Why Butt Plugs Are The Incredible Sex Toy Too Many Of Us Are Forgetting About

Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
At age 19, I was still unfamiliar with the wide world of sex toys. I had a vibrator, a dildo, and a pair of handcuffs, but I wasn’t particularly crazy about using the few toys I owned. One afternoon, as I passed by a sex toy store in the West Village, I decided to pop in and find something new. I knew I loved having my butt played with because of how delightfully sensitive my body felt when my partners fingered it, but I’d never owned a butt plug. So I immediately purchased an “anal training kit” — three graduated plugs that increased in size.
As soon as I got home, I lubed up the smallest plug, inserted it, and checked myself out in the mirror. The plug’s base peeking out from between my butt cheeks looked adorable — and felt highly erotic. Sure, I could have tried using my vibrator or dildo anally, but neither of them had a flared base or stopping point on them. Not only did I run the risk of inserting my toys too far and losing them — my friend who is a hospital nurse says this happens much more often than you might think — but I also didn’t think that the wide, log-like shape of my vibe or dildo would feel good anally.
So what makes a butt plug different than a dildo or vibrator? While there are many toys designed for anal use, a butt plug tends to have a couple distinguishing characteristics.
A plug is designed to go in and stay in for the duration of its use. While, theoretically, you could absolutely maneuver a plug in and out if you wanted to, folks tend to use dildos for the “in-and-out” sensation. That’s because plugs have a tapered shape that begins small at the top, becomes large in the middle, and tapers back down to a slim diameter at the neck of the toy right before the flared base at the bottom. The thin neck allows for the sphincter to close a bit more so that the plug can be retained inside the body and worn comfortably.
Unlike other anal toys, plugs can easily be worn over longer periods of time. Many people enjoy wearing them for the duration of their playtime, and some folks enjoy going out with a butt plug inserted all night. You can also opt to wear a plug for just a few moments.
But not all butt plugs are created equal. Even though I initially liked the plugs I purchased, I quickly learned that they were made from PVC and had a jelly-rubber core, two materials that often contain phthalates, which are chemicals used to soften plastic so it's flexible. Although pthalates are found in everything from shower curtains to plastic wrap, exposure to them has been linked to hormone disruption, so many experts don't consider sex toys that contain them body-safe. In fact, after only a few months, my first butt plugs melted into a disgusting tar-like puddle after sitting unattended for a week or so during a warm season.
So since there’s so much to learn (and love) about butt plugs, I’ve compiled some great reasons to try them — and a few tips for incorporating plugs into play. Whether you’re new to butt stuff or have been acquainted with your bum for a while, be sure to check back, as I’ll be updating this comprehensive guide with more tips and products I love.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Plugs are versatile.

You know what’s great about butts? We all have one. Regardless of your gender or the gender of your sexual partner(s), everyone can use a butt plug. The anal opening has the highest concentration of nerve endings compared to the rest of the anal canal, so even the smallest plug can feel pleasurable at shallow depths.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Plugs make prostate stimulation a breeze.

If you or your partner has a penis, you can use a longer butt plug to stimulate the prostate, which is two to three inches inside the rectum on the belly side. Firm, curved toys are ideal for P-spotting, and it’s often easier to achieve and maintain constant pressure on the prostate with a plug as opposed to fingers or a penis. Prostate stimulation creates a very different pleasurable sensation from external stimulation of the penis. Some people like to have their dicks played with while a plug is in, but others just focus on each area independently.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Plugs give you some G-spot action, too.

If you or your partner has a vulva, you can indirectly stimulate the G-spot through the thin lining that separates the vaginal and anal canals. Some people prefer to stimulate their G-spots this way, because it’s less intense on the G-spot itself and combines the pleasurable sensations of anal play with G-spotting. You can also use most plugs during vaginal intercourse, and if your partner is penetrating you with their penis while the plug is in, the plug can create subtle pressure against the shaft, adding a whole new element of stimulation to penis-in-vagina sex.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Be slow and gentle.

As I always say, you’ve got to wine and dine the butthole before entering it. Don’t be afraid to spend time focusing on the outside of the butt before you go inside. Even though it’s generally good to warm up before any kind of penetrative play happens, the rectum is much more delicate than the vaginal canal. There are two rings of muscle at the anal opening called the sphincter, and while you can consciously control the outer layer of the sphincter, the inner ring does not relax at your will. It’s easy to make this muscle tense if you are feeling anxious. Even when you’re taking your time, it’s still possible to tear or irritate the lining of the rectum, so pay attention to how your body responds to the stimulation you’re receiving.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Apply lube liberally.

