As we as a species become more and more aware of our sexual freedoms, dildos and other sex toys have become more and more normalised for women; conversely, guys are (at least in some small part) still hampered by the somewhat grotty image of the earliest Fleshlights, anatomical reproductions that you'd be very unlikely to show your mates or your spouse.
But that's an outdated image. Today's best Fleshlights are a far cry from those earliest models. There's nothing wrong with picking up a pocket pussy if you want one, but today male toys are increasingly more focused on a good time rather than some kind of simulation. It's the same in the female market: a woman could opt for a realistic flesh-coloured dildo, but why go there when there are so many devices that can get you off in a much more special and exciting way?
We spoke to Megwyn White, Director of Education at sexual wellness company Satisfyer, to find out five reasons it's time for dudes to bring some new toys home – and be proud of it, too.
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1. Men's sex toys are flipping brilliant
Most important point first: there is no reason guys shouldn't be using sex toys. None at all. They're fantastic fun. The vast majority of modern toys, manual or not, are made to make the process of getting off into a far more pleasurable experience by offering something you won't find in a partner – or in your right hand. "Many men still only use their hand to masturbate, and get caught in the predictability of stimulation which can get old over time," says Megwyn White. "Adding new sensations keeps the experience interesting and can open up new avenues of pleasure."
And the vast range means there's a long list of sensations to explore. Admittedly, getting started with toys isn't perhaps the most natural thing for a guy, particularly after years of manual effort, as it were. Some decent lube is vital, and practical experimentation to find the right way to do things is a must. Not that it'll be much of a hardship.
2. Male sex toys are great for couples
"Play happens to be one of the most important elements within a relationship," says White, "by creating positive emotions and uniting couples in a context that can be mutually satisfying."
Opening up to your partner in the bedroom isn't always the easiest thing. You can be decades into a marriage and still not know exactly what makes your other half really tick. But bringing toys along gives an opportunity for some serious variety, exciting new ways to interact with each other, and an avenue to stimulate that vital conversation about what works for everyone.
If you're looking to explore edging, sustaining arousal rather than rushing straight to orgasm, toys are a great way to get it done – and don't forget focus on areas other than the penis. Megwyn White explains: "The prostate is an incredibly pleasurable erogenous zone that every man deserves access to. It's crazy to think that so many men miss out on the opportunity to experience pleasure around this area of their body based on the stigmas that are out there."
3. Can't be there? Now you can
Even if you can't be with your lover you can make a connection. More advanced toys, somewhat inevitably, include Bluetooth connectivity; with the right app, your partner can control things on their end wherever they may be. Megwyn White naturally recommends Satisfyer's range, with its Satisfyer Connect app working both with woman-focused products like the Curvy 3+ and men's gear like the Strong One and Mighty One cock rings, and offering video functionality so you can stay connected while your partner does all the hard work.
"Distance play allows men to focus on their own experience of pleasure," she says, "while engaging through the live feedback loop of video conferencing within our app, which adds even more excitement."
And if you think a remote vibrator isn't going to do the trick on a penis, think again. "Vibrators, when explored around the perineum, are great... They can help to stimulate blood flow to the pelvis, offer stimulation to the prostate indirectly, and any vibrating product is going to heighten sensations to any erogenous zone explored," says Megwyn White.
4. There's no reason for men's sex toys to be gross
We've said it before and we'll say it again: while anatomical products aren't going anywhere, and they certainly have their place, the range of toys open to men is far wider (and perhaps even a little bit cooler) than you might at first think. From cock rings to butt plugs, from short open-ended masturbation sleeves to the geometric, design-heavy products of companies like Tenga, there's a vast and exciting selection to explore.
And you can feel free to explore them to your heart's content. The majority of men's toys are pretty resilient; keeping them clean, whatever they may be, is usually very easy. Most toys designed to be penetrated use an inner sleeve which can be removed, inverted and washed; others are relatively easy to rinse, and there are specific products out there designed to keep their soft materials fresh and supple.
5. Men's toys are great for sexual health – and physical health
Masturbation is good for you. That's a stone cold fact: a recent Harvard University study correlated ejaculating 21 times a month with a 31% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer, while Indiana University has linked sexual arousal to a boosted immune system. Guys should be going to town whenever they can – and while masturbating is never likely to be a chore, toys can help to make it more fun.
Getting used to toys, and the more advanced sensations they provide, can also help boost staying power in bed. As Megwyn White explains, the change they can bring to the bedroom might also be helpful when it comes to performance anxiety.
"Men often face sexual stigma around the pressure to perform without any additional support. This pressure has also led to the assumption that it's all about the orgasm, with the end result in mind. Being preoccupied with the finish can often cause a bit of anxiety, which actually derails performance and sensual pleasure as a whole. Orgasm may be the icing on the cake of sexual arousal, but it doesn't account for everything in between or the experience of sensuality as a whole."