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Sexual Wellness

A Beginner’s Guide to Butt Plugs

| 10/16/2019

Illustration by Angie Wang

Butt plugs are finally getting the attention they deserve, and we couldn’t be more delighted.

Large numbers of people have become utterly fascinated with the butt and all its capabilities. What was once considered a taboo area of the body – often thought of as off-limits except for same-gender sex play or kinky BDSM activity – is something the world has become quite excited about

So, what is it about the butt, and butt plugs, that has us worked up? Well, they’re fun! They offer a step into the tantalizing world of anal play and give us a whole new menu of pleasure to explore, well beyond the world of the penis and g-spot.

The opening of the anus is such a tempting erogenous zone because the area is loaded with sensitive nerve endings. Contrary to what you may have seen in free internet porn videos, not all butt play involves deep, intense anal penetration all the way to the rectum. The opening of the anus is actually where you’ll experience the most pleasure, because it’s where the most nerve endings are located.

That means back-door play doesn’t have to involve prostate massagers, fancy vibrators, strap-on dildos or even anal beads. For example, rimming (anal foreplay using the tongue) can provide enormous sexual pleasure. But simple anal toys can take the experience to the next level.

So, let’s talk butt plugs.

Why we love them and how they work

A butt plug is designed to stretch the anus, igniting the nerves in the anal opening and providing a feeling of being “filled up.” 

In addition to stimulating the anal opening, butt plugs are also a good warm up for more advanced forms of anal play. “A butt plug is a great way to stretch and stimulate this part of your body, preparing you for anal sex,” says Daniel Saynt, founder of the sex-positive members-only club NSFW. 

The anus doesn’t stretch or self-lubricate the way a vagina does, so it’s important to be sure that you’re fully prepared for larger objects to be put inside. Be sure to use lots of lube whenever using any kind of anal toy.

“[Butt plugs] are tapered to allow your sphincter to retract comfortably, while you feel more pressure internally,” Saynt explains. “More advanced butt plugs can include vibration functions or expandable heads which inflate to allow you to start small and increase the size while inserted.” 

They also offer a double feeling of “fullness” when used in tandem with vaginal penetration. Having both the vagina and anus filled up can offer heightened arousal. Get a sex toy in on the mix for external clitoral stimulation and you may be heading for one hell of an explosive orgasm. Where do we sign up? 

Where to begin

As exciting as this all may sound, you have to know where to start before you dive headfirst into anal play, and a set of butt plugs that increases in size is a good choice. You can usually buy a set of three plus in different sizes: small, medium, and large. Here’s why that’s such a good idea: you don’t want to go shoving something enormous up your butt when you’re a novice. This could result in tearing, which is definitely not the experience you’re trying to have. 

“Once you get comfortable with one [size] you can upgrade to a larger size, allowing you to better prepare your anal canal for penetrative play,” Saynt says. 

As we’ve said before, but will keep saying until our dying day, LUBE, LUBE, AND MORE LUBE. Get yourself a silicone-based lube and use it liberally; silicone is soft and smooth, providing the most comfortable experience.

Why silicone, instead of water or oil? Water-based lubes are easy to use but have to be reapplied constantly; oil-based lubes won’t usually require reapplications in the midst of a session, but they transmit infections more easily and can damage latex condoms. There’s one important exception: if you’re using a silicone plug, always use a water-based lube. Silicone toys can degrade when they come in contact with silicone lube.

When buying lube, choose a product that is free of petrochemicals or artificial ingredients. We like Uberlube and Astroglide

Make sure the receiver is relaxed and breathing deeply. If the ass is tensed up, insertion can be painful. Be sure you’re communicating with your partner every single step of the way, too. If something hurts, stop and take a break. We want pleasure here, not pain.

What to buy

Now that you know about the basics of butt plugs, you’re probably thinking “What should I buy?” Not to worry. We have all the goods – but first, a few shopping basics.

  • Make sure your plug has been manufactured from body-safe materials. Non-porous materials like silicone, stainless steel, borosilicate glass are all safe choices; they won’t harbor bacteria and can be easily sterilized with hot water (cleaning with soap and warm water is fine, but not as good). They also won’t contain dangerous chemicals like phthalates, often found in cheaper plastic, PVC, rubber and jelly toys.

  • A butt plug (or any anal toy) should have a flared base, making it wider at the bottom than the top. That prevents the toy from slipping all the way into the anus, so you won’t have to send a search party on a difficult and painful retrieval mission.

  • Size and rigidity matter. Try a little “finger exploration” to find out how much penetration is comfortable for you and then choose a plug that’s about the same size; sex educators say that somewhere around one inch in diameter is a good starting point. And if you’re going to be wearing the plug outside of the bedroom instead of just bedroom play or masturbation, a flexible toy that bends with your body will be much more comfortable than a rigid one.

  • Consider your level of experience. Expanding or vibrating butt plugs can be amazing additions to your sex life, but can also be “too much” at first. Simple, classic plugs are best for starting out. Some manufacturers even offer shorter-and-thinner “beginner’s plugs.”

  • Find a reputable sex toy provider. You can find generic products on Amazon, but you’ll never go wrong when patronizing well-known manufacturers like Dame Products, Lovehoney or Lelo.

OK, here are some recommendations.

The best toy on the market for the butt stuff pioneers among us is the b-Vibe anal training kit. It comes with everything you need to get started, including three butt plugs in increasing sizes and even an anal douche, if you’re so inclined. Keep in mind, you don’t need to douche if you want to, but some prefer it before play.

The Extreme Restraints Kinetic Thumping anal plug is great for those who want a little thrusting action with their toy,” Saynt says. It’s “definitely for those better versed in butt play,” but “is a great way to stimulate with internal ebbs and flows.”

Another excellent option? The Pure Plug 2 by NJoy. This toy is made from stainless steel which may sound scary, but is actually awesome for anal play. The heavier material allows for easier placement and more intense pressure on the anus.

Happy plugging!

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