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The Psychology of Sex Toys

What are the psychological benefits of sex toys?

Key points

  • Despite carrying a stigma, sex toys have many socio-psychological benefits that outweigh their shame-inducing label.
  • Sex toys can aid in sexual well-being, boost self-esteem, provide a greater chance of orgasm, and improve mental health.
  • Talking to your partner about why you want to use sex toys can eliminate feelings of insecurity.
  • Discussing sex toys is instrumental in the normalization of their use.
Anna Shvets/Pexels
Source: Anna Shvets/Pexels

I once interviewed a research participant who said she kept her vibrator hidden in a shoe box, placed on the highest shelf of her closet, underneath a pile of sweaters. One may think she was keeping it tucked away so intimate partners may not see it or for fear of it being discovered by children. But she did not have children and did not foresee a time when anyone would be going into her bedroom. Why, then, did she hide it away? Because she had been told when she was young that it was a shameful thing. Even though she lived alone, used it, and derived pleasure from it, it was an object of self-shame.

Despite the ubiquity of sex toys, they can still have a stigmatizing and shaming meaning attached to them. For some, it is a shameful thing because it is used for masturbation—which is another shameful thing in many social circles. It can also be a hurtful thing if a partner believes that it indicates that they are not enough. For some individuals, it is an object that is best kept private and personal to the individual to prevent possible hurt feelings and damaged reputations. The risk of stigmatization can also prevent some individuals from purchasing or experimenting with sex toys in the first place.

However, the psychological benefits of sex toys far outweigh any negative meanings associated with them. Sex toys can be a tool used to enhance personal health, communication, and relationship dynamics. Introducing sex toys into solo sex or coupled sexual interaction can:

  • Improve mental health by relieving stress, releasing sexual tensions, and enhancing mood.
  • Connect partners and improve intimate relationships instead of bringing distance between them. Just because your partner wants to incorporate sex toys in your play does not mean that you are not good in bed or unable to please them. Let your partner know why you are interested in using them. Find out what type of sex toy your partner may be interested in and discuss how to use it to maximize one another’s pleasure. Use sex toys as a learning experience. And remember—sex toys are for everyone regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation.
  • For some people, sex toys can increase the chances of achieving orgasm in both solo and partnered play.
  • Offers healthy communication between partners. Talking about sex toys combats judgment and stigmatization. The more openly you talk about them, the more normalized they become. In addition, this type of discussion can open up other discussions about other aspects of sex and desire.
  • With an increase in well-being, destigmatization, increased chances of orgasm, and improved mental health, sex toys can offer an increase in self-esteem.
  • Sex toys can increase sexual self-awareness. They can be used to understand your body better and determine what brings you pleasure.
  • Introducing sex toys can simply add to the repertoire in the bedroom. It can keep things from getting stale. Even if you have used sex toys in the past, maybe add new kinds of sex toys to stave off the same old routine. Go ahead and explore, whether alone or with someone else.

Finally, sex toys can be fun! Sex should be fun, and sex toys can add to the zest of sexual life. Whether it’s a vibrator, a butt plug, a vibrating ring, anal beads, nipple suction toys, massagers, or dildos, there’s a sex toy for everyone. None of it should be shameful. Use them to enhance your sexual well-being, add a new twist to your sexual relationship, and maximize your pleasure.

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