[Content Warning: This page has actual photos of actual vulvas.]

Beyond this point are photos of an actual vulva, with various parts labeled. These photos contain nudity. There is no text content outside of the image descriptions.

So if that’s not something you want to see, turn back now.

This image contains actual nudity. This image is a view of the front side of a fully nude standing person with a vulva, in order to provide a reference for location and size. The location of the vulva is highlighted by the blue circle, although it is mostly not visible. The person’s breasts are also visible.

Original Photograph: Public domain.

Filtering added.

This image contains actual nudity. This image is an angled view of the front side of a person with a vulva lying on a bed. Their legs are slightly open, allowing the vulva to be seen. The location of the vulva is highlighted by the blue circle, although only the outer labia are visible. The person’s breasts are visible in the background, but are blurry.

Original Photograph: peter klashorst / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Filtering added.

CC BY 2.0

This image contains actual nudity.  This image is a view of a vulva with closed labia, surrounded by pubic hair. The clitoris, vagina, and urethra are not visible in this image. The person’s front is towards the top of this photo. Several features are labeled.

Original Photograph: Viewmaster Stereoscopic Atlas of Human Anatomy, Section VI, Reel 156-6, Bassett/Gruber, 1961

Annotations Added.

This image contains actual nudity.  This image is a close-up view of a vulva being held open for visibility. The clitoris and vaginal entrance are visible. Pubic hair has been removed. The person’s front is towards the top of this photo. Several features are labeled.

Original Photograph: Public Domain

Annotations Added.

This image contains actual nudity. This image is a series of photos of a vulva in various stages of arousal, showing the inner labia expand. These images are not labeled.

Original Photograph: Fotomannforever / CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Filtering added.

CC BY-SA 3.0

This image contains actual nudity. This image is a series of photos of different vulvas, showing a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles of pubic hair. One of the images includes a piercing. These images are not labeled.

Original Photograph: Coupleabc / CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Filtering added.

CC BY-SA 4.0

This section describes some of the anatomical points of interest and neighborhoods within the vulva and its surrounding metro area.

The outer lips, also called the “labia majora”, are large, thick folds that make up the outer suburbs of the vulva. They are often covered with hair. When closed, these large folds often hide most of the rest of the areas of the vulva.

The inner lips, also called the “labia minora”, are thinner, hairless flaps that ring the central zone of the vulva. These lips are often folded and wrinkled in shape, and one side can be larger than the other.

This is the Central Park area of the vulva, a relatively smooth, soft, hairless zone, located inside the valley between the labia. At the north end are the foothills of the clitoris, and the southern end wraps around the urethra and the entrance to the vagina.

In the northern area of the vulva (towards the front of the body), where all the folds and flaps come together is nubby bit known as the clitoris. Because of its location and size, the clitoris tends to be overlooked and ignored. However, this is one of the most sensitive zones. Stimulating it is one of the more common ways vulva owners can get sexual pleasure and potentially reach orgasm. When aroused, the clitoris will often fill with blood and grow in size, and may come out of hiding. The external part of the clitoris is just the tip of the iceberg. Internally, the roots stretch along and around the vagina.

The clitoris is covered by a fold of skin known as the clitoral hood. The hood cushions and protects the sensitive skin of the clitoris. When aroused, the clitoris may come out from under the hood. The hood typically marks the northern extent of the vulva.

The urethra is a small hole, located near to the vaginal opening on the plains of the vestibule, between the vagina and the clitoris. Urine exits the body thorough this hole.

The vagina is a stretchy fleshy tube that extends several centimeters inside the body. Normally, the walls of the vagina are touching, but it can stretch to accommodate objects of varying sizes. It connects the northern neighbors, including the uterus and ovaries, with the outside world. For many people with a vulva, the vagina is one of the most prominent features of the vulva. So much so that many people erroneously refer to the entire vulva zone as the vagina. (Other people erroneously believe that the vagina is the primary, or even sole source of sexual pleasure in vulva-owners. Those people need to meet the clitoris, but that’s a story for another page…)

Pubic hair is a tuft of short, curled hairs located in front of and around the vulva. It usually covers the mons pubis and outer labia, but may extend beyond that range. For a variety of reasons, some people will shave or trim this hair, while others may find that process pointless and/or itchy.

