So You Want to Experiment with Sensations: Pain, Pleasure, and Everything In Between

Sensation play is great.  By adding and removing sensation, you can heighten your awareness and perception.  Sensation play can be a great way to connect with a partner too!  It can be a sexy, romantic way play with trust, patience, power play, and limit-pushing.  And don’t worry- it’s not all 50 Shades of Grey!  (FWIW- I think that book is atrocious.)

Not all sensation play is painful- at all.  Some people like light, gentle touches- like silky fabrics or fur.  Some like light stings, or things that have a worse bark than their bite.  There are LOTS of toys in this category!  And some people really like a nice good sting, thud, or pull.  There’s certainly a lot for that too!  With all body play, there are varying levels of risk.  I’d be an irresponsible sex blogger if I sent you out to try more intense body stuff without making sure you’re doing it safely, so promise me you’ll use your noggins.  Sterilize if there’s broken skin or blood.  Before you try anything that puts strain on breath or circulation make sure you read SM 101 or another comprehensive guide like it.
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You know this, but just to refresh- for any kind of potentially physically or emotionally vulnerable play, establish a safeword beforehand.  A good, universally known system is “Yellow” for “slow this down, I’m getting near my limit” and “Red” for “stop right now.”  A good nonverbal safeword (if you’re unable to speak, e.g. with a gag) is to have something noisy to drop to the floor like keys or a mumble pattern- like an “UH-uh!” that the dominant partner will be looking out for.  Safewording is not a sign of weakness.  Rather, it is a sign that you’re in touch with your own body and psyche and are invested in having a positive experience together.  Help your top help you, and safeword as needed.

On to the fun stuff!

A great way to start with sensation play is with a blindfold.  It’s low-risk, comfortable, and easily removable.  This one is cute, comfy, and inexpensive:
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A blindfold heightens your senses and builds anticipation in a way that many find erotic.  A light touch of a fingertip down the arm becomes amplified and extra ticklish.  The warmth of a partner’s body becomes more perceptible.  The slap of a crop becomes unpredictable.  This is the first toy I recommend to any friend looking to add a little pizzazz to their relationship- above any vibrators or oils or dildos.  A blindfold can do wonders.  Highly recommend.

Next up:

The Tantra Feather Teaser by LELO.

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LELO is a fabulous company that makes some really great, high quality toys.  This feather toy is little- about the size of your hand- and comes in a really pretty, gift-worthy box.  (It’s also nice for storage!)  This teaser feels just lovely, especially when paired with the blindfold above.  You can also flip it over and use the cold metal ball on the other end of the handle for cool smooth contrast.  These teasers are nonthreatening and flirty.  They’re obviously not sterilizable so if you’re intending to share it between partners, steer clear of any bodily fluids.

Also from LELO is the Sensua Suede whip.

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If you want to be adorable, this whip and the feather teaser make a really attractive pair.  This whip is small too- 14″ in total.  As a relatively inexperienced whip-wielder, I find it takes some pretty focused effort to get much more than a light sting out of this toy.  It’s nice on breasts, bums, and backs.  It feels fantastic slowly dragged across a nipple.  This is a great toy for someone who is new to impact play, as I think of it as one of those toys whose bark is worse that its bite.  If you want it badly enough and get in some practice, though, you can get some sting out of this one.
This next toy is a really great example of how you can use psychology to your advantage with sensation play.  This Pinwheel BDSM toy looks like a terrifying medical device.
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And it is!  This tool is something doctors use to test nerve reception.  Scary as fuck, right?  We can work with that.  See, this toy only hurts as much as you want it to.  Depending on the angle of the toy, the body part, and the pressure of your hand, this little lovely thing can be anything from a light pokey tickle to a sharp sting that leaves a little pink dotted line on your skin.  It’s sterilizable too, which is nice and important as this is a scratchy/pokey toy.  I don’t know if they all do this, but my Pinwheel toy has this delightful ominous squeak when used.  I love watching a toppy partner bring this slowly to my skin, not knowing if they’ll choose to be nice or mean with it.
Getting into some more serious sensation, may I introduce the Butterfly nipple clamps:
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There are gentler nipple clamps on the market for sure.  These are, in fact, some of the most painful ones I’ve ever tried- and I love them.  Butterfly clamps (sometimes called Clover clamps) have this neat mechanism wherein they tighten when pulled.  These are pretty intensely tight anyway, so when the chain connecting them gets pulled, you’ll feel a pretty intense shock of pain.  There is no way these are getting pulled off.  Personally, I LOVE nipple pain.  I’m very sensitive in some other places- like backrubs, for example.  I never imagined I would like play like this, but I tried it and found it really heightened my pleasure.  Try to keep an open mind when you’re trying new sensation play.  You might be surprised by what your body responds to!

