They come in all different shapes and sizes, as well as colors, textures, and purposes and they are a staple of the modern-day: sex toys. The global sex toy industry raked in a massive $33.64 billion in 2020 and is predicted to continue to grow in years to come. The most commonly depicted sex toys in our mainstream media tend to be those designed for solo play, such as dildos and vibrators, but the use of sex toys in partnered sex is still an under-discussed topic. So, let’s talk about it! 

Using Sex Toys and the shame

The first thing to address is the stigma around using toys with your partner/s. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around, you hear comments like:

“if you’re using toys it’s because your partner/s don’t know how to make you feel good” or “there’s something wrong with you if you need a toy to orgasm.”

Not only are statements like these harmful, they’re also completely false. Sex toys are a wonderful addition to partnered sex, for anyone who wishes to incorporate them into sex. In fact, they can help address and minimize the orgasm gap, which is sorely needed. 

The Imbalance with Climax

The orgasm gap is the term used to describe the phenomenon in which 95% of straight men orgasm during partnered sex, with only 65% of straight women having an orgasm in partnered sex, with gay men coming in at 89% and gay women at 86%. The size of this gap between straight men and straight women is at least in part explained by the kinds of sex straight people have.

The classic depiction of heterosexual penetrative sex, what we have been taught to see as ‘normal’ sex, tends to prioritize men’s pleasure, and consequently, less than 20% of women orgasm from penetrative sex. This is unsurprising, given that the primary source of female sexual pleasure is the clitoris and heterosexual penetrative sex does not always incorporate the stimulation of the clitoris in the way that manual or oral sex may do. That being said, regardless of what kinds of sex you’re having, sex toys are a great tool to enhance your pleasure and the pleasure of your partner/s. 

Questions to ask

As is always the case with sex and pleasure, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to pleasure. And as is also always the case with sex and pleasure, the best way to navigate it is by having open and honest conversations with your partner/s. Do you want direct stimulation of your clit while you have penetrative sex? There’s a toy for that! Do you want to be able to use a toy to penetrate your partner? There’s a toy for that! Do you like having vibrations during manual sex? There’s a toy for that! In fact, there are many, many toys for all of these desires. 

Sex toys are wonderful tools for our pleasure and the pleasure of our partner/s. To rule out the inclusion of toys in partnered sex is doing yourself, and your partner/s, a disservice. We all have our boundaries, and toys may not appeal to everyone. However, if it’s something you haven’t considered yet, I urge you to do so!