The perineum is a zone between the legs, behind the southern extent of the vulva and in front of the anus.

The mons pubis, or pubic mound is a small, soft hill, located immediately above the vulva at the bottom end of the torso. This acts as a cushion for the pelvis during certain activities, and is often covered by pubic hair.

Along the front wall of the vagina (The same side the clitoris is on), a few centimeters inside, there is a small patch that feels harder and ridged, much like a small Ruffles potato chip under the skin. That is the location of the G-Spot. Some people who own one of these report that pressing and rubbing this area can be extremely pleasurable.

The vagina is a gateway to some interior features. At the inside end of the vagina is a thick ring called the cervix. Past the cervix is the uterus, which is where children spend months assembling themselves. Beyond that are some tubes and eventually the ovaries, which produce eggs, which are half of the material needed for children to begin assembling themselves in a uterus. With the exception of the cervix, none of these features are reachable from outside, without effort.

This page explores some of the more common variations on how a vulva may manifest itself.

All of the regions of the vulva can be vastly different sizes. The clitoris can be tiny and barely noticeable, or it can be large and distinctly prominent. The labia can be thin or thick or wrinkled or smooth. It is common for the labia on one side to be larger than the other. The size may change when aroused.

The vestibule area, vaginal skin, and inside of the labia are typically pinkish, reddish, or purplish in color. The outside of the labia may be the same color as the rest of the body, or may be pinkish, reddish, or purplish. It is common for some areas of the labia to appear darker than others. The color may change when aroused.

Hair down there varies wildly, if not removed. Hair usually covers at least the outer lips and the pubic mound, and is usually not present on the inner lips or clitoral hood. Some people have thick hair over a large area, extending up the stomach and down the legs, while others have thinner hair in a smaller area more immediately above and around the vulva, while others have something in between. Sometimes the hair extends to the perineum, sometimes it does not. The hair may be different thicknesses or lengths in different areas.

The vagina is usually a few inches deep and may be capable of stretching a little bit. I’m not going to get more specific than that because then people start to wonder how big theirs is in comparison to others and then might feel upset if they’re not in the 99th percentile because society is terrible like that. Some people with things like Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome may barely have any depth at all.

The tightness of a vagina is another thing society is terrible about. Penis-centered notions of an ideal vagina emphasize some mythical level of desirable tightness, and anything outside of that range is looked down on. However, most vaginas are stretchy and elastic and will form fit anything from a little finger to an entire baby, although discomfort may increase as the size of the object does. That said, if a vagina seems so tight that small or moderately sized objects (like a standard sized dildo or average-sized penis, or even a single finger or tampon) cause discomfort or pain it may be worth bringing this up with a doctor. Conditions such as vaginismus may lead to penetration difficulties, and anecdotally, they may be more common among asexual people.

The vulva and related areas may occasionally change between a number of different states. The transition between the states is not instant. The exact configuration will be different for different people, and the differences may be easier or harder to discern for different people. , as the size and shape of various parts may affectmake some things more or less apparent.

The vulva and friends spend most of their time in a default, unaroused state. The clitoris will often be relatively small, and the inner labia may be hidden completely by the outer labia.

Some of the time, the vulvar area will enter a state of arousal. Sometimes this is brought on by certain kinds of physical contact or sexual thoughts, while other times it can be random.

During arousal, several changes will take place. Blood will flow to the region, causing various tissues to expand. The labia may become fuller and more pronounced and change color. The inner labia may push open the outer labia and become more prominent. This clitoris will experience an erection. The glans will become larger and harder, but the clitoral hood may also expand at the same time, so even though the clitoris is getting larger, it may end up more hidden. In some cases, a hard shaft may become noticeable, connecting the glans to the body, and may cause the clitoris to stick out. The vagina may also begin producing lubrication.

Many of these changes may not be immediately apparent unless you closely watch the process, and even then they may be hard to detect. Feeling the wetness of the vaginal lubrication is one of the more commonly noticed signs. People also describe a feeling of “fullness”, “warmth”, or “tingling” downstairs.

Arousal also often makes the entire region more sensitive. Some areas, such as the clitoris, may become more sensitive than others. If stimulated in the right way for long enough, this can often lead to sexual pleasure and possibly orgasm.