Last but not least, one of my very favorite toys:  the Under The Bed Restraint System.

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Being tied up is a really fun way to do sensation play.  You’re basically forced to stay still and trust your partner with your body.  It can be very intimate, and very lovely!  It can also bring up some unexpected emotional reactions, so communicate if you need anything- a drink of water, a break from a position, a check-in snuggle.  This thing is basically shaped like a capital H and goes under your mattress so that you can be strapped up with arms and legs.  It’s super simple to install (have a friend help place it while you hold the mattress up!) and tucks away discreetly between uses.  The straps are easily adjusted and the cuffs are comfy.  I did have an experience wherein I broke one of the split rings on the leg cuffs (sexy tickling when tied up = strong leg contractions!) but was able to replace it with a sturdier one from a hardware store for less than a dollar.
All for now!  All of these toys are available at your friendly (internet/)neighborhood Good Vibrations store for purchase!  Good luck, be good, and have fun!

Kate

Let’s Talk Sex Stigma

I want to talk about judgment.  I’ve been writing a post about sensation play and was recalling an overheard conversation in which one person was denouncing folks who are into play with BDSM toys that are all bark and no bite- like nipple clamps that don’t squeeze tightly or handcuffs that come undone easily when pulled.  The person laughed haughtily.  I got mad.

This is my across-the-board belief, not just for sensation play:  No one way of playing is inherently better than any other.  People who are into really intense pain play do not have access to some higher level of sexual pleasure or empowerment or maturity than those who do not.  Sex and sexual play are many things, including physical, emotional, and psychological.  One person may experience absolute ecstasy and connection with another person through a caress of the thigh.  Another might find it from being tied down and tickled.  Another may find it through verbal degradation and humiliation.  Assuming that all of these things are happening in the context of consensual and caring adults, they are all good.  There is no hierarchy of good.  They are simply all good.

There is a lot of cross-judgment with kinds of play.  I’m sure we’re all well aware that some folks think that anything beyondpleasureless sex for procreation is amoral.  I’m not really talking about those folks.  I’ve been side-eyed by folks who think that using a blindfold or a vibrator in the bedroom is an indication that the relationship isn’t enough to sustain itself, or that sexual chemistry is absent.  I’ve had glances of disapproval from folks who think that I haven’t proven myself as a true sexual submissive if I haven’t wanted a collar.There’s one way to succeed at sex: to recognize and do what makes you happy.  Sometimes that means play that’s heavy into sensation.  Sometimes it means play that makes you feel certain emotions like helplessness or trust.  Sometimes it’s working out things in the bedroom that are hard to address, ask for, or access elsewhere.  Sometimes it’s trying new things with a partner and delighting in the novelty together.  Sometimes it’s expressing love by focusing entirely on making another person happy, or being the object of another person’s heartfelt efforts.

It is lame to look down on someone else for how they get off.  In fact, I think it’s very often a signifier of one’s own sexual insecurity or discomfort with one’s own internal desires.  You don’t have to be heavy into kink to have your mind blown.  Using sex toys does not indicate a lack of skill or creativity.

Let’s all be nice to each other and celebrate the delicious diversity that is sexuality!  I firmly believe that our sexualities have the capacity to keep evolving our entire lives.  Sex can be an amazing way to explore yourself and embrace the parts of yourself that have been painful or dark.  Sex can be a way to take on roles we can’t or don’t take on elsewhere.  Sex can be healing and wonderful.  We’re all coming into it with completely different histories and experiences.  One moment is rarely the final point in one’s journey.

So go forth and have amazing sex!  I would love to hear about moments in your sexual histories that were significant.  Tell me your stories, dear readers!

