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Sex Toy Sommelier is our sex toy matchmaking and advice column at SheKnows. Whether you’re taking your first brave steps into the world of sex toys and sexual health accessories (welcome, it’s fun here!) or an old pro looking to add some new goodies to your existing collection (hello to you too!), Health & Sex Editor Katherine Speller is here to help SheKnows readers level-up their bedside tables, toy chests and/or DIY sex dungeons with the tools they need to feel deeply satisfied — and give some pro-tips on how introduce some of these new toys and tools into your sex life along the way.
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Write in to let us know what you’re into, what you want to be into or what you’re in the market for via our hotline (we’ll keep things anonymous, of course) and we’ll do our very best to drop a range of toys and sexual health products that meet your tastes, wants and needs. While money certainly can’t buy you love, it can buy you orgasms — which can be just as good, TBH.
Orgasms! They’re extremely fun to have. They can feel like a sparkly, explode-y, DIY hard reset on your body. But they can also be polarizing, elusive, high-pressure, stressful (and even painful!) for some.
There’s a lot of feelings surrounding the big O (who has more of them, who isn’t having them) and — because humans are diverse and fascinating critters — no two people have the same feelings about sex and pleasure.
Which brings us to this month’s ask:
I (cis-female, 29) have never had an orgasm with my partner (cis-male) who i deeply love and I am worried about hurting his feelings by sharing that. Are there some toys I can bring into the bedroom to help get us both there?
So my very first instinct is to caution that orgasm is not synonymous with pleasure. There are numerous reasons some people don’t or can’t orgasm with a partner during intercourse or other activities (some medical, some mental, some technical!). If you’re still having fun and enjoying yourself and feeling honored and pleasured and cared for, it doesn’t matter if the orgasm itself doesn’t happen every time (unless you really want it to happen). But that said, a lot of people (disproportionately cis-women) who want to have orgasms are struggling to have them with their partners.
If this is your experience, you have to know that you are not alone and there is nothing to feel shame about. Research shows that 10 to 15 percent of cis-women say they’ve never had an orgasm at all. According to Indiana University’s National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 85 percent of cis-men report that their partners orgasmed in recent sexual encounter compared to 64 percent of cis-women who report having orgasms. That margin is considered “too large” by researchers to be accounted for by same sex couplings (who by and large do orgasm more, per the stats), meaning men who have sex with women are a little more likely to overestimate their ability to make their partner orgasm.
Also: I am not going to call you out for faking an orgasm. We have all done it once or twice either because you want to make sure your partner knows how much you appreciate the work they’re putting in or you want to bring the sexual encounter to an end. But I will suggest that you don’t make it a habit — communication about what is giving you pleasure in what way is a foundational way to make your sex life better.
It will possibly hurt your partner’s feelings a little bit if you say “hey, I actually was not truthful about the orgasms you think you gave me,” assuming your partner is the kind of loving person who is invested in making you feel good. But that might be a necessary thing to work through to get to the other side of this conflict. If I were you, I would probably say something to the effect of “I wasn’t totally honest about orgasming when we have sex. It was a mistake because I care about you and was definitely experiencing pleasure, but orgasms were a little harder to achieve and I have some ideas about how we can get there.” Your sex life should never feel like something you can’t troubleshoot and fine-tune as time goes on.
So, this brings us to the first recommendation I have (which is usually not a motorized, vibrating one) would be to try to initiate that conversation with your partner. And you don’t even need to have that talk without a conversational lubricant, which is why I’m suggesting you pick up:
Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski
Come As You Are: Revised and Updated: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life
When I meet someone who wants to really understand the mechanics and science of sex and pleasure, I recommend they hit up this book almost immediately. Full of research and intel for couples about how desire and pleasure work, it’s an amazing ice-breaker. Give it a read, pass it to your partner and then crack open a bottle of wine to talk out what you might want to explore or fine-tune.
It doesn’t have to be high-pressure or perfect, this conversation — it just has to happen.
This one is a newer toy that I’ve enjoyed using a lot in partnered sex recently: Womanizer OG. A super versatile vibe designed to use Womanizer’s pleasure air technology and vibration to stimulate the G-Spot, it can also be used as a clitoral stimulator to excellent effect.
I like it for your situation because it offers the different kinds of stimulation but isn’t intimidating or too complicated to use. You can hold it over your clit during intercourse or your partner can penetrate you with it or use it on your clit or nipples for added sensation. You can even do a little 69 action with the toy in the mix, if you’re feeling chaotic.
Dame Eva II
Dame Products Eva II
I’ve recommended Dame’s Eva II to quite a few folks over the years for integrating with partnered sex/intercourse. Dainty, adorable and designed to stay in place and offer the additional clitoral stimulation you might need during penetration.
(I don’t recommend obsessing over trying to orgasm mid-penetration though, give yourselves the grace to take turns and explore sensations separately without allowing penetrative intercourse to be the end-all-be-all of sex.)
LULUSILK Mulberry Silk Sleep Eye Mask
This last one is something I think can help with the “take the pressure off” goal. There are numerous reasons a person can’t orgasm with their partner — and while you can direct them with technique or talk to your OB-GYN if you feel like there’s something painful or off, there’s definitely something to be said about getting into (or out of) your head.
I say it a lot around here that your brain is your largest and most important sex organ: And taking away one sense or making yourself less self-conscious is a great way to fire it up. With something like a blindfold (literally any strip of fabric or sleep mask will do) could be a really cool way to change things up and rewire your relationship to the different sensations by surrendering (a little bit) to them.
Before you go, check out our favorite 69 (nice) sex positions to try before you die:
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