Internally, there are changes that are even harder to notice. The vagina may lengthen, and the cervix and uterus may shift position. And the temperature of the entire area might increase slightly.

The menstrual cycle may impact how the vulva behaves. One of the more well-known effects is the period, where blood will come from the vagina for several days. Cervical mucus will change in amount, consistency, and color during the cycle. At some points during the month, arousal may be more common or easier to achieve, leading some people to describe a few days where they tend to feel more “horny”.

[Content Warning: This area discusses the anatomy of the vulva, including the clitoris and vagina. One of the pages in this section has photos.]


A vulva is one of the more common variations of human genitalia. It is located at the bottom of the torso, mostly between the legs. It consists of a number of flaps and folds of skin called labia. These flaps usually cover a nubby thing called a clitoris where some of the folds come together in the front, and a soft tube that reaches inside the body, called a vagina.

The vulva and everything else in that region vary wildly from person to person.

The following pages describes some common configurations, but it cannot possibly describe all possible variations.

These following pages explore what you are likely to encounter on your travels to the vulva and the area around it.

[Content Warning: This page discusses a number of masturbation techniques in detail. Anatomy will be referenced where necessary.]

A number of people have expressed interest in trying to masturbate, but have also expressed a desire to avoid touching their genitals directly while doing so. This page explores a number of options. Some of these are a bit more “hands on”, but none of them require direct contact between hands and genitals.

All of these techniques will take practice. You should not expect hours of earth-shattering orgasmic bliss on the first try. If you don’t have an orgasm, that’s not a failure! Try to get somewhere that feels good, and build on that next time. You may never end up having an orgasm with some of these techniques, and that’s okay. Focus on what you are getting from the experience, rather than dwelling on what you’re not. You may not even want to have an orgasm, and that’s fine, too.

In some cases, a lot of the reluctance to try masturbating for vulva owners stems from the common misconception that masturbation requires penetration. If you’re in that camp, you may be relieved to know that it does not! For many people, external clitoral stimulation alone is enough to masturbate and reach orgasm. These tips are all possible without penetration, however a handful of them can be adjusted to include non-contact penetration, if desired.

Bad news, I’m afraid. While many of these techniques are possible on a penis, they can be much more difficult than they are with a clitoris. A lot of penis owners may be able to attain some level of pleasure with most of these techniques, but don’t be disappointed if it does not lead to orgasm.

One of the more common ways to masturbate without genital contact is to simply leave your clothes on (or use some other barrier, like a towel or cloth) and rub or stroke your genitals through the clothing. Experiment with different layers, as too many layers may dull the sensation, while too few may be too close for comfort.

This technique is even used by a lot of people who don’t mind direct genital contact for the simple reason that they may find direct stimulation of the clitoris to be too strong and unpleasant. You can also use a lot of toys this way, especially vibrators, as the clothing helps to dampen the sensation somewhat.

This is one of the more difficult techniques to perform on a penis, because of the limited range of motion and limited area of stimulation. Circular rubbing with some pressure on the frenulum area (A bit just below the head of the penis on the “under” side) may provide some success. Other than that, try a few different techniques on a few different areas and see if anything responds.

Using toys is one of the easiest, most effective, and most common ways to masturbate without touching your genitals. Most toys are designed to take the work away from your hands. You can buy toys from many places online, and most will ship in a plain box with no indication of what’s inside. If you’re nervous about buying an actual sex toy, a lot of easily available massagers can be used to masturbate with. (Plus, you can use them on your sore shoulders if you decide you don’t want to use them downstairs.)

Many vibrators are phallic or cylindrical in shape and are designed for penetration, but you do not need to use them for that purpose if that’s not for you.

Vibrators, although common, are unfortunately not the easiest to use on a penis. It may be possible to get some level of pleasure, but it can be difficult to attain orgasm with one, if that’s your goal. A “stroker” sleeve may be more effective.

Some sleeves are on the small side and may not completely prevent your hand from touching your genitals. Sleeves also require some form of lubricant, which may be a non-starter for some people. The lubricant can be applied to the toy itself.

A potential problem you may encounter while using a sleeve is that it may be difficult to get your penis inside it without guidance. With an adequate erection, you can usually angle things in a way that it will work, but it may take a number of tries to get it right. If you’re not completely averse to touching down there briefly, a quick guiding hand, similar to the contact you might make when urinating, will make the entry process easier.

