HC's Guide to Sex Toys

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Sex is stressful.  I applaud women who have mastered the art of one-handed bra removal, that certain seductive take-me-now gaze, and who have never once faltered while tearing open a condom wrapper in the heat of the moment.  For the rest of us, the girls who don’t really know what to say and the girls who wonder “am I really doing this right?” it’s almost enough to make us swear off sex all together, almost. 

Sex provides a laundry-list of anxieties: is my birth control working; is the third date too soon; thong or boy-short? Even having sex with yourself is nerve-wracking between wondering if time would be better spent finishing your term paper and making sure your roommate actually went to her 4:30 class. Then there are the toys—so many different kinds of toys that any sex shop or web-store is bound to make you feel like you’re stuck somewhere in the Wizard of Oz and just cannot find your way back home. Well, tap your fabulous, sequined stilettos together and consider this your yellow brick road.  Here’s Her Campus’s guide to sex toys.

The Goods

With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially if you are new to the world of sex toys like Chelsea*, a Hofstra University Sophomore.  After discussing it with her boyfriend, she decided to take the plunge.

“We decided to go to Spencer's Gifts and see what kind of sex toys they had there. When I walked to the back of the store where they keep the sex toys, I was suddenly overwhelmed. There we so many to choose from,” she said. “I was a tad confused on which one I should choose, considering I wasn't even sure if I was ready to embark on the sex toy journey. At the same time I was kind of intrigued by the whole thing, they really had everything for any kind of pleasure you wanted to experience.”

If you’re like Chelsea and don’t know where to start, here are three of the most popular toys according to a Her Campus survey of college women:

A vibrator is a toy designed to stimulate your precious lady parts by vibrating against them, either internally or externally.  They come in many different styles, from small, discreet bullet shaped toys to larger phallic models, which are sometimes referred to as dildos, though not all dildos vibrate. They also come in other varieties, like vibrating underwear, for an extra saucy dinner-date.

Strap On
A strap on is harness designed to hold a dildo or vibrating dildo in order to facilitate penetration. It can be used by any sex or gender, just like vibrators or anal plugs, which is why it’s super popular.

Anal Plug
Anal plugs are sex toys designed to fit snugly into your sexy bottom. Some women say they help them orgasm, for others, it’s just a turn-on.

Erasing your doubts.

Did you know 57% of college aged guys and girls surveyed in an exclusive Her Campus poll said that they’ve used sex toys? Out of those who haven’t, 80% said that they know someone who has.  That adds up to most of us, yet walking into a sex shop can still make anyone bashful.  This is why lots of us have the tendency to blindly pick out a toy like it’s a used vinyl record in the discount bin, and run.  Just like when you’re record shopping, cool album art and a snappy band name don’t mean the songs are any good.

Whether you’re a virgin who’s never seen a sex toy, already have an enormous collection hidden in your underwear drawer, or someone who’d consider their sex life pretty vanilla (hey, vanilla is a good flavor too!), it’s still important to know what you want.  There are three crucial elements to any sex toy purchase:  use, look, and material. If you’ve considered these three things, then that’s half the battle.


“I have to say,” says Chelsea, “I never thought I would be using sex toys with myself, or with my significant other, but I am for sure a fan now. Ever since that one day, I have gone back and bought several more toys to test out.”

Like Chelsea, once you’ve broken free from the shackles of shyness, and can proudly proclaim that you do in fact want to buy a sex toy (or at least shop for one online in the confines of your bedroom), you must ask yourself one simple question: what exactly do I want to do with this thing?

“You want to think about if you want to be using it as an external toy or an internal toy,” says Megan Andelloux, certified Sexologist and Sexuality Educator. “Vibration tends to work best externally, even though some people like to use it internally.”

If you want a toy specifically for internal use, you need to decide which kind of stimulation you want—G-Spot or anal stimulation.

The G-Spot, located on the inside of the front vaginal wall, is a mystery to many women, so it’s no wonder that 40% of readers surveyed prefer toys for external stimulation.  Let it be a mystery no more; purchasing a toy with a curvature will help you reach that sweet spot that’s easy to miss with your hands.

 If you’re looking for anal stimulation, you have to be a little more careful.

“If [the toy is] used for anal it has to have a flange,” she says.

A flange is the flared ending on toys designed to be used anally which prevents them from getting lost inside of you.


