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A Beginner’s Guide To Strap-Ons — & The Best Ones To Try

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    Photographed by Natalia Mantini.

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    Strap-ons are the most versatile sex toy in the business, but they can be overlooked due to the perception that they're only for same-sex female couples or for pegging your partner. Turns out, there are countless styles of strap-ons that work for any combination of partners and genders, and they come with such unique benefits that you'll wonder why you hadn't introduced them into your routine earlier.

    "Before I joined the adult business, I didn't even know what they really were," says adult film actress Tasha Reign. "Since using them on men and women, and having them used on me, I have discovered how very useful and exciting they can be."

    Especially for beginners, the experience can be very powerful.

    "You are learning to use a product attached to you to please someone, male or female, that you aren’t used to having, and once you get in the groove, IT’S ON!" says Chelsea McCain from Adult Empire. "Believe me, you feel empowered! To this day, when I think of a strap on, no matter what style, that’s what I think of: empowerment."

    Excited to try a strap-on yet? If it's new for you, before you jump into using this toy, we talked to a couple of experts about what you should consider, and which toys in particular are perfect for newcomers. Read ahead for essential beginner tips and a bunch of great strap-ons to try.

    The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more, here.



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    Communicate exactly what you want.

    As always, when introducing something new to your sexual routine, it's important to talk to your partner(s) and get a clear idea of what each of you is comfortable with and what you're expecting, especially with something as versatile as strap-ons.

    "Contrary to perception, strap-ons aren’t just for the ladies who love ladies," says Tino Dietrich, CEO and Co-Founder of Ella Paradis. "They are for everyone, whatever your preference. "

    Before diving in, nail down who is comfortable wearing the strap on, who is comfortable receiving it, and what kind works best for your individual desires.

    Then, keep up the communication throughout. An appendage that the wearer can't "feel" means they have to check in more than usual. Start slow, and be receptive to feedback. If something isn't working, don't be hurt. The problem could be the harness, the toy, the angle, or beyond, so try other options!

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    Find the right size.

    "You don’t want to be fumbling around with the toy while wearing it, and you sure don’t want to take on more than you or your partner can chew," says Chelsea McCain of Adult Empire.

    When buying your first strap-on, take extra care to ensure the harness is adjustable and the dildo size is comfortable. Dietrich recommends a 5.25-inch silicone dildo with a 1.25-inch diameter to start.



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    Research the right positions.

    McCain warns that strap-ons aren't something you should dive right into without planning.

    "Both you and your partner should look into interesting positions," she says. "Inform each other of what you want to try, and speak openly sexually when in use on how deep, fast, and so on."

    You can always begin with performing a blow-job on the strap-on to get familiar with it, before easing into vaginal/anal with more shallow penetration positions, like missionary or gentle doggy-style.

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    Know that lube is your best friend.

    Introducing a new object to your body could always benefit from a little extra help, and that's exactly what lube is. Since many dildos are made of silicone, both McCain and Dietrich stress using a water-based lube. Some options include this basic water-based lubricant or something like an anal relaxer for more specified use.

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    Treat it like it’s a part of you.

    You'll have the best experience with a strap-on if you not only get familiar with it but also enjoy it.

    "Apply and stroke that strap on as though it was a real penis between your legs," says McCain. "This also helps give you a good feel of the product. The more you act as if it is a part of you, the more comfortable you will feel with it. Just have fun!"

    One option is to get used to the strap-on solo before bringing in another person. Especially if you're planning on being the giver, wear the strap-on alone around the house and make sure it works for you, both aesthetically and mechanically, so you know how to best control it with your partner(s).