Sex toys have been around almost as long as sex itself--or at least since Paleolithic times. They've appeared on ancient Greek vases, been uncovered at archaeological digs and there's even a reference to dildos in the Bible (Ezekiel 16:17).
Despite their prevalence historically and culturally, sex toys still get a bad rap, as evidenced by the letters I receive about partners who are jealous or afraid of being "replaced" by two inches of rubber and a watch battery.
But that way of thinking is changing. According to two recent national surveys from Indiana University published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 53 percent of women and nearly half of all men report having used a vibrator.
Not only is sex toy use common, but research has shown that "it's linked to positive sexual function such as desire and ease of orgasm, and it's rarely associated with any side effects," according to study author Debby Herbenick. Not only do sex toys increase women's interest in sex (and help them reach the Big O), but men and women who used vibrators were more likely to get regular sexual checkups.
Who knew that your Rabbit habit correlates with better health habits too? Men who use toys are similarly likely to experience heightened desire, better "erectile function" and easier orgasms.
For singles, Searah Deysach from Early To Bed in Edgewater said "bringing a sex toy home can be an empowering way to honor your own sexuality and spend time enjoying the pleasure that your body can provide you, regardless of coupleness." For people in relationships, "the gift of a sex toy to your lover can convey the feeling, 'I value your sexuality and want to feel [bleeping] great.' "
Some people are intimidated by toys, but really, sex toys simply enhance the good things that are already there. Also, let's not forget this: Unless your hygiene and conversational skills are severely amiss, most people prefer people to the company of inanimate objects. Other perks of toys include getting to experience new sensations, increasing intimacy between partners and helping people discover what gets their motors running.
A friend summed it up well: "Can we live without them? Sure. But do we want to?"
Anna Pulley writes RedEye's dating advice column Ask Anna.
Photo gallery and RedEye reviews: Sex toys are the gifts that keep on giving.
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