Every year since 2016, Tenga (a well-known sex toy company) publishes the Tenga Global Self-Pleasure Report in which they survey people from countries all over the world to learn more about their self-pleasure habits. 

In 2021, they surveyed more than 5,000 people between the ages of 18 and 54 across five countries (the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Spain).

Regarding sex toy usage, Tenga reports the following in their 2021 report: “Americans and Europeans are increasingly incorporating sex toys and masturbation into their lifestyles.” When asked if they had ever used any sex toys, between 43% and 58% of participants from each country said ‘yes.’

Tenga also found that across all countries, “people reported that self-pleasure (65%) and sex toys (56%) helped them to feel better and acted as a form of “self-care” during the pandemic.”

Sex toys are no longer taboo – and they’re even worn as everyday accessories. Now that sex toys are normalized in many places, and buying them doesn’t require going to a suspicious sex store that gives you the ick, let’s get you set up with your perfect sex toy.

What to Consider When Buying a Sex Toy (aka Personal Massager)

There are a plethora of sex toys out there that vary in shape, design, function, size, etc. Here are some of the questions you should ponder while you are picking out your new toy. 

Stimulation & Function

  • Is clitoral, internal (ex: g-spot), or anal stimulation most important to you?
  • Do you want something that can be used for multiple types of stimulation?
  • Would you like something that vibrates? Has air suction technology? Thrusts for you?
  • Do you want the toy to have multiple or many strength/intensity settings?
  • Would you prefer that your toy have different vibration/suction/thrusting/etc. patterns?

Solo or Partnered Use

  • Would you like it to be used during penetration? During oral sex? During manual sex (like fingering or hand jobs)?
  • Would you like your partner(s) to be able to control the toy via a remote or mobile app on their phone? How far away would your partner be? Or, would you like to control it via a remote or mobile app?

Shape & Size

  • What length and girth (thickness) would you like?
  • Do you want something bigger/smaller than what you’re working with now?
  • Do you want it to be ‘realistic’ looking? Some dildos/toys look like real penises or vulvas and some look completely unrepresentative of human bodies. Which appeals to you?


Rythm only recommends nonporous toys made from the following materials:

  • 100% Medical-grade silicone
  • Food Grade Silicone 
  • Platinum Grade Silicone 
  • ABS plastic
  • Hard Plastic
  • Borosilicate glass
  • Stone
  • Metal (stainless steel)
Author’s Note: Toxic materials to keep an eye out for include (but are not limited to) PVC, TPE, trimethyl tin chloride, pilates, toluene, phthalates, and rubber.

Price Point

  • What is your ideal price?
  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • Are you willing to pay more for luxury toys, toy longevity, higher quality, more functions, etc.?

Safer Sex Practices

  • If you plan on using this toy with a partner or partners, can it be safely used with your favorite lubricant or condoms?
  • How would you like to clean your toy?

Miscellaneous Considerations

  • Will you want to use it in water (the bath, shower, hot tub, etc.)?
  • What color would you prefer?
  • How would you like to store your toy?
  • Would you prefer a discreet toy?
  • How important to you is it if it’s loud or whisper quiet?
  • Would you like it to be rechargeable or battery-operated?

Vibrators in Practice

Using a Sex Toy

When it comes to using a vibrator, the sky is the limit. You can be as creative as you want! A  couple of common methodologies for using vibrators include but are not limited to the ones outlined below. 

Clitoral Use

Use a vibrator of any type on or around the clitoris. If you tend to be very sensitive, feel free to use it over your underwear to acclimate to the sensation. On the other hand, if you want more sensation, you can expose the clitoris more by gently pulling back the clitoral hood which covers and protects the clitoral glans. One way to do this is to place your finger or your palm on the mons, where pubic hair often grows, and gently pull toward your tummy. Using a vibrator on the exposed clitoris will drastically intensify the stimulation. 

Vaginal Use

You can also insert a vibrator or sex toy into the vagina. You will want your toy to have a long enough body (or an extension, like a string, of some sort) so that you can hold onto it and/or pull it out easily enough. If you use a small toy and you ‘lose it,’ just remember that the vagina is not an endless abyss – it ends where the cervix begins. You might just have to fish around a little to get the toy back out. 

Pro tip: the outermost third of the vaginal canal responds well to vibration, but the inner two-thirds of the vaginal canal responds best to pressure rather than vibration. This is why many toys are larger at the tip and more narrow at the base.

Anal Use

The golden rule for using sex toys anally is that you should only use toys that have a flared base or a stopper at the end. Unlike the vagina, toys will get sucked up and lost in the anal cavity which will require medical attention. 

Safer Sex Toy Usage

Sex toys can transmit STIs and other types of infections. Make sure to use a compatible barrier method (external or internal condoms and dental dams) when sharing toys and follow the proper cleaning steps to maximize your safety. 

Important Reminders

Somewhere along the way, society started devaluing orgasms via sex toys and idealizing orgasms from penetration, oral sex, and digital sex (hand stuff). No method for achieving orgasm is better than another – they are all important and beautiful. 

My hope is that you never feel shame or embarrassment for using or relying on a sex toy for pleasure or orgasms. They were invented for a reason! 

A Message to the Partners of Sex Toy Users

Know that your partner using a sex toy does not reflect on the quality of your sexual encounters, nor does it mean that they aren’t attracted to you. Using toys is fun and you want both you and your partner to experience pleasure, right? Sex toys are our teammates, not our opponents. Plus, you never know, you might find one that gets you going too!


Written by:

Gillian ‘Gigi’ Singer, MPH

American Board Certified Sexologist, Sexuality Educator, and Sex Ed Content Specialist