How To Break In Your Brand-New Strap-On

So you just bought a strap-on. Congrats! Whether you're a queer woman, a straight man, a non-binary person, or anyone else, strap-ons can make your sex life extra fun. You can use them for anal sex, vaginal sex, blow jobs, hand jobs, and even masturbation. But before you get to the fun, you have to get used to your new strap-on, or "break it in."

If you're not used to having an appendage (or an extra appendage) hanging from your pelvis, wearing a strap-on can feel awkward and weird. Plus, learning how to thrust during sex could mean learning how to use a set of muscles that you never knew were there. So it'll take some time to feel at one with your strap-on.

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So we talked with sex therapist Vanessa Marin to learn how to break a strap-on in.

illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Make sure you have the right strap-on for your body.

Strap-on harnesses come in a couple different forms. There are harnesses made of nylon or leather that go around your waist and legs with adjustable straps and there are harnesses that are basically like cotton underwear with a hole where the dildo goes. When you're shopping around, keep these differences in mind. "I highly recommend going into a sex toy shop and speaking with a trained sales associate," Marin says. "You also want to try on a few different models. That's really the best way to set yourself up for success."

And if you're planning to use the strap-on with a partner, it might be nice to let them choose the dildo that comes along with it. Most strap-on harnesses are made so you can use a variety of dildos. They generally have something called an O-ring that stretches to accommodate dildos of several different sizes. Your partner knows their body best, so take them to the sex shop with you and let them pick out the dildo that's the right size, color, shape, and feel for them.
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Get comfortable wearing your strap-on, on your own time.

Once you have your strap-on, you might want to jump right into bed with your partner, but Marin suggests taking some time to get used to it on your own. "You don't want to try it out for the first time with your partner, as you're having sex," she says. It might feel weird, but she suggests wearing it for a few days around the house. Wear your strap-on while you do the dishes, or watch tv. "You'll start to feel more comfortable with your whole set-up, and you'll get a better sense of any little adjustments you need to make to get the fit right," she says.

As Marin says, it takes time to "bond" with your harness and dildo. "It’s a whole extra appendage that you may have never had before," she wrote for Life Hacker. "Give yourself some time to get used to it, and get a sense of how the strap-on works with your body." Taking the time to connect with your strap will make the sex better when you finally get there.
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Learn how to thrust.

If you're not already used to thrusting during sex, it can be difficult to learn. "The thrusting is the hardest part," Marin says. And unfortunately, there is no tried-and-true tip to make it easier. It just takes practice. "You can always try thrusting against your bed or pillow on your own, but it's hard to fully replicate the experience of being with a partner," she says. One thing that really does help, though, is having a "sturdy set up." So that means making sure your strap-on fits properly and that the dildo isn't wobbling around inside the O ring.

"Typically harnesses with thicker, adjustable straps will give you much more control. You also want to have a properly-sized O-ring to anchor the dildo in place, and a firm dildo helps, too," she says.
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Actually break it in.

If you're shelling out for a real leather harness, you may need to actually break it in — meaning you'll have to soften the leather so it's easier to adjust the straps. And if that's the case, Marin suggests following the Wikihow instructions for breaking in leather. These rules work on leather belts and leather shoes, so they'll work on a leather harness, too.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Laugh through it.

Penises are funny. So it's no shock that strapping on a plastic "penis" can make you fall into a fit of giggles. If that's the case, embrace it. Silly, laugh-filled sex can be the best sex.
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