Kate

So You Want to Try Butt Stuff Part 3: Double Penetration

Double penetration slays me.  It’s both physical and psychological.  I love feeling filled, stretched, overpowered, submissive.  I love the attention and the taboo and the wholeness.  It makes me feel wanton.  I love it.

There are a number of ways a gal can play with double penetration, both solo and with a partner.  One of my life’s greatest delights is to be fucked doggy-style with a finger  or thumb in my ass.  Personally I don’t need both to be moving to get off- even just the presence of something in my bum gives me a lovely feeling of fullness that makes me cum like nothing else.

A plug works nicely to provide that feeling during sex or fingering or toy penetration, because a lubey, clenching butt can shoot toys right out of ya!  For that reason, I prefer toys with a girthy bulb and a thin neck, and as always- a flared base.  A good option for that is the Pure Plug.

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Notice how the plug base is small-ish, meaning it won’t get in the way of your other holes.  Your partner will feel the presence of the toy through your inner walls and good times will be had by all.  I’ve never had a problem with the Pure Plug coming out of me.  It is very hard though (it’s stainless steel after all!) so I wouldn’t use it with another hard toy, like a glass or metal dildo- because the walls inside of you are delicate and I’m afraid of hurting myself in the throes of enthusiastic ecstasy.

A good squishier alternative is the Sidekick.  Note again the big ratio of bulb-to-neck.  That’s what you’re depending on to keep that guy in there!

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If you’re up for a really good time, there’s always the Deuce harness by Joque, which I wrote about here.  It’s a harness worn by a man that also has a hole for a dildo.  In this case, I like something smooth and flexible- more for a feeling of fullness than major stretch or texture.  A dildo like The Siren is a really nice choice.

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Remember, you never want to use a finger/toy/anything in a vagina that has just been in a bum.  Butts house their own bacteria and it spells bad news for vaginas.  You can of course sterilize toys with Renew toy wash or boiling (solid silicone only) or you can be a lazy bum like me and just use a condom on your toys.  You can also use gloves to be able to finger with near-wild abandon.

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So!  Give it a try if it sounds good to you.  Go slowly and start small and as always- LUBE LUBE LUBE!

Kate

So You Want to Try Butt Stuff Part 2: Strap-ons

Strap ons are for everybody!  (Yes, I know I keep saying that about things.)  Welcome to Part 2 of the Butt Stuff series.  If you missed Part 1: Intro To Butt Stuff, you can find it here.

Strap-ons are so fun.  There are lots of kinds of harnesses and toys, and I’m going to tell you about my favorites here!

When it comes to harnesses, I am fiercely loyal to the company Spareparts.  See here: the Joque harness.

 

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This was recommended to me in a Good Vibes store, where they let me take the floor model to the bathroom to try on over my clothes.  As a Lady of Circumference (size 20,) I found this harness in size B fit like a dream and had room to accommodate a body significantly bigger than mine.  What I like about this harness is that it is both comfortable (no plasticy straps digging into your thighs) and easy to clean (machine washable!)  I’ve had mine for years and it’s held up very well.  It’s also flattering and sturdy.  Mine looks especially cute under a red corset and a black tulle short skirt.  And heels, obvi.  Spareparts harnesses are well worth the price.

Another one I have by them is the Deuce Male Harness, which is intended to be worn by men for double penetration.

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This one is similar to the first, but has 2 holes to accommodate both your bio-cock and a toy.  (I THINK it could be used with 2 toys, but it might be a little wobbly?)  As a HUGE fan of double penetration, let me say that this harness worked exactly as I expected it to.  That being said, I also found out that full-on double-cock sex first makes me cum so hard I almost pass out, and then immediately makes me feel like I ate a whole cake.  This is a wonderful product, but one that supplies an experience I can only handle once in a while.

Good Vibes has tons of sexy harnesses- many more than when I was reviewing a few years ago!  These are the only two I own, though I encourage you to go check out their selection.

As far as toys to use with a strap on, I’ve found gents new to the receiving end of things tend to be big fans of the Charm series.