Before you insert anything, whether it be a finger, toy, or penis, slather it in lube. Unlike the vagina, the butt doesn’t self-lubricate, so a lubricant is mandatory. Using a thick water-based lube or silicone lubricant is ideal for anal play, because they are longer-lasting than the standard thin, water-based lubes that pharmacies carry.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
And avoid numbing creams at all costs!

As the owner of a sex toy store, I’m frequently asked about whether numbing sprays and creams are worth using, to which I always respond with an emphatic, “NO. STAY AWAY.” Look, there are no shortcuts. Pain and discomfort are the body’s natural signals that you need to slow down, and if you’ve blocked your ability to feel those sensations, you may injure yourself. For this same reason, it’s wise to be sober when you’re working with something as delicate as the butt.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Get in a comfortable position.

I like to recline when I’m inserting a butt plug. I put a bunch of pillows behind my back and pull my legs back a bit; then, I reach around the outside of my thigh to access my butt. You might feel better being on all fours in “doggy-style” position, or hovering over the plug so you can lower yourself down onto it. Sometimes laying down a towel (or sex blanket) underneath you can help you relax, so that you’re not worrying about getting lube or bodily fluids on anything. Remember: You’re working with your butt. Encountering poop is natural and inevitable, so don’t stress it.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
“Tip” your butt plug in.

When I first tried to use a plug, I quickly realized that I couldn’t just shove it in, even if I was all warmed up and ready. The hardest part of insertion, in my experience, is getting past the sphincter. Instead of inserting the plug so that it’s perpendicular to your body, angle the tip upwards towards the belly and push the tip inwards with your finger. If you feel comfortable, push it a bit further in, and keep applying lube if you feel any friction.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Make sure to clean your butt plugs.

All sex toys can be washed with warm water and any type of soap that you would use on your body. I give a soapy wash to all my butt toys immediately after I use them. However, if your toy is made from a material that is porous (such as hard plastic, TPR/elastomer, jelly rubber, or stone) the toy cannot be disinfected — meaning that once that toy has been used by one person, it shouldn’t be used by another person who isn’t fluid-bonded to the previous user. This is because bacteria and viruses can still live in the pores of the material. While the risk of transmitting infection via sex toys is considered “medium-level,” it is wise to avoid sharing sex toys that cannot be disinfected. Since anal toys come into contact with poop, and it is very easy to irritate or tear the lining of the rectum, putting a condom over your toy is always the safest bet, regardless of the toy’s material.

However, if your toy is made of a non-porous material (stainless steel, pyrex, or silicone) and it doesn’t have a motor in it (or the motor is removable) you can boil your toy to disinfect it. Bring a pot of water to a boil and let your toy boil for 10 minutes — just like spaghetti (kind of). This kills any bacteria or viruses that a soap-and-water wash may not tackle. I like to do this to all of my brand new toys, just to be on the safe side, and I’ll boil them again every few months, just to keep them at their cleanest.

There is one other method of disinfection, which I only recommend as a last resort on non-porous toys that have a motor that cannot be removed. Soaking your toy in a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water for 10 minutes will disinfect the toy, but it is very important to thoroughly rinse the toy in water before using it again. When I contracted gonorrhea, I couldn’t afford to replace all of my vibrating silicone toys, so this was a way I was able to continue using them safely.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Who buys butt plugs the most?

While it’s difficult to gauge how many people use or have tried butt plugs worldwide, we do have data on which folks purchase them the most. An analysis of 300,000 Lovehoney customers found that the most butt plug sales come from single and attached gay and bi men (63%). Single straight women are the demographic with the least butt plug purchases (12%); single straight men buy butt plugs at nearly twice the rate of single straight women (21%).
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Photo: Courtesy of Lelo Bob.
This butt plug has a firm core and smooth, tapered shape, which makes insertion a breeze. Of all the anal toys I’ve tried out, this is my favorite plug to use during vaginal penetration, because the shape moves comfortably with the body and creates a subtle pressure in the vaginal canal, which can feel divine on a penis.

