MGA here. I’m writing this closing after finishing today’s blog, but it’s weird that I’m sticking it at the top of it, but there’s a method to my madness. I’m switching things up today and talking to you first because I might just have an announcement! And maybe even a favor to ask of all of you. So please read on.
I think you guys have liked these sex toy blogs, no? Well, I have to tell you, this series has been a lot of work, but really great fun, too. So even though today’s sex toy blog is the last in the series (wahn waaahnn waaahhhhnnnnn) I don’t want you to be sad.
Months ago, when I stumbled across some health benefits of orgasms that I didn’t know or hadn’t thought about, I started thinking that if I didn’t know or think about these things, maybe some of you didn’t either. Once I started looking at all the material online about orgasms, that led me directly to the point (underlined in bold letters) that they’re not the automatic foregone conclusion to any and every sexual event that all the movies and all the… propaganda is really the only accurate word… makes them out to be. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Especially for women. This singular fact- that there is more bs and shame shrouding the real reality of sex and orgasm- made me want to expose it. And of course do so in my very own unique (maybe slightly weird and slightly more irreverent) way. My shrinky senses were on alert, and the rest of it, the sex toys and all, was just a natural progression. I had a mission. Present all of it in an approachable way, no shame, no bs, no flinching.
There’s sooo much material on the great interwebs on all things sex, orgasm, toys, and sex psych… it’s actually overwhelming. I knew that I couldn’t possibly do the subject any justice in one blog, so I decided to do the series. And while I was researching and reading, I saw so much evidence that made it crystal clear that sex, orgasm, and sexual health and wellness are such huge and integral components of the human condition, yet… Shhhh!Keep your voice down! What is wrong with you?! Why do you have to talk about this stuff anyway? Helll-ooo… such huge and integral components of the human condition, yet WE DON’T TALK ABOUT THEM!!
Because the fact that we don’t talk about it is just patently dumb. Look, I’m all for discretion, though you couldn’t be blamed if you’re having a hard time believing that, rolling your eyes right about now and thinking “seriously?” Yep. Seriously. I understand that it’s not an easy topic, but the fact that there’s so much shame and confusion and bs obscuring the topic of sex, all things that do real damage to real people in real life, I knew that propagating those things by continuing to not talk about it just wasn’t going to happen.
Once I had put up the first sex toy blog, a patient asked me what the hell was I… ‘a psychiatrist of all people, doing writing about sex (very quietly) and dildos (almost whispered, as though she was concerned that the morality police were hiding behind my desk waiting to bust her) and how some people can and some people… can’t… be… satisfied?‘ she almost spit it out, she was so happy to have found the word, any word. Then she quickly added, ‘It’s just too… too personal!‘ she said with a shake of her head and a tsk tsk expression. For any of you that are thinking ‘Yeah, riiight? Exactly!’ right now, my answer to why is pretty simple: I am a psychiatrist, so people come to me seeking help for their problems. Right? I’m dealing with their minds and all the things that happen in them and to them. So any and every “thing” that creates a barrier to their happiness- to the point that they’re sitting in my office- is fair game. And many times, the tallest, widest, and strongest barrier I see in that office is shame. And shame is shame, no matter what it arises from, and so it is my sworn enemy, and I like to make it a point to wipe it out where it lives at every opportunity. And the fact that this patient who wanted to know why I was doing these blogs had to barely whisper the word dildos as it stuck in her throat, and because I could literally see her search frantically for any word to say butorgasm is exactly why I was doing them. How’s that for irony?
I don’t claim to be a sex therapist, so it doesn’t fall to me to cleanly and concisely educate about it in an academic way, every impact that sexual health and wellness has on people’s lives. That’s not why I wanted to do it. Do I want you to learn something? Definitely. By the time you’ve read these blogs, do I want you to be able to recite the six principles of sexual health and explain the genesis of their inclusion? No. In fact, I don’t even go over all of that technical stuff, because that’s not what this is about. What this is all about is just getting the real deal info out there. Relax the stigma. Show that the subject is not too taboo, which was why I made that the subtitle of the first sex toy blog.
So during the countless hours I spent putting these last three blogs together, I had an epiphany. Okay, maybe it was part epiphany, part hallucination brought on by a lack of sleep, but the end result remained the same: with all of the things that have to be brought to the light, these were going to be some really. long. blogs. people. In fact, I could totally fill an entire book with this stuff. So I’m going to. That’s the announcement: I’m doing another book…my third. But it’s going to be very different from my first two, and not just because of the subject matter. It’s going to be different because I’m writing with a co-author, something I’ve never done. Her name is Dawn, and she’s kind of got degrees like a thermometer: biology, molecular biology, chemistry, microbio… there could be more, but my point is that she’s not a moron at all, yet despite that, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, and I think you’ll like her writing style, because I do… and it’s a lot like mine to be honest. I think that having both the male and female perspectives will make it a better, more balanced book. It’s going to be good, people!
Which brings me to my next point. Actually, my next question. And it’s for you. Yes… you. And you. All of you! I need a favor. Well, we- Dawn and I- need one. We need you to help us. Will you help us write this book? I promise it’ll be super easy. Here’s the scoop: given the general topic of sex and orgasm, we’re going to be doing a simple, anonymous sex survey in the not-too-distant future, and we’re hoping that you’ll agree to participate in it. And in order to get a statistically significant sample size (say that five times fast) and draw conclusions from the survey, it’s got to get into the hands of a lot of people. So I’m asking everyone to please share this blog with at least five people, but if you can share it with more than that, even better! So I guess that’s two favors I’m asking: one, that all of you will agree to be contacted to take the survey, and two: that each of you will share this blog to pass that same request on to at least five others. I really appreciate it people!
For you to agree to be contacted to take the survey, you just have to leave a comment on the blog saying so. If you’re familiar with the site, at the end of each blog there’s a little blue link that says “LEARN MORE” Click on that and it’ll take you directly to a reply box. Type in “Contact me to take the survey” fill in your info, check save my info for future, check if you wish to get notifications and submit. Voila!
If you’re like me, you like to ‘copy paste edit’ to save time, so here’s a message you can do that with to send along with the blog to explain everything to your people, people! FYI: I assumed that the people you send to won’t be familiar with the blog, so the instructions on how to leave a comment that I give in the following pre-fab message are different than those I gave you above- they’re faster, as they don’t require they read the whole blog to see the “learn more” link located at the end of each blog. They can just click on the small grey comment link just before the blog.
Feel free to ‘copy paste edit’ this paragraph to send when you share the blog. Thanks!
Dr. Mark Agresti, a psychiatrist I know, has a weekly blog https://dragresti.com/blog/ and he just mentioned that he will be doing a simple anonymous sex survey sometime in the not-too-distant future, and in order to get a statistically significant sample size of completed surveys to draw conclusions from, he’s requesting that people agree to be contacted to take the survey, and that we please pass that same request on to at least five other people. So great news… you’re one of my people! So please click on the link https://dragresti.com/blog/ and you’ll be able to see and read all of his weekly blogs anytime. To agree to be contacted to take the survey, you have to leave a comment saying so. There are lots of places to do that, but the fastest is to look where it announces that week’s blog title and in small grey letters you’ll see the authorship, date, category and a [> 1 comment] link. Click on that little comment link and it’ll take you directly to a reply box. Please type in “contact for survey” then fill in your details, check the box that says ‘Save my name, etc for next time’ and if you wish to receive future notifications and submit. Voila! And please feel free to pass the request along to as many people as you’d like. Dr. Agresti appreciates it and so do I!
Housekeeping is almost done here people.
I hope you’ll enjoy this final blog in the three part sex toy series: The Future of Sex Toys
Please don’t forget to leave a “Contact for survey” comment and share the blog to pass it along to as many people as possible. The more people that take the survey, the more meaningful the data gathered from it will be- and the better the book based on that will be!
I really appreciate it.
And if you have other comments about any of my blogs, if you like what you’re reading or you have suggestions, please leave those too. I’m always down for comments!
Be sure to check out my YouTube channel with all of my videos, and I’d appreciate it if you would like, subscribe, share, and comment on those vids too! And my book Tales from the Couchhas more educational topics and patient stories, and it’s available in the office and on Amazon.
Thank you and be well people!
Now without further ado, this week’s blog…
Part Trois du Trois:
The Future of Sex Toys
Throughout the course of history, humans have experimented with numerous ways to derive sexual satisfaction: ancient dildos, Ben Wa Balls, Cleopatra’s bee vibrator… We’ve already explored how our ancestors got off in the history of sex toys, so now we’ll look ahead. What does the future of sex toys hold?
Imagine a world where you can strap on your VR headset, crank up your smart bodysuit, and have virtual sex with someone on the other side of the globe. It sounds like the setting for a sci-fi porn flick, but fully remote VR sex is closer than you think.
The marriage of sex and innovative technologies is known today as “sex tech.” And just like every innovative business linked to sex, it’s BIG business: the sex tech industry is currently valued at more than $30 billion dollars. But unlike some businesses linked to sex, the sex tech market specifically is set to explode, and this value is predicted to climax at over $124 billion by 2024… quadruple in four years people! I can’t think of another industry that has, or ever could, accomplish this growth rate expectation.
Remember that total geek that sat in front of you in eighth grade math class? The guy with the pocket protector and ultra thick glasses that couldn’t get a human date so he was really into robots? Yeah, him. This is what he grew up to do: sex tech. And just fyi… he’s a billionaire now.
From Sex Industry to Sex Tech
While sex toys in their primitive form have existed for literally ages, the last few decades have allowed civilization to explore an unprecedented level of freedom in the sexual health and wellness arena, and this has led to a proliferation of sophisticated technology and innovation in sex tech. A perfect example of this is the novel intersection of sex and Artificial Intelligence (AI), a pairing that was once thought to be inconceivable, but now holds great promise for the most immersive sex experiences ever possible.
Sex Tech Defined
As defined by FutureofSex.net: “Sex tech is technology and technology-driven ventures designed to enhance, innovate, and disrupt in every area of human sexuality and human sexual experience. Sex tech is important because sex and sexuality lie at the heart of everything we are and everything we do.”
Now that we’ve cleared that up…
What Will Sex Toys Look Like In The Future?
Where do you currently keep your sex toys? In the sock drawer? A dedicated goodie box?
Let’s explore some data:
The world’s largest masturbation study (yup, that’s a real thing) published that 78 percent of adults in the world masturbate, including: 96 percent of British men, 93 percent of German men, and 92 percent of American men; and 78 percent of British women, 76 percent of German women, and 76 percent of American women.
A survey from UK sex toy creator Lovehoney found that three in four Americans own at least one dildo. That means roughly 70 percent of Americans have a dildo in their homes (or cars, or cubicles… no judgement) While the majority, 78 percent, are women, 64 percent of men that answered also said they own a “phallic sex toy;” guess they couldn’t say d i l – d o… dildo.