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I see they only have the small one in stock right now, which is the size of a slim finger.  These are nice because 1, they’re not super phallic and can be more comfortable for people, and 2, they’re really smooth and squishy.  These toys will slide right in with very little resistance and are a good first toy to make someone who’s feeling unsure/ uncomfortable with the idea of anal play.  I think it’s virtually impossible for these to hurt.  I’ve got 2 (small and large) and I love them.

Next up is the Bullseye, which is bigger and firmer than the Charms.

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You’ll notice this one has a curve and a pronounced head.  This combo will rock your prostate or g-spot, whichever you’ve got!  (Remember- aim the curve toward the belly button.)  This is a girthier toy and the big head provides a bit of a “pop” getting it in.  It can be very pleasurable, but is also a stretch, so take your time and warm up!  Once in, it gives a really nice feeling of fullness.

Last but not least, we’ve got the ones I like to be penetrated with- because I’m a shameless size queen.  Introducing the First Mate and the Captain!

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(I know they look similar- but note the difference in girth.)
These are good for people like me who love deep penetration.  I’m a fan of -ahem- having my cervix pounded, and these lovely toys do the trick.  They’re not for everyone, but if this is what you’re into, they’re hard to beat!  If you thought you’d like it and it turns out you don’t, check out this little genius idea:

O-Stabilizer rings are designed to stabilize a toy in a harness or provide a bumper to help decrease penetration depth.

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Serious high 5 to whoever came up with these.  They’re a great idea!

 

All for now!  Do message me/comment with questions and concerns.  I love to help!

Happy fucking!  🙂

So You Want to Try Butt Stuff Part 1: Beginner toys and tips for all bodies

Butts!  Guys.  Butts are so fun.  Butts have so much stigma and it bums (ha!) me out.  Here’s the deal:  our butts are jam packed with lots of sensitive nerves.  Our butts can be both physically and emotionally vulnerable places.  To let someone look at, touch, taste, or penetrate your butt takes an IMMENSE amount of trust and can be very intimate.  Some folks come with some residual butt shame from past experiences.  Some guys think butt stuff makes them gay.  Let’s get a few things straight first:

  1. Butts are for all people.  Getting pleasure from getting touched somewhere sensitive does not have any implications about your sexuality.
  2. Butts are only dirty if they’re dirty.  Yeah, sometimes there might be a little speck of brown somewhere when you’re playing with deep penetration, and if that would ruin your day or view of your partner, this might not be a great thing for you to get into.  No judgment!  But if you’re showered, have had a bowel movement recently, and are not ill, you’ll likely be clean and fine.  (One tip I use for all sex play- keep a box of unscented baby wipes under your bed.  They make all things easy and quick to clean up.)
  3. Only play with a butt that is PSYCHED to be played with.  Likewise- only let someone play with your butt if you are PSYCHED.  Butts can hurt if treated incorrectly.  Butts have feelings, and will clench up if you’re nervous.  So be gentle with yourself and your partner.  Set aside some time, get cozy, and communicate A LOT.  Also:
  4. LUBE.  Lube always and forever.  Lube on lube.  Don’t use a numbing lube.  Here’s why:  pain is your body’s way of giving you a heads up if something’s going wrong.  If you take away that warning sign, you can get hurt!  If you’re feeling pain, slow down, back off, and relax.  Get a nice slow body massage from your partner.  Get in a position where you have more control or eye contact.  If it turns out you don’t want butt stuff at all, say so!  That’s totally ok.  Not everything is for everyone.  Do you.
  5. Flared bases, y’all.  Butts are strong and a lubed sphincter will suck up toys like a black hole.  Worry not- just use things with a really flared base, or a ring, or a sturdy big base.  Don’t be the guy whose x-ray shows up on the internet.  Be smart.  Flare that base.  I’ll show you some examples below.
  6. Germies.  Butts carry their own bacteria.  You shouldn’t use a butt toy on a vagina without sterilizing it first, nor should you share butt toys with partners.  For that reason I tend to stick to silicone toys, which can be sterilized by boiling.  Condoms are fine too!

 

SO if you’ve made it this far and still want to delve into butts, come along with me!  Buttventures await.