Lelo Bob silicone butt plug, $59, available at Spectrum Boutique.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bootie.
This plug has been a popular choice amongst beginners because of its soft, flexible silicone and gentle curve. It’s base fits comfortably between the cheeks, making this a great plug to wear out and about.

Bootie silicone anal plug, $34.99, available at Good Vibrations
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Photo: Courtesy of Icicles.
Yes, you can get a killer butt plug on a budget, too. This pyrex plug was designed to stimulate the prostate or G-spot with its sculpted curve. It’s easy to insert, lightweight, and easy to disinfect.

Icicles No. 46 pyrex prostate/G-spot plug, $25, available at Spectrum Boutique
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Photo: Courtesy of Spectrum
Finally: Smart balls for your butt. This unique plug has ball bearing inside that gently rattles as you move, stimulating your prostate or G-spot. This is a particularly awesome toy for folks with penises who want a kegel toy.

B Balls anal smart balls, $40, available at Early to Bed
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Photo: Courtesy of Spectrum
This vibrating plug will help you reach a new bliss with its easy-to-maneuver handle, which allows you to tug against your P- or G-spot, and rests against the perineum once it’s inserted. This is an ideal toy for those looking to have a plug that can also be moved in and out, making it a great warm-up toy for anal sex as well.

Naughty Boy prostate and G-spot vibrator, $80, available at Spectrum Boutique
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Photo: Courtesy of Pleasure Chest.
Talk about next-level! This remote-controlled plug has rotating beads in the neck of the toy, which mimic the sensation of “rimming” and help relax the sphincter. This toy is a great choice for those who are already familiar with plugs and are looking for a unique new toy for their collection.

B-Vibe rimming plug, $149.95, available at Pleasure Chest
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Photo: Courtesy of Spectrum Boutique.
This plug has been a best-selling prostate toy ever since I became a sex educator three years ago. It continuously receives ecstatically positive reviews from folks who love prostate play, and it has an easy to grasp handle that allows you to play a game of “butt tug-o-war” with yourself.

Helix Syn prostate and G-spot massager, $78, available at Spectrum Boutique
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Photo: Courtesy of We-Vibe.
While the Dusk makes for a delightfully buzzy butt plug, my favorite sex toy reviewer Epiphora also loves to use this toy vaginally (and also had hands-free orgasms with it!). Not only can you try different bullet-sized vibes in the sheath for a bit of variety, you can also boil the silicone sheath, allowing you to fully disinfect it.

We-Vibe Tango Dusk Pleasure Mate Anal Accessory, $130 (includes cost of the bullet which is sold separately) available at SheVibe
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Photo: Courtesy of Spectrum.
Regardless of which size you choose, the Pure Plugs are delightfully weighty, and retain body heat beautifully for temperature play. Once inserted, they are incredibly comfortable because of their thin neck and slim base that sits perfectly between the cheeks.

nJoy Pure Plug Stainless Steel Anal Plugs, $60, $72, & $84 (depending on size) available at Spectrum Boutique
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Photo: Courtesy of Spectrum.
Unlike other vibrating butt plugs, the Trio has three powerful motors throughout the entire toy — not just at the base! Use the controls on the base of the toy or use the handy remote alone or with a partner to take your plug play to the next level.

B-Vibe Trio Plug, $140 available at Spectrum Boutique
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Yes, butt plugs made out of wood are actually a thing — and the Romp receives lots of praise from sexperts and toy reviewers. Coated in a body-safe, non-porous finish, this snug plug is also delightful for vaginal use, too.

NobEssence Romp, $130 available at NobEssence
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If you like the way a finger feels anally, you’ll love this plug alternative. It feels close to the dimensions of a finger at first, and then becomes gradually girthier at the midway point. A great pick for anyone trying to work up to larger sized toys or anal sex!

Vixen Buddy, $24 available at Vixen Creations
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This textured plug is all that is good in life. Its tapered shape feels divine as it’s inserted and removed, and the base is rainbow colored. So, if you want your sphincter enclosed around a rainbow, look no further than the Bingo plug!

BS Atelier Bingo Rainbow Plug, $49 available at Spectrum Boutique
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Vibration helps both layers of the sphincter relax, making insertion as pleasurable as possible. The Novice Plug is a great starter plug, and it's extra fun to wear out and about with its adjustable-speed remote.

