Masturbation, sadly, is an act overwhelmingly associated with men. Women today may well be far more sexually liberated than their grandmothers were, but it’s still taboo openly talk about self-pleasure. Bashing the bishop, jerking the gherkin, even the amount of slang terms available for women’s masturbation is nil compared to men. There is, however, a small, but vital loophole in this strange social setting: sex toys.
Sex Toys: The Background
Over fifteen years ago, Sex and the City’s Charlotte bought a rabbit vibrator and lived happily ever after. It was a defining moment for womankind. What this iconic TV episode did was give women permission to talk about sex toys, and it has undoubtedly contributed to the reclamation of female sexuality in our post-Fifty Shades world. Almost two decades since Charlotte’s shopping trip, the words ‘sex toy’ conjure up an image of a strong, sexually independent female and her trusty rabbit vibrator. Success! Nearly.
Sex Toys: The Problem
But what about men and sex toys? There are loads of toys for men, and there are many men out there who use them, but they don’t seem to admit it. If you’ve never come across (ahem) male sex toys, you’re not alone. There aren’t as many out there for guys as there are for women, but the industry has cottoned on, and the number of male sex toys is rising fast.
Sex Toys: What to Try
The most commonly-known male sex toy is the humble cock ring; you can pick a basic one up in your local pharmacy, alongside the lube and condoms. Placed at the base of the shaft (and sometimes behind the testicles), cock rings restrict blood flow to the penis and create harder, more impressive erections. They also delay ejaculation, making him last longer – which is great for both partners. Many cock rings come with stimulators for his perineum (that little sweet spot between his balls and his anus), or even attached anal beads or butt plugs.
Sex Toys: Getting Serious
Sex toys designed to be penetrated are less commonly known about, as these toys simulate the sensation of intercourse. One of the most successful male sex toy brands on the market is Fleshlight. These guys have developed a range of ultra-realistic masturbators which look scarily like actual vaginas (or bottoms or mouths, depending on your preference). They use soft, flesh-coloured material which is incredibly lifelike to touch. Penetrable toys are textured internally to replicate different orifices, and some are even modelled on famous porn stars’ private parts.
Less lifelike but equally stimulating, the stroker is another big seller. It’s quite simply a stretchy hollow tube, usually made from jelly-like material, which is textured inside with little bobbles and ridges. The user penetrates the tube and away he goes!
Sex Toys: The Taboo
Despite all these sex toys being suitable for use with an open-minded partner, there’s still a perception that men who buy sex toys, especially realistic masturbators, can’t get ‘the real thing’.
It’s confusing. If wanking = men, and sex toys = women, surely there must be a cross-over. Men are using sex toys, and they are enjoying them. So why aren’t we talking about it?
Sex Toys: The ‘Strength’ Debate
There’s an old-fashioned preconception that women are virtuous and men are not. Women are weak, men are strong. Women ‘need’ help, men do not. The truth is, many men I’ve spoken to are afraid they’ll be seen as weak, pathetic or lonely for enjoying sex toys. If they’re into prostate play, you can add fear of being branded ‘gay’ to that list too (the prostate is located a few inches inside the bottom).
Luckily, as people’s attitudes to sex lighten up a little, we’re just about getting our heads around the fact that sex toys aren’t meant to replace intimacy with a partner – but to enhance the whole sexual experience. In fact, they can even help prevent a whole host of medical issues in both men and women.
Sex Toys: The Benefits
Although the NHS are yet to say that prostate massage prevents cancer, many men claim that regularly massaging their bottom’s wondergland (or P-spot) helps with bouts of inflammation and keeps them feeling healthy. Online prostate resource, www.Prostate.net, claims that massage can improve urinary flow, increase blood flow, and help keep the prostate a normal, healthy size. It’s not for nothing that treatment for prostatitis (a painful swelling of the prostate) is regular digital massage by a doctor. Like any part of your body, the better you know it, the more likely you are to recognise a problem.
The Journal of the American Medical Association also recently found that nearly 43% of women experience ‘sexual dysfunction’ (i.e. struggle to orgasm) at some stage in their life. It’s now not uncommon for doctors to recommended sex toys to ease emotional stress and frustration – once known as ‘hysteria’. As somewhat of an expert in the sex toy world, I’m regularly approached for advice by NHS educators, relationship counsellors and psychotherapists who are urging their patients to explore sex toys, despite many older professionals knowing very little about them. One sex therapist I recently worked with educates NHS practitioners. She commented that during her talk “I didn’t come across anyone who recognised the stroker”. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the health benefits of male sex toys are also recognised as widely.
Sex Toys: The Future
From my years speaking with ‘average’ sex toy users, I believe that men who use sex toys have better, longer relationships than those who don’t. They’re more likely to learn what their partners enjoy between the sheets – and ultimately get to enjoy a higher number of orgasms with them. It’s a gateway to communication – and generally couples who play together, stay together.
Men who use sex toys by themselves are also discovering their own preferences and are actively training themselves to last longer. Many strokers are branded ‘Stamina Training Units’ and are recommended by professionals to help with premature ejaculation issues. Sex and relationships expert Tracey Cox has even developed an iPhone app called ‘EDGE’, which men can download to ‘train’ themselves to last longer – one of the ‘levels’ includes using a stroker to get used to more intense sensations.
Times, they are a-changin’. Male sex toys are selling fast, and as a category have seen some of the highest overall growth in the past 2 years.
It’s about time men realised that being open about sex makes you open about life – and whether you’re paired off or single, being happy sexually makes you a happier person overall. Now go forth and play.