This Don Juan is a great starter toy.  Check him out:

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It’s about the size of a pudgy finger, and goes into most people comfortably.  See that big base?  That’s what we’re talking about with the not getting sucked up inside.  I tend to choose dark-colored toys for butt play, because if there are any specks on anything, you won’t see them.  The curve of a toy like this will stimulate the prostate on a guy and maybe the g-spot on a girl, depending on the bod.  With both, you’ll want the curve pointing forward- as in, toward the belly button.  Good rule of thumb.  I’ve found this one doesn’t stay in place enough for me to have sex with it in, but it is a nice intro-to-butts.  Even experienced butts like a little warm-up, so smaller toys are nice to have on hand.

The Aneros Helix Syn is made for guy bodies especially.

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It’s designed to be hands-free and to give you a nice feeling of fullness.  As I am not a prostate owner, I have regrettably not tried this one myself but have heard VERY good reviews of it from friends.  You’ll also get some sweet perineum stimulation from that black and red little thing at the bottom, which is nice.  This toy is firmer than it looks, which means it will definitely not get sucked inside of you- but may also need a little smooth-talking and lube to get it inside of you.

Another nice hands-free toy is the Naughty Boy, which features a vibrating bullet.

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This one is waterproof, which is nice.  You can sit and rock with it in too!  Some folks find a little vibration to be relaxing to their bums.  This one is a little buzzy for my taste, but definitely still adds a little zing!

Speaking of zing- how could we forget anal beads?  Like these Booty Beads:

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Now I haven’t actually used these anal beads before (I know!  To-do list.) but I’m putting these on here because I want you to know why they’re good and what to look for.  Do you see how they’re one solid piece of silicone?  This is super important.  Shitty sex toy stores will sell you beads on an actual porous woven string.  DO NOT USE THEM!  That nonsense is begging for bacteria.  You and your partners deserve better.  These are meant to be clean and to keep your body healthy.  That grippy ring looks like a nice thing to have when things get lubey too!

Speaking of which- lube!  Please Gel Lube is a nice one for anal play.

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It’s water-based, which means it is compatible with all lubes.  (Silicone lubes and silicone toys shouldn’t mix.  Oil-based lubes and latex condoms don’t mix.  Water-based lube is universally friendly!)  It’s also a thicker gel, which provides lots of nice cushioning for sensitive butts.  With anal stuff, always err on the side of more lube.

And I saved my favorite for last:  the exquisite, shiny, sensuous, sexy-as-fuck Pure Plugs.

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*Cue Barry White.*
This plug.  This whole company.  Everything they make woos me.  These plugs come in 4 sizes (they just made an extra-large one!) are made out of high quality stainless steel.  That makes them waterproof, shiny, sterilizable, indestructible, heatable, coolable, and above all- heavy.  These little honeys will stay in you with no problem, but also have this lovely weight that makes you feel deliciously full.  They’re hard to describe but I believe them to be worth every penny.  I have the large one, and I looooove it.  So freaking good, you guys.

That’s it for butts 101!  More butt education coming soon!

 

So You Want to Dip a Toe Into Sex Toys for the First Time: Nonthreatening, Inexpensive Toys for the Trepidatious

Hey there beginners!  This is the first in a series I’m going to attempt called Personal Shopper.  These are friendly, non-threatening, and not too pricey.  All toys here ring in at under $30, because I love you!

If you’re looking to try a first sex toy, I recommend going for something small and inexpensive.  The True Blue Kit is a nice place to start.

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The True Blue contains lube, a vibrating cock ring, a basic vibrator, and a massage bar.  The lube is a really nice one- water-based (which means you can use it with any toy) and body-friendly- free of parabens and glycerin.  The vibrator is a buzzy insertable (for vaginas, NOT for butts) that runs on batteries.  To translate:  some vibrators are buzzier (more like an electric toothbrush) and some are thuddier (more like an off-kilter washing machine.)  Neither is inherently better- it’s a matter of personal taste.  Personally, I find buzzy vibes to be a little numbing sometimes, but they’re definitely stimulating and tend to be a little cheaper.  The ring can be slipped over a cock or a toy for added clit stimulation while you enjoy penetration.  The massage bar is a really nice way to get in touch with your partner.  Batteries are included (!) and the whole package is $24.  Not too shabby!  (Oh, and all of those elements are available for individual purchase if you want just one of them.  Click through the link and you’ll find them.)

