The basics:

Who is this test for?

Cervical cancer screening can be done on anyone with a cervix.

What is this test for?

This test looks for signs of cervical cancer or early warning signs that cancer may develop in the future.

How is the test done?

A sample is taken of the cervix and cells are examined.

The details:

About Cervical Cancer:

Cervical cancer is of the most preventable forms of cancer. The key to this is early detection through a test known as a “Pap Smear”. This test is able to detect pre-cancerous changes, and action can then be taken to prevent cancer from developing. Or, if cancer is detected, there are treatments that may be able to address the situation before the cancer becomes life threatening. Because early detection can save lives, current medical guidelines generally recommend that anyone with a cervix get screened regularly, starting in their 20s.

Cervical cancer, as the name implies, is cancer of the cervix. Only people with a cervix are at risk of getting cervical cancer. The cervix is located at the end of the vagina and is a gateway to the uterus. If that’s not the anatomy you were born with, you are not at risk. If you have had surgery that removed your cervix, including some forms of hysterectomy, you are not at risk. If you’ve had surgery that constructed a cervix, you are likely not at risk, as the constructed cervix is made of different tissue.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 14500 cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the US, and 4300 people will die from it. The screening test detects many cases and often successfully prevents them from turning into invasive, life threatening cancer.

Most cervical cancer is caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), which is a very common sexually transmitted infection. Some estimates claim that most people who are sexually active will get infected at some point. Most HPV infections clear up without causing significant issues, some may cause things such as genital warts, and very few will cause cervical cancer. There is a vaccine for HPV, and using barriers such as condoms or dams during sex can help prevent its spread, but neither case is 100% effective. HPV can be spread by any kind of sexual interaction, including penis-in-vagina intercourse, manual sex/fingering (with or without penetration), anal sex, oral sex, or vulva-to-vulva contact, and contact with fluids is not required. To a lesser extent, HPV may be spread through any skin-to-skin contact, and there have been reports of cases where a person with an HPV infection in one area of the body has transmitted it to another part by simply touching both areas.

About the Test:

The most common screening test is known as a pap smear. This test involves taking cells from the cervix and examining them for signs of cancer or precancerous cells. The test only takes a few minutes, is performed without anesthesia, and is generally done in a doctor’s office. Often, it can be part of a larger exam.

The exact procedure may vary, but general goes something like this:

  1. The doctor will ask you to remove your clothing and put on a gown.
  2. The doctor will ask you to lie back and place your legs into what are called “stirrups”, which are designed to hold your legs apart for the pelvic examination.
  3. The doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina. A speculum is a duck bill like device that is inserted closed, then opened and locked into place. It is designed to hold the walls of the vagina apart so that the doctor can access your cervix. They come in different sizes, so if the one the doctor uses seems to big or is unbearably uncomfortable, ask that they try a smaller size.
  4. The doctor will scrape, brush, or swab the cervix in order to collect cells.
  5. The doctor will remove the speculum and the test is complete.
  6. Later, the cells will be examined and your results will be reported.


The pap smear is widely regarded as an uncomfortable, unpleasant, awkward, and invasive test, even among non-asexual people. But it’s also an important test, because it is highly effective at detecting and even preventing cancer while it is early enough to treat and eliminate.

It is common for asexual people, especially if they are penetration averse or uncomfortable with their genitals, to dread the thought of this test, and even avoid regular medical checkups out of fear that it will come up. This is a serious issue with serious implications that does not get enough attention. Fear of one procedure should not stop people from seeking other treatment, but the medical community is not doing enough to address this issue. Instead, doctors and nurses will often double down and insist and remind and cajole that you really oughta have this test. They’re expecting a patient who uses tampons and regularly engages in penetrative sexual activities. A patient who doesn’t want to deal with the time, expense, and hassle of the test. A patient who find the test embarrassing, but knows that a few minutes of embarrassment could save their life. They’re not expecting a patient who’s never had anything inserted in their vagina. They’re not expecting a patient with trauma. They’re not expecting a patient who’s dysphoric. They’re not expecting a patient with vaginismus. They’re not expecting a patient who is intensely uncomfortable with anyone doing anything in that area. They’re not expecting a patient who sees the exam as a violation. They’re not expecting a patient for whom the thought of the test causes paralyzing horror. And so they don’t respond properly to that situation, which means they don’t properly care for that patient.

