Sex toys are an empowering tool to help us discover and understand our bodies. You might be pleasantly surprised to know that they are common among women and men! Over 80% of women own a sex toy, and over 70% of men own one.1
Sex toys are designed for pleasure, but they also provide an array of benefits to our overall health.
What can we learn from sex toys?
Masturbation is a natural part of human sexuality and approaching masturbation with a sense of empowerment creates the building blocks to a healthy relationship with sex.
There are many ways to self-pleasure, but sex toys allow us to explore our bodies and our pleasure points. Sex toys come in different shapes, and sizes, and are designed with specific parts and pleasure in mind. Some toys may help you discover your G-spot which is an erogenous zone located inside the vagina. Other sex toys may help you understand that you are a part of the 37 percent of American women who require clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. Understanding, recognizing, and experiencing what brings us pleasure is the most powerful thing we can do for our sexual well-being.
How are sex toys beneficial?
Maintaining vaginal health is an important component of our overall health. However, we might not always be thinking about our vaginal health until something doesn’t feel right like a yeast infection or a UTI.
Including sex toys in a self-care routine is a great way to help improve vaginal health and mental health! Sex toys can help relieve pain, reduce stress, improve sleep, and strengthen the pelvic muscles.
About 75% of women will experience pain during sex. Many factors might cause painful sex:
As we age, the vagina loses its elasticity and becomes thinner and less lubricated. Not only that, but the pelvic floor muscles may also lose elasticity and weaken overtime. The pelvic floor is an integral component of our sexual health so regular pelvic floor exercises are crucial to the maintenance of the pelvic floor.
If you find yourself experiencing trouble falling asleep, maybe try reaching for a sex toy. A recent study found that over half of participants reported improved sleep quality post-masturbation with a vibrator, with 47% reporting that they fell asleep quicker after masturbating. After an orgasm, your body releases prolactin which aids in relaxation and helps you feel drowsy are ready for bed.
Physically, self-pleasure makes us feel great. But our mental health is also reaping the benefits of masturbation. Self-pleasure allows us to connect to ourselves emotionally and physically, helping us to gain confidence and self-awareness. When we orgasm, our body releases hormones and chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin to help promote happiness, lower stress, and increase our overall well-being.
Can couples benefit from sex toys?
The short answer – yes! Sex toys are not just for solo fun. Couples can benefit from sex toys too. Research suggests that people who own sex toys are almost 20% more likely to report that they are happy in their relationship.
Sex toys may also enhance intimacy and communication with your partner; however, bringing up the topic might seem intimidating. Though it might be a daunting conversation to have, the benefits go beyond the bedroom. One study denotes that open sexual communication has a positive effect on sexual satisfaction and how both partners feel about the relationship overall.
Ease into a conversation about sex toys. Start by reassuring your partner that wanting to use sex toys in the bedroom is not because they cannot please you. Talk about what types of sex toys interest you with your partner and try looking at different toys together. Don’t forget to discuss how you would like to use a sex toy together. Vibrators during foreplay have been linked to positive sexual function, higher sexual arousal, and lubrication, and decreased pain during sex.
What is the safest lubricant to use with sex toys?
The safest lubricant to use is a water-based lubricant during intimacy with a partner or when you use a sex toy. A water-based lubricant is the best type of lubricant to use with sex toys because it won’t slowly deteriorate the toy as an oil-based lubricant will. Oil-based lubricants may also trap bacteria which can lead to vaginal infections.
Water-based lubricants are a great option because they are “all-purpose”. Water-based lubricants are generally condom friendly, and they get along well with all types of sex toys. They are also a great option for people with sensitive skin or vaginal irritation, and they make for easy cleanup because they don’t stain.
Are sex toys safe?
Sex toys are safe to use, but there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a sex toy and enjoying one!
1. Understand what material it’s made from
Rubber, jelly, and vinyl material are generally not body-safe because they contain a chemical component called phthalate. Phthalates are considered possible human carcinogens and can be harmful to the body. So how do you know if a sex toy contains phthalates? Unfortunately, there is no way to know. The best thing you can do is only purchase toys with materials that are known to be safe like medical-grade silicone, stainless steel, glass, and hard plastic/ acrylic.
2. Keep things clean
Sexual intercourse can increase a woman’s chances of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to bacteria moving around. Sex toys can increase those chances as well if they are not properly cared for. Sex toys do have the potential to harbor bacteria, so washing your toys before and after every use is important. Washing toys with soapy warm water will help minimize bacteria growth but be sure to look at the instructions for care – each toy is different. Some are even dishwasher-safe!
3. Be sure you are buying from a credible company
The sex toy industry is nearly a $30 billion industry and it is growing every day. This means caution and diligence is needed when researching toys. Make sure the manufacturer clearly states the material from which the toy is made and its care instructions.
If you are ready to see what all the buzz is about around sex toys, check out our Top 3 Sex Toys For Beginners to help give you some ideas!
And if you want to go deeper, listen to our podcast, Why Sex Toys Are Important with Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas