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Dildos 101: A Brief, Yet Comprehensive Guide

Dildos 101: A Brief, Yet Comprehensive Guide

People of both genders can enjoy a high-quality penetrative sex toy. But what option is there for users that have a modest budget and a desire to experiment with toys? Well, more often than not, they will settle for a dildo.

Interestingly, dildos have existed for several millennia now, and some of our ancient ancestors have been using them for sexual gratification. And despite us having more sophisticated, interactive gadgets for pleasure, dildos remain highly sought-after. In this article, we will cover the humble dildo, focusing on how we can buy the best models on the market today.

Dildos vs. Vibrators

red lace bra and panties lingerie set with vibrator dildo on bed as female masturbation concept

Before we move on to dildos themselves, we should address an issue that’s fairly common online, especially among beginners who want to learn about sex toys. Namely, lots of individuals tend to use the terms dildo and vibrator interchangeably. And while there are lots of similarities between the two, they are not the same.

So, let’s first get a few definitions out of the way. A dildo is a phallic-shaped solid sex toy. It usually looks like an erect penis or an equivalent of one. Other than variations in its shape, size, and material, it doesn’t really come with lots of extra features. To put it bluntly, it’s a hard object that we use for insertion during self-pleasure.

At first glance, a vibrator is much the same. After all, it’s also vaguely penis-shaped, solid, and used for penetration. However, there is one major difference. A vibrator, as its name suggests, will move at a specific set of speeds at a flick of a switch. It’s the automatic movement that provides extra pleasure to the user.

Over the years, the line between vibrators and dildos has blurred significantly. For example, most vibrators are bullet-shaped, and today you can buy a simple dildo that looks almost the same as an average vibrator, but without the motion. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for both men and women to use vibrators as dildos if the batteries have run out (or just expired altogether).

And to complicate things further, there are even dildos today that contain tiny vibrating bullets within the shaft, and though they vibrate, we don’t refer to them as vibrators, but as “vibrating dildos”. Still, despite all of this confusion, it’s safe to simply say that dildos don’t vibrate, but vibrators do.

What to Look For in a Dildo

Collection of different types of sex toys on a blue and pink background.

Now that we know what a dildo is (and what it isn’t), let’s focus on how to shop around for one. We must keep in mind that not every dildo will be suitable for us. Some may not satisfy us at all, and others could be potentially dangerous. So, before we head off to buy our toy of choice, it might be a good idea to refer to a handy buyer’s guide, as is the one we’ve provided below.


When we discuss the sizes of dildos, we usually take two main points into account: the length and the girth.

The first point is easy enough to explain. Depending on our tastes and preferences, we can choose between short or long dildos. The second point, girth, refers to how wide it is. But to simplify matters a bit, we will focus on the diameter of said girth. On average, a male penis has a diameter of 1.5 inches. That can serve as a good starting point when it comes to picking the right dildo.


Quite a few dildos look like realistic penises or replicas of already existing ones (usually modeled after members of adult porn stars). This basic phallic shape also has variations. It can be completely smooth or contain veins to replicate the feel of a real penis. It also may or may not contain a pair of testicles, and they can also vary in smoothness.

Alternatively, we can buy a dildo that has lots of ridges, arranged in different patterns. Sometimes they look like bubbles; other times, they appear to be a spiral going all the way down the length of the shaft. These ridges are meant to stimulate the G-spot, giving extra pleasure to the user. Alternatively, they can also expand the anus further after insertion, depending on how deep we intend it to go.


Among the most prominent materials for dildos, we can find rubber, jelly, PVC, silicone, glass, and even wood and hard metal. Every single one of them comes with a set of pros and cons that buyers need to consider.

For example, glass dildos can break if we don’t take care of them, but we can heat them up for extra pleasure without damage. And while we can’t heat metal or wooden sex toys the same way, we can rest assured that neither wood nor steel will break as easily as glass. Rather, we can heat metal dildos, but we highly recommend against inserting them inside afterward.

When it comes to jelly and rubber dildos, they are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. However, the material they’re made of is porous, and that’s incredibly difficult to clean thoroughly. As such, these toys are not safe to use with a partner. By far, the safest and most effective toys are made of silicone, but they tend to cost a lot of money.


Despite being a simple enough sex toy, the dildo can come in a variety of types. Firstly, dildos may or may not contain suction cups. When we attach a suction cup dildo to a flat surface, we can use it hands-free.

Next, there are double-sided dildos meant for pleasuring two people at once. Of course, some users can take a double-sided toy and pleasure themselves with both ends.

Interestingly, lots of companies are making dildos that look nothing like human penises. They often take the shape of animal phalluses, alien tentacles, and other exotic shapes. However, we don’t recommend these toys to complete beginners.

Strap-on dildos are great for ladies and even men who don’t use their penis for a variety of reasons (ED, injury, celibacy, etc.). They come with a special harness that goes around the pelvis and waist, securing them in position for penetration. Similarly to them, we have pack-and-play dildos, i.e., silicone toys that bind as a harness around the groin. They can look flaccid, but we can bend them into an erect state whenever we please.

Finally, there are squirting dildos and special toys that can shoot out liquid simulating ejaculation. These toys have recently gained popularity among adult performers, especially webcam models.


When buying a dildo, we recommend using the Goldilocks approach. If the dildo is too cheap, e.g., below $10, it’s probably of poor quality. Remember, low-Q dildos can be a health hazard. Alternatively, if it’s our first-ever dildo purchase, we shouldn’t overspend. Paying $300 is far too much for a sex toy, even for seasoned users.

The best thing to do is to compare some of the highest-rated models from reputable brands. Next, we should line up the prices from lowest to highest. That will serve as our price range, and our ideal dildo’s price should be between the two extremes of said range.

Dildos and Safety

sex education shame concept.beautiful embarrassed and surprised redhaired ginger woman

As stated earlier, some dildos can be porous, meaning they will retain the fluids from our bodies even after a thorough cleanup. As such, they can be a health risk if we share them with a partner. Therefore, we recommend always using a condom on our dildos, even if they are brand new. Sexually-transmitted diseases can occur even if we’re not having penetrative sex with a partner.

Another common method of keeping ourselves safe during dildo sex play is to keep the toy in pristine condition. That means frequent cleaning after use and proper storage. If we happen to own a glass, metal, or silicone dildo, it’s a good idea to boil it in hot water. That way, we will kill off any potentially harmful germs and bacteria.

Dildos Summarized

Overall, owning a dildo is quite beneficial. It’s a reasonably priced toy with no real bells and whistles, but it gets the job done. And if we take good care of it, the dildo can satisfy both us and our partner during many hours of pleasure. Hopefully, our guide will help a few folks out there find that perfect dildo for their sexual needs.


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