Another fun, buzzy option is the Colorpop FingO vibe.  
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This little guy is a perfect transition for folks who like to masturbate with fingers.  These vibes are easy to wear and incorporate nicely into solo or partner play.  They’re subtle, if you can say that about a jelly-sleeved neon vibrator- in that they’re just kind of a turbo-boost to whatever motions you were doing on your own.  They’re not very strong, which is what some folks are looking for.  $20, nice little toy!  They come with batteries too.

For boys looking for vibes, may I recommend the Man Eater:

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This $29 little weirdo is a firm plastic vibrating alien.  Yep.  Basically you slide your cock inside his mouth like an ear of corn.  Some guys find vibration to be very pleasurable, and some don’t, but at $29 you don’t have much to lose.  I recommend lubing this guy up with some water-based lube and sliding him along the underside of your dick, focusing on frenulum and head.  This would be fun for solo or partner play- including in the shower, because it’s waterproof.  And if you find it numbing (I doubt you would) it would be a nice fun way to last longer with later play.  For added cute, you change his settings by pressing on his belly button.  Adorbs!

Also for gentlemen- The Tenga Egg.

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I know these are a little weird looking, but trust me here.  Inside these plastic shells are little egg-shaped sleeves with fun textures inside.  You put some lube inside and slide them onto your cock.

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The magical elastomer material inside stretches to accommodate your member, and the squishy slippery insides feel like nothing you’ve felt before.  Though marketed as single-use, these eggs can be gently washed and left inside-out to dry and used 2 or 3 times.  Turned inside out, you can also stretch one over the head of a Hitachi Magic Wand for a squishy, slightly dampening (in a good way) treat.  They’re $8.50.

(also available in a stylish Keith Harrington edition!)

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And last but not least- some beginner butt toys!  Butts are fun for everyone.  May I introduce the Sidekick:

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This is a nice silicone smallish toy that’s not too big and not too small.  The wide base keeps it from getting sucked up inside you (ALWAYS use a flared base!) and the wider bulb/ narrower neck means it’ll stay in your bum hands-free, so you can do other things while it’s in there.  Also, silicone is my personal favorite toy material, especially for butt toys, because it’s completely sterilizable.  You can even boil them!  Many silicone toys are pricier but this one comes in at $22-$24 depending on size.  

SO.  Be brave!  Go buy a toy.  Let me know how it goes!

Ask me about my HSV! (originally posted 4/8/13)

The purpose of this writing is to share my own experience with HSV so that folks will know that it doesn’t have to be terrifying.  I know there are lots of different and contradicting and confusing facts about what herpes is and isn’t, what it will and won’t do to you, whether it’s worth getting tested or not, and how important it is to disclose different strains.  I won’t touch on those topics here- that’s not my focus- but I will link to the resource I use for statistics, because I’ve found it to be reliable and factually based.  The Westborough Heights Herpes Handbook, available for free here: http://westoverheights.com/herpes_handbook/

How did you get it?
I got HSV1 genitally a little over 2 years ago from a long-term partner who didn’t know he had it.  We had both gotten tested before we played and hadn’t really realized that our doctors weren’t testing for herpes.  At the time I got it, I had 3 active partners- one long-term and two newer.  I used barriers with the newer ones, and all four of us shared our test results.  We also shared the false assumption that when we had gone to get STI testing and had asked for “the works,” we had been tested for HSV.  We had not.  About a year into a relationship with one partner, I got it from him.  Luckily I didn’t pass it to either of my newer partners, though one found out he actually already had HSV2 and hadn’t realized it till he got tested because of me.

How did you tell your partners?
I called each of them and told them when I initially got tested, and then again with my results.  I also emailed with some links and statistics they could look over on their own time, as well as some basic information about what they should look for.  For potential partners afterward, I prefer to tell them online after a date or two so that they can have their reaction in private and do their googling right away without worrying that it will make me feel bad.