First and foremost: You have a right to refuse any test or treatment. You can say no to a cervical cancer screening. Before you do, you should fully understand the risks that come with that decision and weigh them against the unpleasantness of the test itself. But you can say no, if that’s what you decide.

You can also talk to your doctor about ways to make the test less awful. Is there an alternative that can be done instead? Would a smaller speculum help? Would one made of a different material help? Would one that’s been warmed up a bit help? Would you be more comfortable inserting and removing the speculum yourself? Would it help if the doctor said more and explained what they were about to do at every step or said less and got it done with? Can they use lube on the speculum? Can you have someone you trust with you in the room or on the phone? Can it be done less frequently? Can they explain in advance and in detail what constitutes a “normal” level of discomfort, and what is pain that should be a signal to stop? If you’re not sexually active or you’re not comfortable with penetration or if you’ve never experienced penetration or nothing’s been inserted in your vagina before, tell them that. Can you put on a blind fold and pop in some earbuds and zone out for a bit? Whatever it is, they’ve probably had someone do it before. They can also adjust what they’re doing if they know how you’re feeling.

Stepping back a bit, as was mentioned earlier, most cervical cancer is caused by HPV, and most HPV infections are sexually transmitted. So there’s a natural question that arises from that, which is, “Do people who are not sexually active and never have been need to be screened?” Some doctors say no, while others say yes. The doctors who say no believe that the risk is so low that it is not worth the effort to screen. The doctors who say yes will point out that while the risk is low, it is not zero: HPV can be transmitted through non-sexual contact, and some cervical cancer is not caused by HPV.

There is a spectrum of risk, and you should honestly assess where you are on that spectrum and discuss with your doctor before refusing. On one end of the spectrum would be non-sexual contacts like handshakes, which have a very very low risk of transmitting HPV. Near the upper end would be things like frequent, unprotected penis-in-vagina sex with many partners. But again, the final decision is up to you. If you’re not sexually active and barely even shake hands with people (who does that anymore, anyway?), you can still decide to get screened, just in case. And if you’re at the other end of the risk spectrum, you’re still within your rights to say no.

It should be noted that the reason screening is universally recommended for anyone with a cervix over a certain age is because of the assumption that people over a certain age are sexually active, but may not be willing or safely able to admit it, or may be unwilling to take a test for an STI, no matter how common it is. By recommending universal screening, it removes the stigma around it. Taking the test isn’t an admission that you’ve had sex, it’s simply expected because of your age. And in some cases, if you refuse the test on the grounds that you’ve never been sexually active, the doctor may continue to push for it because they don’t believe you.

Bottom line: Routine cervical cancer screening saves lives. If you have no particular qualms about getting the test, then you probably should be screened as often as the guidelines recommend. However, if the thought of the test is overwhelmingly unpleasant, you should assess your risk and explore your options.

The vulva and its subcomponents have a number of uses. Here is a short list of some of the more common ones.

Nestled within the vulva is the endpoint of a liquid waste disposal system. The vast majority of the time when someone uses their vulva, it’s for urination.

Subsections within the vulva are often the primary source of sexual pleasure for people who have them. Certain components, such as the clitoris, can become particularly sensitive to stimulation in certain situations. Not everyone who owns a vulva will use it in this way.

For most vulva owners, a region located adjacent to the vagina will eventually begin redecorating itself as a nursery pretty much every month. If this nursery does not get a resident within that month, it will tear down what it built and throw it out, down the vagina. For many people, this is an annoying, unwanted process, but for others, it can be a welcome sign that a resident has not arrived, and for others, it can just be a thing that happens.

Some people who own a vulva enjoy using some or all of it with another person. On the other side, some people enjoy having a vulva they do not own used with them. Not everyone who owns a vulva will use it in this way.

Occasionally, often as a delayed reaction to certain activities with a partner (although that’s not always the case), the vulva will transform into a passageway by which a tiny human will be kicked out of the assembly floor where it had spent several months building itself. Not everyone who owns a vulva will use it in this way, not even everyone who hosts a self-assembling mass of cells known as a “baby”.

