A sex toy is any object or device that is primarily used in facilitating human sexual pleasure. This term can also include BDSM apparatuses, sex furniture, sex swings, fisting sling, or angled cushions and shaped pillows. The most popular sex toys are designed to resemble human genitals and can be classified as vibrating or non-vibrating. Sex toys usually do not include contraceptives, pornography, or condoms.
A related "softer" term is adult toy. Another related term is marital aid, often used as a euphemism for sex toys, although marital aid is broader as it can also be applied to drugs and herbs marketed as supposedly enhancing or prolonging sex.
Types of sex toys
Vibrators are vibrating devices intended to stimulate the nerves of the body. Vibrators intended for sexual use are often dildo-shaped, although they also come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, allowing internal as well as external use.
- Penetrative vibrators usually measure twelve to eighteen centimeters (five to seven inches) in length and two to five centimeters (one to two inches) wide to mimic the size of an actual penis.
- Anal vibrators are typically shorter than general penetrative vibrators, and have a flared base to prevent the device from becoming lodged in the rectum.
- The G-spot vibrator is curved at the end to facilitate stimulation of the female G-spot.
- Bullet vibrators are small, bullet-shaped vibrators that can be used for direct stimulation or inserted into other sex toys to increase stimulation.
- Vibrator wands, such as the Hitachi Magic Wand, are large vibrators that generally plug into a wall (versus operating on battery power) and are marketed as back massagers. They are typically used for clitoral stimulation.
- The rabbit vibrator, of which there are several variations, is a popular female sex toy popularized by the television series Sex and the City. It comprises an insertable shaft which often has additional functionality, such as rotation and internal beads or a thrusting action. Attached to the shaft is a vibrating clitoral stimulator. For most rabbit vibrators this comes in the form of "bunny ears" which sit either side of the clitoris.
- Luxury Vibrators entered the market around 2000 with an increased focus on design and the use of precious materials that appeal to the more upscale fashion market. They are designed by companies such as Jimmyjane and sold by high-end retailers such as Fred Segal.
- "Pocket pussies" or "vaginas" or "masturbators" are modelled to accept a penis for simulated intercourse. They can be shaped like vaginas, anuses, or anything with a hole for penetration.
- Cock rings in their most basic form enhance and prolong a man's erection by keeping blood inside the penis. A man may wear a cock ring because he has erectile difficulties, or because he likes the particular sensation of tightness and engorgement that wearing one provides. Some models include a protruding clitoral stimulator, designed to stimulate the clitoris during sex. Others vibrate, either vibrating the ring itself, or in a popular 'Dolphin' variant using two removable bullet vibrators to provide stimulation to the testicles and clitoris. Some cock rings have vibrators attached which can be worn to stimulate a partner during sexual intercourse, especially in the scrotum or perineum.
- A triple crown is a cock ring that has additional rings for restraining the testicles. In orgasm, the testicles usually retract toward the body before ejaculation. A triple crown changes and intensifies the sensation of orgasm by forcing the testicles to stay away from the body.
- A cock harness is a more elaborate harness designed to be worn around the penis and scrotum. Its intention is similar to that of a cock ring. Often associated with BDSM activities such as cock and ball torture.
- A ball lock is an ordinary padlock fastened around the male scrotum, separating the testicles away from the penis and not removable except by key or combination.
- A penis sleeve is a cylindrical device that is placed on the shaft of the penis, with the aim of increasing stimulation for the person being penetrated. They often have soft bumps intended to provide further stimulation.
- A penis extension is a partially hollow device like a very short dildo, with the hollow end placed on the end of the penis, intended to increase the effective length of the penis, again for the benefit of the person being penetrated. These are generally worn with condoms to prevent them from falling off during use.
- A Docking is a cylindrical device similar to a penis sleeve, but is open at both ends, so that two men can dock.
Glass sex toys
Glass sex toys are commonly made from clear medical grade borosilicate glass ("hard glass") of which Pyrex is a brand. This material (essentially "lead-free crystal") is completely non-toxic and will withstand extreme temperatures as well as physical shock without compromising its structural integrity. Glass toys made of borosilicate are completely safe. A properly annealed inch thick piece of borosilicate will withstand up to 3,000 lbs of pressure and extreme heat and cold. Glass dildos are also non porous and can be sterilized to help prevent infection with reuse. This feature is important for products like the "Benny Buster" because its long, thin build requires modern chemical engineering. These types of sex toys are not only durable, but also very visually appealing often considered by some to be works of art. Glass sex toys are a viable and long lasting alternative to the less expensive and less appealing toys on the market.
- A nipple clamp is a clamp used to stimulate the nipples by applying varying degrees of pressure.