Grinding is a totally hands free way to masturbate. It involves pressing your genitals against something and moving around in a way that stimulates them. It can be done fully clothed, if you want. Pillows, bunched up blankets or towels, chair or couch arms, and mattresses are some common items used for grinding.

Closely related to grinding, a penis can be placed inside or between things like the blankets and pillows mentioned above, and a hip thrusting action can be used to move it around and cause stimulation. Take particular care to avoid anything that’s rough, sharp, or that you can get stuck in. Also, consider using a condom or something like a sock, or this technique can get messy.

You may also find some success by grinding using the perineal area, rather than the penis itself. The perineum is the zone behind the testicles and in front of the anus. Using something like a rolled up bunch of socks or a tennis ball to provide some pressure on that area can sometimes be pleasurable.

A common no-hands masturbation method is to use flowing water. Positioning your genitals under the flow from a bathtub faucet is one way to do this. Using the spray from a handheld shower head is another way. The shower head allows you to try different angles, different spray styles, and target different areas. With either one, be sure to test the temperature first, as water that’s too hold can be painful and too cold can shut everything down.

Pretty much just aim at the clitoris.

Sensitive areas are different for different people and may change during your session. Some commonly responsive areas are the frenulum area (just below the head on the “under” side), and the testicles/perineum zone.

Gloves are a great way to avoid direct contact with the genitals. When wearing them, your hands are fully covered, yet you are still able to stimulate things freely.

However, this method is very similar to direct hand-to-genital stimulation, so it may be too close for comfort for a lot of people.

This is basically the opposite method from using a glove. Instead of covering your hand, cover your genitals with something like a condom or dental dam.

Similar to using a glove, this method may be too close for comfort for many people.

On the negative side, it can be extremely difficult to put on a condom without touching the penis. With practice, it can be unrolled over an erection without touching directly.

On the plus side, if you’re not a fan of ejaculation, a condom is specifically designed to capture that.

Some people can masturbate by squeezing their thighs together and shaking/bouncing their legs. Wearing tight clothes, like jeans, has been reported to be helpful for this technique.

This technique can be extremely difficult and frustrating to try with a penis, because a penis is not in the right position for this, and it can be very uncomfortable to try to bend an erection between your legs.

Squeezing and tensing your muscles downstairs can work for some people. While a lot of the muscles in that area can be used, the primary one to focus on is called the “PC Muscle”. It’s the muscle you would use to control a flow of urine. Experiment with squeezing and holding this muscle, or squeezing and releasing at various speeds, until you find something that works. It may not be much at first, but the sensations can build, if you’re successful.

There are even exercises called “Kegels” which focus on the PC muscle, often with the goal of having stronger orgasms.

So you’re not a fan of touching your genitals, but how do you feel about other areas of your body? Some other areas may be pleasurable to touch and stimulate, such as the chest, nipples, neck, thighs, hair, lower torso, and feet. Nipples in particular can be a highly sensitive zone, regardless of your body type.

Several of the techniques mentioned above can be used together, so try combining them in different ways and see if that helps. Use a toy while grinding. Touch your nipples while using a shower head. The muscle tensing one can be combined with every other technique.

[Content Warning: This page talks about orgasms, with an occasional mentions of anatomy or fluids.]

This is a list of “common knowledge” about orgasms that just plain isn’t true.

This comes from a willful misunderstanding of what asexuality is. They think that someone having a physical response to stimulation, even one done entirely on your own, will somehow invalidate your sexual orientation. That’s just ridiculous.

How is that even supposed to work, anyway? Have an orgasm, and boom! Now you’re straight! Like… Is there some secret coming of age ritual where people are excited to have their first orgasm so that they can finally discover their sexual orientation? It remains a mystery until then, so asexual people are those who never perform the ritual?

Asexual people are allowed to have orgasms. Many of us do. Doesn’t change the fact that we’re ace one bit.

Nope! Not everyone does. Some people can’t have them, some people aren’t interested, and some people haven’t figured it out yet.

It’s okay if you don’t have orgasms.

For some people, orgasms are a highly unpleasant experience for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t like the cleanup. Maybe they have guilt. Maybe they’re physically unpleasant or painful. Maybe they’re dysphoria triggering. Maybe they just don’t feel anything. Maybe they merely like them. And the list goes on…

It’s okay if orgasms just aren’t your thing.

