Global horniness is a difficult thing to quantify, but if you've been feeling a little extra squirrelly during the time of COVID-19, you're not the only one.
Dating apps like Bumble have seen a boost in usage recently as many users figure out how to date while isolated. Porn streaming sites have seen a sharp increase in viewers, especially from countries that are heavily locked down; and in Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, and Colombia, sex toy sales have been through the roof since the beginning of quarantine.
Of course, not everyone is feeling this way.
For some the thought of doing anything sexual right now might feel like the biggest turn-off in the world. But those of us who are feeling unusually foxy in amongst this giant, global pandemic need not worry: our urges are purely biological. Sometimes our sex drives amp up as a response to stress or anxiety, so there's nothing wrong or weird about feeling more turned on than we usually would, or masturbating more than we usually do.
Personally, I think we should embrace any good feelings that come to us during this scary time, and that includes feeling turned on. So if you, like so many people around the world, are considering buying your first sex toy during quarantine, here’s a simple walkthrough.
We’ll go over how to navigate the strange, exciting, and often overwhelming world of sex toy shopping, and hopefully you’ll be able to find yourself something that will leave you feeling empowered, pleasured, and satisfied.
Because after all, when we're struggling to maintain connections with others, the last thing we want is to lose touch with ourselves.
Figure out what you want
Log on to any adult store's website and the sheer amount of options might seem overwhelming. Although scrolling through page after page of toys can feel like a lot, it's also a good thing: the more choices available to us, the greater chance we have of finding something perfectly suited to our bodies.
Kin asked Sammi Cole, the Sex and Relationship Expert at LoveHoney, to give us some tips on what to consider prior to buying our first toy.
She suggested asking yourself if you will be using it alone or with a partner, and whether you want an external or internal toy.
“After giving it some consideration, you'll have a bit more of an idea of what you're looking for,” she said.
“Next, think about the budget...my advice for first-timers is to start with something inexpensive, so that you can find out if you enjoy the kind of stimulation it offers before you spend big bucks on something with lots of bells and whistles.”
And before you start adding items to your cart, think about what kind of toy might be right for you. Take inspiration from the kind of sex you like to have, the way you masturbate now, and the kind of porn you watch or erotica you read. Just because Charlotte from Sex and the City bought a rabbit vibrator and got obsessed with it doesn't mean that you have to as well.
Ten years ago, sex toys were cheap, tacky, plastic things you'd find in a hens' party gift bag. They'd probably break after one or two uses, and we spent longer figuring out how to switch them on than we actually spent enjoying them. Things have changed, big time. There are now heaps of smart, well-designed, discreet, and sustainable toys on the market. Let's have a look at a few options.
From big to small, skin-coloured to neon rainbow, dildos come in all shapes and sizes – literally. If you're keen for something realistic, Lifelike Lover specialises in dildos that look as close to the real thing as possible. If you want something a bit more artsy, Icicles produces hand-blown glass dildos that look so pretty you'll almost want to put them up on your mantelpiece. (Almost.)
It seems like there are millions of vibrators on the market, but here are some of the more popular styles.
A bullet vibrator - a small vibrator about the size of a tube of lipstick - is a great choice when you want something small that you can slip into a purse or a pocket. They are often inexpensive and well-reviewed, so there’s room to do your own research here and not feel like you’re committing to too much, too soon. The Womaniser brand is doing exciting things right now: their toys use air pressure and suction to stimulate the clitoris without even touching it. At around $200 a pop, it’s not a cheap investment, so put a bit of thought into whether you want to try this one out.
Rabbit vibrators are a must-try for anyone who wants to experiment with penetration and clitoral stimulation. This SenseVibe ($185) is on the higher end of the price scale, but it's waterproof, rechargeable, and boasts a separate motor in each part of the toy. The Calexotics Posh 10-Function Silicone Bounding Bunny ($49.95) is substantially more affordable and battery-powered; and this BFF Curved G-Spot Massager ($46.95) doesn't offer clitoral stimulation, but does promise intense vibrations for your g-spot.
If you want to try some anal play, you'll need plenty of lube and lots of extra patience with yourself. Start small, go slow, and whatever you do, don't put something up your butt unless it has a flared base on it, or a ring or cord for removal. A toy you put in your vagina can only go so far into your body because of your cervix, but this is not the case for the anus. An anal toy that ‘gets lost’ can go too far in and damage your insides.
These Fun Factory Bendy Beads are safe and simple to use, as is this Tantus Perfect Plug. If you want a couple of options to explore, this Get Started Beginner's Anal Kit offers vibrating and non-vibrating options, perfect for anyone starting to explore the back door.
Don't forget the lube
Our bodies are often good at lubricating themselves, but using lube for a bit of extra slipperiness is practical, smart, and super common. The two main types of lube are silicone- and water-based. A silicone-based lube will often last longer and feel silkier than a water-based lube, but it shouldn’t be used with condoms or silicone toys as it can degrade them. A water-based lube might need to be re-applied once or twice during use, but it’s compatible with most toys and condoms available.
Keep it clean
It's important that you always wash your hands, and it's equally important that you clean your toys before and after every use! You might be the only one touching your toys, but don’t run the risk of putting something in your body that might be unclean.
You can use antibacterial soap and hot water to clean most toys, but make sure that you don't get any water or soap into the toy's mechanical component (if it has one). Some adult retailers sell special sex toy cleaners, but these can vary in quality. Before purchasing a cleaner, have a look at the fine print and ingredients to make sure it's antibacterial and water-based.
Once you've cleaned the toy, store it somewhere clean and secure, away from dirt and dust. Before you use it again, give it a quick clean with some more warm water and antibacterial soap, and make sure you towel dry thoroughly.
It really doesn't matter which toy – or toys – you choose.
The most important thing is that you're able to spend a moment with yourself and indulge in something that feels good to you.
“Sex toys are a great tool to explore your sexuality and what you like,” says Sammi. “Also, the benefits of self-pleasure are widely reported and include improved sleep, boosted libido, stress relief, and helping your overall wellbeing as you feel more connected to yourself.”
“Sex toys are designed to be an extension of your sexual potential and provide wonderful opportunities to try something different in the bedroom. Sex toys aren’t just for self-pleasure, either: they can also help couples discover new ways to connect to maximise their intimacy levels, increase desire and boost sexual satisfaction.”
As we read the newspaper, it might not feel like the right time to focus on our own pleasure, but pleasure is a timeless thing. Now, more than ever, doing something kind for ourselves isn't just a way to have a bit of extra fun. It's an important investment into your mental, emotional, and sexual health.