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Sex toys and aids

Sex toys can increase pleasure and make sex easier for some people.

What are sex toys?

Sex toys or aids are objects that are used for arousal or pleasure or to make sex easier. They can be used on your own or with someone else and come in many different forms to suit different bodies and what each individual finds pleasurable.  

Sex toys aren’t for everyone

Sex toys are more accessible than ever. They are advertised in mainstream media, discussed on sex-related social media accounts, and depicted in pornography, but nobody should feel pressure to use them. Many people are not interested in using them at all and have enjoyable sex lives without them. 

Sex toys and the Law

It’s not illegal to buy sex toys if you are under 18 but it is illegal to enter premises that only sell sex toys.

You should make sure any sex toys you do buy meet the required safety standards. To do this, you should look for the CE mark – if it has one then it is a safe device.  

Warnings about sex toys

STIs can be passed on through sex toys. To avoid this, you should: 

  • Avoid sharing sex toys with other people 
  • Clean them after use – follow advice on packaging 
  • Use the right kind of lube – follow advice on packaging 
  • Use condoms with sex toys that are used for penetrative sex and a new condom each time it is used on different people or on/in different parts of the body e.g. if moving between the vagina and the anus 
  • Check for scratches or tears regularly as these can harbour germs 

Why might someone choose to use sex toys?

Sex toys have been used throughout history and we know that they play a supportive role in healthy and happy sex lives for many people.  

Disabilities can influence the type of sex or pleasure someone can experience. Just as disabilities come in all forms, sex toys/aids come in all shapes, sizes and functions too. There are also some made to help with specific disabilities, for example remote controlled sex toys for those with limited hand movements. This variety can help make sex easier, more accessible and fulfilling for many disabled people.   

Sex toys can help people who have experienced sexual assault or rape to become reconnected to their bodies and pleasure. This could be using any type of sex toy but there are also some toys designed specifically for this purpose; for example, toys that monitor breathing and encourage the user to relax while exploring their body or toys that are designed to look like objects rather than penises. 

Toys can also be useful to explore different kinds of sex and in particular, sex which doesn’t involve penetration. Certain conditions, such as vulvodynia and vaginismus, can make penetrative sex painful for people with vaginas and vulvas. Using sex toys can help explore sex in other ways and can help to overcome these conditions in a safe and controlled space.  

As sex toys can make different types of sex accessible, they can form a big part of LGBT+ people’s sex lives. Sex toys have become more inclusive with toys designed specifically for transgender people’s bodies and to explore different ways of giving and receiving pleasure.

They may also play a useful role with masturbation or partnered sex at specific points in people’s lives; for example, after cancer treatment, after childbirth, after hysterectomy or during menopause; or for those with penises experiencing erectile problems.  

Many people may simply be curious about sex toys and want to experiment with the different ways they affect arousal, sensation and pleasure. Using them alone may be a good way to find out what feels good at your own pace.  

Just like any type of partnered sex you should always make sure you have mutual, clearly given, consent, before using a sex toy with someone else. The key thing to remember is that it is your personal choice if you want to use or don’t want to use sex toys – no one should ever force you to use them. 

If your sexual partner wants to use sex toys, this is not a reflection on your ability to pleasure them but reflects their own personal preference. It’s a good idea to talk about this and any feelings you might have so that you can understand each other and both your likes and dislikes.  There is no right or wrong way to have sex and everyone has different things that they like that will enable them to have the type of sex they want that is fulfilling and meaningful.  

More about how to talk about sex with a partner 

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