The world of men’s sex toys has grown exponentially from the days when a flimsy plastic blowup doll was about as good as you were gonna get. And it’s a category that just keeps growing! But with that comes a whole new problem: What, like, even are these things? What do they do and how do they work?? And which one is the right one for you???
We’ll attempt to answer that by introducing you to the five men’s sex toys you’ll meet in life.*
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Cock rings, or C-rings, are o-shaped rings designed to go around the base of the penis, and sometimes around the testicles, in order to restrict blood flow, resulting in harder and longer-lasting erections, and more intense orgasms. Cock rings can be used in both solo and partnered play; for couples use, look for cock rings that also stimulate the non-wearing partner’s clitoris or perineum.
Cock rings are a great starting point for men interested in trying out a sex toy for the first time, in part because it is so partner-friendly and many men may feel more comfortable experimenting with toys in partnered play before moving onto toys for solo play. The versatility of the C-ring makes it perfect for trying out in different scenarios based on your comfort level. They also allow for beginner up to advanced use: For novices, adjustable C-rings allow users to increase tightness as they get used to the feeling of the constriction, while more advanced users can intensify the experience by using the ring around both the shaft of the penis and the testicles. For very advanced users, non-adjustable C-rings provide even more restrictiveness.
A masturbation sleeve is a sex toy into which the penis is inserted—it’s actually a catch-all term for a whole subset of toys like pocket pussies, eggs, Fleshlights (we’ll get to those!), but for our purposes here we’ll more narrowly define them as “strokers” i.e. handjob aids. While they’re primarily a solo-play toy, they can absolutely be used with a partner to enhance oral sex or, yup, the good old handie!
Among the stroker set, you’ll find different styles: Ones that are C-shaped that wrap around the penis like a tortilla around taco filling, ones that are cylindrical that go all the way around the penis, and then there are those eggs! The eggs are designed to slide over the head of the penis and down the shaft, making the penis look like the ghost emoji👻👻👻.
Technically speaking, a Fleshlight is a masturbation sleeve—sort of the Kleenex to the masturbation sleeve’s tissue, if you will. (Boy that was a grim simile.) But it deserves to be treated as its own thing, both because in many ways it is its own thing and also just because, like Kleenex, the Fleshlight has risen to being such an accepted brand name that it serves as shorthand for an entire category of sex toy.
Okay, so what is a Fleshlight?!? Fleshlights are made of thermoplastic elastomer (TPR or TPE), also known as Cyberskin, which does indeed feel very skin-like, as I detailed in this prehistoric blog on cleaning Fleshlights that I wrote for Gizmodo. The Cyberskin is molded to look like realistic female genitalia, though less realistic versions are available, and is housed in an exterior metal case that looks like a flashlight, hence the name! The penis is inserted into the Cyberskin’s opening, and the toy can either be used manually or hands-free, though the latter method may require a mounting accessory. Fleshlights, and other similar toys, are primarily used for solo play but can be a fun part of couples or group play too.
Butt plugs, typically a teardrop-shaped bulb attached to a slimmer neck that connects to a flared base, are toys that provide hands-free anal stimulation. They’re commonly thought of as “trainers” for anal sex—which they certainly are!—but they can and very much should also be used for increased stimulation during masturbation and/or as part of couples or group play.
Butt plugs offer users a great and sort of different sexual experience than most people are used to because they work by providing pressure and a sense of fullness, rather than the in-and-out, thrusting, friction-creating motion most often associated with achieving orgasm.
There’s a whole wide world of butt play toys out there, and we will surely spend more time considering them in this space, but let’s wrap this up with prostate massagers. Firstly! Butt plugs are absolutely prostate massagers, but they function differently enough that considering them their own thing is appropriate. Anal beads: Also prostate massagers (and also worthy of their own entry, which is why I saved them for part 2 of this explainer)!
Prostate massagers are typically dildo-esque toys that differ in one important way—they have either a flared base, an o-ring, or some other design feature to ensure the toy doesn’t fully enter the anus and get stuck; ALL CAPS warning incoming:
NEVER, EVER USE A TOY FOR BUTT PLAY THAT IS NOT SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR BUTT PLAY!!!
Prostate massagers go, yup, in the butt, Bob. With lube, please! Actually, “with lube please” applies across the board here. Water-based lubes will be the best choice for most people and will be absolutely necessary with silicone toys, as silicone-based lubes will degrade the material, and not in the fun, kinky, sexy way. Some prostate massagers vibrate, some don’t, and they come in a wide variety of materials, from the aforementioned and very popular silicone, which is flexible and moves with the body, to metal and glass, which are more rigid and offer a very different experience.
*Congratulations on making it all the way to the end! You’ve probably already guessed this, but there are way more than five types of male sex toys, and in future columns, we’ll be exploring them. Are there toys, accessories, lubes, etc. that you’re curious about? Please let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to cover them!