How to Sexually Stimulate the Vagina - Dildos: General Information and Advice on Choosing Them

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This section of the article provides general information about dildos and advice on choosing one. For information regarding the use of a dildo to stimulate the vagina, please see the previous pages that discuss special spots, lubrication, and stimulation with fingers and penises, as the same information applies. For advice on using a dildo to stimulate the anus and rectum, please see the article about Anal Sex and Intercourse.

Realistic Dildos - Black and Beige

Jump to Choosing a Dildo

General Information About Dildos

Dildos are commonly thought of as penis shaped objects that are used for vaginal stimulation, though the term may apply to any object inserted into the vagina, anus, or mouth, or worn, for the purposes of sexual stimulation and symbolism. Some objects used for vaginal stimulation are shaped like animals, and other nonsexual objects, to appear as anything but a penis. Butt plugs, designed specifically for anal stimulation, are a type of dildo. A multitude of household objects have been used by teens and women as improvised dildos. Submissive men may not be allowed the privilege of using their penis to stimulate themselves, or their master or mistress, and must use a dildo; the dildo being an indication or symbolic of their submissive status. For some, their penis is a dildo, but to them it is truly a penis.

Dildos may be seen as a substitute for a penis, perhaps implying women cannot live without them, which to an extent is true, for women who experience a vaginal ache, an intense desire for vaginal penetration during sexual arousal; the ache provides the motivation, the resulting pleasure the reward. This is perhaps why women of all sexual orientations use them, regardless of who they are sexually and romantically attracted too, and engage in sexual activities with. The dildo isn't symbolic of their sexual orientation, but of their biologic motivations and responses.

Female couples may utilize a dildo in a harness, to engage in vaginal and anal intercourse, and fellatio. While the “penis” may be inorganic, I've witnessed, in person and in film, female couples demonstrating far more emotional involvement and intensity than is commonly expressed by their heterosexual counterparts. For these women, the penis is anything but fake. Perhaps heterosexual couples can learn how to expand their sexual repertoire and pleasure, by observing these women and practicing what they learn.

All phallic shaped objects are not intended to be used as dildos. As an example, in Japan and other countries, penis shaped objects of various sizes are created for use during fertility rituals. These phalli are symbolic of fertility, not penises or the act of sex specifically. "The Hōnen festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility." Some of these ceremonies take place in public, others are more private, involving only those seeking conception. Many of these phalli are simply too large to be inserted into the vagina, intentionally or unintentionally preventing their use for sexual purposes. In some cases, their immense size is meant to make light of their sexual implications; they are so large you have to laugh at their appearance. A huge penis being less intimidating than a life size one, perhaps because it obviously can't be used for sexual purposes, nor impregnate you or steal your or your daughter's virginity.

It is my understanding that Japan was historically very accepting of sexual activities like masturbation, which means these fertility symbols may have had an intentional or socially accepted dual purpose. After all, if the husband is spending time with his mistress, who or what is fulfilling the needs of his wife? A movie based on actual events in Japan, features a scene in a brothel, during which a small figurine of a bird is inserted tail first into the vagina of a woman, while others look on, suggests that within some contexts, the use of dildos was socially accepted.

I've seen a short video featuring an African woman as she used a dildo during a daily fertility ceremony. The woman simulated sexual intercourse by moving her vagina up and down on the dildo, while it was held vertically. It is unknown whether sexual pleasure was intended or experienced by the participants, but it wasn't obviously a pleasurable experience. Given the nature of the video, it is hard to determine the context and intent of the ritual. We don't know for how long the ritual had been a part of the community, if it had been recently introduced or had been been a long standing tradition.

This ceremony does suggest the possibility that even if a phallic shaped object is used by women to simulate sexual intercourse, the activity may not be viewed as sexual in nature, but procreative. The participants pleasure isn't a concern of the community, only the symbolism of the procreative act. The ritual may have been preformed in part to promote conception within the community's livestock, and pollination of crops, to further ensure the community's survival.

28,000 year old dildo found in Germany
28,0000 Year Old Dildo Uncovered in Germany Source

In Europe, archeologists have uncovered phallic shaped objects that are estimated to be 28,000 years old. What is unknown is, whether they were used for sexual purposes. While we may assume they were, based on current beliefs and mores, they may have been intended to symbolize fertility and procreation. If they were used for sexual purposes, it seems likely their use would have been socially condoned, and occur in public. The reason being, until recent history, most women did not have the privacy that would allow for their solitary use. If an entire community or extended family lives in a cave or shelter, when would women have the privacy to masturbate alone, let a lone with a dildo? Would women have been able to store their dildo in a cave or other location, and have opportunity to use it in private?

