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If you’re not familiar with the joy of butt plugs, allow me to introduce you to a versatile toy you can enjoy regardless of gender, orientation, or genitalia. If you have a prostate, butt plugs can stimulate it; if you have a vagina, a butt plug can create incredibly pleasurable pressure on the back vaginal wall. Not to mention that the anus is also surrounded by nerve endings.
Butt plugs are wonderful toys that can help you safely explore new sexual territory. If you’ve never tried them, or if you’re already into anal sex, they can help you switch up your routine while warming up your body for new things. Whatever the reason you’re keen to dive into the world of butt plug play, there are a few things you should know for a comfortable, safe, and sexy experience.
What are butt plugs?
Some sex toys, such as the Wartenberg Pinwheel, have rather cryptic names. Butt plugs, however, do exactly what you’d imagine: They plug up your butt. A butt plug’s main duty is to make you feel good: “The anus can be a remarkable source of pleasure, so butt plugs, with a lot of lube, are a great way to loosen up the anus and get something inside of it,” says David Ortmann, a psychotherapist and sex therapist.
People often use butt plugs for penetrative anal-sex prep. Remember, unlike the vagina, the rectum doesn’t self-lubricate. This is why it’s important to warm up your butthole with plenty of lube and smaller objects, such as fingers and butt plugs, before penetrative sex with a strap-on or penis, says sex educator Timaree Schmit.
The key to anal play is relaxation.
Butt plugs are cleverly shaped for their function. They generally have narrow tips that get progressively wider toward the middle and then narrow again to a slim neck at the base so your rectum can contain them comfortably. Since the rectum can act like a vacuum and suck objects inside, a flared bottom, pull cord, or ring prevents a butt plug from getting lost inside you, Ortmann says. (Nobody wants to be the person whose story goes viral for ending in the ER with a butt plug stuck in their bum.)
What should I know before purchasing a butt plug?
In addition to choosing a plug with a flared base, it’s important to check that your toy is body-safe. Since sex toys are sold as “novelty items,” they’re more or less unregulated by any federal agency, meaning it’s up to you to make sure that materials are safe to put in, on, and around your genitals. Once I opened my lingerie drawer to notice that a rubber vibrator had leaked pink dye everywhere. If unsafe toys can stain my underwear, what else can they harm? As Schmit points out, “Cheaper toys might be made of chemicals that can leach into your body.”
Start small — don’t let your eyes get bigger than your butthole.
According to the Kinsey Institute, anything that’s silicone, borosilicate glass (Pyrex), or stainless steel is a good bet. Schmit suggests beginners select silicone over glass or steel, as silicone has more give and is easier to insert. All three materials are nonporous and can be thoroughly cleaned after each use. Butt plugs made of hard plastics and acrylics, on the other hand, are porous, which means they can become hotbeds of bacteria from your GI tract, which is neither safe nor sexy.