B-Vibe Novice Vibrating Plug, $130 available at Spectrum Boutique
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This plump plug is easier to insert than other toys of its size. The pointed tip and slim neck make it more comfortable to wear, and its asymmetrical taper is specifically designed to put pressure against the prostate or G-spot.

BS Atelier Tente Plug, $44 available at Spectrum Boutique.
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This dramatically textured plug has deep grooves that provide intense stimulation. With a slim base, this toy fits neatly between the cheeks — plus, it’s super easy to clean due to its satiny finish!

Tantus Twist, $41.74 available at Tantus
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This vibrating plug is named after sex ed superstar Tristan Taormino, author of The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women and director of educational and feminist porn. The ridged "head" on this toy provides a sensation of the plug popping in, and once it’s in, it stays in! If you love this shape, there’s also the Tristan 2 with a wider girth.

Tristan 1, $48 available at Vixen Creations
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Looking for the perfect pair of anal plugs to give you a little variety in size? The vibrating Perfect Plugs are made from a velvety smooth silicone, making them super easy to clean and perfect for anyone new to anal toys.

Tantus Perfect Plug Kit, $59.99 available at SheVibe
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This vibrating plug is named after sex ed superstar Tristan Taormino, author of The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women and director of educational and feminist porn. The ridged "head" on this toy provides a sensation of the plug popping in, and once it’s in, it stays in! If you love this shape, there’s also the Tristan 2 with a wider girth.

Tristan 1, $48 available at Vixen Creations.
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This pop plug with a heart-shaped handle is petite and perfect for beginners. It also makes a great gift! It’s made from smooth silicone, making cleanup super easy.

Lovelife Explore, $29, available at Babeland
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This is arguably the punniest, most adorable, veggie-shaped plug, and it’s functional, too! The pointed tip makes insertion easy, and the ribbed texture feels orgasmically intense as it’s inserted and removed.

Hole Punch Plugs Bunny, $65 available at Hole Punch Toys
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“How the heck do I…. what?!!” may be your first impression of this twisty, turny toy, but Duke is sure to deliver filling, intense stimulation to your hot spots. The top part is inserted with the middle nub facing the belly side so that it rests against the g-spot or prostate, while the bottom tail rests against the perineum, to give you surround-sound stimulation.

Fun Factory Duke Vibrating Massager, $99.99 available at Spectrum Boutique
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While Don is not *technically* a plug (rather, it's an anal-friendly plug-esque vibrator), it is truly a wonderful anal exploration tool. Its rumbly multiple-speed vibrations help the sphincter relax, and it can be used with in-and-out motions, or you can simply insert it and leave it there.

Don by Doxy, $89.99 available at SheVibe
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Okay, yes, this plug has a giant crystal on its base, but it’s more than just pretty. Made from Pyrex, this firm plug is compatible with all kinds of lube (plugs made from silicone cannot be used with silicone-based lubes.) And if you buy directly from the brand, you can also customize the color and shape.

Crystal Delights Aurora Borealis, $79.95 available at Crystal Delights
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With its modest size and adorable base, this Pyrex plug has something to offer folks of all experience levels. And its heat-retaining material allows you to heat it up or cool it down for a bit of temperature play.

Icicles No. 48 Glass Plug, $29.99 available at SheVibe
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This vibrating massager fits inside of you with one arm resting against your prostate or G-spot, and the other against your perineum. It’s also a great plug to give your penis-owning partner to wear during intercourse. With its remote-activated vibration, Hugo is a delightful toy to use with a partner or by yourself.

Lelo Hugo, $219.99 available at Lovehoney
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This vibrating massager snugly fits inside of you with one arm resting against your prostate or G-spot, and the other against your perineum. It’s also a great plug to give your penis-owning partner to wear during intercourse! With it’s remote-activated vibration, Hugo is a delightful toy to use with a partner or by yourself.

Mood Naughty Silicone Butt Plug, $15.99 available at SheVibe
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This vibrating massager snugly fits inside of you with one arm resting against your prostate or G-spot, and the other against your perineum. It’s also a great plug to give your penis-owning partner to wear during intercourse. With its remote-activated vibration, Hugo is a delightful toy to use with a partner or by yourself.

Lelo Hugo, $219.99 available at Lovehoney
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