Hi Em & Lo,
I recently turned twenty and for a few months now have been curiously debating getting a vibrator. Thanks to a fairly conservative upbringing, my experiences with sex, masturbation, and just about anything conceivably related are virtually nil, and I have no idea how to go about finding what would be a good place to start. On top of that, I'm a broke college student and I can't spend a lot of money. Do you have any somewhat inexpensive but still good quality recommendations? Any advice would be much, much appreciated!
Good for you! Exploring on your own is the best way to start learning the pattern of your sexual response -- especially if you've had a conservative upbringing and/or little to nil sexual experience. Too many straight women wait for a fella to come 'round to show them the way -- but those dudes often don't have a map (or else they don't care if you get left behind). But if more women took the initiative, we'd probably get a lot fewer letters from gals saying they can't orgasm during sex with a partner. After all, doing it on your own means you're much more likely to be able to do it with a partner -- and you're much more likely to be able to ask for what you want when you're with that partner, too.
And just in case you're still "curiously debating," here's one more reason to go for it: Studies have shown that more than a third of women own vibrators, and that those who use them experience higher levels of sexual desire and more orgasms than those who don't.
Okay, so now you've got to choose your weapon. You were right to ask us, because there's a lot of crap out there, and though we know it might be tempting to go bargain-basement shopping in the middle of a recession, you do have to pay a little bit extra for a quality toy. And by quality, we don't mean "Swarovski-crystal-encrusted," we just mean one that's actually meant to be used as a vibrator, and not "for novelty purposes only."
More...The most important quality in a sex toy is that it's phthalate-free (pronounced "thay-late") -- and if the shop you're browsing in doesn't know what you're talking about when you ask whether a toy contains phthalates, then you don't want to spend your hard-earned money there! Phthalates are plastic softeners which have been shown to be bad for both your body and the environment -- they're banned in kids' toys and even in pet toys in most places, and yet manufacturers continue to use them in sex toys! Shocking, we know. Pure silicone is phthalate-free and always a great option for a sex toy, though there are other newer materials on the market that are also phthalate-free and worth checking out.
For newbies, we think that Fun Factory -- a German toy manufacturer -- is a great place to start. We'd recommend any of their toys, in fact! We love their Laya Spot ($48), which is for external use. Or, if you want something slightly more phallic (and insertion-friendly), check out the Gallant ($62) or the G-spot friendly Mini Heartbreaker ($50). For even more choice, check out Babeland, which stocks a whole range of Fun Factory toys.
If you're looking for a kitchen-sink vibrator -- i.e. one that provides simultaneous internal and external stimulation while paying attention to the G-spot -- then a Rabbit-style vibrator is your friend in need. But again, beware of cheap knock-offs! Ever since the Rabbit made a guest appearance on Sex & the City, companies across the globe have been attempting to cash in on the trend. A company called Vibratex made the original Rabbit, and we love their new latex-free and phthalate-free Elastomer Rabbit. It's a little on the pricey side -- $90 -- but we think that's a small price to pay for orgasms on demand. After all, when's the last time a pair of $90 jeans got you off? Never say that money can't buy you a little love!
If all of the above are still a bit too pricey, you can always go with the ol' standby: The Pocket Rocket (now, on the day of this post, on sale at Babeland for only $18). It's only meant for external use, but at least the hard plastic it's made of won't leach phthalates. For $30, you can get a similar style vibe that's waterproof and made by dependable Vibratex, called the Water Dancer.
When you're ready to expand your toy collection -- you can't have just one! -- just make sure you're shopping at a decent, well-lighted sex toy outlet. We trust Babeland and GoodVibes with both our credit cards and our genitals, and we trust them to steer a newbie in the right direction. And for more advice on some of our favorite toys, check out our book Sex Toy: An A-Z Guide to Bedside Accessories.
Your (very) personal shoppers,
Em & Lo
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