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Dildos: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right One for You

So, you want to buy a dildo. Betty’s can help you with that. After all, dildos are the oldest sex toys known to humans, with the oldest ever being discovered in a cave in Germany, dating about 28,000 years ago. Today, dildos come in all shapes and sizes, and materials, and they are still on of the bestselling pleasure products of all time.

Some studies estimate that 3 out of 4 Americans own a dildo already. So, whether you’re buying your first dido, upgrading your old one, or adding to your collection, here is how to choose the perfect dildo for you.

WHAT TYPES OF DILDOS ARE THERE?

Realistic Dildos: These are dildos that resemble a real, erect penis. Some come in shades of flesh tones, while others are brightly colored, but they all have the basic shape, veins, and details of an erect penis. King Cock by Pipedream is a classic example of a realistic dildo.

Semi-Realistic Dildos: These dildos will often allude to a phallic shape but usually with toned down details, such as a lack of defined veins, testicles, or crown. The Avant D2 Rain Dildo is a great example of a semi-realistic shape.

Non-Phallic Dildos: This category takes in basically any insertable sex toy that is non-vibrating, and which is not shaped like penis. The Njoy Wand is a great example of a non-phallic dildo.

Strap-on Dildo: These dildos can be realistic, semi-realistic or non-phallic but no matter the shape, they have a structure that will fit in a harness, thus making it a strap-on dildo. Most strap-on dildos are fitted into a harness through an o-ring that fits snugly between the suction cup and the testicles of the toy. Dildos that don't have testicles should have a flared base for the o-ring to fit snugly, like this King Cock version pictured above. 

Strapless Strap-on Dildo: These dildos have a bulb at one end and a shaft at the other (pictured). The bulb goes inside the vagina of the wearer and they can then penetrate their partner with the shaft. Strapless strap-ons take some practice and some pelvic strength to use. The Evoke Ergo is a classic strapless strap-on shape.

Suction Cup Dildos: These are dildos with a suction cup at the very bottom, which allows them to be stuck to a flat, clean, dry surface. Often the joint between the suction cup and the base of the dildo is used to anchor a dildo into an o-ring for a harness.

Squirting Dildos: These are dildos that are meant to mimic ejaculation. There are several different styles available but they all function by filling a chamber with fluid (most commonly a semen looking lubricant) and then shooting it back out again.

Vibrating Dildos: Also called Realistic Vibrators, these dildos have a realistic or semi-phallic look but with an added vibration function.

Soft dildos or Packers: These dildos resemble a flaccid penis and are commonly worn in a specialized packer harness by folks who wish to have the appearance of a penis under their clothing. They are too flaccid for penetration but are popular with trans men or anybody into gender role-play. The Pack It line by CalExotics is a fantastic and reasonably priced example of packers in a variety of colors.

HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE?

Dildo size selection is a very personal thing, which is why we usually recommend you don’t buy for somebody else unless you have discussed it with them or have a really good idea of what they want. With sizes from a modest 4 inches up to 15- and 16-inch monsters, choosing the right size can be difficult so here are some tips and terms you should know.

Length or Overall Length: This is commonly considered the entire length of the dildo from top to bottom, including the suction cup or base. A dildo may have a 9-inch length but not all of that will be usable or insertable.

Insertable Length: This is how much of the dildo you can insert in your body. In dildos with testicles and suction cups, the overall length and insertable length can differ by several inches.

Diameter/Width: Dildos are most often measured by width across, not circumference around, which can be confusing. If you are more familiar with circumference and a listing only has the diameter, you can use a handy online calculator to figure that out.

Circumference/Girth: If you have a penis, you have probably measured your girth before. This is the measurement around what is usually the thickest part of the penis shaft. Dildo manufacturers don’t usually list girth or circumference but you can calculate it if you have a listing for the diameter.

Tips:

Measure before you buy: Use a measuring tape on a soda can or water bottle to get an idea of how large the dildo will be.

