a rechargeable motor. Penis pumps can be used to aid erectile difficulties, enhance erection, or to help you achieve an erection quickly.



What does a penis pump do?

First thing’s first: Contrary to popular belief, a penis pump is not designed to permanently increase penis size. A penis pump is designed to enhance or expedite an erection, and because it can help you achieve erection relatively quickly, your penis may temporarily look a bit larger than normal. 

What types of penis pumps are there?

For the most part, penis pumps follow along the same design. A plastic or acrylic cylinder surrounds the penis as a squeeze ball, trigger handle or motor activates inner air-suction. Many pumps include a soft sleeve or cover over the entrance of the cylinder, to cushion skin and ensure a tight seal. Aside from triggering erection, some pumps double as pleasure tools, and feature lifelike cover shapes or added vibration. The Bathmate pump is a little different than the conventional penis pump, as it features a water-powered design.

How to use a penis pump

Pumps are generally pretty user-friendly. To use one, insert your non-erect penis into the cylinder, get comfortable, and start gradually increasing the inner pressure by squeezing the ball, pulling the trigger handle, or activating the motor (you can also have a partner do this, but it may be best to do it yourself the first few times you use your penis pump, to gain a better understanding of what’s comfortable for you). Beginner pumpers should start slow, gradually increasing suction while getting used to the sensation. Always follow the pumping directions and safety precautions included with your pump.


How To Use: Anal Toys

What is an anal toy? 

An anal toy is any sex toy designed for safe penetration of the rectum and/or anal canal. Some anal toys vibrate, and some are designed for targeted stimulation of the prostate




What does an anal toy do?

Stimulation of the anus and its surrounding and inner areas can be hugely pleasurable. The anal canal houses the prostate gland and runs parallel to the g-spot, so no matter the body, a well-chosen anal plug, dildo, probe or massager can result in serious pleasure.

What types of anal toys are there?

The best known of anal toy is likely the butt plug. Tapered and generally smooth, the main function of a plug is to stretch, stimulate and provide a “full” feeling that many folks adore. Butt plugs come in many materials, including glass and silicone, and there are a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate all levels (and preferences) of anal play. Anal beads, which are strings of round glass or silicone spheres, add a pleasurable pop as they penetrate one by one. Like plugs, beads come in all sizes and shapes, and can work for beginners to the very advanced. Technically, any dildo can be used for anal penetration, as long as it has a base. A good anal-intended dildo will feature a large, flared base, for one good reason: the anal canal doesn’t have an “end,” so if a toy slips outside you or your partner’s grip, removal can be difficult.

There are also many anal toys that are meant to be worn by one person as they penetrate another. Strap-on and wearable dildos can be used for both vaginal and anal penetration. Dildos designed for wear also come in a number of sizes and shapes, from small and smooth to large and more anatomical. 

The prostate massager, meanwhile, is a tool specifically designed to target the sensitive prostate. Any firm dildo, vibrator or probe with a curved tip will likely work as a prostate massager, but there are also many toys — including some butt plugs — that are designed to stimulate the prostate

How to use an anal toy

The anal canal doesn’t self-lubricate, so using lube — and lots of it — is key to an enjoyable experience here. There are specific lubricants designed for anal play, which are thicker and tend to not dry out as quickly. 

If you’re new to anal play, try starting with a more narrow, shorter toy, and explore what type and depth of penetration feels good to you. Go slow — as slow as you think you should, and then probably a bit slower. If you’re using an anal toy on a partner, make sure to check in with them to ensure they’re comfortable with your pace and depth. 

Anal toys can be used on their own, or in conjunction with other toys, such as vibrators to stimulate the clitoris or vagina, or with strokers to stimulate the penis. They can also be used during sex with a partner. If you’re leaving an anal toy in while engaging in other sexy activities, you absolutely MUST use a toy designed for anal use with a large, flared base. 

How To Use: Bondage Toys  

What are bondage toys?

Bondage, BDSM or S&M is a type of play that involves the use of submissive and dominant power dynamics. Bondage can often involve restraint, impact play, and the infliction of pain for pleasure. In all cases, BDSM practises must be entirely consensual, and specific dynamics, boundaries, likes and dislikes must be thoroughly discussed and agreed upon by all partners. Bondage toys are never used to cause discomfort or inflict pain that is not desired.


What types of bondage toys are there?

Bondage toys can truly run the gamut from fuzzy handcuffs and blindfolds to whips, collars, and chastity cages. What works best for your desired bondage scenario will depend on what type of scenario you find pleasurable — a little bit of silk ribbon may add just the right amount of spice, while some may prefer the impact play of a paddle or may find pleasure in the pain inflicted by a set of nipple clamps or a urethral dilator.


How do I use bondage toys?

It is absolutely vital that anyone engaging in BDSM practises carefully, honestly, and openly discuss their desires, preferences, and boundaries with any partners with whom they wish to use bondage toys for sexual play. It is also vital that these boundaries are maintained at all times, with no exceptions. Even the most beginner-level restraint can be triggering or traumatizing for some. Bondage and S&M can result in extremely satisfying, pleasurable sex for those who enjoy this type of sexual dynamic, but an abundance of care and open communication is absolutely key. The right way to use bondage toys is entirely up to you. 

Melanie Pollock is a Hamilton, Ontario based writer, photographer, trainee beekeeper and long-time PinkCherry product specialist. On an average day, you’ll find her wrestling socks away from her chocolate lab, growing backyard vegetables, and creating weird Spotify playlists.