One safe conclusion we can draw from this data is that there are a lot of dildos floating around out there people. If we round down the current US population to 328 million, and assume that each respondent has just one dildo (which would be highly unusual- most people that use them definitely have more) that means there are more than 229 million dildos in the US. And given that number, as compared to the number of people that freely talk about using them or admit to it, we can also see clear evidence that many people still feel embarrassment and/ or shame to admit to masturbating, much less using toys. So even though the tech has advanced, it’s pretty clear that society’s acceptance has not come nearly far enough. It’s especially true in the non-male founded sex tech companies. There is a definitive double standard, so read on for details on that.
In 2017, one sex tech company self-named by its founder, Lora DiCarlo introduced the Osé, a dual massager for blended orgasms that introduced the world to “sex tech inspired by human movement.” For the very first time, a “smart toy” employed very complex mechanics and robotics that spoke to actual female anatomy and vaginal physiology. This founder and her company actually did a ton of work to develop this. They took countless measurements and made molds of thousands of vaginas to create a natural feeling toy with robotics that perfectly mimicked human movement, specifically a “come hither” motion for G-spot massage. The end result was apparently worth it- it was so unique and the movement so human and life-like that it actually won a highly coveted robotics innovation award from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in that same year.
But then, when the CTA considered that the company was founded by a woman, they actually rescinded the award! Apparently because in their estimation, a female engineer/ founder creating robotic tech ‘inspired by human movement’ for the purposes of creating ‘a dual massager with come hither G-spot massage and clitoral stimulation’ for the specific purpose of ‘achieving a blended orgasm’ was lewd, and as such, the CTA could not be associated with the device in any way; which btw in their policies, that made it comparable to hard core pornography. That means they were actually saying that a woman creating robotic tech to theoretically pleasure herself and other women is pornographic. Saaay whaaat?! I’m a guy, so I don’t even have a horse in this race, but I’m still offended! They made it quite evident that if it had been developed by a man, it would have been a different story. A male founder of the product would have kept the award. Can you believe that bullshit, people? And PS, they also refused to let her company, and all other female founded sex tech companies, to even attend the event in the future!
As you can imagine, Lora DiCarlo was mad as hell, but not surprised at all. She and all of the other female sex techies were used to having Facebook and other social media platforms censor them, PayPal refuse to offer their payment platform for their websites, or to be associated with them in any way. They got nothing but doors slammed in their collective faces. Just another Tuesday.
Well, Captain Obvious says that Ms. Lora DiCarlo had some things to say to the CTA about that. She started a critical public conversation about gender equity in tech, demanded that CTA issue a public apology and re-award her the award that she earned, and publicly demanded that any and all female-founded sex tech companies be invited to all future CTA events. And CTA in fact got smart and capitulated to her demands. Since that time, Lora DiCarlo and her company have continued to champion the cause of women’s sexual health in as open and public a way as possible. In addition, she and her fellow female techies have also formed Women of Sex Tech, which the New York Times said is “a tech-savvy and female-led women’s sexuality movement that has made its home in New York, instead of, say, Silicon Valley. Women, many of them under 40, are updating sex toys and related products with their own needs in mind, and leading the companies that sell them.”
And in fact, there are many more female founded sex tech co’s than male- it’s not even close, and Facebook and some other social platforms still censor them, so some specifically create vanilla campaigns to slip past the censors to be allowed on them. I don’t know about PayPal, but any person or company with three brain cells to spark off each other should be rolling out the red carpet to welcome these previously wrongly censored companies. I can feel her pain with Facebook… they refuse to boost my blog ever since I said that social media was problematic because devotees spent too much time in their artificial, anti-social social media platform. They need to get with the times and realize that just because they don’t appreciate a product or comment or statement, that doesn’t automatically invalidate it.
Anyway, the moral of that story is that today, women are kicking butt and leading the charge in the women’s sexual wellness arena and the robotics and AI that go with it…a fact that offends the nerdy guys in their Silicone (Valley) Prisms.
Back to the Future… of Sex Toys
We all know what yesterday’s dildos look like- mostly veiny, flesh-toned, realistic penis replicas (designed by men- I can believe that) or brightly colored carnival-prize-looking things that apparently didn’t excel in form or function. Both of those are relegated to under the bed to gather dust and dog hair (eeeww) or under the socks in the top drawer.
Now contrast that to an insta-worthy living room with a coffee table proudly displaying an artsy magazine, a glass succulent cactus terrarium, and a beautiful, artisanal, teal-colored dildo…
According to sexperts, advances in sex tech will continue to be accompanied by a more open and accepting attitude towards sexuality. As a result, sex toy designs are moving away from products that need to be hidden away under a bed or in a drawer like a dirty secret. Now designers are embracing sleek and aesthetically pleasing designs that are meant to be noticed and begging to be on display in (almost) every home in the country. Ornamental dildos? Sure, why not?!
More Options, More Orgasms
As society becomes more open-minded and accepting of trans, non-binary people, and just all people, we can expect to see more gender neutral toys in a range of sizes, colors, and designs. In fact, as you’ll read later, this is already the case.
Alexa… Oh Yeah, Right There Alexa!
The future isn’t just about high tech gadgets, it’s about having greater control over them. Imagine a vibrator with a range of personalized settings: slow and sensual or a hit it and quit it quickie for lunch breaks. Voice recognition and AI technology will play an increasing role in realizing this future. Voice activated toys that respond when asked to change strength, speed, or force will make Alexa look like a boring prude by comparison. And in fact, this is another example of ‘the future is now’ deal, as Vibease, the company that introduced the world’s first app controlled vibrator has now developed the world’s first AI integrated, voice activated vibrator. And it actually looks like a designer lipstick, so they clearly created it with an eye toward it going with when the user heads out to work or play. As Vibease says, their “goal is simple: bring out your inner glow…” Pretty catchy, huh people? Right now, I believe the AI enabled voice activated lipstick vibrator (say that four times fast) is actually available on Kickstarter for half price; they’re evidently selling it at a discount as a means of funding future techie toys. If anybody maybe needs a handy excuse for buying and trying…
How about sex toys that become integrated into our bodies? The founder of media and research company Future of Sex believes that in 30 years we might not even see sex toys as separate entities. I don’t know about that exactly, but it’s quite a concept, and as you’ll read later, Elon Musk is already working on what I might categorize as similar tech. A male sex techie named Rich Lee has developed the LoveTron9000. How stereotypical does that sound? I can hear some dulcet baritone celeb like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones, or best yet, Barry White, voicing the commercial… “The LoooveTronnn9thouusaaannd… Oh yeaaahhh, you neeeeddd thiiss, mennn.” So what is it? It’s an implant that’s embedded behind the pubic bone, and it vibrates so that it makes the penis vibrate. If you’re into that, then the good news is that innovation in bio-hacking and body modification means that similar tech innovations will become more common. Just had a thought: is Barry White dead? If he is, sorry and may he RIP, baaabbbyyyy.
If vibrating penises aren’t your thing, how about a smart bed that can hug you, whisper sweet nothings in your ear, and stimulate your nether regions… all at the same time. That tech is on the not-too-distant horizon too, people.
VR and LDR
If you’re in a long distance relationship and/ or living in The Time of Corona, futuristic sex toys could bring you closer together, even if you’re social distancing. VR, sex robots, and teledildonics (sex toys controlled remotely over an internet connection via apps) are combined to allow your sex doll to be controlled remotely by your partner while you’re wearing a VR headset, with… say, Fiji as the 3D backdrop. The tech is coming soon, people. Teledildonics has already been around long enough to be slightly goosed by the newer competition. While it’s not obsolete by any means, there have been tech advancements that necessitated a new and equally advanced term: cyberdildonics. While some references seem to mistakenly use the two terms interchangeably, cyberdildonics is actually distinctively different. Both are technologies for participants to have remote sex via electronic data link and/ or smart applications, but cyberdildonics is tech in which tactile sensations (which is also called haptic tech) specifically are also able to be communicated between the participants via a data link and/ or smart applications.
Here’s how cyberdildonics work. The dildo lover/ female/ pronoun of your choosing/ yourself/ them: they have a high-tech dildo embedded with touch sensors. The person who enjoys penis attention has an advanced penis sleeve that’s capable of pulsating and contracting. First step: the two lovers connect their sex toys to the interfacing app. Second step: both then connect to a video call, which can be through the same toy interface app (some companies have this ability included) or through another exogenous app like FaceTime, What’s App, or Duo. Third step: have some fun! When they stroke or suck or insert the dildo into themselves, the other sees it on the video call screen and in response, their sleeve pulses and squeezes, delivering sensations that are said to be remarkably close to actual sex.
And/ or… switch ’em up! For the person who would usually be enjoying the sleeve’s pulsations on their penis, give them a smart vagina, replete with vulva and clitoris and embedded with touch sensors. Then give their lover an app-enabled vibrator. As one strokes or licks the smart vagina, their lover’s vibrator will react so they can feel their touch with every move made. With tech advances, new smart toy types have been, and will be continued to be, released. So if variety is the spice of life, get the vibrating cock ring, butt plug, vibrator egg, or whatever strikes your fancy and eat it up!
Teledildonics, Cyberdildonics, Digisexuality… Oh My!
Here’s a neologism for ya: digisexuality. What is it? A digisexual is a person who is sexually attracted to robots or other forms of sexuality that are technologically-mediated. Like the geek in my eighth grade math class with his thick glasses and pocket protector… the one who’s bound to be a billionaire by now. He’s a digisexual for sure. But whatever floats your boats people. No judgement, just saying.
No Partner? No Problem!
According to sexperts, it’s just a matter of time before celebrities hop on the digisexual and cyberdildonic bandwagon and license the use of their faces for sex dolls or VR scenes, so one day soon, you’ll be able to have a simulated sexperience with your favorite celebrity! Honestly, this one rates kinda high on my creep-o-meter people.
Sick of People? Date a Robot!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could program your boyfriend and/ or girlfriend to do and say whatever you wanted? Well, sex robots are not a sci-fi fantasy anymore: they’re already among us. Harmony 3.0 (and by now maybe even 4.0 and 5.0) is a lifesize doll which can be programmed via the Realbotix app. And of course it comes with 18 personality types, 42 nipple designs, and 14 dishwasher-friendly labias to choose from, don’tcha know. These AI drive sex toys are transforming the way people view- and feel- sex. One benefit associated with them would be that if you wish to fulfill any sexual fetish that a regular human partner might not want to engage in, you can access various quick sex scenarios on your bot partner and indulge in the experience that way. And Captain Obvious says that another benefit of utilizing this technology is that the risk of STD is completely eliminated. Remember Ryan Gosling in the movie Lars and the Real Girl? I mentioned it in a previous blog. If you’re into this, dolls and bots can be programmed to tell jokes and recite poetry, whatever you’re willing to teach them, they’re willing to learn. Just think: she will always remember your birthday. And never bitch when you leave the toilet seat up. Now that is technology I can get behind people!
If bionic penises are more your speed, sexbot company RealDoll also has a fully customizable male doll… Though it looks like they literally have one, while the rest of their site is absolutely overrun with different female versions: classic, petite, and wicked, in dizzying arrays of features, along with interchangeable heads and toros too, for the Jeffrey Dahmer set I suppose. And if you like penises but could care less what it’s attached to… or if it’s actually attached to anything, they also sell the RealPenis, which at first glance is shockingly realistic. And it may also be at second glance too, but I couldn’t look again.
