The stigma surrounding sex toys is frustrating. Outdated and toxic beliefs on masturbation not only deprives people from exploring their own sexuality, but it spawns shameful sexual attitudes. And antiquated laws, such as making the sale of sex toys a criminal act, only compounds the issue. A prime example of sexual shame was when a certain Texas senator (and presidential hopeful) asserted in 2007 that people do not have the legal right to stimulate their genitals, even in the privacy of their own bedrooms! Eventually, the law upholding the ban on “obscene devices” was lifted. Unfortunately, the blanket of shame associated with using masturbatory aids has not.

Although it’s fairly accepted for most women to own and use vibrators, dildos, and other toys to get themselves off, it is rarely discussed and often criticized. And men—you don’t fair any better. Whether it’s a pocket pussy, prostate plug, or a penis pump, there remains a persistent air of unease around male sex toys too. This is mostly due to the false belief that if you don’t get off “naturally” (or with a partner) there must be something wrong with you sexually. Well, with those kinds of expectations, no wonder people have a negative association with sex toys.

“But let me say this—there is absolutely nothing wrong with you for wanting to use a sex toy!”

I realize it can be hard for someone to get over the socially-imposed guilt of using a sex toy. But when it comes to enjoying a personal relationship with your body and sexual wellness, there is no reason to feel ashamed. So, whether you’re male or female, young or old, partnered or single, gay or straight, here are some ways to liberate yourself of sex toy shame.

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Masturbation Station

Using a sex toy is a personal choice and a private matter. Part of the shame often comes from worry that your neighbor will just happen to be driving by as you are leaving the sex shop with giant dildo in hand. Luckily, if you’ve got a hankering for some genital stimulation, you don’t have to leave the house—or have your neighbor all up in your business. These days, buying or researching sex toys is simple. Many sex toy manufacturers now have informative websites offering their products direct-to-consumer. And with discreet brown box shipping, the nosey parker next door will never know! Piece of advice though—choose wisely, because sex toys are non-returnable.

“Once you understand what turns you on, choose a sex toy that will maximize and enhance the pleasure.”

Know Thyself

Nobody knows your body more than you do. Just like yoga and exercise get you feeling centered and present in your body, masturbation does the same thing. Spend time touching your body, and figure out where you enjoy the most pleasure. Focus on erogenous zones such as the genitals, nipples, neck, or anywhere else it feels nice to touch. Once you understand what turns you on, choose a sex toy that will maximize and enhance the pleasure. Knowing your body in a sexual way can provide just as much self-awareness as a long session of Pilates, although a bit more fun!

Mirror, Mirror

Alright, people, it’s time to do this! Take a mirror and see what going on downstairs. You wouldn’t buy a car without looking under the hood, right?

  • For the ladies, a hand mirror works best for closer examination. Vagina’s (technically vulva’s) come in all shapes and sizes, so please, don’t judge or compare yourself to porn stars—that’s just unrealistic. Identify your outer and inner lips, and locate your clitoris. Place your fingers inside your vagina or anus and get a sense of what everything feels like.
  • Guys, you’re not off the hook either! The best approach to viewing your goodie basket is to stand and squat over a larger mirror. Go ahead, and lift your balls, examine your taint—and take a gander at the hole between your butt cheeks. Since no one is watching you, really get in there and feel every part of your under carriage. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

It’s really unfortunate that a lot of people have no idea what they look like down there. The purpose in looking at your genitals allows for an opportunity to see yourself as a whole being who is fully equipped with sexy bits that feel good when you touch them.  Once you grow accustomed to the visuals of the junk in your truck, you may not feel so ashamed about masturbating or putting sex toys in areas that most of society deems as “sinful.”

“One of the most powerful things you can do to boost your sexual wellness is to make your pleasure the priority! Put yourself at the top of the list.”

Pleasure Focused

I was once involved with a guy who got mad at me for masturbating. His judgement made me feel ashamed and embarrassed, and I stopped playing with myself all together. Then it suddenly dawned on me, the reason why we all masturbate is because it feels fantastic–along with having great health benefits. However, when we allow the expectations of our partner (or anyone else) to overrule our self-pleasure, this can eventually lead to feelings of guilt and shame.

One of the most powerful things you can do to boost your sexual wellness is to make your pleasure the priority! Put yourself at the top of the list. While masturbating, try focusing your mind on the pleasure and sensations of your body. Since the mind can usually focus on one thing at a time, you should begin to feel more relaxed and less embarrassed.  Once you start making your orgasms the priority, it makes it very difficult for someone else to pleasure-shame you.

Make it Fun

The first rule of using a sex toy is to just loosen up and enjoy the ride. You can use my motto: “Relax. It’s just sex!” There’s a reason why sex toys are called “toys.” That’s because they imply fun, play, imagination, and exploration. By shifting your perception and being more accepting of enjoyment, and less focused on other’s judgment, you will be able to freely explore your sexuality and body. The point here is to not take things so seriously. When you do that you send a clear message that your body, and its functions, are not to be hidden or suppressed.

Partner Up

It’s been proven that sex toys are important for maintaining a healthy sex life, especially in a long-term relationship. They not only improve sexual acuity, they also allow couples to experience new sensations. However, introducing a sex toy into a toy-less relationship requires some finesse. If you are concerned about ruffling your partner’s feathers, it’s best to avoid waving a dildo in the air like you just don’t care! People with virtually no experience in the sex toy department may pull away if they feel like they are pushed or will shut off to the idea. The best approach to warming a shy partner up to sex toys is to talk about it openly and outside of the bedroom. Discuss (without judgment) which toys you may have an interest in using and why you think it will feel good. Perhaps even check out at a few sex toy shopping websites together. By keeping the sexual communication flowing, you both just might open the door to brand new level of excitement.

All You Need is Love

Masturbating, jerking-off, flicking the bean, stimulating the genitals, or whatever you call it is the ultimate act in self-love. When you love yourself, without shame or guilt, you wind up nurturing your physical, emotional, and sexual well-being. Our bodies are designed to give and receive pleasure, so why not take advantage of it on a daily basis.

“Remember, you deserve pleasure and connection, and sex toys are designed to lead the way.”

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