Some people really like orgasms and get a significant amount of pleasure from them, and maybe for some people in that group they are the best feeling ever. But that’s not the case for everyone. As mentioned above, some people don’t like them at all. For other people they can range from “meh” to “I guess that was pretty good”, but not be classified as The Best Thing Ever™.

Orgasms can be very different for different people, and even different times for the same person. It’s perfectly fine if you’re not launching fireworks and causing massive earthquakes every time something approaches your genitals.

It is true that in most cases, an orgasm and ejaculation will occur simultaneously for people with a penis, and that they seem inextricably linked, but that is not the case. For some people, a health condition will prevent ejaculation or cause the semen to flow into the bladder instead of the urethra. It’s also possible to intentionally prevent ejaculation during orgasm, either by squeezing part of the penis manually or by tensing the muscles that would normally be involved and holding them until the orgasm subsides.

In any case, an orgasm does not guarantee ejaculation, and ejaculation does not require orgasm.

This can be broken down into a few smaller myths, all equally invalid.

First, there are no adverse health effects to never having an orgasm. Nothing will physically burst, nothing will fall off or fill with cobwebs. Even the claim that they prevent prostate cancer is dubious. If you never have an orgasm, you’ll physically be fine.

Second, for some people, their libido may kick into high gear the longer they go without, and in that sense, it may feel like they’re going to explode in a fireball of horniness if nothing happens. For those people, I guess there may be some metaphorical validity in the idea. But that’s not the case for everyone. Some people have low libidos that can be managed just fine without servicing. And other people have no libido to speak of at all.

Third, there is the possibility of experiencing vasocongestion of the genitals (more commonly known as “blue balls”, although it does not require the presence of balls to occur) after prolonged arousal without orgasm. Essentially, an orgasm will typically open the drain valves to release the blood sent to the genitals during arousal, and so if that doesn’t happen, all the extra blood down there can make things uncomfortable. Slightly uncomfortable. For a small number of people. For a relatively short period of time. And then it goes away. Most, if not all, tales of crippling pain associated with a lack of orgasm are a flat out lie designed to coerce someone into performing a sexual act and not a real condition. So you won’t explode.

Says who? Do you feel like you’ve had enough? Then you’re done. An orgasm is a rather arbitrary milestone.

Additionally, nothing says that an orgasm has to be the end, either. You can often keep going.

Says who? The idea that the orgasm is the ultimate goal of sexual activities is common, but it doesn’t have to be the case. The existence of orgasm-delaying techniques like edging and tantric sex practices prove that the journey itself is often worthwhile. Did you get something from the experience regardless, whether that’s physical pleasure, emotional closeness with a partner, or even something like migraine headache relief? Then that hardly seems like a pointless failure.

Sex an masturbation can be a success without orgasm, you just need to re-examine what you consider your personal success criteria to be.

Like hell it is. I never had an inkling of some mysterious ingrained knowledge that if I just put my hand downstairs and make a particular repetitive motion for several minutes that it will make something happen.

It’s okay to have no earthly idea how to make yourself orgasm. It’s okay to train yourself. It’s okay if it takes practice.

Really loud and vocal, wake-up-the-neighbors orgasms are a cornerstone stereotype that’s so prevalent that it seems like it’s not real if it’s not loud. Not all orgasms are loud, in fact, many of them are completely silent. Decibel level has no bearing on the intensity of an orgasm.

One of the most common myths around orgasm is that vaginal penetration is a good way to get them. Now, it certainly may be possible for some people to get an orgasm from penetration, but that’s not the case for everyone. For a lot of people, clitoral stimulation is required.

This is a particularly insidious myth, because it’s so prevalent and so misleading. A lot of people end up thinking that they’re broken downstairs simply because they’ve always been told that penetration is all there is, without ever hearing that the clitoris is where the action is.

There is nothing wrong with you if you can’t orgasm from penetration alone. Most people don’t.

A lot of sex ed articles have a positive, but misguided attitude. Everyone can have one, they say. Just keep trying! But not everyone can have an orgasm. Some for some people, such as those with anorgasmia, it’s not actually possible. It’s not a matter of figuring it out or doing things the right way, it just isn’t going to happen.