The Future of Sex Toy Tech is Coming… Are You?
The expiration of the original teledildonics patent a few years ago is the driving force behind the rapid expansion in the field of smart sex toys. That’s why we’ve come so far in such a short period of time and have an array of smart toys. It’s been a wild ride, but we haven’t even hit the loop de loops yet! Where there once were only app controlled panty vibes where you turned control over to your partner so they could zing you out of the clear blue sky just to say hi, now there are teledildonic couple toy sets: an app controlled toy for vaginal/ G-spot/ clitoral stimulation is sold in a set with a vibrating penis sleeve, or vibrating butt plug, or vibrating cock ring. They’re meant to be used simultaneously via app control by your partner.
There are a few really unique smart app controlled vibrating toys that are worth an honorable mention. If you can’t sleep unless you can hear and/ or feel the beat of your partner’s heart, Little Riot’s Pillow Talk might be the ticket. It lets you hear the heartbeat of your loved one in real time via a mobile app, wristband, and speaker, as if you have laid your head on their chest, even when they’re on the other side of the world. And haptic touch advancements in combination with VR have also made smart toy prototypes that make virtual hugs and even remote kissing possible. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have to see that to believe people.
What could possibly go wrong? Well, since you asked… as anyone who’s argued helplessly with Alexa or Siri about just turning on a damn light has discovered, the reality of an ‘Internet of Things’ is sometimes closer to an ‘Internet of Shit.’ If you think it’s irritating when your own doorbell decides you’re an intruder because you’re wearing your favorite Batman shirt, wait until tech companies start using your genitals to beta-test their cutting edge tech. And the quality of your sexual experience in using these is based on the quality of internet connections and the app/ software interface between the devices. But I imagine the up-side is that time will only lead to better connectivity. Regardless, this tech is not without risk. In reality, it’s possible that people can be hurt, technologically and maybe even physically by this tech. Companies could possibly leak data that identifies users, even without malicious intent mind you. Remember the Ashley Madison hack in 2015? When “The Impact Team” stole the user data of Ashley Madison, the commercial website that billed itself as an enabler of extramarital affairs? At least two suicides are directly attributed to having been identified in that data breach.
Breaches of that order happen all the time. I got a letter from an e-commerce, or “shopping cart” company about a year ago. They’re basically responsible for presenting you an online store’s stuff, enabling you to select the stuff you want and put it in your cart, write reviews, seek faq’s, make modifications, and eventually pay for your crap in order to receive it. Well, the letter informed me that this gigantic e-commerce site had a security breach, and that my card information was among the data that was extracted. The kicker? The breach had taken place like 16 months before! Yet this was the first I’d heard of it. I don’t know if they dragged their feet during an investigation and that’s why they didn’t inform me sooner, or if maybe they didn’t even know about the breach until long after it was done. Frankly both are disturbing. They say that cyber thieves or their network rings usually just hold on to the data they steal for a while, lulling you into believing that your info must be safe, because surely they would’ve robbed me blind by now, right? Right? Anyway, you see the issue. If you’re employing an app to facilitate intimacy, use protection… and I don’t mean condoms.
Poor security could also allow malicious hackers to view the GPS coordinates of users, or take control of devices remotely. We’ve known for years that cars can be hacked, as can heart implants and webcams. Similar invasions could possibly be coming soon to your erogenous zones, too. But I have noted that some sex techs are very serious about security, as Bluetooth can also be hacked. And the almighty cloud. In an attempt to thwart this, I know that sex tech co Vibease allows only one linked device to control the toy at any given time so that any hacker will just be impotent. You set it up with your partner with a password and they also suggest a fingerprint-required complete phone lock to keep pick-pocketing smartphone thieves from availing themselves of your partner’s pleasure. Maybe the sex toy app itself should require a penis or nipple print as a unique identifier to access it too.
While there are always cons against pretty much anything in life, the same goes for pros. In addition to providing a viable outlet for sexual intimacy in long distance relationships, as well as the same during A Time of Corona, there are some other fascinating opportunities. For example, sex tech can provide people with an anonymized and untraceable alternative to a physical encounter in countries where gay sex is against the law. In a situation like that, teledildonics could provide physical pleasure with far less risk than what would be involved with an actual encounter. And as we’re already seeing with cyberdildonics, as sex tech advances, it will continue to incorporate other emerging technologies. Combining VR is on the not-too-distant horizon, so in combining VR and toys, you’re more fully immersed in the sexual experience, since you can see it, hear it, feel it, and get physical stimulation based on what you’re seeing in the chosen scene. Morning sex in Maui, a nooner floating along on the Nile, and for delicious dessert, go to Dubai.
Another cool thing about sex tech is the definitive opportunities to create hardware for disabled people to have sex. Historically, most toy controllers have been touch-based. There hasn’t been a lot of time and/ or effort dedicated to voice interfaces or eye tracking capabilities that would allow people who can’t reliably manipulate a phone to control toys. Through hands free utilization, tactile capabilities, and voice recognition AI, sex tech can be developed as a more sexually gratifying experience for people with disabilities. Also, for those people, or any people who may find it difficult to reach orgasm, many tech toys already can, or will be able to “learn” what gets their user off, so that the patterns and combinations that are the E ticket ride can be recalled, accessed, and re-played anytime.
Whether you consider yourself to be a visionary on the cutting edge or a total dinosaur in technology adoption, one thing is for sure… sex tech literally moves at cyberspeed. A report from Future of Sex offers insightful information and predictions on technological transformation in 5 areas:
#1: Remote Long Distance Sex
Internet of thing (IoT) system that enables the safe connection of device(s) to the Internet. Obvi this technology of teledildonics and cyberdildonics is already here and expanding, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
#2: Virtual Sex, Cybersex
Virtual sex or cybersex would entail the electronic transmission of sexually explicit or obscene messages via text, voice, or video. Historically, cybersex has utilized chatroom(s) and/ or online games, but believe it or not, good old fashioned phone sex and sexting are some of the most common forms of virtual sex.
Virtual sex via online games allow fantasies to run wild. Online multiplayer virtual games allow users to adopt different roles to see what they like best. The game Red Light Center allows you to design your own avatar to experience virtual interactions and even sex with other players in real time. The role playing, customization of avatars, and the virtual environment allows fantasies that are erotic and outrageous, and everything in-between. Some 3D sex games even support virtual reality headsets and interactive sex toys, all of which can deeply intensify the immersive cybersex experience.
#3: Robot Sex
Robots aid humans in various tasks; robotics are actually integrated into so many everyday objects that we take them for granted… we don’t even think about them. But sex tech robots are designed to be noticed; and many “online adult forums” utilize erotic chatbots to help moderate and facilitate racey group chats or private room activities. So it should come as no surprise that sex robots have been a popular sex tech trend, and they’re getting better all the time, as I mentioned near the beginning of this blog. Sexbots are basically very expensive and very lifelike, fully customizable silicone dolls. Tech advancements give them increasingly sophisticated movement and features to make them look, feel, and act like real girls. As they do closely mimic human movement and behavior, when you consider the potential to learn constantly, get smarter in communication on every topic (humor, speech, friend’s preferences/ likes/ dislikes) and with every interaction their human friend has with them, they offer very realistic and responsive experiences when it comes to sex and intimacy. Different doll techies/ creators offer multiple dolls with varying levels of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, physical characteristics, capabilities, and external feature realism, such as skin qualities: how it feels to the touch, it’s warmth, and the presence of responsive touch sensors.
#4: Immersive Entertainment
In order to have an immersive experience and heighten the end user’s intimacy, it is common to see many adult entertainment providers embrace and incorporate virtual reality (VR) technology with teledildonics and cyberdildonics. For example, CAM4VR offers live streaming with a VR sex camera and voice capability, so users can engage directly with adult performers. Put it all together and it makes for a very up-close and personal experience. Meanwhile, CamSoda includes 3D holograms to explore and even incorporates a release of various scents through a sensory mask in order to provide a multi-sensory play.
Aside from the adult industry, VR is utilized in an immersive sex education experience in an effort to create a safer environment for people to learn about their sexuality. Emory University and Georgia Tech plan to develop a high-engagement VR sex education program focusing on safer sex practices for young women to minimize instances of STD infection and transmission, HIV infection and transmission, and unintended pregnancy. VR is also utilized in therapeutic applications as well. BaDoinkVR is one example of such a program; their complementary VR tool is provided to singles and couples to help them discover their own sexual pleasure preferences and those of their partner, as well as methods to enhance both sexual pleasure and performance in real world sexual intimacy. And what’s coming soon may have you doing the same… on the not too distant horizon, VR will be applied to haptic (touch sensation) tech for users to indulge in thoroughly immersive acts of sexual intimacy.
Human augmentation typically refers to the notion of improving on or building upon the capabilities of the human body. But being human, we’re constantly wanting more and better, so augmentation also refers to theoretical methodologies to push the envelope on the human body’s capabilities and use methods that could, would, or will (!) include augmented reality through implantables or wearables.
The future is now, and many recent medical breakthroughs have demonstrated marked success in human augmentation; these have opened our eyes to many possibilities we once believed impossible.
Some success stories include: the first US penis transplant in 2016. A penile cancer patient required an amputation of his penis in order to have a chance of survival. Following this at a later date, his surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital successfully completed the 15 hour transplant operation using a complete organ taken from a deceased donor. The operation was ultimately deemed a success after the 64-year-old man regained sexual function and the ability to urinate normally once again. This procedure has been adapted and procedure time significantly decreased to apply the surgical technology to US soldiers who sustained severe bodily damage and amputations from bombs and IED explosions during overseas wars, and thus far with great success, as they have regained sexual function and the ability to urinate normally post-operatively.
Another example of augmentation success as Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom completed the world’s first “womb” transplant, which I assume they mean is a uterine or total vaginal transplant. Since then, many procedures involving varying iterations of vaginal transplants have been successful in countries around the globe, some of which were reproductively successful with patients carrying pregnancies to full term and delivering normally with the transplanted organs.
Yet another example of successful human augmentation was made possible by doctors at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center when they succeeded in building and implanting a lab-grown vagina derived from the patient’s own cells, ultimately allowing her to resume normal vaginal function. The same group was also responsible for bio-engineering penile erectile tissue followed by successful implantation on laboratory rabbits.
Augmentation methodology has been used to overcome sexual dysfunction and/ or injury through the re-engineering of human tissues and organs which are then transplanted to help restore normal function. Moreover, this technology offers the potential for future body modification and customization in an effort for humans to enhance their individual sexual aesthetic and increase their enjoyment of sexual intimacy.
Clearly, augmentation is yet another technology where the future is now, as it has already been successfully employed numerous times around the world to repair the body and its organs after the ravages of disease and war. But what if feelings of orgasmic pleasure or heroin-like bliss were accessible through augmentation and made available to you as easily as you could push a button? Would you push it?
Elon Musk is betting you will. His company Neuralink has recently made quite a stir with the claim that their products can directly stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain. The company is dedicated to creating “Brain Computer Interfaces” (BCIs) which are devices that communicate directly with the brain at the synapse level. Basically, they want to put microchips inside people’s skulls, people… microchips that would elicit a chemical release as a response to their communication with the brain.