Read the measurements carefully: Is 9 inches the overall length or the insertable length? Every manufacturer lists their items differently double check you are getting the size you want.

Don’t be fooled by pictures: It is impossible to tell the scale of a dildo just from a picture.

Be realistic: The average erect penis is 5.16 inches (13.12 cm) long and 4.59 inches (11.66 cm) in girth or 1.46 inches wide (3.7 cm). That means a dildo with 5 to 6 inches of insertable length is going to be plenty for a lot of folks to begin with.

WHICH MATERIALS SHOULD I LOOK FOR?

You may wonder why we even need to talk about materials when it comes to dildos, beyond what feels good, but it may shock you to learn that the sex toy industry is completely unregulated when it comes to the materials they use. While there has been a general shift away from potentially unsafe materials in the sex toy industry as a whole, consumers should still know what they are putting in their bodies so they can make the best possible decisions.

A word about phthalates: You will often see on a dildo’s description that it is “phthalate free.” Phthalates are plasticizers that make PVC and other material softer and more flexible so it is understandable that manufacturers would want to use them to achieve realism in dildos. Unfortunately, some phthalates have been associated with a risk of cancer and other health concerns, leading to their ban in children’s toys and other plastics in the US, Canada and other countries. Many reputable sex toy manufacturers have done away with any phthalates in their products which is why you will also see the terms “non-toxic” and “body safe” thrown into many product descriptions.

Silicone

This is the gold standard in dildo materials. It is unscented, non-porous, and can be completely disinfected between uses. If you have any material sensitivities, a history of yeast infections, or plan on using a toy for vaginal and anal play, or want to use it orally, this is the material you want to buy. Non-porous means bacteria, mold, or other nasties can’t permeate the material and grow. You can wash it in a bleach/water solution or even put it in the dishwasher and know it will be good and clean and ready to use again safely. A good silicone dildo, stored and cared for properly, will last a lifetime.

TPR/TPE

TPR is Thermoplastic Rubber (a synthetic rubber) while TPE is Thermoplastic Elastomer (a stretchy polymer). A lot of dildos are available in these materials because they are soft and have a more realistic feel. While TPR and TPE are phthalate free, unfortunately, they are also porous, so you can’t get them as clean as you would silicone, and the material will break down, tear, or fade over time. They also commonly have a rubbery smell that may not fade with washing or over time.

Realistic/UR3/Real Feel/Cyberskin/Real Deal etc.

These are all brand names that manufacturers use for their own custom blends of dildo material. Generally, they are TPR, TPE or PVC with elastomers used to make them soft and realistic feeling.  While each company’s formula is different, the use of elastomers means the toys can feel sticky after some use and it is recommended buyers use corn starch or custom-made formulas like Cyberskin renew to keep the materials from breaking down. These materials are also porous and will have a rubbery smell. Some formulations use a powdery or “fresh” scent as well, to minimize the rubber smell.  

Glass/Metal: If you like a firm dildo, glass or metal can be amazing. They are non-porous, so you can easily disinfect them, plus they respond to heating or cooling so you can enjoy some temperature play. Just make sure you are buying from a reputable brand like Njoy or Icicles where you know you’re getting quality, sturdy designs. Plated metal can corrode when it is in contact with fluids, so you want stainless steel for your metal dildos. Glass should be borosilicate glass, which is the same as Pyrex cookware and won’t break.

ABS Plastic: This is not a common dildo material because it is extremely firm and used most often for vibrators. Still, it is worth noting that it is body safe and non-porous so if you have a dildo with ABS Plastic on it (commonly the dials and buttons on a vibrating dildo), you don’t have to worry about coming into contact with it.

PVC

This material is not ideal but again, you will find it in a lot of dildos because it is soft and realistic feeling. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) uses plasticizers to soften it and make it pliable so it is often used in realistic dildos. This material is porous so you can’t get it completely disinfected, and it can have a very strong rubber smell. This material will break down over time and must be stored away from any other toys and materials. Again, some companies will inject a powdery scent to mask the plastic smell.