If an inability to orgasm is a problem for you or if it’s a change from the past, then you may want to mention it to a doctor. In general, though, if it’s not a problem for you, then it’s nothing to worry about.

As mentioned above, not everyone can have orgasms. But even putting that aside, the notion of “just try harder” can be counter-productive as well. “Try harder” turns on the pressure and the stress and then when nothing happens, the stress level rises and rises, until inevitably you give up and feel like you’ve failed. You haven’t failed, you just got stuck in a nearly impossible situation.

If you try to force an orgasm to happen, that basically guarantees that it won’t happen. You’re much better off just relaxing and go wherever it takes you. If you don’t orgasm, don’t worry about it. Maybe next time, maybe not.

Conveniently, there’s an entire other page dedicated to this one!

This is a brief rundown of some of the other types of toys that are out there.

Handheld Shower Head:  A handheld shower head with various massage options can be used to masturbate.  The spray can be directed against the vulva or clitoris.  They can also be used on the penis and testicles, but they are often less effective.  Handheld shower heads are a popular masturbation device because they are completely discreet and will immediately wash away any fluids produced.  (If you don’t have a handheld shower attachment, the water from a bathtub faucet can be used in much the same way, although in a much more limited position.) And even if you don’t use them to masturbate, they’re a useful upgrade to your shower, because you’ll no longer have to twist and contort to get the shower spray to rinse off that impossible spot on the back side of your knee.

Pillows:  A bunched up pillow can be grinded against for clitoral stimulation.  If you have a penis, a condom or plastic bag with a little bit of lube can be placed between pillows and thrusted into.  Place a towel over the pillow before use for easier cleanup.  Pillows are also a completely discreet option. (As long as you avoid wet spots…)

Cock Rings:  Cock rings are placed on the penis or around the testicles to aid with an erection and alter the sensations.  Some have vibrators attached.  Many times they come in packs of multiple sizes, so you can use the size that works best.  You want something that is roughly the diameter of the erect penis.  Too big and it will come right off, too small and it can start to hurt and you’ll end up with one of those four hour erections that you’re supposed to call a doctor about. Sometimes, the rings can be large enough to fit around both the penis and the testicles. Be careful with rings or you might end up with a trip to the ER having a metal ring buzzsawed off a part of your body that should never be near a buzzsaw.

Pumps:  Suction devices meant to draw blood into various areas to make it swell up and become larger or more sensitive.

Dolls:  Generally human-ish replicas used for intercourse simulation or carpool lane fraud.  Can be inflatable (like a beach ball), plush (like a stuffed toy), or metal and rubber (like a robot who’ll kill us all).

Partial Anatomy Replicas:  More than a sleeve/dildo, but less than a doll, these replicate parts of human anatomy.  Usually it’s just a section of the pelvis, with a labia and a vaginal hole, but others exist with a penis and testicles.  Butt (usually with an anal hole) and breast replicas also exist, as do full torso models.

Sex Machines:  These take many (large, noisy) forms, from a vibrating saddle with a dildo on the seat, to a reciprocating actuator with a dildo or sleeve on the end, to an alternating suction device.  On the smaller end, there are also some automatic strokers that might fit in this category.

Balls and Beads:  Sometimes sold for vaginal exercise (strengthen those Kegel muscles!), these are roughly ping-pong sized balls.  If they have a string, they can potentially be used anally (although put a condom on them if you do that, because strings are not easy to clean)  Beads are smaller variants on the balls, and are typically specifically for anal use.

[Content warning:  Discussion of sex toys, as well as photos of related items.]

This page contains a general description of what a vibrator is and how it is used.  The post contains images of vibrators, but not in a sexual setting.  One of the toys is somewhat phallic shaped, but abstract and not entirely “anatomically accurate”.

As the name implies, vibrators vibrate.  Vibrations are frequently found to be significantly more stimulating than hands alone.  Some people who are unable to reach an orgasm through manual stimulation find that they can reach orgasm through the use of a vibrator.  Some people find direct contact with a vibrator to be too strong and uncomfortable.  Using a vibrator through clothes or through layers of towels can tone down the strength and make the sensation more bearable.

