Did you know that sex toys have been around for about 30,000 years? In her book Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy, author Hallie Lieberman reveals that “our ancestors had been hunched over carving eight-inch-long penises out of siltstone.” Luckily, sex toys have evolved quite a bit since then—and so have attitudes towards them.
Sex toys have been more or less taboo until the last few decades, but today, they’re more acceptable than ever. This can be put down to several factors, clinical psychologist and sex expert Carla Manly, PhD, tells Health. “Society has a more open attitude toward sexuality as a whole, which has helped to destigmatize their use,” she says. “As sexual awareness increases, we are creating a more open, natural attitude toward formerly secret or off-limits sexual practices––including the use of innovative sexual toys. Plus, there’s an ever-increasing availability of sex toys online and in local stores.”
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The surge in popularity of sex toys is partly due to women being more vocal about their desire––and need––for pleasure, Tiffany Alyse Yelverton, sex coach and founder of sex education site EnticeMe, tells Health. “Sex toys enhance pleasure and greatly amplify foreplay, which is necessary for most women to enjoy intercourse,” she says. “Most women need to have clitoral stimulation to orgasm, especially during penetrative sex.”
In her work as a sex coach, Yelverton finds that men are more open to using sex toys with a partner than in the past—especially young men. “The newer generations of sex toys are beautiful and not phallic,” she explains. “They are a complement to sexual activity, not in competition to it.”
If you’ve never used sex toys before––or have had a quick look at an online store and are intimidated by all the options, Yelverton has some tips. First of all, she encourages her clients to “think of sex toys as an accessory to their sex lives, like a necklace is an accessory to an outfit.”
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She recommends starting with something that’s attractive to you and feels comfortable, and she suggests a vibrating “bullet” or “egg,” a wand, a rabbit style vibrator, or a vibrating penis ring. And don’t forget a high quality lube (“it makes everything better”) and toy cleaner (for obvious reasons).
Also, if you’re curious about vibrating sex toys, Yelverton advises to opt for a rechargeable model. “The vibrations are stronger, and there’s no extra cost (or waste) associated with batteries,” she explains.