Sex toy use has increased during the pandemic, both for solo users and for couples who enjoy using toys together. It's easy to see why: the best sex toys for couples can brighten up a sex life that's become monotonous, evoke more intense versions of sensations you already enjoy, and even help you feel more connected to your partner.
Why use sex toys with a partner?
Lisa Finn, a sex educator at sex toy mecca Babeland, tells SELF that there's a common misconception that sex toys are something you use before you meet your partner or when they're out of town. But sex toys aren't just for single people.
"Sex toys allow you and your partner (or partners) to bring an exciting sensation that might not be possible with tongues, fingers and genitals alone," she says, adding that you can think of them as sprinkles on an already delicious sundae.
"Sex toys do things that humans can't," acknowledges Epiphora, a blogger who has been reviewing sex toys professionally for over a decade. "Humans don't vibrate; humans don't have stainless steel penises. But that doesn't mean that toys replace or threaten human relationships either. Even if you use a sophisticated stand mixer when baking a cake, you're still the one who baked that cake - and by the same token, the fun and pleasure of using a sex toy with a partner is often more about the partner than the toy.
Sex toys "can create unique opportunities for pleasure and bonding," says Rae Chen, a writer who reviews sex toys at The Notice. This can be especially true for people who have trouble experiencing pleasure or orgasm without toys, whether due to sensitivity issues, erectile dysfunction, physical disability or other conditions. Sex educator Cassandra Corrado says it's "really liberating when you realize that [sex] doesn't have to be about human-to-human contact - you can bring tools to help you access pleasure more easily and effectively."
What should couples keep in mind when shopping for sex toys?
"Ignore all the marketing," warns Epiphora. "Some toys are specifically labeled 'for couples,' but any toy can be for couples." It's best to focus on finding toys that fulfill the specific purpose for which you want them, whether it's clitoral stimulation during sex, app-activated pleasure for long-distance couples, intense anal sensations or anything else.
"Be prepared to have a conversation with each other before you walk into a store about what you're looking for," recommends sex educator and former sex shop manager Bex Caputo. While the world of sex toys can be intimidating, it's much easier to get what you want if you and your partner are on the same page about the type(s) of toys you hope to find and what you hope to use them for.
Corrado recommends doing your research on the materials of the toys as some are better quality than others. Generally speaking, you should avoid clear or translucent toys because they tend to be made of materials you don't want inside you, such as jelly or PVC. This type of toy "will be more affordable initially," Corrado says, "but you'll need to replace it in the long run." Generally, toys made of materials such as silicone, ABS plastic, glass, sealed ceramic and stainless steel will be the easiest to clean, most durable and most comfortable to use.
Read our tips for using sex toys with your partner, and while you're at it, check out these sex educator recommendations for the best sex toys for couples, including vibrating penis rings, strap-on harnesses, vibrators for couples, and more. . Whether you're quarantined together or at a social distance, you're sure to find a couples sex toy that will spark joy (among other things). Just be sure to clean up your sex toys too!