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.