In the same way that rock hard abs and deep blue eyes made you fall for that Campus Cutie, the right looks can lead you to the perfect sex toy. 

“It's important to keep in mind what turns you on, what type of stimulation you want, what looks appealing to you,” says Andelloux. “Does it look like something you want to play with? Some people really like abstract art-type sex toys, whereas other people feel more comfortable with animal themes like The Rabbit.”

So what turns you on? Do you like neon colors or prefer things to be a bit more anatomically correct?  28% of readers said they like their toys to be fun and colorful, while a whopping 48% agreed that toys should be discreet. 

If you’re looking for something ultra-cute to impress your beaux, Andelloux recommends the Pyrex Mint Plug by Crystal Delights. “[It’s] bling for your butt.  How could someone not want to play with a sparkly butt?”

For someone who’s a bit more demure she also recommends the Fingo by Screaming-O, a small bullet type vibrator used for external stimulation. “It’s small so it doesn’t scare people,” she says. “It’s fabulous to use during oral sex and it’s less than $20.”


A sex toy is like your favorite t-shirt.  You want it to look good on you and be versatile, but most of all, you want it to be comfortable. This is why material matters. Would you settle for a cheap poly-blend when you could have 100% cotton? Of course not.

“You want to think about the type of materials,” says Andelloux, “hard and firm will carry more vibration, or do you want it to be soft and feel more lifelike?”

It’s also imperative to make sure that the material is safe.  Plastic toys or toys that contain jelly may contain Phalates, which are linked to cancer, reproductive failure, and intersex conditions, and can leak out of poorly made toys.

“If the sex toy salesman recommends you use a condom over [the toy], that’s a sign it has Phalates,” Andelloux explains. 

If your toy might have Phalates, it’s best to use a condom or skip it all together.  There are plenty of other options that are effective, inexpensive, and safe.

Do what feels right.

With sex toys, it’s important to remember that it’s all about what makes you feel good.  While most of our minds default to the small, discreet vibrator we saw in that infamous episode of “Sex and the City” when we think about it, that doesn’t mean it’s the only option.  There are many different kinds of sex toys for every woman’s unique needs. Your best friend might love to use a strap-on or fool around with anal-beads, but you might like things slightly more traditional. 

When surveyed, an overwhelming number of Her Campus readers admitted to strictly using vibrators, and one even divulged us in her secret—she uses an electric tooth brush, but if that’s too vanilla for your tastes, there are some options that are a little more risqué. Not all toys are created for the bedroom—some allow us to get our freak on when we are walking to class or dancing in the club.

Club Vibe by OhMiBod is a small vibrator that slips into a special pair of panties. “You wear it to a club,” Andelloux says, “and it vibrates to the base of the music the DJ is playing.”

Luna Ball, a small plastic ball designed to tone Kegel muscles, is another sex toy that you can wear out like your favorite pair of blue jeans.

“You can wear them around campus all day long, and they provide a fun party in your pants while toning your Kegel muscles to give you stronger orgasms,” says Adelloux, “They are not designed to give you orgasms, but they are designed to make you feel fun like you have a special secret inside.”

Whether you are looking for something discreet, loud, for the bedroom, or for the world outside, sex toys can add an element of surprise to spice up your relationship, or provide the excitement of a steamy hook-up when you’re flying solo.  Once you pick out a sex toy that fits your needs, there is only one more rule—have fun.

*names have been changed to protect identity.

Chelsea*, Sophomore at Hofstra University
Megan Andelloux, Certified Sexuality Educator (AASECT), Board Certified  Sexologist (ACS)
Sex Toys Survey administered by Her Campus, Spring 2010


About The Author

Mariel Loveland is in love with writing. She recently graduated from SUNY Purchase College wtih a major in Creative Writing and a minor in Studio Composition. There she was the editor-in-chief of The Independent, her campus's only print news source. Currently, she runs a blog entitled "Writing the Ship" (http://www.writing-the-ship.bl...) where she documents her life as a recent graduate. When she is not writing words, she can be found writing songs for her punk band and playing guitar loudly in the basements of seedy (and sometimes not-so-seedy) NYC clubs. In the past, Mariel has interned for Lucky Magazine in the Online Editorial Department and Columbia Records as part of their A&R and Digital Research team as well as contributing to other on-campus publications. In her spare time, she dabbles in graphic design, fiction writing, and window shopping on the internet. Currently, she works at Babble.com where she handles all their social media.