Note: After viewing images of the reported 28,000 year old dildos, I find it hard to believe a woman would have inserted these rough looking objects into their vagina. I suspect, either it was a slow news day, or the archeologists/museum were seeking publicity and funding. The subject of sex quickly gains people's attention, and is good for viewer ratings.

Statue of Bes or Priapus in Ephesus Museum. Photo © Andrys
Statue of Bes or Priapus, found near an ancient brothel, in Ephesus, Turkey. Photo © Andrys

In the past, only women of wealth or prestige likely had the luxury of privacy, and personal space to store intimate objects. The exception being places like brothels, living spaces occupied solely by women, and places of spiritual significance. A potential example being the well endowed male figurine found inside the brothel at Ephesus. The statue looks like it may once have been appropriate for vaginal and/or anal penetration. Places of worship are often used to store objects of spiritual significance, which belong to the entire community. Their use inside these places would have to have been condoned by the occupants, and more than likely the community it which they existed.

During periods of war, when men left the home and community to fight, the women left behind may have had the need and opportunity to acquire and utilize phallic shaped objects. Wealthy women could have objects made for them, others would have had to make do with objects readily available in their environment. The same is true if men had to travel extended distances to hunt and gather food. In the case of female headed households in Zanzibar, Africa, evidence indicates dildos were utilized. The head of household may have been seen as filling a masculine roll within the community, and therefore would not be a "lesbian" in the manner we commonly envision today.

Only recently in Western society have girls commonly had their own bedrooms, and time alone in the bathroom, and other rooms of the house. Even more recently, the majority of mothers are working outside the home, providing girls and adolescent girls with even more opportunity and privacy to explore masturbation, and multiple methods of doing so. The participants in our surveys likely include this group of girls and young women, as access to a computer likely indicates some degree of affluence, on a global scale, and taking part in the surveys means they have some degree of privacy. The majority of the participants in our surveys have indicated they began to explore and stimulate their vagina during puberty and adolescence. Their changing body, and the onset of a physical desire for vaginal penetration, being potential motivating factors.

Age First Explored Their Vagina with Their Fingers Inserted an Object Into Their Vagina for the First Time First Stimulated Their Vagina for Pleasure First Used a Dildo (Note 1)
Less than 5 1% 0% 0% 0%
5-10 11% 7% 7% 1%
11-14 40% 36% 31% 7%
15-17 23% 20% 22% 9%
18-22 11% 10% 14% 14%
23-29 3% 3% 3% 8%
30-39 0% 1% 0% 3%
40-49 0% 0% 0% 1%
50-59 0% 0% 0% 0%
60-69 0% 0% 0% 0%
70 and older 0% 0% 0% 0%
Total 89% 77% 77% 43%
Note 1: 31% of survey participants were under the age of 18, which is the minimum age in the U.S. at which they may purchase a commercially produced dildo. The survey participants may or may not have considered any object they inserted into their vagina a type of dildo.

In the not too distant past, girls experienced menarche later and marriage earlier, potentially reducing the need to masturbate to fulfill their sexual desires. The preceding statement is based on the facts that girls today don't typically begin to explore their vagina until puberty, and men typically have been adverse to any sexual activity that didn't involve their penis. Plus, some religions don't condone any sexual activity that may not result in conception. The general state of a girl's or woman's health may also have curtailed their sexual desire and activity. What the wealthy do, and thus more likely to be recorded history, may not reflect the common experience.

A cursory review of the shared masturbation techniques and experiences reveals that teens and women use a wide assortment of objects to provide vaginal stimulation.

Handles on:

Hair Brushes
Razor Handles
Potato Mashers
Ice Cream Scoops
Large Spoons
Makeup Brushes
Lint Brushes
Mascara Applicators
Small Flashlights
Glass Pestles

Fruits and Vegetables



Sausage Links

Other Objects:

Play Station Joystick
Barbie Dolls
Lip-gloss Applicators
Glue Sticks
Foundation Bottles
Lipstick Applicators
Beaded Necklaces
Miniature Baseball Bats
Small Plastic Bottles
Wooden Spoons

It wasn't until the 1960s that inexpensive mass produced plastic and rubber dildos became available. Prior to this, objects used for vaginal stimulation likely had another primary purpose, and/or were readily at hand in the woman's environment, as is the case with the objects listed above. Purpose made dildos were likely only available to the wealthy, or women in societies that condoned their use.

