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Q&A – Ask Sarah – Sex Toys after Sexual Trauma

A few weeks ago we ran a letter from a woman who was looking to explore toys after sexual trauma. We gave our thoughts but we also wanted to get an expert opinions from Sarah Berry, our sex and relationship specialist.

Hi Sarah

I wonder if you could advise me or whether this is outside your advice area.

I have never bought a vibrator or any sex toy as my first relationship was with a very controlling, abusive man who even thought touching yourself was cheating (me, not for him) and my second and current relationship is with a fairly shy man (husband) who has only just decided to let go and open up on experimenting and communicating openly about these things. Before both relationships was a rape and before that nothing (I was brought up on nothing before marriage rule which it took a while to break). I’ve had a baby in the last 9 months with a painful episiotomy and am just starting to feel back to normal sex drive and comfort levels. I am generally pretty experimental and adventurous in other areas of life so it seems a shame to miss out here.

Despite this not awesome start to my sex life, I am very positive about broadening my horizons and interested in vibrators, silver balls, etc but no clue where to start. Any idea how to choose the right toy?

This is an extremely open email to a stranger so a bit scary!

L

Dear L,

I can tell from your letter that you’re ready to roll your sleeves up and start taking control of your body and your pleasure, which is great. Also that writing this letter is a big step so well done to you!

While using toys can be can be a way to enhance masturbation or intimacy with a partner, and can touch parts of you in a way no human can, do remember that they only do so much.

It can be disheartening to put a lot of faith in something, only to be left, naked, unsatisfied, disappointed and poorer when a toy doesn’t fulfil your hopes.

You don’t say whether you’ve had help working through, what sound like, very traumatising experiences. Sometimes trauma can lead to things like depression, anxiety, trust, orgasm or body issues. It sounds like you’re with a lovely, supportive husband. However, sometimes the effects of trauma can linger.

So if you haven’t already, exploring the trauma through therapy can help you towards the experimental, adventurous sex life that you’re planning.

So, on to tips for buying toys! Do bear in mind that everyone responds differently to different toys. They range from a few pounds to a few hundred pounds, though pricey doesn’t always mean more pleasure. Regarding where to start, as a general rule I would say go with gut, and look for something small and simple to start with.

Some more things to think about include:

  • What are you using it for? Is it for penetration? To stimulate your vulva? Both at the same time? You mention kegel balls, which sit inside your vagina. Some people feel them once inserted and some people can’t. Some like it them some don’t. They can help strengthen the pelvic floor and lead to more intense orgasms when you’re stimulated.
  • You say you’re interested in a vibrator, how intense would you like the vibrations and how many settings? Buzzing a toy on your nose can help you isolate the vibrations and work out what you might like down below (though this is more likely to make you sneeze than orgasm!).
  • With materials, would you like it hard or soft? Glass? Silicone? There’s a lot of info on this site about the different toys on this site, and playing with the toy in person can help you work out which one you gravitate to.
  • Regarding size, when penetrating it can be hard to work out how big is too big. If this is what you’re using it for, a good rule of thumb is to compare it to how many fingers you like to insert (if you’re ok with inserting your fingers)
  • The shape and colour are also important. Some people don’t care so much about what the toy looks like. For others it’s important that they fancy it. And some toys with lumps and bumps can add new sensations when rubbed against your bits.
  • As Team Sh! suggested it can be fun to use a toy with a partner, and you mention that your husband is starting to be open about these things. If this does include playing with toys together, maybe you would like to take him to a shop with you? There are also some toys for couples, including vibrating cock rings and remote control eggs, which you might like to consider.

    Remote Control Vibrating Love Egg
    Remote Control Vibrating Love Egg

 

I hope that some of these thoughts are helpful to you embarking on your toy adventure. Do feel free to write in again and let us know how you’re doing – whether it’s good or if you’d like some more advice.

If you have any other questions please contact Sh! at advice@sh-womenstore, include the subject line ‘Ask Sarah’ if you’d like your advice from me.

All names have been changed for the purposes of anonymity.

Best wishes,

Sarah

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