Musk has introduced a pig named Gertrude to the world, and she has a coin-sized chip implanted in her brain. Interesting timing, as the BBC states that Neuralink applied for approval to begin human testing on their BCI microchips last year.
So what is this brain chip anyway? Musk calls it a “digital superintelligence layer” that mediates communication between the limbic system and the brain’s cortex. The limbic system mainly deals with emotions, how we feel about things, while the cortex is more involved with the experiences of consciousness, perception, and thought which are far more important to human homeostasis.
Musk has stated that the initial use of BCIs will be aimed at brain-related diseases, claiming that neurological conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and autism could all potentially be “solved’ or cured with Neuralink’s microchip. Basically, brain signals release chemicals, and those chemicals make us feel the way we do about things. So if Musk’s chip can tap into our sexual pleasure centers, it can cause a release of chemicals that make us feel an orgasm without the physical actions and scenarios that we would usually undertake in order to reach it. In a nutshell, he says that the chip will allow the wearer to bypass the requisite physical activity and get straight to the reward. I’m going to use the example of Tourette Syndrome, which is a disorder whereby affected people are compelled to make repetitive disruptive noises and sudden movements called tics. Like OCD, Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that is totally out of a person’s conscious control; if they make attempts to deny the tics or hold them back for any length of time, eventually they will literally explode with tics, to the point where they are unable to function until the tics are expressed, which then sort of puts them back at baseline, almost like they’ve been reset. Affected people say that the mental feeling of needing to tic is like the need to scratch an itch, and that the feeling will build and multiply until they must finally “scratch it,” meaning they express the tics. This causes them to expel the tics that have built up in a sort of fit, after which the “itch” is vanquished… for a short time. It will build again and the whole cycle starts over. This feeling of being purged of tics must be mediated by the release of a chemical in the brain…. Just as the all-encompassing feeling of ‘I need to tic, I must tic’ is mediated by a chemical released by the brain when affected people resist their tics. That bit is basic science people, it’s like a for-sure deal that different chemicals released by the brain are what tells the person’s nervous system ‘hey, you haven’t tic’d, you can’t deny me, you must tic now now now…’ And also after having tics, then ‘hey, it’s okay, chill out, you’re good… for now.’
Musk didn’t mention my example, but I think it’s the perfect model for explaining the potential of a chip with this technology, assuming it actually does interface with the brain in the way it’s described and that it does elicit the chemical response as it’s described to do. But please understand that those are big assumptions for now.
If this BCI chip causes the release of chemicals in the brain that mediate how we feel about something without having to physically enact the behavior(s) that would usually cause their release, then it should work well in Tourette Syndrome or tic disorder, along with other neurological disorders with the same sort of altered or skewed reward system, where you could get the chemical release without acting out the potentially maladaptive or undesirable behavior of tics or checking and re-checking the locks in OCD, or self-injurious behaviors (like head baging) often exhibited in autism. I can also see the potential for use in psych patients who are cutters: they have an irresistible need or urge to deeply incise the skin and/ or release blood and/ or feel pain. If they could have that insatiable desire quenched chemically in the brain without having to act out the physical cutting action, that’s it… problem solved, cutting cured. That’s pretty incredible to imagine. The potential benefit in ALS patients is a little more complex, so I won’t bother with that here, but on first glance, Musk’s BCI chip has the potential to be a total game changer in treating some of the most difficult neurological and neuropsych disorders on the face of the planet in my opinion. It could hold great promise for disorders where the reward system is somehow perverted or held for ransom by the brain.
Musk says that the advent of his BCI chip will not necessitate the automatic elimination of physical activity, and that the chip’s presence would not override independent human thoughts of performing physical activities as we’re all used to doing now. And dare I add the single qualifier “before…” to the end of that statement? Because when you’re monkeying around with the reward center, the release of chemicals, and the brain, bad things can happen from the jump or they can develop over time. The brain is a powerful organ people, just ask an addict. That said, to me, Musk’s pre-qualifying comment at this very early stage of the game sort of smacks of his intentionally plugging a pacifier into our collective mouths before we even start whimpering about its absence. In any case, Neuralink’s human studies could prove to be an interesting bit of theater. But Musk generally gets what he wants, and he wants this technology- at least the ownership of it. Because I’m pretty dang sure he won’t be getting one of those chips in his skull anytime soon. Still lots to be determined. Stay tuned.
I do see benefits of the chip in the sexual wellness category. For people who are unable to physically engage in sexual activity due to illness and/ or injury, people who are simply anorgasmic, or people that can perform acts of sexual intimacy, but not to a point of orgasmic release, I see great potential. These are all genuine issues with real life implications. The chip could allow for the stimulation of pleasure centers to heighten arousal and increase the potential for an orgasmic sexual response. Then it could essentially capture and record the pleasure responses of one person and those can be read by some technology within the chip or even some of the independent biofeedback type sex tech devices, and then transmitted (for lack of a better word) to that person’s partner, which would let that partner know what the first person’s sexual pleasure feels like, and that could integrate that desire into their partner’s intimate experience. And also, if there is a specific set of circumstances that arouses someone and makes them more likely to achieve the end goal of reaching orgasm, they could share that feeling with their partner. Say if they like the excitement from the risk of being caught having sex in a public place, or they like the completed idea of getting away with it, the chip could capture what that risky feeling feels like to them and those feelings could then be overlaid onto the partner’s chip or through some other type of independent sex tech, so that the partner also feels the rush or excitement from that risk, and therefore automatically incorporates it into their feelings during the sexual experience. Almost like dimming the lights to set a mood, except this would be setting a mental mood, so that the sexual experience would have a specific mental context that may make both halves of the couple more likely to reach orgasm. That’s a win – win scenario.
Sounds interesting, right? Well, need I say there are risks? Actually, there are RISKS people. I mean, Captain Obvious reminds us that we are talking about having a chip implanted in or near the brain… an electronic component interfacing directly with brain tissue, or at least interacting with another electrical system, which the human brain is. But even if we throw those trivial matters aside, hell, I’ve had my computer hacked- what happens if some homicidal freak hijacks people’s chips? Would they be able to remotely control someone to do their dirty work? Yikes, people! And what about all the data collected from chips? All the random thoughts and/ or feelings, the ‘side data’ if you will. If a private interest group got access and/ or control over everyone’s data and used it to advance a candidate in an election, or influence the government, or squash or advance legislation or alter bill introduction or the passing of laws or affect the governing actions of all of the above? Any group that had access to all that information would basically rule the world- they could control everyone and everything with relative impunity.
But this I know: people could potentially be seriously harmed by overstimulating the brain globally, and overstimulating the pleasure centers of the brain specifically. Helll-ooo… aaa-ddic-cc-tion! If people can have “orgasmic pleasure” or “heroin-like bliss” freely available to them as easily as pushing a button, will they be able to continue functioning everyday without constantly pushing that button? They would be bombarding their neurons with pleasure chemicals… and usually, too much of a good thing… is a really bad thing.
We’ve all seen sci-fi movies where AI (artificial intelligence) enslaves the entire human race. But Musk has an answer for that too. Sort of. He claims that Neuralink’s devices are actually the very things that will protect us humans from this situation, should it ever arise: that BCIs would give us virtually instant access to information in a way analogous to completely automated systems, which intimates that we would somehow “know” or “understand” everything, even when we’re being tampered with or manipulated. Not so sure about that.
Generally speaking, I like Elon Musk. And admittedly, some of this sounds cool. But I don’t trust his abilities over mine to be certain of potential medical, psychological, and behavioral ramifications of brain neurochemistry. But I assume he’s put the right people in the right places. I have to say that as a psychiatrist, if there was a cure for some of the most destructive and currently incurable neuropsych disorders in existence, that would be amazing. But… in my experience, where Mother Nature or God or a higher power or whatever you believe in puts a check…there’s a balance somewhere, usually in a place you don’t see until it’s too late. Couple that with the potential for addiction issues, the possibility of chip hijacking, and honestly, Musk’s (kinda lame) assertion/ pseudo explanation not to worry, that we would know and/ or anticipate everything would keep us safe, that feels a little too tenuous for moi to step out on… So let’s just say that I won’t be beta testing these BCIs. But, I will follow this issue and read with great interest all about the people who do.
Embracing Sex Tech: Problems & Solutions
As far as existing sex tech and products coming in the relatively near future, most fall squarely into the “adult entertainment” and “sexual health and wellness” arenas, and I think the latter have been, and will continue to be, better received. It seems that innovations in teledildonics and cyberdildonics aim to improve intimacy and sexual pleasure, and they hold great potential to resolve the age-old problems that revolve around physical, emotional, and geographical constraints of romantic love relationships. I know that with coronavirus, some couples that had to temporarily split for months at a time had difficulty doing so successfully. Long distance relationships are another excellent example. If you’re a young newlywed bride from Great Grits Georgia and your soldier husband is called to serve in some hellhole on the other side of the globe for a year, that’s a real problem- the kind that breeds misery, introversion, distrust, communication issues, and physical/ emotional intimacy problems in both partners- problems that can potentially pave a road to divorce where one never existed before. So if sex tech and couple toys or similar interactive devices allow couples to continue- or even advance- their sexual intimacy, while forging ahead with a difficult situation, then only good healthy things are likely to come of it.
…Very Different from Embracing Sexbots!
AI-driven sex tech robots are relatively new and their aim is to apply advanced concepts of machine learning to transforming our sexual experience. Thanks to the sensors in the defined “sensitive” zones of the bots’ bodies, these sex robots can experience pleasure and, in turn, reciprocate the favor. Also, they can learn from previous experiences. For example, your habits and moods or what turns you on.
I was surprised to read a recent survey that said that 1 out of 5 men said they are open to the idea of having sex with a doll. This number is likely to increase when sex dolls become more humanlike and way less expensive. In fact, human/doll (or bot) sexual intercourse might overtake human/human sexual intercourse way faster than we think.
Issues: Sex Dolls and Bots
However, major concerns are arising, not the least of which involve the concept of men having sex with child type sex dolls. With sex dolls, the romance and chit-chat typical of a normal relationship are eliminated, and maybe more importantly, these relationships happen in a strictly private environment. It’s not like you bring your bot ball and chain with you when you go to a buddy’s house to watch the game. So really we’re left to just speculate about the psychological ramifications of a continual and purposeful romantic love relationship with a non-human entity. And boy do we speculate…
Monetary Costs of Sex Dolls and Bots
Currently, these things are freaking E for expensive people. A Realbotix head alone costs about $10,000, but you’ll shell out another $25,000 to $65,000 if you want a body to put it on. And speaking of that body, features such as skin-like materials, self-warming orifices, full-body detailing, and a texturized canal with internal pulsations are only the tip of the iceberg. If a human tells their doll/ bot what they enjoy sexually, they can evidently learn from it; then when it’s applied during physical intimacy, the patterns can be recorded or “remembered” by the doll or bot; I can only assume that they can then be recalled, essentially repeating the exact same experience. This would only be in the most advanced models I’m sure. Doll/ Bot companies claim that today’s most futuristic dolls can learn whatever names you give them, when your birthday is, how to read poetry, and even hold their own during erotic conversations. Plus, they don’t require cab fare when you’re done or a romantic dinner before you even get started.