Two Tone Rubber Dildo with Simulated Scrotum and Testicles
Two Tone Rubber Dildo with Simulated Scrotum and Testicles

Choosing a Dildo

Choosing a Shape:

In our survey, 55% of women have indicated the shape of a dildo influences the amount of pleasure they experience. Unfortunately, we don't investigate the shape they find most enjoyable. From other sources we know dildos shaped to allow easy stimulation of the front wall of the vagina, the G-Spot, are popular, as are dildos with a pronounced glans or head, which stimulate the entire vagina, including the front wall. Dildos having a relatively large diameter, which provide a feeling of fullness, will stimulate the entire vagina, and thus stimulate areas of increased sensitivity. For some, "relatively large" implies smaller than your average penis, for others, larger.

Aesthetics come into play when choosing a dildo, as the brain requires stimulation too. Some women are highly aroused by the sight and/or thought of using an object that looks like a realistic penis. Some choose a penis that is representative of men of a different racial group from their own, to augment their sexual fantasies. Women should choose a dildo they find visually appealing, or at least not offensive, which is dependent on personal preference. As the wide assortment of objects listed above indicate, the exact shape isn't of great concern to many, any phallic shape will do. Desire for vaginal penetration may supercede aesthetic concerns, or a desire to explore "sex" isn't curtailed by an absence of a penis, or a close proximity thereof.

Lifelike Dildo with Suction Cup Base - From Cast of Adult Film Star's Penis
Lifelike Dildo with Suction Cup Base - From Cast of Adult Film Star's Penis

Choosing a Size: Diameter

While our survey participants have used dildos having a wide variety of diameters, as a group they don't have a clear preference. The appropriate diameter is very much dependent on the individual, and likely changes over time, and depending on their mood and needs at the time. In general, the survey participants appear to prefer diameters greater than or equal to that of the average penis (34% and 36% respectively), rather than something smaller (16%), but it is perhaps best not to assume this is true of the individual.

Diameter Tried Recommend
0.5 inches (1.3 cm) 17% 0%
0.75 inches (1.9 cm) 19% 2%
1 inch (2.5 cm) 33% 8%
1.25 inches (3.2 cm) 27% 6%
1.5 inches (3.8 cm) 36% 11%
1.75 inches (4.4 cm) 27% 12%
2 inches (5 cm) 29% 10%
Greater than 2 inches (5 cm) 26% 12%
No preference 2% 4%

For women who engage in vaginal intercourse, without difficulty or pain, a dildo being equal in diameter to the average penis, 1 ½ inches (3.8 cm) should be a good starting point. For the inexperienced, yet able to insert a couple fingers into their vagina, a diameter of 1 inch (2.5 cm) should do. If penis sized objects leave you wanting more, try diameters of greater than 1 ½ inches (3.8 cm). If you are wanting to stretch your vagina to accommodate larger objects, or in preparation for vaginal intercourse, a tapered butt plug is an option. If you would like to experiment with objects that are larger than the average penis, or like the feeling of a “full” vagina, inflatable dildos are available. There is no right or wrong size, only personal preference, which may be influenced by anatomical and psychological factors.

Baton Shaped Silicone Dildo with Bulbous Head and Handle
Baton Shaped Silicone Dildo with Bulbous Head and Handle

Choosing a Size: Length

The appropriate length also depends on personal preference. If you want something to hold onto, choose one with a base, simulated balls, or having a shaft of appropriate length. Whether you like deep penetration should also be taken into account. If you don't like deep penetration, then a short dildo with a base that prevents this, may be a wise choice. Some women like double ended dildos, for their added length, as they can hold them with both hands, or engage in double penetration, utilizing their mouth, vagina, or anus.

The specifications for realistic dildos typically provide two lengths, insertable and total, or overall. This usually applies to dildos with “balls” or a base, possibly a suction cup for attachment to smooth surfaces. The “insertable” length is the portion of the dildo that can be inserted into the vagina, or that would protrude from a harness. The total length is the overall length of the dildo, which includes the shaft and base. The overall length may cause the dildo to appear to be much larger than it truly is.

The manufactures don't always provide detailed size information, or they are incorrect. Businesses that have a retail location often have had the opportunity to measure items for themselves, and present the most complete and accurate information. When I stocked the merchandise I sold, I could confirm size and weight, but as I switched to having others carry inventory for me, this was no longer an option. This is true of most Internet mail order businesses today; they only know what they are told by the supplier.

The most popular dildos that I sold, by mail order, were usually quite a bit larger in size than the average penis. The specifications provided may have indicated they were “average,” but visually they were an eyeful. Sometimes, this was an optical illusion, as a result of the size of the base or “balls,” especially if there was also a suction cup base. Sometimes their initial popularity was likely based on price, after-which, others bought them because that is what previous customers had bought.