- Suction devices are generally either rubber or glass, fit around the nipple, and cause nipples to become more sensitive due to engorgement. Glass suction devices may use either heat or a pump to create suction.
- Butt Plugs are shorter dildos intended for anal insertion. They tend to have a flared base to prevent the device from becoming lodged in the rectum.
- Anal Beads are balls or bumps on a string or a semi-rigid wand. They are inserted into the rectum and then removed with varying speeds.
- Prostate Massage toys are specially curved dildos that aim to stimulate the prostate.
Another notable invention for anal destruction is the self-named "Brawny Tawny," which is a spiked and studded rubber fist, except several times larger than usual.
General penetrative toys
- A dildo is a non-vibrating device which is used for sexual stimulation of the vagina and/or anus. Dildos are generally made of silicone rubber, but can be made of other materials such as metals or glass. They are often made to resemble a penis.
- A double-ended dildo is a long, usually flexible dildo with both ends designed for penetration. It allows for mutual penetration between two persons (or for double penetration of a single female, both anally and vaginally).
- Ben Wa balls are hollow metal balls inserted vaginally which can be worn inside the vagina for extended periods of time. The internal rolling is said to enhance orgasms, and enable women with vaginal difficulties to reach orgasm.
- Kegel exercisers, also known as vaginal barbells, also known as vagina jugglers are designed to improve muscle tone in the pelvic floor, and can be used for sexual pleasure as well as enhancing vaginal response.
Flesh-like materials used in sex toys
- Silicone is soft and lifelike, it is hypoallergenic, warms up quickly to body temperature, non-porous therefore easy to clean (with mild soap and water, or boiled for sterilization). Unlike jelly rubber and other porous materials, silicone can be sterilized in temperatures up to 600 degrees F. It can be bleached in a 10% bleach solution. When using lubricants with silicone sex toys it's important that silicone or silicone based lubricants are not used to avoid damage to the toy.
- Cyberskin, also known under other brand names, a thermal plastic elastomer (mixture of PVC and silicone), is currently the closest emulation of real skin. As it is porous, it cannot be sterilized completely but may be cleaned with anti-bacterial soap and water. Bacteria can build up easily in the toy and should never be used if there is a tear or hole in the cyberskin. A water based lubricant is best for Cyberskin toys. unfortunately, PVC is known to cause cancer and other health risks so responsible retailers don't sell products containing PVC.
- Latex rubber, also called jelly rubber, is commonly used for sex toys; it is a flexible and inexpensive material allowing the user more options in size and look. While latex is commonly used and less expensive it can be allergenic to some people. Latex is very porous and it must be cleaned thoroughly (with an antibactierial and water or sex toy cleaner). Even with cleaning, it cannot be sterilized. Like Cyberskin, all usage must be discontinued if there is a tear or hole in the rubber. Most rubber toys contain pthalates, a chemical used to soften rubber (also present in household items that contain plastic, such as baby bottles), that has been proven to cause cancer in animal experiments. Due to its porousness and the presence of pthalates, it is recommended by many experts that one use a condom with each use for protection against bacterial infection or adverse effects by pthalates. Water and silicone-based lubricants can be used with Latex toys, oil-based lubricants and petroleum jelly should never be used with latex as these will disintegrate the toy.
Legal issues in the United States
In many areas, such as some U.S. Southern states, the sale of sex toys is discouraged, or outlawed completely, by laws prohibiting or regulating "obscene devices". As recently as 1999, William H. Pryor, Jr., an assistant attorney general in Alabama commenting on a case involving sex toys and discussing to what end the devices are used, was quoted as saying there is no "fundamental right for a person to buy a device to produce orgasm". A federal appeals court upheld Alabama's law prohibiting the sale of sex toys on Valentine's Day, 2007.
It is also common practice for someone to move a motor home near a proposed sex shop as a means of protest to prevent the shop from opening where the law prohibits an "adult" establishment within a certain distance of a dwelling.
However, in February 2008, a federal appeals court overturned a Texas statute banning the sales of sex toys, deeming such a statute as violating the Constitution's 14th Amendment on the right to privacy . The appeals court cited Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, where the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 struck down bans on consensual sex between gay couples, as unconstitutionally aiming at "enforc[ing] a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct".
There are organizations that assist those who sell sex toys to stay within legal limits and provide them with news, legal updates and assistance. One such organization is the National Association for Sexual Awareness & Empowerment (NASAE)
Sex toys, especially lubricants, have become increasingly available in major commercial retail outlets in the United States as of 2007 and early 2008. On-shelf displays tend to be more discreet than the offerings on the major outlet web sites. These items tend to be displayed in the female health sections of stores.
References and further reading
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This article is based on "Sex toy" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sex+toy&action=history