What Comes Out

It is important for a vulva owner to understand what sorts of things downstairs are common and “normal”, and which are potentially a bigger issue. This list cannot describe all possibilities, so please consult other resources or medical resources if there are concerns.

The vagina is the most common escape route for a baby looking to flee the uterus. There is typically ample advance warning (up to around nine months, in many cases) that a baby may be intending to use this passageway.

This is the most common thing to come out of a vulva. Usually happens to anyone who owns a vulva several times a day. Urine is a waste product of the biological processes of the body. It is usually released in a high pressure, high velocity stream. It is a flowing liquid in consistency and ranges from clear to deep yellow-brown in color. The exact volume varies, but it is typically a notable amount.

Urine is released from the urethra, which is located between the entrance to the vagina and the clitoris.

For a period of time, roughly once a month, there may be a flow of blood. This blood may be heavy, may be light, may be somewhat clotted and “chunky”. This flow is the result of the uterine lining breaking down and being discarded by the body. Vulva owners will often use a menstrual product, such as a tampon, pad, or cup to catch the blood flow.

It may be possible to lighten or even prevent menstruation from happening through the use of hormones sometimes called “birth control” for their ability to prevent pregnancy.

When aroused, the lining of the vagina may self-lubricate. This is generally a clear, slippery, viscous fluid. It’s similar in consistency to some kinds of liquid soap and a small string of fluid will bridge the gap if you pinch some of it between your fingers and slowly open them.

This natural lubrication may or may not be adequate for penetrative activities.

Throughout the month, there may be mucus that comes out of the vagina. The appearance can change from time to time, and these changes can be an indicator of the phase of the menstrual cycle. The mucus can range from clear to white to slightly yellowish, and may be reminiscent of snot. Sometimes it may be sticky.

Some other types of discharge may be signs of infection or other problems. If you notice a new type of discharge you’ve never seen before, it may be worth looking for more information or consulting a medical professional.

After penetrative intercourse that involves a penis ejaculating inside the vagina, a significant amount of the semen may drip out.

What Goes In

This is a non-exhaustive list of things that may potentially enter a vagina.

Nothing at all. Some people don’t want anything going in there, and that’s perfectly fine. The owner of the vagina gets to decide what to let in and what stays out.

As noted elsewhere on this site, it’s often possible for vulva owners to participate in sexual activities, masturbate, and experience orgasm without involving the vagina whatsoever.

Some menstrual products, like tampons or cups, may be inserted into the vagina to catch the blood during a period.

Certain medical procedures may require internal vaginal use of some sort of medical device. A speculum is a sort of metal duck bill-looking thing which is designed to hold the walls of the vagina apart. A swab, similar to a Q-tip may be used to take a sample. IUDs, or intra-uterine devices, are a form of birth control that is placed in the uterus, which will be accessed through the vagina. Sometimes dilators may be recommended to gradually stretch the vagina, if the vulva owner has a small vagina or a condition like vaginismus and wishes to take part in penetrative activities.

It is always your right to ask the doctor to explain a procedure beforehand and ask whether the procedure is necessary. Some procedures may not be warranted if you do not engage in penetrative intercourse. It is always your right to weigh the risks and decide not to proceed. If the procedure involves a speculum, you can typically ask the doctor to use a smaller size.

Sometimes body parts, such as fingers or penises, may be used inside a vagina. Lubrication might make this process more comfortable.

Sometimes toys, such as dildos, vibrators, or Kegel exercisers may be used inside a vagina. Lubrication might make this process more comfortable.

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 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!

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

This post contains images of dildos, but not in a sexual setting.  One of the toys depicted is a realistic replica of a penis.  

Dildos are a type of vaguely cylindrical rod shaped toys, used for masturbation.  Sometimes they are a plain cylinder with a round end, sometimes they are penis shaped (ranging from vaguely penis-inspired, through realistic, all the way to exaggerated and mutated), and sometimes they are abstract and curvy.  Many of them vibrate, and some incorporate moving bits.  Certain dildos have a curve that is designed for G-Spot or prostate stimulation.

(Note:  Dongs are related to dildos.  There’s a slight technical difference, but in common usage, the words are largely synonymous, so I’m just going to use “dildo” here, even though some of what I’m talking about would more correctly be called a “dong”.  Additionally, some dildos that vibrate are simply called “vibrators”.)

