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An Expert Shares Everything You Need To Know About Using A Sex Toy For The First Time

Firsts are freaky, but they don’t have to be. In Her Campus’ series My First Time, we’re answering the burning questions you might be uncomfortable asking about IRL. In this article, we tackle how to use a sex toy for the first time.

I bought my first sex toy two weeks into my freshman year of college. It was a black bullet vibrator from Amazon, and it only had five speeds because anything more than that, frankly, scared me. It sat in a box under my beer stash for a week for two reasons: 1) My ex-Catholic guilt didn’t want either of my roommates to find out, and 2) I had no clue how to use a sex toy.

I learned pretty much instantly that, when you buy a vibrator, you aren’t suddenly blessed with the knowledge of how to use it. Seriously. I thought that when I held that dinky, three-inch vibrating turd-of-a-vibrator, I would have some sort of natural, womanly instinct to make myself orgasm with ease. Instead? I locked myself in the bathroom, half-nude, fidging with a bullet vibrator as I sat on the toilet — because some Reddit post told me that it was “completely normal” to masturbate in the bathroom while your roommates are in class. (And yes, I totally dropped it in the toilet.)

The truth is, using a sex toy for the first time is intimidating. While I started having sex in high school, long before buying my Amazon vibrator, I found myself too scared to explore pornography and sexual education beyond anatomy. I knew how to have sex with other people, but I truly had no clue how to have sex with myself.

I eventually figured it out (shout out to the internet and Bellesa), but I’ll never forget the confusion and intimidation I felt when I first started exploring my body sexually. And as I’ve grown older, and talked to all different kinds of folks, not knowing how to use a sex toy isn’t a unique experience: it’s a universal one.

So, I chatted with sex expert and relationship therapist Dr. Debra Laino about what you need to know about using a sex toy for the first time. Trust me, you don’t want to drop your bullet vibrator in the toilet.

What are the benefits of using a sex toy?

Here’s a fun fact: did you know that orgasms are super good for your brain, and that masturbation can aid in stress relief, improved confidence, and pelvic floor health? The more you know!

Beyond that, however, using sex toys with yourself allows you to explore your body in a way you may have never before. “It is important for college students to get to know their bodies to bring awareness to what feels good, what they like and don’t like, and to educate themselves about their sexual anatomy,” Dr. Laino tells Her Campus.

Remember: knowing what gets you going sexually can help you have more fulfilling sex with a partner, as long as you remember to communicate it.

OK, but what sex toy should I get?

Sex toys are all about your preferences, but it can be hard to know where to start. (Vibrators, dildos, butt-plugs, oh my!) For a beginner, however, a classic rabbit vibrator is a great place to start: It allows for both clitoral (outer) stimulation as well as penetrative and internal stimulation. “A bendable head vibrator can be beneficial for exploring different positions and pressures,” Laino says.

But, where can you buy a sex toy? “Explore both online and IRL,” Laino says. “And, it can be fun to get a friend and take a trip to a sex shop to explore toys up close and personal.” The employees at sex shops are, in my experience, some of the kindest and least-judgemental folks, and they can help you find the perfect sex toy for you. But also, there’s no shame in heading to Amazon or a queer-owned online sex shop to find a toy.


Replying to @lunapik296 New Year, new beginnings!✨#fypシ

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So, I bought it: Now, how do I use a sex toy?

I’m gonna get candid, here: I might have been more nervous to masturbate for the first time than have sex for the first time. Still, to this day, I can get anxious before settling down to do the deed. Masturbation anxiety is, in fact, a real and normal thing — but Dr. Laino has some tips for overcoming it.

“Take some deep breaths, set the mood with relaxing music (or music that makes you feel comfortable),” she says. “Aim to explore your body in a safe place with no interruptions and learn to think about [masturbation] as your special alone time: Think about something relaxing or something you find sexy and just be present with yourself.

Laino continues, “If you continue to feel anxious, re-focus on your breath and let your vibrator vibrate a non-sexual area to start so you can get used to it, then move towards the genitals or nipples — one step at a time.”

Then, when you’re comfortable, Laino says to take your time and continue to go slow — an orgasm isn’t a race! “If you get a vibrator with different speeds, start by exploring them — and do what feels good,” Lano says. “You may want to start out on your thighs and work up to an area of your vulva. Many women find pleasure on their clitoris as well.”

Like all things, using a sex toy takes practice before knowing exactly what makes you tick. “There is a learning curve as you are learning your body and what feels good,” Laino says.  “And that’s OK! For beginners, follow what feels good and go with that.”

After you finish up, be sure to clean your sex toy and store it in a place that’s discreet and clean — preferably inside a pouch or container. Before using it again, clean your sex toy to wash off any dirt dust, or debris that might collect on there.

Using a sex toy for the first time is intimidating. But, after some time, masturbation can be a seriously empowering way to get to know your body in a better way. Just, hopefully, you’ll steer clear of crappy bullet vibrators… and masturbating over the toilet.

julianna (she/her) is an associate editor at her campus where she oversees the wellness vertical and all things sex and relationships, wellness, mental health, astrology, and gen-z. during her undergraduate career at chapman university, julianna's work appeared in as if magazine and taylor magazine. additionally, her work as a screenwriter has been recognized and awarded at film festivals worldwide. when she's not writing burning hot takes and spilling way too much about her personal life online, you can find julianna anywhere books, beers, and bands are.