Whether online or in a store,
shopping for a sex toy can feel really overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that sex shop employees get asked a lot of questions. In other words, if you're eye-spying a sex toy, but have 20-something questions to ask a sex shop worker, don't be afraid to ask. There's a very good chance that these employees have already heard whatever question you're about to ask.
"Overall, the most common question I'm personally asked is a variation of 'Is this normal?'"
Polly Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO of Unbound, tells Bustle. "Because we, as a society, have so few open and honest conversations about sexuality, many of us are left wondering if our interests and curiosities are 'normal'." (Short answer: when it comes to sex normal is what you make of it.)
"In recent years, we’ve seen so many new sex toys enter the market — some that
thrust, some that use pulsating air technology, some that are controlled via Bluetooth, and even some that don’t look like sex toys at all," Lisa Finn, a sex educator and brand manager at Babeland, tells Bustle. "Each and every design is nuanced, which is wonderful, considering everybody’s body is different, and so the ways that we experience pleasure can be varied."
Unbound, to Babeland, to a handful of sex shops in Paris, to the monster sex toy store of all time in Pigalle, Sexadrome, these are the most popular sex toy questions employees get.
"How Loud Is This Vibrator?"
According to Rodriguez, this question is definitely in the top three that Unbound receives quite frequently. It's also a very, very valid question. If you have roomies, especially those whose beds are just on the other side of the wall, volume is everything.
Although everyone masturbates, it can still feel awkward to masturbate when you know others in your apartment can hear that that's exactly what you're doing.
But here's a pro-tip from my college dorm days: When it comes to sex toys that are on the louder side, using them under heavy covers (like down comforters) and having either a fan or an app to supply white sound will make a huge difference. You'll be able to masturbate without anyone knowing what's going on in your bedroom.
"Is There A Cheaper Model?"
When it comes to sex toys, prices can run from $15 to a few thousand dollars. Sex toys, especially good quality ones, aren't "cheap." While there may be less expensive versions, like if you look at the
pleasure air stimulator of Womanizer and the less expensive variation of it in Satisfyer or LELO Sona, these are three different companies, so you're not getting the exact same sensation with Womanizer as you do with Satisfyer — and you might even prefer the latter over the former.
The best way to decide what you want to spend on a sex toy is to have budget in mind and a price you absolutely won't go over when you make a purchase.
"Most reputable sex toy shops don’t accept returns (outside of manufacturer’s warranties)," Finn says. So you better make damn sure that you're comfortable with whatever amount you spend.
It should also be emphasized that the pricier something is, the better the quality, and the longer life it will have. So is it better to buy 10, $20 toys that consistently break, or one, $200 toy that works for years? That's up to you and your bank account.
"Can I Use This With A Partner?"
The great thing about being alive in this day and age of sex toys is the variety from which we have to choose. Rodriguez has found that people asking if they can use a toy with their partner comes up a lot.
While there are many
sex toys made specifically for couples, most toys can be used with a partner. You don't have to have a clitoris to enjoy a vibrator, nor do you have to have a penis to enjoy a cock ring. Not only do sex toys bring extra fun to the bedroom, but sex toys are great for your relationship too.
"Will I Become Addicted?"
While it might be easy to think that anything that feels so good could possibly be addicting, that's not the case — I don't care what went down in that
. Although the clit can become used to being stimulated by a vibrator more than, say, your fingers, that doesn't mean your clit will become "addicted." It also doesn't mean that you'll only ever be able to orgasm with a vibrator for the rest of your life. Sex and the City episode with Charlotte and her Rabbit
The word to the wise on this one, is to switch up your masturbation techniques. You don't want your clit dependent on one speed and one intensity at all times. Variety is the spice of life — and masturbation.
"Is This Safe For 'Ma Chatte?'"
If you've never hit up a sex toy shop in Paris' Pigalle neighborhood, it should be on your bucket list. Not only are the streets lined with sex toy shops, some of which don't even have names, but the products are more novelty items than what you'd find at a sex store like the kind you're thinking of.
So when I rolled into one of those shops and asked what questions these employees get asked the most — with a friend whose French is far better than mine — we were told that the safety of the product for internal use was the most common question. Which makes sense when you're considering buying a very large, pink dildo shaped like the Eiffel Tower. The employee's answer to this question he gets so often? "I think so." This is not an answer you want to hear when it comes to buying sex toys.
What I do know is that no matter where you buy a sex toy, it's important to pay close attention to what it's made of before you even consider buying it and putting it anywhere near your genitals.
"How Do You Turn This Off?"
According to Finn, a popular question that those working on the floor at Babeland get a lot is about how to turn a toy off.
"Most sex toy shops will have working displays so that you can feel the vibrations (
in your hands!) and get an idea of the size and texture of the material," Finn says. But what this also leads to, in some cases, is someone not being able to turn off that toy they just picked up.
While it might seem like the answer to the question is obvious, depending on the design of a sex toy, finding the on and/or off button isn't always easy. Even I have turned on more than a couple of sex toys in my life, only to realize I can't figure out how to turn it off, while I proceed to freak out and assume the toy is possessed. But if there's an on button, then there's certainly an off button — even if you can't find it right away.
"Are There More Sizes And Colors?"
According to a gentleman at Sexadrome, a question he gets a lot is whether or not certain toys come in different colors and/or sizes. While for some, colors might not seem like a big deal as long as the toy gets the job done, but for others it is kind of a big deal.
For example, I have a very strong dislike for purple and refuse to own anything that's purple — including sex toys. Luckily, most sex toys have at least a couple color options from which to choose. As for sizes, well, if we're talking about dildos and butt plugs, there's definitely quite a variety of sizes for those.
"What Is The Best Way To Clean It?"
There are two major reasons why
sex toy maintenance is so paramount. For starters, bacteria. Even if your a sex toy isn't inserted into the vagina or anus, there's still bacteria involved, especially with bodily fluids. Secondly, you want your sex toys to last! If you're investing a decent amount of cash into a vibrator, anal plug, or whatever else gets you off, then you don't want it to crap out a couple months down the road.
According to Rodriguez, the third question that rounds out the top three questions they're asked at Unbound is the best way to clean sex toys. Which is great that people are already thinking about this important factor even before they make their purchase.
Clean sex toys, make for very happy genitals.
"Can You Help Me Find Something For...?"
Whether it's your first time in a sex shop or your 100th, they can be really overwhelming. So much to choose from and something for everyone!
"Sex store employees are here to help," Finn says. "Shops like Babeland and Good Vibrations are run by a team of knowledgeable staff who are trained on the products to help you find the perfect fit."
So while you may be overwhelmed and not sure where to start, the staff will have questions for you, so they know where to begin too.
"We do need to know where to start, so knowing a bit about what feels good for you (direct clit stimulation? deep penetration? butt stuff?) and/or what doesn’t is important for us to help you find your match," Finn says. "You want to make sure that you’re honest about what you like and dislike so you don’t get saddled up with something that’s not the right fit for your individual needs."
Keep in mind, this is their job, they're trained in it, and they've heard it all before, so there's no need to feel embarrassed.
Even sex toy aficionados sometimes have questions about certain products. That's why places like Unbound, Babeland, Good Vibrations, and others have a team of trained professionals to help you out.
"We love that our customers write in to get additional information on the products we sell and we're proud that they feel comfortable confiding in us," Rodriguez says. "While these questions aren't necessarily revolutionary insight into the human psyche of sexuality, they make me feel hopeful because they're practical questions about using the products, as opposed to the stigma associated with them."
As Carl Sagan wrote, "Every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question." So ask your questions.