What Do Women Look For In Personal Pleasure Toys? We Finally Have Some Answers

Sometimes, science is about discovering new life, curing the incurable, or sending humanity to the stars. Sometimes, it’s about finding the ideal shape for a vaginally insertable plastic penis. Today, friends, is one of those days. A new study has asked the question that’s secretly been on all of our minds: does size really matter when it comes to dildos?

There’s been limited research into people’s preferences when it comes to sex toys. That’s partially because society still has some way to go in normalizing the use of toys in both partnered and solo sexploration.

“For example, a sex toy endorsement by British celebrity YouTuber Zoe Sugg’s brand website Zoella resulted in her being dropped from the [high school] Media Studies syllabus and prompted conversations about female sexual pleasure and sex education,” the authors of the new study explain, “while sex toy manufacturer, Lora DiCarlo, had an industry award for a new vibrator revoked at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show for breaking organizer rules around obscenity and profanity.”

But despite the imposed taboos around them, sex toys have a long and storied history. The Romans (might have) used them. Our closest animal cousins use them. There’s some evidence to suggest they could have actual health benefits. And yet, scientists still know very little about what discerning customers are looking for in their mock phalluses.

Dr Sarah E. Johns and Nerys Bushnell of the University of Kent acquired data from the UK’s largest online sexual wellness retailer, Lovehoney, to shed light on this probing question. 

They looked at the size, shape, and price of 265 vaginally insertable sex toys to see where consumer preferences lie. All of the products were listed under the website category “Dildo”, and only those that were phallus-shaped, specifically designed for sexual pleasure via the vagina, and whose insertable length could be clearly seen, were included.

Through a combination of visual evaluation of online photos, the specifications available on the website, and customer reviews, the researchers systematically analyzed each toy. 

A large majority of the toys (86.8 percent) were made of skin-like material, but less than half were a realistic skin tone. Most somewhat followed the morphology of a human penis, with veins present in 72.5 percent and a glans/coronal ridge in 81.9 percent, but only 36.2 percent had a scrotum. Vibration was only a feature of around a quarter of the toys assessed. 

There was little evidence that consumers were actually seeking out these realistic attributes. The authors point to previous research suggesting that female customers could be intimidated by hyper-realistic dildos: “[W]omen have reported that they most often chose sex toys which were specifically intended to not resemble a penis.” 

Price was also found to be a big factor. The average retail price of the toys assessed was £44.61 (about $56.60). The more anatomically realistic models also tended to come with a higher price tag, which the authors suggest may put consumers off.

And now to the biggest question of all: size. We know how concerned men can be about the magnitude of their member, but when it comes to silicone substitutes, the results were somewhat surprising.

“[W]e found that for toys at least, although circumference was influential in predicting product popularity, insertable toys of a larger girth in our sample were less popular, while length was non-significant,” the authors write. 

“In our sample, the 5 most popular products had a mean circumference of 4.85 inches [12.3 centimeters] which is just above the average circumference for real penises.”

And people weren’t all that bothered about vibration either. “We were also surprised that an additional vibrating functionality did not predict item popularity.”

So, to sum up: the most popular vaginally insertable toys appear to be those that are not exact replicas of a penis, and certainly not a larger-than-life model. Consumers of these products are not interested in all the bells and whistles – they just want an affordable product that’s comfortable to use.

The authors acknowledge that there are certain limitations to their research – for one thing, they were using a UK webstore for their research, so these preferences could be limited to British sex toy purchasers only – but given how little we seem to know about this market, it’s a start.

As the authors conclude, “Studies of sex toy preference, such as this, can also contribute to future product design and marketing, as well as reveal user preference toward features of the phallus (whether real or toy).”

The study is published in The Journal of Sex Research.

[H/T: PsyPost]

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