Regardless of the size of a dildo used, women should utilize Kegel exercises to maintain or increase pelvic muscle tone, and potentially increase the intensity of their orgasms. You can even perform the Kegels while masturbating, with the dildo in place, expanding your repertoire, and possibly your pleasure. If you insert a rigid dildo into your vagina, while laying on your back, and it has sufficient weight to hold itself in place, contracting your pelvic muscles will cause the exposed end of dildo to move up and down. Betty Dodson demonstrates this in her DVDs.

Price & Quality:

The price of sex toys varies greatly, even for the same item, depending on where you purchase it. The reason why, in part, is the cost to the person selling them to you. The greater the number of people in the supply chain, the greater the cost. Now consider this, sex toy wholesalers are selling directly to the public, on the Internet. Can the retail businesses that purchase from them match their prices? When I was selling sex toys, this was one of the challenges I faced, as I often couldn't match their prices, especially on inexpensive items.

Handcrafted Silicone Dildo with Simulated Scrotum and Testicles, Suitable for Use in a Harness
Handcrafted Silicone Dildo with Simulated Scrotum and Testicles, Suitable for Use in a Harness

Your local retail store, has much higher costs than online suppliers, because they have a showroom to pay for, and likely a much lower volume of sales. Your local toy party hostess may have even greater costs, as a result of the number of people making a commission from their sales. If you want the luxury of seeing and touching an item before buying it, be prepared to pay more for it. If you want to purchase your sex toys in a party atmosphere, alongside your friends, be prepared to pay even more. If you want to support your local community, shop locally.

In general, price goes hand in hand with quality. The greater the price, the better the quality. Unfortunately, many sex toys are low in quality. This was one aspect of sex toys sales I especially disliked, selling low quality items. This is what my competition was selling, plus there really wasn't anything else available. The higher quality, and often more expensive, items didn't sell as well. I had to supply what people were wanting and willing to buy.

Part of the problem is the nature of the merchandise being bought and sold. Especially before the Internet, who would use and return a defective sex toy to their local adult store? Most people were likely reluctant to enter an adult novelty store once, let alone twice. Would the store even want to accept the item back, for health reasons? This reality and policy allowed the market to be flooded with low quality merchandise.

Another reason why businesses may not accept the return of merchandise is, something I experienced a couple times myself. Customers would purchase a couple hundred dollars worth of merchandise, try some of it, then return everything, costing the business hundreds of dollars; returned merchandise automatically went in the trash. There was nothing wrong with the merchandise, the customer likely was experiencing mental health issues; I know this from speaking to them. Small businesses, and even not so small businesses, can't afford loses like this. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee sex toys will work as expected by every customer, especially if they are experiencing sexual dysfunction. It really is a matter of trial and error, sometimes a costly experience, but not necessarily.

Attempts have been made to improve the quality, and some successes have been achieved, but overall quality is still left wanting, in my opinion. I also experienced problems with items that were reported to be of high quality that weren't, even though they were expensively priced. Who likes spending $100 on vibrator that fails to work on delivery, or within a month of purchase?

Quality and price are a little more straight forward when it comes to dildos, as there are usually no moving parts or electronics involved. Dildos are generally made from a solid chunk of something, be it metal, plastic, glass, silicone, rubber, or rarely, wood or stone. The quality of the base material, and high or low volume production, generally determine price.

Lifelike Cyberskin Dildo with Suction Cup Base
Lifelike Cyberskin Dildo with Suction Cup Base

Materials that have a flesh like feel generally cost more, but this was partly the result of the initial products being patented and proprietary. A hand-carved wood or stone dildo is going to cost much more than a plastic dildo produced by machine by the thousand. A hand-made silicone dildo costs more than one produced by machine. Some of the more expensive, relatively speaking, dildos come with lifetime warranties, which should be indicative of their quality and life expectancy.

American morality inhibits most of us from spending money on sex, especially sex toys. We believe sex should occur “naturally,” no enhancer required. That is how it is portrayed in mainstream movies, where sex toys are most often used solely as props in comedic scenes. Americans think nothing of spending $20,000 or more on a car and $150,000 or more on a house, but spend $100 on sex toys, are you kidding? Why not spend $50 or $100 on an item that will last a lifetime with proper care? Actually, with today's low cost silicone dildos, you don't need to spend $50, though some hand-crafted realistic dildos may leave your mouth watering and your vagina dripping.