Jelly

Many toys which use the word “jelly” in the title are often actually PVC. Often jelly toys are brightly colored, sometimes partly opaque, and contain plasticizers or phthalates which make them soft and flexible. These toys not only usually carry a very strong, unpleasant odor, but they will break down over time. These toys are extremely porous and can’t be completely disinfected.

SHOULD I GET A VIBRATING DILDO?

Vibrating dildos (also known as Realistic Vibrators) have that great phallic shape with added vibration but there are a few things you should take into consideration when deciding if one is right for you.

  • Softer, realistic vibrating dildos like the Dr. Skin Vibrating Dildo line have a more muted vibration because of the thickness of the realistic materials, so they are better for anybody who wants a gentler vibration
  • Rechargeable models like the Big Shot Squirting Dildo or Addiction Thrusting Dildo are incredibly firm because of all the electronics inside them, so they while they look realistic, they do not feel like a real penis. They do, however, have a lot of power because of this construction.
  • Not all vibrating dildos are harness compatible so check the product description carefully
  • Harness compatible vibrating dildos can be heavy because of the motors and batteries inside, so you will need a sturdy harness to hold them up.

 

ALL ABOUT SUCTION CUPS

A good majority of dildos have suction cups but not all suction cups are created equal. While the purpose of a suction cup is to allow you to position your dildo on or against any flat surface, and use it hands-free, the reality is that not all suction cups are up to the task.

Some of the best suction cup dildos include the King Cock Plus line from Pipedream (pictured above), the Au Naturel and Avant lines from Blush Novelties and the Addiction dildos from BMS Factory. But we must be honest and say that no suction cup is perfect or infallible, particular as your dildo selections get larger and larger, which means heavier and heavier. A King Cock 12-inch dildo is over 2 pounds and no matter how strong the suction cup, gravity is going to be working against it. 

The reality with dildos is that the shape of the suction cup base has another purpose and that is to make the toy harness compatible. The o-ring of a harness fits snugly between the base of the dildo and the top of the suction cup, anchoring it in place.

CHOOSING A STRAP-ON DILDO

A strap-on dildo is quite simply any dildo that can be used in a strap-on harness. Of course, you can buy sets that come with a dildo and a harness already paired but that leaves you with much less selection than if you are buying the two separately. Buying a harness is a whole other topic which we covered in our blog post Betty’s Guide to Buying a Strap-on Harness but here are a few things to consider when buying a dildo specifically to pair with a strap-on harness.

  • The dildo needs to have a suction cup base or a flared base to fit firmly in a harness
  • Soft material dildos can get damaged by metal o-rings, so a silicone ring is safer for your toys
  • The larger the dildo, the sturdier your harness will need to be.

 

IS A STRAPLESS STRAP-ON DILDO RIGHT FOR ME?

Strapless Strap-ons can be tricky for a first-time user because they require coordination and a certain amount of pelvic floor strength from the wearer. These dildos feature an insertable vaginal bulb that works as the anchor for the dildo. The idea is that the wearer gets that full feeling, usually along with internal vibration and g-spot stimulation, at the same time as they are penetrating their partner. If this sounds like fun, you’re absolutely right. Strapless strap-ons have been growing in popularity, in large part because of the growing popularity of pegging. Here are some tips to choosing one that works for you and using it for the first time.

  • Make sure the insertable length and girth aren’t too much for your partner
  • Double check the size of the bulb as well to ensure it’s a good fit for you
  • Consider a strapless strap-on with an inflatable inner bulb like the Evoke Ergo Fit Inflatable and Vibrating Silicone Strapless Strap-on because it can give you a more snug, customized fit
  • Wear the strapless strap-on around the house to get a feel for how it works
  • Use it first as a hand-held dildo and penetrate your partner with it that way before wearing it
  • Use lots of lubricant on both of you to lessen the resistance and make penetration easier