We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we actually hear the nitty-gritty details of how we might actually achieve those things? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a licensed sex psychotherapist based in San Francisco, to help us out with the specifics. This week’s topic: How to find great sex toys — on a budget.
Q: I bought my first vibrator about a year ago and I love it! I’d like to buy another toy or two (preferably something I could use with my boyfriend, and not necessarily another vibrator), but I’m not sure how to find something I’d like. I’m a student, so I’m working with a relatively low budget, and I don’t want to waste my money.
A: Sex toys can be wonderful additions to your sex life, but it can be tricky at times to find the right products. Sex toys aren’t usually returnable, and there are a ton of toys that are absolute junk, so there’s always the potential to buy something that you don’t end up liking at all!
Personally, I like supporting sex-positive, female-friendly shops that make an effort to help their clients make the right purchases. I look for places that have highly-trained sales staff and plenty of product information. Of course, you can also shop online. Once you find a toy you like, try Googling the product name and reading reviews. There are a surprisingly large number of detailed sex toy reviews out there, and you can get lots of information about the pros and cons of your potential purchase before forking over your money. You can also look at sex toy review blogs, and try to find a blogger whose taste seems similar to your own.
Just a quick safety note: look for toys that are clearly labeled "body safe." The sex toy industry is highly unregulated, and many toys are made out of chemicals that can be toxic to your body.
With your student budget in mind, here are a couple of inexpensive sex toy suggestions for you to look into.
Jesus, that's a depressing gif. Just more evidence that you probably don’t think of lube as a sex toy, but you should! Lube can enhance your sex life in so many ways, and isn’t very expensive. My favorite is Eros Pjur lube, which can be purchased on Amazon for $33. (That might seem pricey at first, but it goes a loooong way.) I typically recommend silicone-based lubes because they tend to last a lot longer and feel better on the skin. You can purchase candles that melt into lube, or buy massage oil for exchanging relaxing rub-downs with your boyfriend. If you’re really broke, coconut oil can work well as a lube or a massage oil (just make sure you don’t use it with condoms).
You can use lube to give your boyfriend an extra slippery hand job, or to experiment with anal. Lube can allow you to have raunchier, more intense sex, since it cuts down on any pain or discomfort that non-lubed thrusting might usually create. Try rubbing some lube on your clitoris before or during intercourse, which might help you reach orgasm more easily.
This is one of my favorite recommendations for couples, especially those on a budget. Cock rings come in a variety of materials, but the basic shape is a circle that goes around the man’s penis and sometimes testicles. They constrict blood flow at the base of the penis, helping him stay harder and last longer. I suggest looking for a neoprene model that has snaps for fast and easy removal. Silicone models that are stretchy can also work well. Some cock rings are designed specifically for couples, and include a small vibrator that you can press between your bodies. The most basic cock ring will run you about $10, while one with a vibrator will be closer to $30 or $40.
Have your boyfriend put on the cock ring (or put it on for him), turn on the vibrator, then play around with some of your favorite sexual positions. Try to find which positions allow you to keep your clitoris pressed up against the vibrator. Missionary is usually an easy and effective standby. See how your boyfriend enjoys the added vibrational stimulation against his penis!
It might sound weird, but these toys — also known as PC exercisers, Kegel exercisers or Ben Wa balls — are great. Most of them have two balls attached to a string, but there are also some models that have only one ball. You can buy a high-quality set for about $40. You insert the balls into your vaginal canal, then leave them there. Your vaginal muscles naturally tighten around the balls to hold them in place (it may take a few tries to get them properly inserted!). The weight of the balls serves to “exercise” your PC muscles, which can lead to heightened sensations during sex and a greater potential to reach orgasm. Some PC exercisers have smaller orbs inside of the balls. These orbs spin around when you move, and produce an interesting but quite pleasurable sensation.
PC balls are more for your own personal use, but you can still find ways to play with them with your boyfriend. One idea is to have your boyfriend insert them for you, then give you certain activities to do. Your challenge is to see how long you can last before you get too turned on to continue!
If you’re like the reader from a few weeks ago who read 50 Shades of Grey , you’re probably relatively familiar with the concept of bondage toys. There are a lot of different toys that fall under this category, including blindfolds, whips, restraints, paddles, rope, gags, and clamps.
If you’re new to these kinds of toys, try something like a soft suede whip. My favorite is the $44 Lelo. You can use it to lightly graze your boyfriend’s skin, or give him a good smack while roleplaying teacher and naughty student. If you’re truly broke, you can use a scarf to blindfold him and a tie to “handcuff” his arms to a bedpost. Cutting off his vision will heighten his other senses, and using the restraints means you can tease him mercilessly! (Or vice versa.)
There are tons of funny little items like adult board and card games, sex coupons, dirty dice, edible lingerie, and naughty costumes. There’s a lot of junk out there too, but some of these items can be entertaining to play with. Most of these toys are pretty cheap, so it’s not a big loss if it doesn’t end up being all that arousing. Sometimes, I even encourage my clients to seek out toys and products that seem more silly than sexy, as it can help lighten the mood and make them feel more playful with each other. For example, you can use the sex coupons as a funny inside joke whenever one of you wins a bet.
Some women are afraid or embarrassed of using their vibrators with their partners, but I think a vibrator can be a lot of fun for couples to use together. The Minna Life Limon is more of an investment for $101, but it can be used both alone and together. A simple bullet vibrator can be purchased for as little as $20.
If you already have a vibrator that you like, try bringing it out when you and your boyfriend are together. Take turns handing it off to each other and massaging different parts of your bodies. Most men don’t think to use vibrators on their penises or balls, but a little bit of buzzing can feel really good to them too! Show your boyfriend how you usually use your vibrator on yourself, or see if he touches you with it in a different way. You can also try holding the vibrator on your clitoris during sex, like when you’re in doggy-style or on top.
Most of all, don’t let a limited budget deter you — there are plenty of fun toys to be had! Your sex life is worth investing in.