Guys who are savvy about sex toys come in all personality types, from the quiet entrepreneur who travels with his Tenga Egg to the flamboyant roommate with a well-loved Fleshlight. According to the Tenga Self-Pleasure Report 2020, the proportion of men who own sex toys has grown from 20 percent in 2016 to 41 percent in 2020.
But what if you're not so sex-toy savvy? How can you buy a male masturbator for the first time without making an ill-informed purchase you could come to regret?
The following is advice from sex toy company executives and sex educators on how to avoid the most common mistakes men make when buying male masturbators. Perhaps their guidance can save you some time and money.
Mistake No. 1
Buying from disreputable sellers
Experts agree that Amazon, Alibaba and eBay aren't the best places to buy sex toys. Some Amazon sellers use paid reviews and pretend to be legitimate companies, while others sell knockoffs and counterfeit products.
"You might think you're getting a cheap sex toy with quick and discreet shipping, but in reality, you could be signing up for all sorts of bacterial infections, little pleasure, wasted time and money," said Dainis Graveris, the founder and sex educator at SexualAlpha, a pleasure product review site based in Latvia. "The worst part? You're not getting any warranties or money-back guarantees."
Fakes can look strikingly similar to the real deal but are likely to break after a few uses. Graveris suggested buying directly from the manufacturer or a reputable sex toy shop.
Mistake No. 2
Buying toys that aren't body safe
Another issue with buying from third-party sellers? False advertising. Cheap toys are typically made from non-body-safe materials, such as rubber, jelly or PVC, even if they claim otherwise.
While sex educators like Graveris typically recommend silicone sex toys, he acknowledged most male masturbators are made from TPE, a porous and cheaper material that is not as durable as silicone. It is, however, softer and more realistic.
"My advice? Get a feel of either and see what works for you," he said. "As long as you don't share it or use it to penetrate you, TPE material is fine."
Before buying a male masturbator, find companies that are transparent about how their toys are made. You don't want to wind up with a sleeve made from "mystery meat" soft plastics, which could give you an infection or start to smell after a few uses.
Mistake No. 3
Buying toys that don't fit
The next mistake is assuming a bigger toy is better, said Toronto-based sex educator Jessica O'Reilly, Ph.D.
"First-time users are often afraid that toys are 'too small,' believing it must fully envelop the entire length of the penis to be effective," said O'Reilly, a sex expert for personal-lubricant manufacturer Astroglide, based in California. "They want a bigger toy because they see value in having a bigger penis."
Instead of picking a toy based on its size, she suggested choosing one based on the specific parts of the penis it targets. For example, some strokers focus on stimulating the frenulum, the small fold at the base of the tip of the penis. Others offer pressure and vibrations along the perineum, the skin between the anus and the scrotum.
While you may not need a toy that envelops your entire penis, picking the right size does make a massive difference in the kind of pleasure you'll receive, Graveris said. Carefully measure your penis or scrotum size—or whichever part applies—and find a toy whose size dimensions match to get the right fit.
Mistake No. 4
Sticking to the status quo
Some men get hung up on one type of sex toy, like a suction device or a stroker, according to O'Reilly. But she stressed that guys shouldn't discount the range of experiences at their disposal. Men can find toys that stimulate the prostate or deliver vibrations around the base of the penis and testicles.
And many more.
"Penis owners are often surprised to hear that penis vibrators even exist," said Kristen Tribby, the director of marketing and education at Fun Factory, a German sex toy company whose U.S. operation is based in Burbank, California. "There has been a hyperfocus on stroking as the main way to stimulate a penis, but there's a full spectrum of pleasure opportunities to explore."
Don't limit your decision-making to sources such as porn or Amazon reviews, either.
"Porn is a performance, and Amazon reviewers may have totally different bodies and pleasure needs," Tribby explained. "It's better to read through professional reviews or chat with the staff at sex shops."
Mistake No. 5
Feeling embarrassed and rushing the decision
It's not uncommon for men to feel shame and discomfort when they buy sex toys. A 2014 British survey in the Guardian newspaper found heterosexual men were less likely to have used sex toys than gay men (44 percent to 66 percent). In other words, many heterosexual men are uncomfortable with using sex toys or too ashamed to confess they do.
Since they're afraid other people will see what they're buying, men often make the mistake of buying the first product they see on the shelf without reading user reviews, according to Graveris. Similarly, they buy the first male masturbator they see online without doing much research.
Mistake No. 6
Using price as the primary decision factor
Men may use price as another attempt to rush a decision, which may not yield the best results.
"Many things come into play—molding, production, distribution and other costs—when creating a high-quality sex toy," Graveris explained.
The cheapest toy isn't always the best, and neither is the most expensive. To find the best one for you, consider many factors, such as the part of your penis you want to stimulate and the toy's materials.
Don't rush the process; relish it and you'll find a masturbator you can enjoy for years to come.