In comparison, the “busted up bargain bots” as I lovingly call them only range from $4,000 to $12,000. But with continued advances in technology, the price across the bot board is certain to drop, making this tech more accessible to the average person, which will undoubtedly lead to more dolls and bots, but probably the same scant amount of information about the psychological ramifications of a purposeful romantic love relationship with a non-human entity.
And this was a new one on moi…
Enter the Slutbot Sexting Tutors
Supposedly, these were developed in response to the controversy that has obviously sprung up around the invention of such high-functioning sex bots, with people arguing that such machines will make interpersonal interactions a thing of the past. But the world’s first Slutbot Sexting Tutor has entered the scene and it’s definitely making the conversation more interesting- in more ways than one. This intuitive robot helps users express their sexy, seductive side in a more efficient and flirty way, which serves as not only a relationship booster, but also a terrific add-on to any interactive sex toy you might already own and utilize. So its reason for existence is basically to transform lonely -cis men into slutbox sexters? Alllrrrightyyy thennn…
The True Future of Sex Toys Is Non-Binary
When sex toys became popular in the ‘70s, they were made “by men” and “for women” so it’s no great wonder that they looked like giant towering examples of realistic penises, complete with veins and perfectly sculpted heads, often with an attached set of perfectly sculpted balls, neatly placed where they would be in an anatomy schematic but never in real life. They were typically flesh toned and the focus was placed on the penetrative aspect as opposed to being concerned with stimulation. In short, they missed the mark, and that really set them up to continue to miss it for a very long time. Why? Because that’s what the industry execs assumed women wanted to use. And so began a long enduring disconnect. But fast forward to today, when the sex tech industry is finally focused on inclusion, and actually does include some non-binary-led companies amongst the many powerful female-led companies, all of them seeing that the future of sex tech is truly and unapologetically non-binary.
Gone are the days of “one size dildo fits all vulvas.” Gone are the days when hot pink phallic contraptions had to be appreciated, just because it was amazing to even have a choice. It’s a good thing that those days are in the rearview mirror. But let’s face it, there’s still a huge amount of phobia surrounding sex in general, no matter the labels or qualifiers. But it’s magnified and multiplied when it’s non-cis, non-hetero sex. Thankfully, more and more companies are working hard to do away with that phobia.
When it comes to sex toys, we now recognize that sexual interests and tastes can be as unique and singular as the bodies that contain them. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting a rainbow glitter dick, lipstick vibrator, or hyper-realistic flesh-colored dildo, many of these products can be alienating to individuals who may identify as gender nonbinary, or people who feel put off by the gender essentialism of toys created “for men” or “for women.” So, in light of the increased cultural awareness of non-binary gender identities, innovative sex toy designs are making pleasure more accessible for everyone. One company striving to make the sex toy industry more inclusive is Wild Flower, a nonbinary sex toy retailer and digital community dedicated to providing sex education to those who have been overlooked by the adult industry.
What makes purchasing a sex toy so difficult for some individuals are the ideas and labels that automatically come attached to them like baggage. Gender, sex, and bodies are complex topics… acknowledge this and counter it by totally eliminating gender in marketing. While this might make things like search engine optimization difficult, the upside is that newly unlabeled and unlimited genderfluid-friendly toys can open minds and new worlds of sexual expression for everyone, regardless of how they identify, or if they even do at all. Free the toys!
A Victorian Take on Remote Sex
Today’s blog has been all about the future of sex tech, which at its heart centers around smart sex toys designed for remote sex in one of many forms. But really, remote sex is nothing new. Ever since the dawn of literacy, lovers separated by distance or circumstance have touched each other remotely through erotic letters held and read in one hand… while doing something else with the other. If you’ve got some time, there are many examples of “Victorian sexting” during the civil war era online. Some of it is hilarious and some is pretty mind blowing… but let’s take a quick “wow break” to check out a couple of excerpts from letters between none other than General George Armstrong Custer and his wife Elizabeth “Libbie” Bacon Custer, who was said to be “hotter than a $2 pistol.” We’ll see how they implemented remote sex.
Far from the prudish stereotype of the Victorian woman, Libbie clearly delighted in creative euphemism and double-entendre. In one letter to her husband, she wrote of “a soft place upon somebody’s carpet” and of her desire to “sit Tomboy” (as in astride) for “just one… ride” as they were fond of asking for “just one” which appears to be a reference to an orgasm. Scandalous.
Custer wrote in reply “Oh, I do want one so badly. I know where I would kiss somebody if I was with her tonight.” Shocking.
Nothing could dampen Custer’s ardor for Libbie. During one of his campaigns, he sent her the 19th Century equivalent of a dick pic:
“Good morning my Rosebud. ‘John’ has been making constant and earnest inquiries for his bunkey for a long time, and this morning he seems more persistent than ever, probably due to the fact that he knows he is homeward bound.”
And in one letter to her BFF, Libby told her that she and Custer had had a threesome, and it seems like she wants her to stay!
She said “Custer, as I, devoted most of our attention … to the selection of a pretty girl… This pretty girl … was held by both of us, and would do more toward furnishing and beautifying our army quarters than any amount of speechless bric-abrac.”
That Libby was really freaky. And the great General Custer was into it. Who knew?
Now moving away from the Victorian age and through the 20th century, remote sex migrated to the telephone, when even Dear Abby approved of- and even recommended- phone sex for long distance lovers. Of course, any form of remote sex is not the “real thing,” but the body’s sexiest organ is the mind, and remote sex talk excites it just as much now as it did in years past. Teledildonics and cyberdildonics basically combine these excited and sexy thoughts, and therefore the minds, of each half of a couple that are separated, bringing them together virtually, and that extends the potential excitement more than ever before.
Potential Real World Ramifications of Sex Tech
Teledildonics Biggest Winners: Sex Workers
No doubt some long-distance lovers will embrace teledildonics and have big juicy fun. But the largest market for Web-enabled sex devices appears to be sex work. The Web already contains a surfeit of sites whose female (and gay male) employees show their assets, touch themselves, and exhort remote users to masturbate, all in an effort to earn a buck.
Teledildonics not only makes remote sex work more lifelike, it’s also more personal. The phone-Web interface is more one on one, allowing consumers to feel closer to providers. In addition, teledildonics allows sex workers to earn extra money by fulfilling requests. Men can tip to see the sex worker fellate a dildo while they physically feel it by utilizing a device. Tipping is almost too easy: just tap your phone, and voila… the fee is charged to your credit card. No fuss, no muss, no exchange of fluids.
Many sex workers prefer remote sex to the real thing. And why not? The hours are flexible. They can work in the privacy of their homes. And compared to the alternatives: street-walking, massage parlors, hotel calls, and brothels, remote sex is safer… no violent customers, poor hygiene, or sexually transmitted diseases, and no risk of arrest. Police generally focus on street level sex work; they really couldn’t care less what people do on the phone behind closed doors. Teledildonics is also safer for men who regularly pay for sex as well, and for all the same reasons.
Teledildonics’ Biggest Losers: Women Who Abhor Porn and Snoops
While teledildonics may be a boon to long distance lovers, it’s bound to cause consternation among women who feel threatened by their men masturbating to porn. Except instead of the man stroking himself to some random video image, now teledildonics allows him to look at a real live woman who’s stroking, licking, and using a Web-enabled sex toy. Many men are likely to find that more compelling than porn. And I suspect that their wives will not exactly be thrilled about all that.
By some estimates, as many as 25 percent of coupled individuals have peeked into their partners’ devices looking for evidence of porn use or affairs. I hear about this from patients all the time. They complain that their partner tracks them, or steals their phone to snoop. Some put a screen lock on, but their partners know that sometimes the photos they might be looking for would be on the micro card, so they snag it and plug it into their phone to snoop. Anyway, the evolution of sex tech means that from now until who knows when, jealous and insecure partners will continue to snoop and should now be expected to check for teledildonics apps- after scouring the phone for texts and calls with random women, and tossing the closets and drawers looking for web-enabled sex toys.
As teledildonics and cyberdildonics become more established, I think the news media will treat it breathlessly, with sympathetic profiles of long distance couples who “really enjoy it” followed by hand-wringing from those who consider it a threat. Personally, I find that sex sells… people love to read about it and speculate on it, and app-enabled sex toys are a fascinating new wrinkle in the oldest quest of all time: the search for erotic satisfaction. Especially in my profession, where that search is often tied into self worth. I’m not terribly concerned with what it all means for civilization, since it’s not like commercial phone sex services have led us to the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah in previous years. We’ll survive. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but lust is often the father of necessity… because don’t forget that a hard prick has no conscience.
Sex Tech Psychology
The End of the World as We Know It?
If the sexbots are already here, what’s next? Will everyone start marrying dolls and sever connections with other human beings? If we get used to programming our partner, how could we ever go back to human beings with free choice? Panic rules the streets!
I’ve read articles and comments online that point to concerns that sexbots and VR pornography could dehumanize sex and warp our perception of consensual relationships, but I’m not convinced of that at all. Even if that’s a possibility in the future, it’s certainly not the case yet, because I think sex robots have yet to seem ‘real’ enough to appeal to a large audience. Until the last couple of years, designers have been very bad at making human-like robots, as technology hasn’t been all that well suited to it, and our brains can easily pick out points where human-like things don’t look like humans, and that’s a buzzkill in every way imaginable. And until recently, after advancements in skin technology to add warmth and feel and the addition of more realistic facial features and movements, sex robots have really just been immobile sex dolls glorified with some animatronics and chat capabilities built in, and I think it’s going to stay niche as long as that’s the case, and that makes it a non-starter in the problem department. I don’t think they treat these dolls like real people.
But some vehemently disagree, claiming that owners become deeply bonded to bots, but also add that even if their use of sex dolls appears to dehumanize real (meaning actually human) women or promotes misogyny, that in reality, bot-owners actually “cherish” their dolls and treat them with respect. That’s a ‘Hmmm maybe’ for moi people. I’m sure that for some people that find it hard to make connections and sustain romantic relationships, sex dolls could be an incredibly useful way to combat loneliness. But I can’t imagine a way that any man could ever convince himself that he is in a real relationship with a doll. Just doesn’t compute for me. But I guess the fact is that it doesn’t have to! In the meantime, it’s an interesting theoretical, but I don’t think I’ll be spending much time worrying about it.
The Future of Sex Toys: For Better or Worse? Utopia or Dystopia?
Should we be excited about all this new technology, or terrified of what the future holds? Are sex robots a threat to human relationships, or a niche invention which can help the lonely without affecting anyone else?
With all of the questions swirling around the future of sex, I think that the answers have everything to do with being human, and little to nothing to do with technology. No matter what “toys” you add, it still comes down to a person’s brain, as that’s what’s ultimately in control. As for the future, I’m just hoping for one that is more open, with less judgement and shame, and more acceptance and equality. I think that’s something we can all get behind. However it goes, the future of sex tech promises to be exciting, and all we can do is wait for it to be revealed and see what it’s about.
Thanks- be well, people!