Was it awful?
At first, yeah.  I didn’t know anyone who had it- or if I did, I didn’t know.  I felt like a leper, and stayed in bed for 2 days crying.  My butt hurt and I got the telltale first outbreak flu.  I felt alienated from my body, and then betrayed by it.  I felt distanced from my sexuality in a way I had never imagined.  I thought my sex life and my love life were over.  I didn’t want to impose myself on anyone else.  It was scary and it hurt and I couldn’t imagine ever feeling comfortable touching myself again.  Luckily, those feelings didn’t last for too long.

What helped you feel better?
People.  My partner at the time of diagnosis- when he didn’t reject me, held me through days of sniffling, and patiently and gently helped reacquaint me with sexual touch.  My best friend- who helped me find reliable statistics online when my doctor offered very little concrete information.  My next partner after diagnosis- who gracefully received my disclosure and reassured me that STI status may change the way he played with someone, but not who he played with.  My therapist- who made the decision to disclose to me that she also has it, and had been through the same journey of feelings.  My current partner- who is HSV negative, and is supporting me in sharing my story here.

Do you have a ton of outbreaks?
Nope.  Just that first one.  I haven’t had another outbreak since.

Have you given it to anyone?
Not that I know of.  I’ve had several partners, some with barriers and some without.  I still ask for and offer test results, and so far I haven’t passed it to anyone else.

What is it like to talk about?
Mostly good.  I chronicled my experience at the time on my now defunct sex blog, and invited readers to email me privately with questions or for support.  The response was overwhelming.  It became clear to me that people needed to hear voices of other people who have HSV in order to help lessen the stigma, which for me was the worst part of the whole thing.  So I decided to disclose to my non-kinky friends.  I’ve since had more than a handful of them come to me privately saying they’ve contracted it, and that it has been much better knowing someone who has it.  I’m hoping this writing may help someone else in a similar way.

The down side of talking about it is that I worry I will scare away potential partners who are just getting to know me, or that I will scare people away from playing with my partner.  It would be a shame.

Do you tell all your potential play partners?
Yes.

Even though with your strain being where it is and using barriers, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll give it to someone?
Yes.

Why??
Because even though the virus itself is almost completely harmless to my body and most days I don’t even remember that I have it, the stigma SUCKS and I don’t want to put someone at a risk of that- even if it’s a tiny risk- without their consent.  So anyone whose body is going to touch my lady bits gets the talk.

How have your partners reacted?
Every single person I’ve wanted to play with has been cool with it.  Having HSV1 has not prevented me from playing with anyone.  That was a really pleasant surprise.

What is the worst part about having HSV1?
Well, having the talk is not great.  As cool as my potential play partner may be, I always risk rejection from them because ofmy diagnosis.  So far, this hasn’t ever happened, so the talk is getting easier.  It does suck to read some of the back-and-forth postings on Fetlife about HSV because there is usually at least one person in the conversation who implies that people who have HSV are dirty or gross or that HSV is catastrophic in some way.  Then I remember that that’s kind of how the internet is, and I should save my energy for in-person conversations with people I want to play with.

Also watching Pineapple Express right after my diagnosis, which has a lot of herpes jokes in it.

My partner/friend got the herp!  What can I do to support him or her?
First of all, stop calling it the herp.  That’s rude.  (Unless they call it that.)  Tell them they’re not a monster.  Tell them you love them and are attracted to them.  Follow their lead as to when they are ready to have sexytimes again.  Do your research and take a couple days to determine whether the risk statistics are worth it to you and if not, exit gracefully.  Offer extra snuggles and check-ins while they get back on their feet.  Talk directly about how to lessen risk of transmission.  Don’t guilt them for getting it- we all take risks when we engage in sexual contact with other people, and it just as easily could have been you.  There are lots of ways to get HSV and getting the virus does not necessarily mean they were acting irresponsibly.  Be an ally.  Dispel misinformation where you can.  Stop using the word “clean” to say your STI tests are negative- just say they were negative.

I just got diagnosed and am freaking out.  Can I email you?
Absolutely!  I promise I will reassure you you’re not a monster.  If you want, I will send you my old blog posts that detail myfirst couple of weeks after diagnosis so you can read them and not feel alone.

How do you feel after writing this?
Honestly?  Kind of nervous.  But here goes.  Greater good.  Aaaaand POST!