How to Heal with Adult ToysJan 12, 2021
Listen to Your Body
The introduction of adult toys into your healing journey can be an important stepping stone towards a sex-positive approach to recovery from guilt, shame, and sexual trauma. At the core of this healing method is the reclamation of your own body, gently easing it back to the power of self-love, acceptance, and pleasure. What you should always keep in mind is that you are the decision-maker on your journey—you hold the map, and your body knows what route is best to protect you and your body. So listen to the messages from your gut instinct when it tells you that a relationship with someone is bad for you. And listen to the feeling when you have a lump in your throat that stops you from speaking your truth, whether it’s about setting your boundaries or sharing your past with someone for fear of being judged or rejected.
Credit: Anna Shvets
How to Go From Sexual Pain to Pleasure
There is a lot to unpack when it comes to sexual trauma, and it’s important to understand that your body also takes on stress and anxiety that affects responses to certain sensations or stimuli to specific parts of the body. This acute stress can manifest in physical pain, numbness, or defensive reflexes that can hinder your ability to be intimately connected with a partner, or even to yourself. In fact these traumatic experiences are known to rewire the brain and can cause uncontrollable triggering that may appear in the pelvic floor or surrounding muscle groups as a direct effect of PTSD. According to Sagira Vora of the Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute. Survivors often describe this feeling as their body being “taken away from them,” and often the coping mechanism is to tune out sexual touches or to dissociate, even when they’re ready to start thinking of sex again. Ultimately, we need to open up the conversation about sexual trauma and raise awareness to help survivors cope with their pain so that they can enjoy the benefits of healthy sexuality again.
Credit: Daria Litvinova
Benefits of Adult Toys
Enter adult toys and their benefits: a unique non-human sensation for your body. An aspect of the healing journey that not only gives your body the opportunity to heal, but also allows you to take control of the healing process in the comfort of your own private space, at your own pace, and on your own terms. There’s also no added physical pressure to “turn it off” so you can “get turned on” when you’re with a partner or alone. Adult toys offer the survivor the power to regain your body, relearn techniques you enjoyed before the trauma and give yourself permission to surrender to sexual pleasure again. Through the re-exploration of your body, you can experience the wonder of sensual sensations by identifying your boundaries and triggers so you will have a better idea of what you desire. Take it from Dr. Ava Cadell, a survivor herself, who stated in an article for Sexual Health Magazine: “When you use an adult toy, you are the only one who has a say in how it’s used. You can direct your own play and take your time, allowing yourself to feel pleasure on your own terms.” There are many more benefits of adult toys for couples as well as singles, such as adding variety to a predictable sex life, relieving performance anxiety for a man and enabling a woman to experience orgasms during intercourse.
7 Suggestions for Healing
For survivors looking to heal with the help of adult toys, it can be a daunting task as there are thousands of different kinds of adult toys to choose from, so here are some tips to help you find the best adult toys for your needs, wants and desires.
1. Neutral Adult Toys: Non-fleshy, non-phallic, non-penetrative toys are suitable for healing, especially if penetration is undesirable to you. There are plenty of adult toys that can stimulate your other erogenous zones such as the nipples, pelvis, buttocks, clitoris, testes or any sensitive area on your body. Discovering masturbation can help you to fall in love with you unconditionally!
Wild Flower launched a gender-neutral vibrator that allows you to stimulate virtually any part of your body, and it comes in flexible abstract shapes for comfort.
Credit: Wild Flower
2. Suction Vibes: Another kind of adult toy worth checking out is suction toys that simulate oral sex. Some models feature highly customizable speeds and intensities, and most designs are non-phallic, such as the Womanizer, which has 12 different intensity levels and uses a Pleasure Air technology that feels like a gentle suction over the clitoris.
For men, the Fleshlight is the most infamous suction sleeve of any male adult toy brand, as it tightens and loosens to your masturbation preferences
Even more impressive is the Hot Octopuss, a hands-free male masturbator with PulsePlate Technology, using powerful oscillations to stimulate the penis.
Credit: Hot Octopuss
3. Wetter is Better: Lube is always a requirement when using sex toys, but Renée Denyer from Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium recommends the use of flavored lube to limit any flashbacks that might be triggered by the smell of genitalia. Another physical effect of sexual trauma might be vaginal dryness, wherein your mind and body feel high levels of stress, therefore not creating any of your vagina’s natural lubricants. For anal play, on the other hand, lube is essential, since that area doesn’t naturally create lube.
There are several kinds of lubricants for different types of play and different skin types, so it’s best to do your homework and make sure you do a patch test before you drizzle your new toy with it. For adult toys, water-based lubricants are the best way to go, as silicone-based ones can break down some sex toys (as science dictates, like dissolves like). For an in-depth guide to lubricants, check out these articles: Your Sexy Guide To Body-Safe Lubricants Part 1 and Part 2, and Lube Up Your Sex Life! from Sexpert.com.
4. Pelvic-floor Focused Toys: Dr. Ava Cadell recommends her clients to explore Ben Wa Balls, or Kegel Balls, citing that, "By placing them into your vagina, you literally claim that space in your body for yourself." Sexual trauma can weaken the pelvic muscles and cause them to constantly be tense, so allowing these muscles to “work out” with the help of kegel exercises can help relieve them of that tension.
Credit: Anna Shvets
5. Sensation Toys: These types of adult toys can often be found next to the BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadochism and Masochism) shelf of the sex toy shop, but they can also assist in the healing process, specifically with gentle sensations such as tickling toys. Survivors can ease themselves into being comfortable with touch once more, without the need for “actual” human touch. Nienke Helder, designer of the Sexual Healing line, recommends this as an opportunity to include partners in the recovery process by opening up the conversation and establishing a sense of security. She shares, "It’s often very difficult to talk about your sexual problems or trauma and it can be hard to start a conversation, but giving someone an object can help open a line of communication."
Credit: Nienke Helder
6. Biofeedback Toys: A new type of sexual healing product known as Biofeedback toys is making a big splash and they have therapeutic benefits, which detect muscle responses in the user so as to change the pleasure mode or signal changes so that the user can learn where and when tension happens, and in turn, learn how to relax that tension by themselves. The Lioness Vibrator is a groundbreaking smart vibrator, even copping a finalist spot at CES 2020’s Last Gadget Standing award, and uses patented biofeedback technology to let you know more about your own responses during your self-love sessions, with data such as pelvic floor patterns, internal temperature and motion, and other physical responses.
7. Dilators: These vaginal dilators are often used for atrophy, to gently stretch the vaginal walls, when you have not had sexual intercourse with a person or a sex toy for a long time or when you are in menopause, when estrogen levels decline. Atrophy can also occur after sexual trauma, hysterectomy, gynecological cancers and painful intercourse.
The dilators come in different sizes so that you can work up from a smaller size to a larger one over time and it can prevent any more narrowing of the vaginal tissues. The goal is to use the vaginal dilators to also help relax and heal the pelvic floor muscles. If you suffer from vaginal atrophy, experience pain during sexual activity, or have any other medical conditions, please seek professional medical help with a Trauma Doctor near you.
Credit: We-Vibe WOW Tech
I am thankful for adult toys and know how helpful they can be for self-love, acceptance and sexual confidence. However, they are not a replacement for traditional therapy or medical advice. Always seek professional help and treatment sooner rather than later.
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