Dildos are frequently used for vaginal penetration.  Sometimes they are used in a thrusting motion, while other times they are inserted and left in place.  Ones that vibrate can be held against the clitoris for stimulation without penetration.  Dildos are generally not that useful for a penis (although vibrations can be mildly stimulating).

Some dildos can also be used for anal penetration, but only if they have a wide or flared base.  The wider base will prevent them from being pulled inside where they can get stuck, which prevents having to explain to the ER staff why you’re visiting them.  An additional word of caution:  Do not switch a toy between anal and vaginal use without a thorough cleaning, unless you like infections.  You might want to use a condom on the toy when using it anally, as that will help simplify the cleanup process.

Dildos come in many sizes.  If you are inexperienced with penetration and are unsure about what various sizes are actually like, start small.  And take note of the physical dimensions of the toy, because many times a “small” toy is still six inches long and two inches across, which would be above average for a penis and uncomfortably large even for many non-aces.  If you’re looking for an anal toy, go even smaller.  Most dildos are waaaay too big for a first anal experience.

One of the more common reasons I hear for asexual people being reluctant to try a sex toy is “I’m not a fan of penises, even fake ones”.  That’s a perfectly valid reason.  However, you should be aware that there are many dildos that do not resemble a penis at all.  There are abstract curves, plain rods, and things with twisty bits.  Alternatively, there are a number of companies that sell fantasy creature dildos, which can be vaguely penis shaped (often including a glans-like shape), just not human penis shaped.  You are not missing out on any sensations by picking an abstract toy.  In fact, some non-realistic toys have special shapes (like g-spot or prostate curves) that are designed to enhance sensations.

If a dildo does not have any electrical components (No vibrators, no waggly bits, no lights, no batteries or electrical cords), then it’s probably safe to use in the bath or shower.  If a dildo does have electrical components, it may not be waterproof.  If a toy is waterproof, it will say on the packaging.  Waterproof toys are also typically completely sealed.  The speed adjustment tends to be a series of rubberized buttons, instead of a dial, and the battery compartment tends to have a rubber sealant ring around it.  Some dildos have a suction cup, so they can be stuck on the tub or tile for hands free use.

Lube might come in handy when using a dildo.  Sometimes when aroused, a vagina might produce enough natural lubrication, but that’s not always the case.  A few drops of lube might make penetration smoother.  When using a dildo on a clitoris, some lube might help prevent irritation.  And when using a dildo anally, lube is practically required, because there’s no natural lubrication back there to help out.  Water based lube is probably your best bet, as silicone lubes can damage some toys, and oil based lubes can both damage toys and lead to infections and other problems when used internally.


Here are a few images of just a sample of the wide variety of dildos that are out there (The one that looks like a penis is at the bottom, so if you don’t want to see it, scroll slowly and stop reading after the paragraph about the rabbit.  You will not miss any other content.)

This image contains a photograph of a plain vibrator. No nudity and no anatomical features are shown.

This is a basic, no-frills vibrating dildo.  This type is meant to be used to stimulate the clitoris and for vaginal penetration.  This type should not be used anally, because it does not have a flared base.  It’s hard plastic, so it’s easier to clean, but not soft at all.

This image is a photograph of a somewhat abstract penis-shaped vibrator. In particular, it has a glans-shaped head on one end. No actual nudity is shown.

This is a “rabbit”.  The shaft is meant to be inserted into the vagina, while the appendage with the rabbit ears is designed to be pressed against the clitoris.  This model has spinning beads for internal stimulation and a bullet vibe in the rabbit part for external stimulation.  The buttons on the handle control the speed of the various features.  This one is made of a softer material, so it has some give to it.

[The realistic penis toy is beyond this point. There is no other content below this line.]

This image is a photograph of a realistic-looking penis shaped vibrator, including testicles. No actual nudity is shown.

This is a “realistic” penis shaped dildo.  (Although typically, real penises are not capable of testicle pushups like this one is doing.)  This model does not have a vibrator inside it.  This toy can be used vaginally or anally, as the testicles provide a wide base that will prevent it from being pulled completely inside.  The suction cup allows it to be stuck to a hard, smooth surface, like a bath tub or tile, so it can be used hands-free.