This is a little out of character for me. I’m usually subtle and thoughtful and so forth.
But some things can’t be managed by subtlety, and as far as I can tell, there’s very little else out there on the subject.
When I went shopping for my first sex toy at age 24, I realized that I had no idea what I was looking for. Shape, size, color, features–it was all a mystery. Fortunately, I was in a clean well-lit feminist sex toy store with a good staff. And fortunately, I was well-educated and resourceful.
There are lots of toy-buying guides on the web now–nearly every good sex toy store has one. But the way that they handle size seems to come down to, “Buy what you like.”
But how do you know, and how do you remember when you’re standing in the store, and is there anything different about using a dildo?
How do you know?
Let’s start here: If you’re planning to use it for penetration (as most people are) you might use it in your vagina, in your anus, or in your mouth. If you’ve never been penetrated by anything that way before, a dildo (especially a good one in silicone) is an expensive way to guess. If you’re not allergic to rubber you can try a cheap rubber dildo or two or three… or you can try household objects, but use common sense. Don’t use anything that can break off (no pencils, no glass bottles) or that might be sharp (check the edges on anything metal). Don’t use anything that can form a vacuum seal (open on the end that’s being inserted. And in your anus you MUST NOT use anything that doesn’t have a solid handle or wide flange. Unlike the vagina, the intestines go on pretty much forever and you CAN lose things. Don’t rely on a strong grip, either.
All of that said, vegetables are a good, cheap, relatively healthy way to experiment. Use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife to whittle them down until they feel good. Experiment with curves, shapes, and sizes. You can make an educated guess about what vegetables to buy based on how many fingers feel good. Just remember what I said about the handle. I’m not kidding. The ER people don’t really want to see you.
How do you remember?
Once you figure it out, you need to remember what you like long enough to buy it. This is tricky. Bringing a used vegetable dildo into a toy store is unsanitary and will probably not get you very good service. Ditto hauling your ex (or current) boyfriend around so you can compare toys to his penis. You have a few options:
carve yourself a duplicate, once you like what you have. A lot of work, but it does the trick.
Alternatively, you want to remember two dimensions: girth (size around) and length, and any curve or bend that you’ve decided you like. A good toy store will have the dimensions of a toy marked on the display, so you can start with your model and a tape measure. Measure around and measure the length: base to tip.
You can also use your hands as a unit of measure. To measure girth accurately, place the model across your palm at the base of your fingers and wrap your hand firmly around–not squeezing but not loose enough to slide easily. Take note of where your thumb overlaps your middle finger. Does the tip of your thumb wrap to the first knuckle? Halfway to the second? Is there a gap between the tips? If you’re trying to replicate the size of an ex, think back to giving them a handjob. Also note where the curves are relative to your hand.
Then for length, spread you hand out as wide as possible. Place your thumb at the base and stretch your pinky toward the tip. If it’s longer than your hand, use your other hand to gauge the extra distance on your thumb or a finger.
Advantages to the tape measure: really, really straightforward. Disadvantages: everything is just a little different in reality, and manufacturers’ measurements can vary.
Advantages to the hand: very subtle. Easy to carry around with you. Surprise visits to “oh this fantastic little shop I just discovered” can suddenly be productive. And your hands will remember heft and girth and are more likely to give you a similar experience to the one you’re remembering.
Advantages to the carve-a-duplicate: you can walk up to the counter and say, “I want something like this.” In fact, you can even get a make-your-own kit. Disadvantages: you need a lot of self-confidence to walk into a sex toy store with a piece of carved squash. (also? it’s a pain in the ass.)
So all of that considered, is there anything else you should know?
Dildos are different in a few key ways:
The soft ones are sticky. Even silicone has some resistance to it. So you may well want a dildo that’s slightly smaller than whatever your usual person (hand, penis, etc) is. Also, you will want lube. Make sure you get dildo and lube that are compatible with each other and with you. No silicone lube on a silicone dildo. Ask the staff to make sure. The hard ones (hard plastic, glass, metal, and wood) are not sticky, but they have no give. Again, you may want just a shade smaller than usual.
If you plan to use it in a harness (strap it on), get it longer than you want. A couple of inches, if possible. The angle you get while wearing a dildo is different from the angle of an attached penis. Adjusting for that and other body mechanics usually means it’s trickier to slide all the way in. You can always choose to stop early, but if it’s too short you’re out of luck. Also, you MUST have a flange if you plan to wear it this way. The flange is what keeps it in the harness. Bonus: flange means not worrying about losing it if you’re into assplay. Also, make sure the o-ring or opening on your harness fits the dildo. Again, you can get the staff to help with this. Many harnesses have interchangeable o-rings if the one you’ve picked doesn’t fit.
Finally: most people have more than one. Don’t think you have to get one dildo and be done and make it work. Get one to start, and then experiment some more. It’s about pleasure and fun.
Have questions? Ask away!