Sex Toy 101: Analyzing Toy Experiences in the Bedroom

Sex Toy 101: Analyzing Toy Experiences in the Bedroom

Sex toys have been around since ancient times, and as society progresses and pop culture phenomena like “Fifty Shades of Grey” popularise, the stigma is slowly fading. While some men and women feel comfortable enough to talk to their friends about sex toy purchases and use openly, others may want just a bit more discretion when exploring their toy curiosity, but that isn’t stopping them from owning one.

51% own and use a sex toy, 29% never used or owned one, 20% used to have one.

Thankfully, a new wave of feminism and more awareness of masturbation shame for men is helping us all talk about our pleasure more openly. Why shouldn’t we explore our bodies and understand our pleasure better? According to a preliminary survey of over 2,000 Europeans and Americans, 51 percent currently do, and they weren’t afraid to share some of their experiences with us. Interested in which sex toys current and past users recommend? Continue reading to learn about the toys that give people the best orgasms, and common reasons to get sex toys into your bedroom.

Introductory toys

People's first sex toy by sexual orientation and gender

An overwhelming majority of both gay and straight women chose a vibrator or dildo as their first sex toy. Gay and straight men, however, were more diverse in their first sex toy encounters. Twenty-seven percent of straight men were introduced to sex toys through penis rings, while 23 percent chose a male masturbator. While gay men were also fairly diverse in their first encounter, dildos were the most common introductory toys.

Choosing which sex toy to buy should be an exciting and thoughtful process. Sex toys continue to benefit from advancements in technology and more diversity in the market, from technologically-enhanced toys such as bluetooth-controlled vibrators to lubricants that tingle or taste like strawberries. The common places to buy sex toys are adult stores and online retailers. Over half of respondents bought their first sex toy from an online store, likely because of the added discretion and a wider range of products.

Why turn to toys?

Reasons to introduce sex toys by sexual preference and gender

Sex toys are a great way to climax without another person involved, but they can also play a role in pleasing a partner or making a couple’s sex life even more pleasurable. Thirty-nine percent of gay women and 46 percent of straight men said using sex toys made it easier to orgasm. If it’s not always about the big O, though, why else do people introduce sex toys into the bedroom?

For straight women and both gay and straight men, increasing the intensity of their orgasms with a partner was the top reason for using sex toys. However, for gay women, the top reason for introducing sex toys was to find new ways to explore their partner’s body. While sex toys may not be the answer to all relationship troubles, introducing them can increase and improve communication, build trust, and bring some spice back into your sex life.

Personal pleasure

Most popular sex toys by sexual preference and gender

When it comes to sex toys, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Dildos and vibrators come in hundreds of shapes, sizes, colours, and functions. But which sex toys are the favourites among users?

Straight men and women named vibrators, dildos, and penis rings as their top three sex toys. Vibrators, dildos, and wearable sex toys, like vibrating underwear and nipple clamps, topped the list of favourites for gay women. Gay men favoured dildos, anal plug or beads, and penis rings.

We also asked respondents if they used sex toys with different partners. The fact is, around 1 in 4 people who use sex toys feel comfortable using a sex toy with multiple partners. With sex toy prices ranging from the double digits to a whopping one million pounds, buying toys can get expensive.

Finishing faster

sex toys that make having orgasms easier by sexual preference and gender

Orgasms are different for everybody, but sometimes reaching climax can be difficult, especially for women. Over the years, studies have sought to find ways to help women orgasm, and sex toys may play a major role.

A recent study found penetration isn’t enough for most women to orgasm and the addition of clitoral stimulation is needed. It explains the appearance of vibrators for both straight and gay women, with 67 percent of gay women and 65 percent of straight women reporting their orgasmic benefits. If penetration isn’t enough for women, it also seems to ring true for straight men, as they listed bondage apparatus as one of their most pleasurable items.

Communication is key

Pleasure perceptions in straight relationships

Introducing sex toys into the bedroom can improve communication, which may be needed in more bedrooms than initially thought. Communication can help build intimacy in a new relationship but also give partners a sense of safety and comfort during a time of sexual adventure. However, when there isn’t proper communication, some may miss what actually enhances their partner’s pleasure.

