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Penis Playthings

By Carol Queen, PhD
Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist


Penis PlaythingsMost of us know that there are many and varied sex toys designed for women—vibrators of every size and shape, for starters, and dildos galore. Sex toys for men aren't as much in the public eye, although their "Sex & the City" moment was probably in the Austin Powers movie in the scene where Austin repudiates his penis pump: "I'm telling ya, baby, that's not mine!" Hardly as pro-toy a message as the Rabbit Pearl got on Sex & the City, is it? And there's evidence that men may not, in fact, embrace their intimate toys the way women nowadays do. (A recent Daily Dot story advances this possibility.) 

The fact is, pretty much any vibrator designed as a women's plaything can thrill a man, too—or a person of any gender; the same nerve endings that are plentiful on the clitoris are also well-represented on the corona of the penis. And many men, of every sexual orientation, are fans of dildos and plugs—the prostate is a significant male pleasure center, for those guys who seek out that sensation. But when we think of "men's toys," we're generally thinking of the penis and the types of sex gizmo that can stimulate it. This means we're looking at three main types of toy: cock rings, penis sleeves, and pumps. (Let's also quickly acknowledge that, in this day of increasing trans* visibility, some people with penises do not identify as men, and some people who identify as men do not have a penis they were born with; in either case, the language transfolks use for their pleasure parts might also vary.)

Cock rings: These come in two main variations: leather, rubber, silicone, metal or elastomer rings that fit around the cock and balls, helping retain the blood that's flowed into the penis to create the erection; and elastomer or silicone rings with a vibrator or other clitoral stimulator attached, designed to be worn on the shaft and to add buzz during intercourse. Even though this latter style may not have been designed with the man's sensation foremost in mind, if a guy wants to experiment with one for his own pleasure, the best place to wear it will likely be farther up the shaft, nestled under the coronal ridge. (Other guys like vibration on the testicles, so may wear it down at the base of the shaft, but positioned to the underside so the balls will get the buzz.)

Good Vibrations does not carry metal cock rings. They are by no means a beginner's toy; if the wearer gets hard, he may not be able to get the ring off, which is a situation that can quickly become dangerous. In general, rings are recommended for only 20-25 minutes of wear, at least until a user gets used to the ring and knows what to expect. Many rings are stretchy and can be taken off whenever the user wants, as can leather rings, which snap open and closed.

Sleeves and sheaths: These usually-soft cylindrical devices with a hole at one or both ends may be marketed as providing an intercourse-like sensation, or they may just jazz up a hand job, through their texture and the feel of the material they're made of: generally this will be elastomer, silicone blends, rubber and a special flesh-like material called "softskin." Many of these have die-cut patterns on the inside, or little "love fingers"—bumps designed to add more sensation. Some of these toys, like the well-known Fleshlight, are molded at the entry end to resemble body parts: vulva/vaginas, anuses, mouths. Others have a hole or slot that isn't meant to resemble human anatomy at all. A few of these are designed with built-in vibrators, or are shaped in such a way that they can accommodate one, for the guy who loves vibration or wants extra sensation.

Pumps: These are toys that are sold with a mixed message: like Austin Powers' penis enlarger, many pumps are advertised with a promise that they can enlarge a user's cock. Good Vibrations does not sell them for this purpose. Because they work via sometimes-powerful suction, when this toy is in use it looks like the penis (or nipple or clitoris) inside is growing—but it quickly returns to its original size when the suction stops and the cylinder comes off. A guy who over-uses one of these—hoping against hope that the hype is correct—runs the risk of doing permanent damage. We recommend no more than 20 minutes of use at a time, and it helps to shower, bathe or hot tub first, to warm up the skin and get the circulation going. This makes pump use safer because the penile skin will be more flexible. 

Using the pump for sensation is our recommendation. It can offer a sucking sensation that isn't just like a blow job, but is intense and pleasurable nevertheless.

By the way, many men are attracted to the idea of pumping for penis growth for an ironic reason: US sex education is so bad that no one has ever disabused them of the idea that size (or size combined with how long a man can maintain his big erection) is primarily responsible for female partners' orgasms. About 70% of women in the US rarely or never come during intercourse, but that isn't mostly because of size, but because there is insufficient clitoral stimulation during intercourse and because intercourse so often begins before a woman is sufficiently turned on. Go for "the motion of the ocean"—and plenty of erotic play—if you want to try to reverse that statistic in your own bedroom. The penis pump can wait to give you sexy sucking sensations whenever you want them. 

Oh, one more thing!

Lube: It's not exactly a toy, but if you buy only one thing to enhance sex, make it lubricant. Not only does it change the feelings of an ordinary hand job, it makes all the difference in terms of pleasurable insertion, whether you're engaging in intercourse or searching for your own prostate during masturbation. Silicone lube shouldn't be used with silicone toys—sometimes it can damage them—but it's safe with latex, and it's super-slippery. Water-based lube comes in liquid, gel and cream formats and is safe for any purpose, though for a long-lasting hand job it will begin to lose its slipperiness when the water begins to evaporate out. (if that's what you're using for J/O joys, add a little water from time to time to re-slick it.) 

Whatever you use to add diverse and sexy sensations to masturbation and partner play, remember—there's nothing at all wrong with having some fun with your toys!

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