For the month of September, Bustle’s Sex TBH package is talking about sex, honestly. We’re delving into how women approach the things they’re taught to be shy or embarrassed about in the bedroom — and, in doing so, we're liberating people to live their best (sex) lives. Let’s do it.
Sex toys come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and offer a variety of sensations. But more than that, they cater to all different needs. Yes, needs. Because quite frankly, some women need more than penetration to get off. And by some, I mean most. New data from Debby Herbenick, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and a research fellow and sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute, looked at 1,055 women from 18 to 94 and found that only 18.4 percent of respondents said that intercourse was enough for an orgasm. That means over 80 percent of women need something more than just penetration. And that's where sex toys can be a total game-changer in the bedroom.
"Vibrators kind of level the playing field for women in the bedroom," Claire Cavanah, co-founder of Babeland, tells Bustle. "A lot of women really need the consistent stimulation on their clitoris to have the same experience as men have."
But here's the issue: not all men are comfortable with bringing sex toys into the bedroom — whether their partner needs one to get off during sex or just wants to spice things up in bed. Bustle's Sex TBH survey of 500 millennial women found that 18.66 percent are hesitant to bring a sex toy into the bedroom because they are worried it will bruise their partner's ego. "I had an ex whose manhood was completely threatened by a sparkly pink vibrator I once purchased, so I was a little worried about bringing the possibility up to my current partner," Laura, 30 tells Bustle. "Having that initial conversation can be really daunting." But no one should be put in a position where they feel scared to share their needs with their partner.
So, here's a message for those guys who feel emasculated by women bringing sex toys into the bedroom: Get over it.
A 2015 Cosmo survey of 2,300 women found that only 57 percent of women orgasm most or every time they have sex, but 95 percent said their partners finish most or every time. That's a huge gap. And it doesn't have to be this way. Research consistently shows that women in lesbian relationships have more orgasms than women in straight relationships. So the problem isn't with women, it's with their male partners not giving them what they need. "There's this fear that sex toys are making people less into each other, that they're too mechanical etc., but they actually improve sex, make people want to be with each other, and can connect you over long distances," Cavanah tells Bustle.
And that's definitely the case for Julia, 32, who says she can only orgasm if she's using a vibrator. "Using a vibrator is the only way for me to finish," she tells Bustle. "Luckily, my fiancé is down with that. If he wasn't I don't think we'd be engaged! It's integrated into our sex life so we don't even really think of it, TBH. He doesn't mind, he likes seeing me get off!"
Which is exactly how all partners should feel. How could somebody have a problem with something that makes their partner feel amazing? I mean, isn't it hot seeing your partner get off? If seeing a woman sexually enjoying herself, feeling sexually pleased, is a problem, then why would someone even be having sex with her?
Not only that, these toys can offer pleasure for men, too. I'm not ashamed to admit that my hand doesn't vibrate 200 times per second. These toys can make another person feel something that I would never even be able to imagine doing manually, and I have no problem with that. In fact, let's look at the toys designed for couples, and designed to make men feel just as absolutely amazing as they make many women feel. There are great products out there like the Eva vibrator, We-Vibe 4 Plus vibrator, and Pivot vibrating ring, which are all hands-free, can be worn during sex as you move around, and are designed to make both of you feel the vibrations.
No, using them isn't "weird" — it's probably way more common than you think. According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 81 percent of women have brought a sex toy into the bedroom with a man. It can be a huge benefit not just to your sex life, but to your entire relationship. Being able to be open about sex and your desires brings you closer outside the bedroom, too.
"Being comfortable discussing your fantasies, your preferences, as well as the things that aren't working for you, is crucial to keeping your intimate life on track,” psychotherapist Esther Boykin tells Bustle. “Bodies change. Schedules change. Even turn-ons and desires will change with time. Be sure you have the skills to talk about those things so you don't have to worry about getting through the ups and downs of your sexual relationship with each other.” It'll keep you feeling connected — and knowing that you're giving your partner what they need is a wonderful thing.
If someone is really so worried about their sexual prowess and their connection with their partner that they're intimidated by something that's powered with batteries, then there are likely much bigger problems. If toys are provoking insecurity, the best bet is to talk through those fears and concerns with a partner, who'll likely explain that toys won't take anything away from sex or the relationship — they'll just add to it. It's so important for both parties to have an incredible sexual experience where they're both enjoying themselves.
"All kinds of people use sex toys," Stacy Rybchin, founder and CEO of sexual health and wellness service, My Secret Soiree, tells Bustle. "Sex toys are an enhancement to a relationship, not a replacement. An object is not a substitute for a real person. A sex toy can give you an orgasm, but it can’t say, 'I love you'." But if someone really can't handle these, it's time to take a look at how they view sex — and what they value about it. It's time to wonder why they can't compromise so their partner can have their needs met just as much as she tries to meet theirs, all the time.
Truthfully, the only drawback to using sex toys comes from someone projecting their personal insecurities onto their partner's needs. "The downside of using toys can be the stigmas people have about what bringing toys into sex means for a relationship — that the other person isn't good enough at sex," Kenna Cook, sex educator and pleasure professional with the O.school tells Bustle. "This misconception isn't really even about the relationship. It's about your partner's lack of self-confidence. I don't think anyone has ever been dumped for a vibrator." Nobody is going to leave their partner for a toy. But, someone probably will dump them for ignoring their needs.
But not all women enjoy using sex toys and may find that bringing a vibrator into the bedroom doesn't change their sex life in a huge way — that's OK too. It's all about experimentation and communication in your sex life. The whole point is that you discuss and find what works for both of you in bed, whatever that may be.
So guys who feel emasculated by sex toys, decide whether this is a superficial aversion or if it's really bothersome. The first one you can get over quickly. The latter, well, that takes a little more soul searching. I can't do that for you, but I hope you do it quickly — because you and your partner both deserve better.