Sex Toys: Much Ado About Something
I hope everybody enjoyed last week’s marathon blog on sex toys and learned something new. I know I definitely learned a few things in researching it. So now that we know all about the categories of sex toys and their illustrious histories, today we’ll move on to who’s using sex toys and why, and go over some important things you should take into consideration if you’re thinking of joining them. So once again, open your minds, set aside your preconceived notions and biases, and read more about sex toys, people…
Part deux sur trois!
Out of the Closet… and the Nightstand
Sex toys are so much more mainstream and accepted- appreciated, even- more now than in previous generations, and the proof of that is in studies being published in notable medical journals. These studies on sex toy use are important for the contributions they make to an understanding of the sexual health and sexual behaviors of adults in today’s society.
Indiana University conducted survey studies on the use of sex toys among nationally representative samples of adult American men and women. I looked at surveys on vibrator use where they sought responses specifically from 2,056 women and 1,047 men, ages 18 – 60, and the results were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, a leading peer-reviewed journal in the area of urology and sexual health. These are the first studies to document many insights into sexual health, including: how and why people use vibrators, the side effects of use, and how use is associated with sexual health behaviors, sexual enjoyment, and quality of life. The results showed that vibrator use is in fact fairly common, with approximately 53% of women and 45% of men responding positively, indicating vibrator use. Among the men included in the survey, there was no statistical difference between the rates of vibrator use among men who identified as heterosexual and those who identified as homosexual or bisexual.
Of the 53% of women that reported using vibrators, 70% of those indicated that they never experienced any side effects associated with use. Those side effects that were reported were typically rare and of a short duration, and included mild genital numbness, irritation, or inflammation.
Vibrator users were significantly more likely to perform genital self-examination and have regular gynecological exams as well. In addition, the 53% that reported using vibrators also reported better sex- including increased sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm- though there was no significant difference in general sexual satisfaction between the female vibrator users and the non-users.
The 45% of men (which included heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual men) that reported using vibrators were more likely to record participation in sexual health promoting behaviors like testicular self-exam, and also scored themselves higher on four of the five factors used to measure sexual function, including erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function, and sexual desire. Of the 45% of men that reported using vibrators, approximately 17% said they did so for solo masturbation. Of the heterosexual constituent of the 45% of men that reported using vibrators, 91% of those reported most commonly doing so during foreplay or intercourse with a female partner.
Though often thought to be covered in dust and dog/ cat hair, hidden under beds, or buried deep in sock drawers, these studies demonstrate that vibrator use is actually more common than most think. In addition, these groundbreaking results demonstrate that the use of vibrators is associated with a fulfilling sex life, positive sexual function, and being more proactive in caring for one’s sexual health. This affirms what many doctors and therapists have known for decades- that using sex toys is common, linked to positive sexual functions of desire and ease of orgasm, and rarely associated with any side effects of note.
Who’s Using Sex Toys and Why?
I hope you’re getting the point that sex toys aren’t just for sluts and freaks and ridiculous shades o’ grey. All kinds of people may choose to use sex toys, and for any of many different reasons. For some people, using sex toys is the easiest- or only- way they can have an orgasm, especially in vulva owning (female) people. Sometimes people use sex toys to help them masturbate Han Solo, or during sex with their partner(s).
For transgender, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming people, using certain sex toys may help positively affirm their gender identity or help relieve gender dysphoria.
Some people with disabilities or limited mobility use sex toys to make it easier to masturbate, have sex, or perform certain sexual activities using positions that would otherwise be difficult- or impossible- for them.
Sex toys can also help treat the symptoms of certain disorders, like erectile dysfunction, genital arousal disorder, hypoactive sexual disorder, and orgasm disorder/ anorgasmia. And some people find that sex toys help them deal with the sexual side effects of certain medications, health conditions, or menopause, ie low sex drive or decreased genital sensation.
Put simply, it’s not only totally normal and acceptable for any/ every consenting adult to use sex toys, but it’s also often a component of a fulfilling sex life and a sign of positive sexual health. Having said that, it’s also totally normal to not want to use sex toys. It’s a personal decision… everyone’s different and therefore entitled to their own opinion. As long as you’re using sex toys safely, there’s nothing harmful in it and no big down side. How do do you use sex toys safely? I’m glad you asked. I’ll tell you…
Safe Sex (Toys) People
Sex toys are big business- serious business- and big money. Yes, they should be for fun; and yes, they can be fun, but if you’re a newbie considering exploring the great sex toy universe, you need to seriously consider some things. Let me ask, would you eat something poisonous? What about something that smelled wrong- like chemicals- or looked off- like maybe it had little black dots on it or was discolored? How about something you’re allergic to- would you eat it? You probably answered ‘no, no, and no.’ We’ll assume you did. But why? Why no? ‘Well, Dr. Agresti, because those things are bad for the body… if it smells bad or it’s growing stuff, I don’t want to eat it. I don’t put bad things in my body.’ Okay, great. Does that apply to sex toys? Because in some situations, those go in the body too, right?
Sharing sex toys with other people can spread STD’s- Sexually Transmitted Diseases. If someone with an STD uses a sex toy, the bodily fluids on that toy can spread the infection to the next person who uses it. So if you’re using a sex toy with a partner, unless and until you exchange clean test reports, it’s important to take steps to help prevent STD’s, essentially by behaving as if they have one. How? Read on.
Wash sex toys thoroughly with antibacterial soap and hot water after you use them if it’s a single user situation. It’s always better to sanitize toys, and you must sanitize toys that are shared, before you share them. Always sanitize before they touch another person’s genitals. In addition, if you put a condom on the sex toy, that will help keep them clean and prevent the spread of STD’s, but just make sure you change condoms before the toy touches another person’s genitals. It’s best to sterilize your sex toys whenever possible, and washing doesn’t equal sterilization. If your toy is heat stable, you can wash it in the top rack of your automatic dishwasher on the sterilize setting. It’s an important feature, so consider putting the ability to sterilize on your sex toy wish list.
Throwing back to last week again, remember that if you enjoy “backyard” play, make sure you use lots of lube. That area doesn’t lubricate itself the way other areas do, so putting something in your butt without adding lube can be painful and medically unsafe. And never put a sex toy that’s been in the anus directly into the vagina without sanitizing it and changing the condom first. If germs from the anus get into the vagina, it will most likely lead to a serious case of vaginitis. Basically, when referring to single person orifice swapping, the rule of thumb is this: toys are fine to go from vagina to anus, but never the reverse- never anus to vagina- that’s a no go people. And if you’re dealing with a multiple player situation, the toy should always be sanitized and the condom changed when toys pass from one person’s parts to another’s.
Another throw back, remember that if you are a penis owner into the back door, it’s important to make sure that any sex toy you use in your anus has a wide base to keep it from going all the way up and in the backside. If a sex toy goes so far into your anus that you can’t reach it to pull it out, you’ll need to see a doc to get it out. By the way, if you’re wondering… a sex toy cannot be lost in the vagina because the cervix stands in the way, blocking the end. So vulva owners are off the hook for that bit.
Don’t use silicone lube with silicone sex toys- unless you put condoms on them- because silicone lube can react with the solid silicone of your toy and damage it. Some people disagree- it seems to be a grey area- but the safe play is usually the best one. Water-based lube is a safe bet to use with any sex toy, and any condom for that matter. So just make it a point to keep only water based lube around so that if you’re a little too deep in the heat of the moment, you don’t accidentally reach and grab for the wrong tube.
Toxic Toy = No Joy
It wasn’t all that long ago that most people didn’t care about what their sex toy was made of, or even ever thought it could pose an issue. It’s only been in the last 15-ish years or so that people have realized the toxicity issues and the market has offered more access to all-silicone sex toys.
I hate to be a killjoy, but knowledge is power people, so let’s get down to brass- more accurately, plastic- tacks.
There are body safe toys and “non-toxic but not body-safe” toys…. There are shades of tres grey when it comes to the dangers of sex toys. Some people seem to experience no obvious side effects, no problemo. Some people break out and get very sick, and it’s a nightmare. For those people, there can be very specific materials that they cannot be exposed to, but it’s not like sex toys come with a list of ingredients. So if you’re one of those people that are prone to sensitivities, how do you make sure you’re not using something that can make you sick? Read on.
The first sex toy tests after people started becoming aware (at least publicly) of important issues, reactions, and infections from the use of sex toys were run by the Danish EPA in 2006. Do you understand the implications of that, people? The EPA monitors threats to the environment first and foremost, not people’s health. Evidently, after people became aware of reactions and infections and such, I can only speculate that some concerned Danish person (environmentalist?) must’ve looked into what might be in these toys to cause these illnesses, and that they were possibly so alarmed by the components- more accurately, the making of said components- they ultimately made enough noise and garnered enough backing that the Danish EPA ran material safety testing. That’s a big deal. And the results weren’t good… By September 2014, figuring the sex toy industry had come a long way in eight years, Smitten Kitten and Badvibes.org did another round of testing, and the results were better, but there was still some room for improvement. I imagine that will always be the case, and not just for the sex toy industry. But why does this industry seem so fraught with problems? The biggest reason is the total lack of oversight and regulation. Nobody’s minding the store, and it’s all about the bottom line… pun intended. I believe I read that up to 80% of toys are manufactured in China, and we know there’s not much tlc involved. Hey, we run out of component xyz, we’ll add more of abc, of course. No time to halt production. Besides, who’s gonna know?
So I want to make sure you have information on toxic toys and “non-toxic but not body-safe” (say whaaaat?) toys. There are so many shades of grey when it comes to the issues here, and admittedly of course, some people will experience no obvious side effects. But others surely will, and that’s an important issue that I’d like to attempt to change. A sex blogger and toy reviewer named Dangerous Lilly is all about DIY home sex toy “tests” that aim to ferret out toxic toys, expose blatant material lies, and dispel some myths about silicone sex toys. She’s even done these jar tests to prove that toys made of compromised garbage materials are dangerous. You’ll have to check it out at http://dangerouslilly.com/ and go near the top, under the header where it says in little letters “New? Start Here!” and then click on Toxic Toys. There’s also a search site option and it’s very easy to navigate. It seems that she hasn’t posted in maybe a year, but her very extensive blog is still available, and it’s an excellent resource. These details are also in the references at the end of this blog.
Anyway, she did these jar tests where she took two giant glass jars; one was filled with a bunch of toys of questionable materials, and the other was filled with a bunch of 100% silicone toys. She sealed both and documented what happened over the course of a couple of years. Suffice it to say that it absolutely demonstrated that cheap garbage toys off-gas, leaking chemicals and softeners and all the crap they’re made from, they get tons of little black dots which are spores, and these lead to fuzzyold/ mildew growth and yuck and all the pieces deform and glop up (technical term) onto each other, all swimming in five inches of toxic goo and chemicals- and almost all of it actually happens in the first three months. In jar two, with the 100% silicone toys touching each other, there was nothing doing. No oozing, no melting, no spores, nada. And that does demonstrate that silicone can be stored safely with silicone, although experts still say that after use, proper care dictates that toys must be sterilized and thoroughly dry before being placed in individual baggies. And you should always inspect your toys before using them: look for little black spots and examine any ‘things that make you go hmm.’ Better safe than sorry people.
