Check your sex taboos at the door, because it's time to talk strap-ons. For seasoned strap-on veterans, this sex toy is extremely fun to have in rotation, offering both the penetrating partner and the partner being penetrated a new way to experience pleasure. If you're new to using strap-ons, however, it's more than understandable to feel a little intimidated; after all, there's a ton to consider: How do you talk to someone about using this kind of toy? What kind of strap-on should you get? How TF do you even use the strap-on once you get it? Before anything, let's cover the basics.
Generally speaking, a strap-on is a sex toy with a wearable harness featuring an attached or detachable dildo or vibrator - although other versions may boast different features and ways to wear it. Different sexual partners use strap-ons in different ways, but ultimately, strap-ons allow for a little more versatility in who penetrates and who can be penetrated during sex. But before you pull a strap-on out of your nightstand for the first time while you're having sex, there are a few things to consider to ensure you and your sexual partners feel comfortable with and enthusiastic about using this toy.
How to Talk to Your Partner About Using a Strap-On During Sex
If you and a partner have yet to talk to each other about using a strap-on during sex, having that conversation is crucial to ensure you're both on the same page. That said, blurting out, "I wanna use a strap-on!!!" in the middle of dinner is (probably) not the move. "My go-to [conversation starter] - whether it's trying a strap-on, a new sex toy, or asking, 'Do you want to swing?' - is always giving a third-party option," Megan Stubbs, EdD, board-certified sexologist and author of Playing Without a Partner, told POPSUGAR. "[Try] saying, 'Hey, I read this article, and they talked about strap-on sex. What do you think about that?'" Dr. Stubbs said this is a good way to open up the floor for a productive, insightful conversation, rather than putting pressure on your partner to make a decision immediately.
Sexologist Jess O'Reilly, PhD, host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast, echoed the same thought and recommended a three-step approach to any conversation about trying something new during sex. "First, start with the positive, and be genuine: 'I really love how we . . .' Second, make an inquiry and let your partner speak: 'Is there anything new you'd like to explore?' Third, make your request: 'I'd love to try playing with a strap-on. What do you think?'"
Dr. O'Reilly also stressed the importance of continuing these conversations regularly, not just when you're itching for something new in bed. "Talk about your values, desires, fantasies, hesitations, challenges, and more," she said. "And use popular culture references to start conversations. If you see something about strap-ons on TV or online, bring it up." Above all, it's important for both partners to approach this and every conversation with an open mind and to prioritize patience, particularly if someone isn't yet comfortable with the idea of using a strap-on.
How to Choose a Strap-On
Once you and your partner enthusiastically consent to using a strap-on, it's time to get your hands on one. Both experts agreed you shouldn't rush this process, especially with so many strap-on options - and ways to use them - out there. "Consider how you're going to use the strap-on - for oral, manual, vaginal, anal, or nonpenetrative play," Dr. O'Reilly said. She added that sizing is equally important to think about. "You may want to start with a kit with multiple sizes included."
You and your partner should also decide on additional features, like whether you want a plain dildo for your strap-on or a toy that vibrates. There are also variations for how the strap-on is worn. Dr. O'Reilly suggested a harness strap-on to start, "as it's easier to get the right fit," although there are underwear strap-on options and double-ended strap-ons with no harness that you might consider once you and your partner get comfortable using the toy. "With waist or body harnesses, you'll find jockstrap styles as well as thong styles," she said. "If you have testicles, you may find the former more comfortable."
Finally, there's the material of the dildo itself. "You want something firm enough that won't bend too much with light pressure," Dr. O'Reilly said, suggesting that high-quality silicone is a solid option to begin with.
As you explore these options, keep in mind what your goal is for the strap-on. In other words, are you particular about how it looks, or are you more focused on comfort over anything? "If you have a partner who's available and willing, take them shopping with you," Dr. Stubbs said. "Having them involved in that decision is really important, too, and can be a fun excursion."
How to Get Comfortable Wearing a Strap-On
Purchasing a strap-on is one thing, but getting used to it is another, especially if this is your first time. Before you dive into bed, both experts said taking some time to wear your strap-on around your home is an easy way to ensure the right fit and get your body and mind used to it. "You've got to wear one when you're doing your daily tasks: brushing your teeth or Swiffering the floor," Dr. Stubbs said. "Get comfortable putting it on, taking it off, inserting the dildo, or inserting whatever you're going to be using to penetrate your partner. Get really comfy with the mechanics of it." You might even want to experiment with using a strap-on during masturbation or "other nonpenetrative sex acts," according to Dr. O'Reilly, to help make this toy a more seamless, familiar part of your sex routine.
Dr. O'Reilly also recommended having an intimate conversation with your partner before sex about what you both expect from the experience, offering the following questions to consider:
1. What appeals to you about using a strap-on?
2. Do you have any hesitations or concerns?
3. What positions may be most comfortable?
4. What type of buildup do you enjoy before penetration?
5. What types of sex do you want to try with a strap-on (e.g. anal, vaginal, oral)?
6. Do you want to have an orgasm first to encourage relaxation throughout the body?
7. What type of lube do you prefer?
8. How do you like to communicate throughout the experience? Do you prefer to use words, hand signals, or other indications to provide specific feedback?
How to Use a Strap-On During Sex
There's no one right way to use a strap-on during sex, and what feels pleasurable is ultimately up to you and your partner. Outside of enthusiastic, continued consent from both you and your partner, the most crucial tip from both Dr. Stubbs and Dr. O'Reilly is communication before, during, and after sex.
"Be open to suggestions or saying, 'Hey, this angle doesn't feel good for me,' or, 'The strap-on feels kind of loose. Can you tighten it up a little bit so it's more secure on your pelvis?'" Dr. Stubbs said about feedback the partner being penetrated might offer. Dr. O'Reilly also suggested some prompts the penetrating partner should ask throughout the process: "How does that feel? Show me how you like it. Do you want it faster or slower? Deeper? Shallower? How's the pressure? How's the depth?"
When it comes to the sex positions you and a partner try with a strap-on, the sky's the limit, but as you're starting out, Dr. O'Reilly and Dr. Stubbs agreed it's helpful to find one in which both partners' bodies are fully supported; it's not easy holding your body up and maneuvering a strap-on at the same time. "Maybe [the partner being penetrated] is lying on a bed, and you're going to stand up . . . That way you have a little bit more stability to just focus on the penetration."
On the flip side, if the partner being penetrated wants to ride the strap-on, Dr. O'Reilly suggested the penetrating partner "might sit on a chair or on the edge of the bed with the strap-on, and [your partner] can straddle you to lower themselves onto it."
Being vocal and patient with each other is key to ensuring both you and your partner feel comfortable, confident, and excited about using a strap-on, and it's important to understand there will likely be a learning curve for a while. Don't expect everything to go perfectly on the first try. Don't be afraid to laugh and joke with each other to take the edge off. And most importantly, don't be afraid to keep trying new ways to use a strap-on until you settle on one you and your partner love.