If you can only afford inexpensive items, be prepared for the fact they probably wont last very long, or function very well. In this case, you are perhaps better to shop for a “dildo” at your local generic department or toy store, locating an item of appropriate size and shape, free of sharp and rough edges. Regardless of source, low cost items likely need to be enclosed in a condom or plastic food wrap during use, to prevent the material from absorbing body fluids. They may need to be replaced on a regular basis for health reasons.

Sex is increasingly a recreational activity in the industrialized world, how many recreational activities remain that don't require a monetary investment? Should sex, alone and with a partner, be any different?


Inexpensive Jelly Dildo with Simulated Scrotum and Testicles
Inexpensive Jelly Dildo with Simulated Scrotum and Testicles

Dildos come in a multitude of materials. Less expensive dildos are typically made of soft plastic, rubber, or PVC. Jelly dildos are an example of this type of dildo. Many of these inexpensive materials once contained phthalates, a chemical softener of plastic, which have been linked to cancer and other health concerns. For the most part, the industry appears to have stopped using these chemicals. These items are typically priced under $10, but can be as expensive as $20-25, depending on their size. The problem with these materials is, they are porous and absorb body fluids and lubricants, making cleaning them pretty much impossible. They may have a strong chemical odor and residue associated with them. These products should always be used with a condom, or wrapped in plastic food wrap.

Pyrex Dildo With Two Bulbous Heads and Ridges Along the Shaft
Pyrex Dildo With Two Bulbous Heads and Ridges Along the Shaft

Materials like Pyrex, silicone, and stainless steel are nonporous, which makes cleaning them easier. You can even wash them in your dishwasher. Silicone and Pyrex glass dildos were once relatively expensive, but as a result of mass production overseas, are now only a little more expensive than the inexpensive items; their prices now overlap. These items are typically priced $15-30. Handmade silicone and fancy Pyrex dildos may cost $50-120, but less expensive models are available.

Stainless Steel Vaginal Barbell - Dildo
Stainless Steel Vaginal Barbell/Dildo

Stainless steel dildos are relatively rare, with one example being Betty Dodson's Vaginal Barbell, and generic reproductions of it. This is a friend's favorite dildo. She couldn't explain why, but she really likes the weight of it. These are multipurpose items, being good for Kegel exercises, as well as G-Spot stimulation, because of the pronounced ball ends. Pyrex glass and larger sized silicone dildos may also have significant weight associated with them. If a dildo has sufficient weight, and you are reclining on your back, it may stay inside the vagina, leaving both hands free to stimulate other erogenous zones; though orgasm may cause the dildo to be forcibly expelled.

Pyrex glass dildos are very strong and durable, but I have seen one instance where they had a sharp point, which caused injury to the user. You should inspect them very closely prior to use. Any machined or molded product, especially if they are mass produced, are subject to manufacturing defects.

Nexus - Double Ended Dildo: Designed for a woman to use to penetrate her male or female partner. One end goes inside her vagina, the other her partner. No harness is required.
Nexus - Double Ended Dildo: Designed to allow a woman to penetrate her partner. One end goes inside her vagina, the other her partner. No harness is required.

There are flesh-like dildos available, which to varying degrees feel like an organic penis. Whether these items are porous depends on the specific material they are made from. You should check the manufacture's website to find out this information, though knowledgeable store staff should know. These dildos can be relatively expensive, $30-75, but some are as much as $120.

Dildo Harness with Nylon Straps, for Women
Dildo Harness with Nylon Straps, for Women

The quality of some dildo harnesses is pitiful, nothing more than a couple pieces of elastic strap, that wouldn't hold your underwear in place, attached to a cheap piece of hollow plastic. If a harness will not hold your penis/dildo in place hands-free, don't bother with it. Invest in a quality harness made with adjustable nylon or leather straps, and a durable support for the dildo. Those made with nylon straps are easier to care for. Moderate quality nylon harness and dildo sets begin at $20, with better ones costing $40. Leather harnesses typically begin at $60, plus the price of the dildo. The larger/heavier your choice of dildos, the sturdier your harness will need to be. Most harnesses require a dildo having a flared base, though in some cases, one with a suction cup base may work, but be somewhat cumbersome.

Dildo Harness with Leather Straps, for Women
Dildo Harness with Leather Straps, for Women

Dildo harnesses can be worn by men and women, and used with partners of any sex. For men and women open to the idea, a harness makes impotence and premature ejaculation non-issues, they can be hard and last all night, with suitable lubrication, and an able and willing partner. To learn how to use your dildo harness, consider the lesbian DVD Hard Love & How to Fuck in High Heels, as well as Bend Over Boyfriend.

Unisex Dildo Harness with Optional Vibrator
Unisex Dildo Harness with Optional Vibrator

Published December 7, 2011