There are still sex toys on the market that contain gnarly stuff, like phthalates (pronounced phay-lates) Have you heard of phthalates? A tidal wave of research has documented the wide-ranging negative health impacts of phthalates on pets and people, so they’ve been demonized and (theoretically) excluded from children’s toys, then dog toys, and now sex toys, among many other things: cosmetics, personal care products, hair combs, even earring backs. Basically manufacturers use them to make anything that’s made of plastic less breakable, really. For this reason, they’re referred to as plasticizers, ie, substances added to various plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. And they’re often used primarily to soften PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and other plastics to make them less brittle and less likely to break with use… sounds like it would be great to use in sex toys, right? Maybe in theory. But manufacturer’s want ’em to be tough, so bring on the phthalates! Not.
Clearly, it’s a good idea to limit your exposure to phthalates, as studies are demonstrating that exposure can lead to organ failure and possibly cause cancer. Phthalates are present in lots of sex toy materials, but they’re not found in pure silicone toys, which is why it’s ideal to buy 100% silicone toys.
But phthalates aren’t the only harmful chemical being used; other chemicals have been found, stuff like latex- helll-ooo- so many people find they’re allergic to latex… how’d you like to learn that way, with itchy fire orifices? No thank you. Another issue is that companies can (and do) lie about their material claims. Often, “phthalates-free” is more like a wishful tagline that doesn’t mean jack. So ultimately, we’re left totally in the dark about the safety of a sex toy unless you buy only from a company that’s demonstrated a history of honesty. Like many sex bloggers and toy reviewers, Dangerous Lilly still has a list of approved manufacturers and retailers, and it’s worth going over. To help you out, I’ve included it in the references section at the end of this blog. I’m a giver.
Another issue is that there are sex toy materials that have not been proven toxic yet, but they’re still softened with mystery oils (grades and types unknown), the materials are very unstable, they break down quickly, and are so porous that they harbor a lot of bacteria and mold. So even if (and that’s a big if) the material is ‘non-toxic’ when you first buy it, that changes as you expose it to air and lube chemicals and… other stuff. As you use it over time, even if you take exemplary care of it, it breaks down. That’s a simple fact people. Chemical changes will occur and oils will release, along with new volatile compounds VOCs, and who knows what else. Yet another issue revolves around the colorants and paints that tint and/ or paint these toys. Materials are especially questionable when derived from other countries… like China. Where maybe 80% of these toys come from. Ya think they care about what’s going into them? That there’s any oversight or quality control? Ah haeelll no! Especially to be sent to us! It’s about producing the cheapest possible junk they can possibly squeak by with… and if they can use garbage that shaves off an eighth of a cent per piece- even way less than that- that translates to more money for them, and that’s the name of the game.
One particular group of offenders are the Jelly toys. Sometimes spelled jelly, or gelle, or gels. Whatever it’s called and however they spell it, it’s cheap garbage. Dangerous cheap garbage. Using Jelly products for oral, vaginal, or anal stimulation is going to introduce phthalates and other toxic solvents to be absorbed into the mucous membranes of the body. That bit happens quickly, but you may or may not know immediately. But you will know. Headaches, cramping, and nausea are just some of the proven side effects that result from exposure at the levels found in the study… normal levels from normal use. Regardless of whether you sheath the thing in condoms every time you take it out of its box, it’s still going to off-gas, degrade, begin to dissolve, release a greasy oil stain, fuse to its packaging, and stink like old tires. Is any part of that sexy? Doesn’t do it for me people.
Again, I can’t stress enough that a company can and will have the Chinese manufacturing plants put anything on the box and/ or label- any tagline or buzzword you might be looking for when buying a toy. “Phthalates Free!” “All Silicone!” More like All Crap. Nothing and no one can stop them. Nothing dictating that their packaging has to hold a grain of truth. No regulation, people.
A Magic Word
Now I think we’ve established that you can’t always trust the manufacturers. So only buy from a reputable source, and if you have any doubts about it- any smells, strange changes in the finish, development of little black dots- do not use it. Note that manufacturer’s name and you can research their reputation, maybe consider asking someone in the know about it, and don’t buy from them again.
But how do these manufacturers get away with it? Aside from everything I mentioned before about how it’s a penny pinching free for all in China, even if you could complain, they’ve got you beat anyway… First, you really can’t complain because there’s the ‘lost in translation’ feature. They no speaky de englees don’tcha know. But regardless, the magic word comes into play: for Novelty use only. Yep. That 9 inch flesh toned realistic dildo that’s falsely stamped ‘All Silicone!’ that you bought from us is a novelty (betchur bippy they know that word…) we didn’t think you were going to use it there! Yeah. Riiighhht. So there’s that.
We’ve discussed some sex toy lab tests over the years and things have changed for the better. In the mid-2000’s the Danish EPA tested many sex toys, and found very poor toxicity results. And while the sex toy industry has come a long way since then, and more recent tests were actually found to be improved, the big issue remains: better results still fail to explain why so many people still get chemical burns, allergic reactions, and/ or chronic infections and related issues from using certain sex toys, lubes, and accoutrements. Here’s a for instance that I want to serve as a word of warning, people…
Doc Johnson ‘Sil-a-Gel’ Products:
Burn, Baby, Burn!
One brand to avoid that I’ve read about in several places with multiple references is Doc Johnson ‘Sil-a-Gel’ products. Don’t know what Doc Johnson is doing with these specific products made with this specific stuff, but I don’t want to find out the way some people have had to. Sil-a-Gel isn’t actually a material, it’s an additive. They claim it is an antibacterial agent that is mixed in with very porous PVC to inhibit bacterial growth in the pores of the material. Sounds pretty harmless… but note that they’re using PVC in these toys, and that’s not all silicone. The extreme reactions people have reported are cause for great concern, and many folks in the know recommend a complete boycott of any Doc Johnson products containing this ‘Sil-a-Gel’ additive. It’s worth noting that I’ve seen plenty of good reviews on other Doc Johnson’s toys, so if you just buy 100% silicone you should be safe. But ‘Sil-a-Gel’ boycott… That’s what’s up Doc!
There are so many sex toys out there… I mean, I know they say variety is the spice of life, but that’s a spicy meataballa! Navigating the sex toy universe to choose the right toy is a potential minefield, especially the first time! It’s not like you can google “world’s best sex toy” and come up with a reasonable list of safe quality toys to look at. So, what to do? Thankfully, there are plenty of people in the know, so I’ll pass along their advice.
Choosing Sex Toys: It’s a Material World
Clearly the first thing you should consider when choosing a sex toy is material. The material the toy is made of dictates everything about how you can safely use it and how you care for and clean it.
When you’re talking about the best sex toy materials, you want to consider material safety, durability, and hygienic properties. The best sex toys are nonporous and phthalates free. You want a toy to be nonporous because that means you can sanitize it. Nonporous materials literally have no pores, meaning no microscopic holes in them for bacteria to get into- or, at the very least, the pores are so small that nothing can get in there. To repeat: porous material= bad, invite bacteria to accumulate, reproduce, and spread. Nonporous material= good, no pores or pores too small for bugaboos to get in and colonize.
This means that toys made of nonporous materials can be safely shared, only after being sanitized between users. It also means the toy can be used vaginally and anally, but only in a specific order if not sanitized between orifices. Going from vagina to butt in the same person is okay without sanitizing, but the opposite direction, from butt to vagina is a no go people. If you go from butt to vagina, you’re ass-king for an infection if you don’t sanitize the toy. You can also use a condom on the toy in lieu of sanitizing, but if you’re in a multi-player scenario, you must change the condom and/ or sanitize the toy whenever it goes from the first person’s genitals to the other person’s. Remember, vagina to butt is OK in a solo situation. Butt to vagina is not- ever. Also, no matter the material, a new sex toy needs to be thoroughly washed with antibacterial soap and warm water prior to its first use. If it were me, sanitize sanitize sanitize people!
That said, I’ll start with the best choices for sex toy materials first, based on everything:
Silicone: All Silicone.
If you want a more pliable toy, then 100% silicone (not a blend) would be the best choice. Silicone actually comes in a wide range of firmness and finishes. For high quality silicone sex toys, I understand from lots of sex bloggers that you can’t go wrong with the company Tantus. As mentioned before, silicone is phthalates free and nonporous.
Being nonporous and heat resistant, you can sterilize silicone toys in a number of ways, including: boiling for a few minutes (making sure that the toy never touches the sides or bottom of the pot), washing in a 10% bleach solution, or washing in the top rack of your dishwasher set on sanitize cycle. I saw where some said you could simply lather it up really well in antibacterial soap and rinse it clean, but I’m not totally sold on that, especially if you share it. That’s not sterilizing it. And Captain Obvious says if your silicone toy has an electronic vibrator inside then don’t boil it or put it in the dishwasher.
Usually manufacturers and most sex toy reviewers will tell you to only use water-based lube with silicone toys. This is because some silicone lubes can damage some silicone toys. As I mentioned before, there are some differences in opinion on this, but better safe than sorry. So it’s best that if you’re going to keep lube around, make sure it’s water-based, especially if you’re sort of in the heat of the moment, you don’t want to worry about grabbing the wrong lube.
Many people believe that you can’t store silicone toys where they are touching each other, but again, this is another grey area. Some people say you can and some say you can’t. From what I’ve read, many sex toy reviewers have stored their high quality silicone toys piled together in drawers without any issues, but a good rule of thumb is to have some kind of individual ziplock storage bag for each of your silicone toys. Then you can put all of them in some sort of storage box and put that by your bed or wherever. A lot of toys evidently come with their own pouches and it seems fine to store them in there. Just make sure that after using your toys that you thoroughly wash and sanitize them and make sure they’re totally dry before you seal them up in plastic bags. Any moisture left in there can lead to mold growth.
If ever there was a durable sex toy material, stainless steel would definitely be it. Seems like it would be bullet-proof. The polished finish on these toys makes it so you can use any type of lube you like, and you can also disinfect steel toys really easily by boiling or on the top rack of the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle. For routine cleaning, an antibacterial soap is good to use. About the only way you can harm steel toys is if you use something abrasive to clean them that will mar the polished finish.
Understandably, many people are skeptical of using glass sex toys, but evidently it’s considered a great material to make toys out of. Glass toys are nonporous, phthalates free, and are compatible with any type of lube, so no worries there. It’s cleaned in all the same ways you would clean steel or silicone, but if you decide to boil a glass toy, you might want to put a hand towel in the pot to cushion it and keep it from hitting against the sides and possibly chipping. But if it does get chipped, you must stop using it. Be sure to thoroughly inspect the glass toy for chips or cracks prior to every use. I did read about annealed glass toys vs not, and annealed seems to be better, as it’s evidently stronger. There is a DIY test to suss that out. The only other issue may lie with any tinting in the glass or painting on the glass, so awareness is key. If it’s painted here in the US, say by an artist, chances are good it’s safe, but everywhere says to use a condom over it anyway.