Over 50 percent of straight women said they didn’t think their male partners found dildos pleasurable, but 73 percent of men said that isn’t true. On the other hand, 88 percent of straight men thought their female partners enjoyed using Ben Wa Balls, but only 44 percent of women reported their use to be pleasurable. Sex toys can increase pleasure for any and all parties involved, but without communication, sex toys are just more objects in the bedroom.

Pleasing your partner

Pleasure perceptions in gay relationships

Gay women underestimated how pleasurable vibrators were for their partner – only 67 percent said they thought their partners found vibrators pleasurable, but 89 percent of gay women said they did.

Gay men, however, seemed to have similar disparities in perception with their partners. They somewhat underestimated how pleasurable their partners found vibrators – 86 percent thought their partners would like it, but 100 percent of gay men found pleasure in vibrators. Overall, however, gay women were the most attuned to their partner’s pleasure, and underestimated their partner’s pleasure by only 11%, compared to gay men, who underestimated their partner’s pleasure by 14%.

Don't play with your food

Houshold items people have used for sexual pleasure by gender

Whether it’s for personal pleasure or added ecstasy between partners, sex toys may not always be available in the heat of the moment. In place of store-bought toys, many people turn to household items to aid in orgasm.

Forty-two percent of women have used the showerhead or water jet feature to get off, and 25 percent have used a pillow. Men are less likely to use household items, but 21 percent have also used a pillow in place of a sex toy. Despite warnings not to use food items or hairbrushes as penetrative tools, 19 percent of men said they have used a fruit or vegetable, and 14 percent of women have used a hairbrush.

Dildo doubts

Sex toy hesitation by gender

As with every other product, you may need some time to get acquainted with your toy, but at least you can be assured that over 90% of men and women in this study found their sex toys easy to use. In fact, some of the common reservations people had about sex toys, notably fear of pain or discomfort, were debunked, according to the 83% of women and men who found their toys to be quite comfortable during use. There’s no need to be afraid of sex toys, as long as you find out the right toy(s) for you, which also means looking for high-quality products and instructions on how to use them safely. Be sure to check the materials the toy is made of and the ratings from users, too. Taking precautions and buying from a reputable toy store are the best ways to ease anxieties and heighten pleasure, especially for first time users.

Playing with pleasure

Sex toys don’t have to be intimidating, and from our study we know that they can offer opportunities to explore pleasure in exciting new ways. After all, over 50 percent of us use them, whether we admit to it or not. Of course, first-timers may still get the jitters – but experts and current users are there to help you choose the best and safest toy for achieving that orgasm.

Whether you and yours are using toys or not, it’s important you stay safe and healthy in the bedroom. From contraceptive solutions to erectile dysfunction treatments, Superdrug Online Doctor provides you with quick and reliable medical consultations from the privacy of your own home. Visit us online to learn more or get an assessment from one of our medical professionals.


We surveyed 2,014 respondents to capture our overall statistics on sex toy ownership and usage. We then proceeded to survey 976 respondents who use sex toys and asked them questions about the efficacy of the toys they use. Our respondents ranged in age from 18 to 71, with a mean age of 32 and a standard deviation of 10 years. Ninety-one percent of respondents identified as straight, and 9 percent identified as gay, with 52 percent identifying as female, and 48 percent identifying as male. We did not have a validated scale of pleasure, so we made our own, with 1 being “not at all pleasurable” and 5 being “very pleasurable.”

When we asked respondents about their level of pleasure while using sex toys with their partner, there was no indication as to whether their pleasure was linked to their personal pleasure or their partner’s. We are providing a general view of pleasure between two people based on sex toy use. Some analyses had smaller sample sizes than typical, but were included for the purpose of analysis. For example, There were only 5 gay women who reported that a bondage apparatus made orgasms easier to achieve, and 6 gay men who said a penis ring made orgasms easier to achieve. In the “Pleasure Perceptions in Gay Relationships” asset, only around 6-7 gay women and men used certain toys. No statistical testing was applied, and this study is purely exploratory.

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