Vibrators are frequently battery powered, but some models plug into the wall.  They come in a variety of shapes and strengths, from tiny watch battery powered buzzers, to eggs that require a pair of AA batteries, past tennis balls on a stick that plug into the wall, all the way up to industrial strength saddles that need their own power transformer.  Some are waterproof.  Most have adjustable speeds or strengths.

Vibrators are often used on the clitoris, but can also be used in the vagina, on the penis, or in the anus.  Different shapes are better suited for different parts of the anatomy.  Wand vibes or bullet vibes tend to be used on the clitoris, cylindrical or phallic vibrators tend to be used vaginally or anally (but make sure that something has a flared base before using it anally, unless you want to explain to the ER staff what you were doing and why backside is buzzing), and cock rings with vibrators attached are designed for use on the penis.  Some vibrators can also be used for (and are marketed for) neck or back massages.

Here are a few images of just a sample of the wide variety of vibrators that are out there:

This image is of a wand-style vibrator. The toy does not have an anatomical design and no nudity is shown.

This is the Hitachi Magic Wand.  It is quite powerful (and noisy).  It’s mainly used on the clitoris or vulva, but it can also be used on the penis.  A number of attachments are sold to adapt the wand for use as an insertable toy for vaginal or anal use or as a penetrable toy for use with a penis.  This toy plugs into the wall.

This image is of a rabbit vibrator. The toy has a slightly abstract design that resembled a penis, including the glans. No actual nudity is shown.

This is a rabbit.  The phallic portion is meant to be inserted into the vagina, while the “rabbit” bit is meant to be pressed against the clitoris. This type of toy often has two vibrator motors: One in the shaft and one in the body of the rabbit.  Some battery operated toys like this one are waterproof and can be used in the bath or shower.

This image is of a bullet vibrator. The toy does not have an anatomical design and no nudity is shown.

This is a basic bullet vibrator.  These tend to be extremely flexible in their use.  They can be held directly against the clitoris or the penis (or the scrotum or the nipples, etc.).  Some toys have a place to insert these types of vibes.  In some cases (although not necessarily with the one pictured here), they can be inserted into the vagina or the anus.  (When used anally, be sure that the device has a strong cord attached, it might not be coming back out.)  Many of these toys have adjustable intensity.

This image is of a basic plastic vibrator. The toy does not have an anatomical design and no nudity is shown.

This is a basic vibrator.  This kind is meant for vaginal or clitoral use, but it can also be used on a penis.  This one should not be used anally, because it does not have a wider base, so there is nothing to stop it from being pulled all the way in, where it might get stuck.

On a more technical note, since this toy is semi-transparent, you can see how most vibrators work.  There is a small electric motor with a small offset weight.  When the motor is turned on, the weight causes the entire device to wobble back and forth.  When the motor spins fast enough, this wobble turns into a buzzing vibration.

[Content warning:  Discussion of sex toys, as well as photos of related items.]

Behind the read more link is a general description of what a sleeve is and how it is used.  The post contains images of sleeves, but not in a sexual setting.  Several of the toys depicted are shaped like vulvas.

Sleeves are soft, flexible, generally stretchy tubes or cups, often with a textured interior.  They range from only about an inch or two long to nine or ten inches long.  Some sleeves are open on both ends, while others have one end that is closed off, like a cup.  Some sleeves have plain entry holes, while others are designed to resemble various parts of the anatomy.  At its most broad definition, even a condom could potentially be considered a sleeve, although they are generally not called one.

Certain types of sleeves are also sometimes called “strokers” or “onaholes”.

Sleeves are primarily designed for use with a penis.  The shorter sleeves or cups are used to stimulate the head of the penis, while longer sleeves can be used for full penetration with the entire shaft.  If the sleeve is open on both ends and is short enough, then the head of the penis can come out the other end when used. There are some sleeves that are specifically designed and marketed for use by transmen or people with a large clitoris.

Most sleeves can be used by stroking, that is, by inserting the penis and moving them up and down along the shaft.  Other sleeves, particularly the shorter close ended sleeves and cups, cannot fit the entire penis.  These sleeves are used to stimulate the head of the penis and end of the shaft, either by short strokes, or by a twisting motion.  Many sleeves are soft-sided, so additional pressure can be applied by squeezing with the hand.

Many sleeves are meant to be used in a handheld manner, but it is possible to set them up in such a way to permit hands-free use.  In this manner, hip thrusting is used, moving the penis in and out of the toy, rather than moving the toy up and down along the penis.  Some toys even have suction cup mounts, so they can be attached to any hard, smooth surface.