Wood sex toys are sealed with a finish that is nonporous and body safe, and wood itself is a nonporous and phthalates free material. A company called Nobessence is a reputable manufacturer of wood toys. You should not put wood toys in the dishwasher or boil them, but antibacterial soap and a 10% bleach solution can be used to sterilize. Solvents of any kind should not be used on wood sex toys, as they will damage the finish, but all types of lube are compatible with wood toys.
Aluminum is nonporous, body safe, and phthalates free. It can be cared for just like stainless steel, and any lube can be used with it. An advantage it has over steel is its lighter weight.
If you choose a sex toy made of quality materials from a reputable retailer, take proper care of it, and observe safe sex toy practices, toys should be expected to last a long time. I would emphasize staying away from cheap novelty stuff of questionable origin and dubious materials- we don’t often consider the non-monetary cost of things we purchase, even though those are usually the highest priced items in life. I’m reminded of a fitting saying I heard ages ago, don’t even remember where; but a variation on it just popped into my head. It’s a little crude, but it says “a hard prick has no conscience.” I would argue “neither do the toy companies that make ’em that way.”
Some toys might be okay if the labeling on the box is honest and accurate and if you adhere to proper hygiene. But there’s just too much uncertainty with these materials- too many cases of reactions and infections. It’s so insidious, because the people most affected with these things almost never even consider that the root of the issue could lie in their sex life, so when they finally go to a physician and begin the long road to eatablishing cause, they don’t think ‘oh yeah, I introduced a new toy’ and the doctor doesn’t think to ask them ‘have you used a new lube or introduced a new toy?’ Definitely keep that in mind if you should ever have a reaction or issue. But fingers crossed, you won’t.
If you know you have sensitivities or allergies in your life, just don’t mess around with cheap mystery toys- or lube- same thing. Remember the potential non-monetary costs, so research, research, research… and go with quality 100% silicone.
Perusing the Great Sex Toy Universe
There’s a lot of information out there on how to choose a first toy- be it a dildo, vibrator, butt plug, cock ring- you name it. Clearly I don’t have the time to go over all of it for every single thing, but I’ve included a list of resources at the end of this blog, and all or most are fully searchable. If you’re interested in entering the great universe of sex toys, I really encourage you to do a lot of research and ask questions; a lot of bloggers seem happy to help people with it if you send a question. Dangerous Lilly is one; even though she hasn’t posted recently, you might still want to ask since that was kind of one of her specialties and she is super detailed. But there are many sex bloggers out there… Google ‘sex toy reviewer’ or ‘blogger’ and see what I mean. Again, I’ll list some in the resources section at the end of the blog. If you’re a newbie interested in a toy, research, research, research. Absolutely ask a blogger- one of the people I’ll list at the end. Don’t be embarrassed, they’re into this stuff and are in the know. But once you’ve done some serious due diligence, I’d say take a field trip or a research expedition: go, see, and touch things; you’ll be more able to compare what’s what and make a better decision. If you’re planning on using it in a couple situation, make it a good time!
Buying for Others: Gift Trip
Now if you want to buy something for a lover, spouse, committed partner, or nebulous ‘I hope I get to use this with (insert name here)’ it makes the process of choosing sex toys even more complicated, especially if it’s the first one! Dangerous Lilly has a set of several questions that she says the buy-er must know about the buy-ee before buy-ing a toy, people. They entail accurately measuring members, maybe some comparisons to vegetables… and some deep introspection. One thing I definitely can say that’s frowned on is “Surprise!!” sex toys, especially if they’re a new introductory type deal to one or more partners. They’re fraught with potential pitfalls from the jump. So I’d suggest no “Surprise!!” sex toys. If you want to introduce the topic, or you’ve talked about it but nothing further, try a “Surprise, this is a gift certificate for us to go to (wherever) to do some shopping, baby/ honey/ sweetie pie, I thought it would be better to shop together” gift; it’ll be much better received. You can make the shopping excursion into an experience to bring you closer together and make some serious sparks fly, people.
What else have I learned? When you’re talking about dildos, size does matter. As patients, I have seen lots of men and penis owners feel threatened by the introduction and/ or use of dildos, where they feel absolutely in competition with them, especially if it’s “bigger” than they are. This is a very real and potentially serious issue that can undermine an otherwise amazing relationship, especially because people don’t find it easy to open up about it. Any problem is a problem as it is, but a problem wrapped in shiny shame is a monster. That said, it seems an unspoken agreement that a ‘mere’ ¼ inch increase in the width of a dildo is enough to make some ladies leave a room… and others to run screaming from it. Well, you must understand one big factor: it’s not living human flesh, so evidently it equals a lot more in the fullness aspect. Because they’re not living human flesh, toys don’t have any give at all. Whereas living human flesh can be compacted in certain areas, causing it to be more expanded in others, a dildo is going to be what it is, everywhere it is. And I can imagine how that could be uncomfortable when you’re dealing with a sensitive area in the center of a body. To give you an idea: I’ve even read accounts of dildo ‘aficionados’ (unclaimed by them, just my estimation only) that refuse to use anything wider in girth than 1.25 inches, which by the way is considered a size small. They do come smaller though… and larger… up to porn starlet size. I’m just saying that there’s no reason to remain insecure about allowing a partner to explore the use of any toy, whether a dildo or anything else. Note I said remain insecure. I said that because people are allowed to feel whatever they feel; but I have seen patients that have felt that way, and they tell their partner, get assurances, and let it go. Or, they internalize it, build resentment, get miserable, stay miserable, distance themselves, then end up in my office with some major issues. With all the patients I’ve seen, I’ve never come across a situation where the person asking for and/ or using the dildo is actually doing so to cause their partner to shape up or engender a sense of competition. And by the way, there is a size designation for dildos: length and girth. The easiest one to follow was on a blog called Betty’s Toy Box. The direct link to it is here:
Hopefully that will stay active after I post this, and I’ll include it in the references section at the end as well. If all else fails, just Google Betty’s Toy Box Dildo Size Guide.
Another note on a first dildo that I noted was on several sites… if you’re a vulva virgin and haven’t experienced any penetration; or if you have a vulva and maybe you’re built on the smaller side and have difficulty or pain on penetration; or you have medical issues that prevent penetration or make it too painful, all the cool kids say to ease into things, and get a silicone dilator set before you consider anything else. And get a lot of lube. As a physician, I definitely second that. You can actually do some damage, so medically speaking, lube and very gradual dilation would be the way to go. I saw two references to a Sinclair Institute dilator set on SheVibe I believe. Link is below in the references section. Gotta walk before you run, people.
Don’t Go Here… or There
I’ve never seen so many ridiculous material and product names in my life! So many -skins and -gels and -luxes, -future this and that. It’s ridiculous! And they do it on purpose! They figure you won’t take the time to Google what it is if it sounds interesting enough. Also remember you usually get what you pay for, and that a bad decision may cost you more than money. So for the love of all that is holy, avoid some things like the plague people!
Just say ‘NO!’ to:
-Jelly, Gelle, Jels, Gelz or anything like that
-Rubber anything (helll-ooo latex!)
-Any ultra-realistic dildos, especially when painted, and if they smell funny. They’re guaranteed to have phthalates in them, and they’re porous so they can’t ever be fully sanitized, so they also can’t be shared.
-You get what you pay for…
-But if something is waaay crazy overpriced, it’s likely to be a rip off, because 100% silicone is 100% silicone. A toy can’t be siliconi-er people.
-If you stick with brands that reviewers trust, you’re much more likely to make the best purchase and be happy with whatever you bought. Some reviewers actually offer discount codes as well, so look for those while you’re researching.
-Your best bet is all silicone, but it is more expensive, so it may be out of your range. If you decide you absolutely can’t get silicone right now, go for glass, but not cheap, un-annealed glass; and/ or cover it with a polyurethane condom. Other cheaper options that are (usually) non-toxic include TPR / TPE / Elastomer, but it’s porous so it’s hard to sanitize, and it’s softened with mineral oil-based ingredients most of the time. Oil isn’t compatible with latex, as in latex condoms, so you can’t use that type of condom with it. So that’s a minor little detail to keep in the forefront of your mind.
-If you do choose a porous material, please examine it very carefully before each use; look for any discoloration, odd odors, and black dots anywhere on it. And it is recommended that you toss it after six months to be safe, even if it’s not growing crap like a petri dish… yet.
It seems sex bloggers generally advise avoiding buying sex toys from Amazon and Ebay. Counterfeit sex toys are definitely a major problem as bullshit seems to reign in this industry. You can easily get ripped off and pay for something that you think is silicone but actually isn’t. Some people have reported good experiences buying from Amazon, but the risk of getting a fake sex toy is high enough that people in the know advise against it. Stick with well-known sex toy retailers like Shevibe, Early to Bed, and Smitten Kitten. They say in Canada, use Come As You Are, but I’m sure they’re online and these days they must ship. I also saw the name Tantus mentioned several times on different sites when talking about good quality all-silicone stuff, but then they specify that they’re a manufacturer. I still think you could find a way to buy directly from them. I haven’t tried personally, but I’m betting you can…
Unsure that links will remain active people!
-Hasn’t posted since 2019, but all previous posts available with excellent information
-Very interested in toy safety and materials
-Former sex toy retailer
-Very good with instructing in “Surprise!!” sex toy gifts. But just don’t do it- a certificate if you must, but no “Surprise!!” sex toys. Take your partner shopping and make it fun people!
Betty’s Toy Box
-This is the direct link to the Dildo Size Guide on Betty’s blog, which is another great resource.
Toy Meets Girl
-A no bull middle-aged woman started a blog due to problems with hyposexual drive secondary to medical/ medication issues
-Lots of great info on everything, including toxic toys, tells it like it is.
The Smitten Kitten
-Blog and a trusted retailer
-If you do a Google search, be aware there are crazy cat lady blogs and cat retail stores and boarding services as well, very different!
-Also interested in toxic toys- talks the talk
-This is an organization est in 2005
“Creating radical change in sex toy manufacturing and consumer awareness around sex toy material and usage.”
-Tons of resources
-Worked with Smitten Kitten to do second round of sex toy material safety testing
-Any semi sex-related topic you can imagine
-They describe it best
-As their home sign-in page says:
It’s “Whatever I feel like, once a week–and at least one breast.”
Then: “GET ON IT” and “I’m not kidding about the breast.”
“The most competitive prices for the highest quality products available.”
Early to Bed
“Chicago’s feminist sex shop. Helping all kinds of folks have great sex since 2001. We ship discreetly and quickly!”
“Non-Toxic and Body-Safe Sex Toys”
Also have guides to sex with disabilities
Come As You Are Co-op (Oh Canada)
“World’s only worker-owned co-operative sex shop … a fundamentally anti-capitalist and feminist approach to sexual pleasure, health, and education.”
I’m not absolutely positive if they ship outside of Canada, eh?
“Founded on the belief that each person has the right to a healthy sex life. We believe that our products should be driven by passion and integrity, and inclusive to everybody.”
-They highlight their “Ultra-Premium Silicone”
-And yes, you can definitely buy direct!
Next week… Last of Sex Toy Blog Series
Smart and App’d Couple Toys- For long distance love… or love in the time of Covid!
Sex Toys of the Future
The last sex/ toy blog- for now- so stay tuned!
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