Today, sex toys are more widely accepted than ever before. This fact recently crystallized for me while driving to pick up some dry cleaning. Sitting at a busy intersection, I glanced up and saw a 14-by-48-foot billboard featuring a clitoral stimulator from online sex retailer, pinkcherry.ca. The accompanying hot pink display copy read: “Scream your own name.” I was startled but also strangely proud, thinking to myself, we’ve come a long way, baby!
Sexual Health Should Include Pleasure
While culturally speaking, sex toy stigma is dissipating, there’s still progress to be made. “Even with increased accessibility of online purchasing of sex toys and exposure on streaming platforms, such as Love Sick, Sex Education and Big Mouth, the stigma remains prevalent,” says Dr. Kira Gullane, a family doctor at Balmoral Health Group in Toronto. (You also may have seen the recent sexual health episode of Goop Lab on Netflix.) When it comes to sexual health, Gullane says she often hears women aren’t comfortable speaking to their doctor on the topic. “From the medical side, we’re taught to focus on preventative health, such as contraception and sexually transmitted infections, but more emphasis needs to be on the positive aspects of desire, arousal and sexual expression,” says Gullane.
Sex Toys Can Help Close The Orgasm Gap
The Global Advisory Board for Sexual Health and Well Being has said that sexual pleasure is a human right. Yet countless scientific studies have shown that there is a huge gap between male and female orgasms. One study of college students found 91% of men always or usually orgasm during sexual encounters whereas only 39% of women reached climax. “It’s time for a new conversation around sexual health and wellness that includes women’s pleasure and consent at the forefront,” says Jordin Wiggins, a naturopathic doctor and sexologist at Health Over All Clinic in Niagara, Ontario. “Let’s give women permission to stand for their pleasure and orgasms, like men have been able to for years,” she says.
One way to help close the gap is introducing toys into the bedroom. While the term “sex” is often used to mean penetrative sex, it is hardly the only way to do it – and only one-quarter of women reliably experience orgasm during penetrative intercourse. “It’s time that we see products focused on inclusivity and clitoral stimulation so that we are not embarrassed to buy them and then present them during sexual encounters,” says Wiggins. In heterosexual relationships, it can be a win-win situation for both parties says Kristen Mark, Ph.D associate professor and director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at University of Kentucky. “One study examined men’s perceptions of vibrator use within their relationships with women. Their experience of sexual pleasure was tied to their partner’s pleasure, and the addition of sex toys was a net positive on their sexual encounter.”
Sex Toys: By Women, For Women
According to a report from research firm Arizton, the sexual wellness market is forecasted to reach a whopping $37 billion globally by 2022. With sex toys being a big piece of that, the category is becoming increasingly more accepted – and modernized. “The sex toy and sex tech industry is experiencing a golden age with new innovations related to hardware and software,” says Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D and host of the Sex with Dr. Jess Podcast. This male-dominated industry has also seen an influx of women-led sex start-ups (MysteryVibe, Maude, Dame, Lioness), which are quickly becoming leaders in the field. It makes perfect sense: who better to understand what pleasures women than other women?
The advancements in toys and ease of purchase have also made this more appealing for women. “In recent years, there’s been a shift from men buying sex toys for women to women buying sex toys for themselves,” says Veronica Kazoleas, founder of The Nookie, a sophisticated sex boutique in downtown Toronto. She says the new generation of toys are superior, efficient and to the untrained eye, they look like nothing more than a trendy knickknack. “Items, like the Crave Vesper, can hide in plain sight,” says Kazoleas. In terms of advancements, one of the most notable new types is clitoral stimulators. “Companies like Womanizer have launched new technology that allows folks to have more intense orgasms and in some cases have orgasms for the very first time,” says O’Reilly. Created by a German husband and wife team, this device isn’t your typical vibrator. In fact, it’s not a vibrator at all. It uses waves of air to create a suction-like sensation on the clitoris that is both touchless and intense.
Sex Toys and Sustainability
These new-gen toys have lots of positives, however, there’s still room for improvement, starting with sustainability. “Toys are excessively packaged in a way that’s not environmentally friendly,” says Simone Paget, a west coast sex and relationship columnist and founder of Skinny Dip. It’s also important to do your research because as the tech increases so does the price tags – and this has ushered in a slew of fakes. “For every awesome toy, there’s also a host of subpar, knock-off options hitting the market,” she says. Finally, Paget cites disposal as a concern. Nothing lasts forever, including sex toys, and so when the fun’s over, unfortunately you can’t toss it in the recycling bin. Most municipalities in North America won’t recycle vibrators and sex toys because they’re comprised of materials such as silicone (which never degrades), electronic parts and rechargeable batteries. This means that your once-beloved dildo is still rolling around in a landfill somewhere. So, be thoughtful in your toy purchases and buy one that has long-term relationship potential.
Good Vibrations: The Best Sex Toys
Whether you’re in a committed relationship, solo or nestled somewhere in between, these sex toys will make for a mind-blowing Valentine’s day gift to yourself. Here are five of the most buzz-worthy toys according to sex and sexual health experts.
Pivot by We-Vibe, $119, we-vibe.com
“Right now, I’m loving the We-Vibe Pivot,” says Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D and host of the Sex with Dr. Jess Podcast. Its silky-smooth silicon is designed to intensify shared pleasure during intercourse. “It’s more powerful than other penis rings we’ve used, and the angle of its “hole” allows it to offer rumbly vibrations at multiple angles,” she says.
Lady Bi by Fun Factory, $206, thenookie.com
“This vibrator is the hat trick of pleasure products,” says Veronica Kazoleas, owner of The Nookie, a sleek sex boutique in Toronto. “Lady Bi has an external arm for clitoral stimulation, a girthy shaft for G-spot pressure, and a long, narrow tip designed to reach the A-spot.” What’s the A-spot, you ask? It’s a patch of sensitive tissue right at the inner end of the vaginal tube between the cervix and the bladder. “When stimulated, this area increases arousal and lubrication, in turn helping users derive more pleasure from their self-care sessions,” says Kazoleas.
Womanizer Duo Clitoral & G-Spot Stimulator, $280, pinkcherry.ca
Although she’s not a fan of the name, the Womanizer Duo is a favourite of Kristen Mark, Ph.D associate professor and director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky. This toy delivers clitoral stimulation with its “Pleasure Air” technology and internal stimulation at once. “It has 12 intensity levels and dual motor control, so you can separately change the intensity internally and externally,” says Mark. Bonus: It’s waterproof.
The Arc by Dame, $155, itsthelake.com
The Arc, created by female-founded Dame Products, is an easy-to-use and innovative sex toy. Though there are already many wand vibrators available on the market, this one isn’t your average toy. “It’s powerful, pretty and squishy, no harsh vibrations here,” says Jordin Wiggins, a naturopathic doctor and sexologist at Health Over All Clinic in Niagara. It’s an external and internal vibrator with a design that’s ideal for hitting your G-spot.
Touch by We-Vibe, $119, we-vibe.com
“I have some personal faves that I use all the time like the Lelo Soraya, Lelo Ina Wave and Crave Duet,” says Simone Paget, a west coast sex and relationship columnist and founder of Skinny Dip. However, when it comes to recommendations, she’s all about the We-Vibe Touch. “Whether you’re shopping for your first toy or simply looking for a clitoral vibrator that works really well, the We-Vibe Touch is a great option. It’s made of body-safe silicone, is easy to use, fully rechargeable and has deeply rumbly vibrations.”
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