Sleeves are not typically meant to be used on the clitoris, or used in the vagina or the anus.  Some sleeves, known as “enhancers” are marketed less for masturbation and more for partnered sex.  These types of sleeves are designed to be placed on a penis or a dildo to give it a texture and/or a larger size.  Other sleeves can potentially be rubbed against the clitoris.  In particular, some of the smaller cups can be turned inside out, and the interior texture may be used.

Sleeves must be used with lubrication.  Attempting to use a sleeve without adequate lube is a one-way trip to a friction burn on something you don’t want to have a friction burn.  Water based lubes are your best bet, as oil or silicone lubes may damage the toy.  (Hand lotion is an oil-based, so don’t use that!)

One of the benefits of a sleeve is that it tends to contain the fluids involved.  The lubrication goes on the inside, keeping your hands dry and clean, and if the sleeve is long enough or is closed on the end, it will also contain the ejaculate, if there is any.

It is important to keep sleeves clean and dry.  Failure to properly clean and dry them can, at best, lead to a bad smell, and at worst, lead to an infection.  Cleaning them can be tricky, particularly if a toy is closed on one end.  If a toy is open on both ends, run water through it, then sort of “hang it out” to dry.  If a toy is reversible, you can turn it inside out to wash it off and dry it, both inside and outside.  If a toy is closed-ended and not reversible, it can be difficult to dry.  Methods include carefully stuffing a paper towel or cloth into the opening to sticking a small air tube from a fish tank air compressor inside and letting it blow the moisture out.  (If you want my opinion, close ended, non-reversible toys should be avoided, due to this cleaning hassle.)  Do not use soap when cleaning a toy, as soap can damage it.


Here are a few images of just a sample of the wide variety of sleeves that are out there:

This image is a photograph of a number of sleeve masturbation toys. Several are modeled after anatomy, including one resembling a vulva. No actual nudity is shown.

This is a collection of various types of sleeves.  They come in various colors and sizes, with different external features and internal textures.  Some are non-descript, while others are designed to resemble various body parts.  Vulvas, butts, and mouths are common shapes, but there are also more, um, “creative” designs, like feet, hands, or breasts.  The external design of the sleeve often has very little impact on its effectiveness.  The interior texture is far more important.

The blue sleeve on the left and the white sleeve on the right will be featured in another photo later on.

This image is a photograph of a Fleshlight sleeve masturbation toys. The toy has an opening resembling a vulva with visible labia. No actual nudity is shown.

This is a Fleshlight.  It is a soft, stretchy sleeve that fits within a hard case.  The hard case restricts the sleeve’s expansion, creating some interior pressure as the penis is inserted.  The case also has cap at the end, which can be tightened or loosened to adjust suction.  Fleshlights have a variety of interior textures and exterior designs (including a plain, non-anatomical model).  The sleeve is long enough so that most penises can be fully inserted, which allows the Fleshlight to stimulate the entire length at the same time.  The sleeve is removable and open ended for easy cleaning.

Important note:  Although some of the marketing for this toy claims that it’s “discreet” because it “looks like a flashlight”, it does not look like a flashlight in any way and is not discreet.  It is also rather large, which might make it difficult to store or hide if discretion is important.

This image is a photograph of a Tenga brand sleeve and a similar competitor. The toys both have plain, non-anatomical openings. No nudity is shown.

This image is a photograph of a Tenga brand sleeve and a similar competitor. The toys both have plain, non-anatomical openings. No nudity is shown.

These are close-ended reversible sleeves.  The blue one is a CalExotics Apollo, and the white one is a Tenga 3D Pile.  This type of sleeve can be turned inside out for cleaning.  The top picture shows the textured interior, while the bottom picture shows the toys inverted, so the texture is on the inside.  This is how they would be used.

This image is a photograph of several “egg” style sleeves. The toys both have plain, non-anatomical openings. No nudity is shown.

Here are some smaller, close-ended toys, primarily for penis head stimulation.   The one in the lower right is inside out to show the texture.  These kinds of toys often come in small plastic storage cases.  They are smaller and thinner than many other sleeves, which typically means that they are both cheaper and more fragile than some other types of sleeves.