[Better Sex Products Review] For Play Couples’ Chocolate

Whenever I encounter a sex-related thing I haven’t tried before, I immediately want to try it (and tell my readers all about it, obviously.) That’s why, when For Play Couples’ Chocolate came across my social feed recently, I immediately fired off an email to founder Victoria to enquire about featuring them on my blog.

She was kind enough to send me some samples of her company’s products to try. We decided to publish this review today in celebration of World Chocolate Day.

Sex and chocolate are, after all, two of life’s greatest pleasures.

So What is For Play Chocolate?

For Play Couples' Chocolate

For Play Chocolate came about when Victoria – a former CMO with an MBA – began to research the issue of sustaining intimacy in a long-term relationship. Drawing on research from an array of experts including Dr Karen Gurney and Emily Nagoski, PhD, she decided to create a product to “remind couples to make time for intimacy and play.”

Known variously as couples’ chocolate, sex chocolate, horny chocolate, and aphrodisiac chocolate, For Play Chocolate kits are designed to help couples to connect, get in the mood for romance, and enjoy greater levels of intimacy.

Each box of For Play Chocolates comes with six chocolates (three for each partner) and six “Play Cards”. The cards offer suggestions for erotic experiences to try, from taking a sexy shower together to experimenting with food play. There are also question prompts you can use to help you connect, reflect, and learn more about each other and your relationship.

The chocolates are labelled “His” and “Hers”, and there are boxes available for same-gender or different-gender couples. I’d love to see a non-binary or genderless version added to the range in the future, if possible.

They come beautifully packaged in sleek and stylish boxes in either pink, purple, or green. The chocolates themselves are beautiful, too, decorated with pink and bronze edible shimmer. The overall first impression is of luxury and high quality.

For Play’s products are vegan and made using ethically sourced 62% Ecuadorian dark chocolate. Their supplier is Original Beans chocolate, rated as a leading company by Chocolate Scorecard for environmental, sustainability, and labour practices.

How Does It Work?

For Play’s chocolate is super delicious, combining the sweet-bitter combo of quality dark chocolate with the infusion of subtle, natural botanical flavours. It melts smoothly in the mouth and the popping candy leaves a fun tingling sensation in its wake.

But how does it work?

Mr C&K had a long chat about this when we sampled our chocolates, and we came to the conclusion that this product works in two main ways. I’m going to call them “direct” and “indirect.”

The Direct Effects: The Science Bit

The direct way that For Play Chocolate works is through its botanical and adaptogenic ingredients. To understand this better, we need to delve into the science a little bit.

An aphrodisiac, in the most basic sense, is “a food or drug that arouses sexual instinct, brings on desire, or increases sexual pleasure or performance” (Healthline.) Numerous foods, from oysters to strawberries and even hot chilli peppers, have been alleged to be aphrodisiacs throughout history.

Another common food thought to have aphrodisiac properties? Dark chocolate.

Little to no concrete scientific evidence directly links most common aphrodisiac foods to an increase in sexual desire. However, this doesn’t mean there is nothing to the concept at all. Experts have attempted to explain aphrodisiacs’ apparent benefits through various means, from simple placebo to the sensual pleasure of consuming delicious things, the “luxury” status that society affords some of these foods, and the impact on bodily functions that play a role in sexual activity and desire (such as blood flow and dopamine release.)

Some foods and edible compounds, therefore, may play a role in sexual functioning in various ways. Let’s look at the active ingredients in For Play’s couples’ chocolate and what the research has to say about them.

Dark Chocolate

Cacao pods

Dark chocolate is rich in both antioxidants and caffeine, both of which can improve blood flow. It also contains L-arginine, which may enhance sexual responsiveness. A 2021 systematic review suggested that “l-arginine, as part of a combination product, may be considered for the treatment of women with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, regardless of age.” (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder or HSDD is, broadly, a lack of sexual desire or very low desire that causes distress or negatively impacts your life.) Consuming chocolate also triggers the release of chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine, which are associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

Maca

Maca powder

Maca, which comes from the Peruvian maca root plant, has long been thought to boost fertility and sex drive. One 2002 study indicated an improvement in self-perception of sexual desire in men after 8 weeks of maca use. Another pilot investigation also indicated that treatment with maca extract increased sexual desire amongst male athletes. Maca is only in For Play’s “For Him” chocolates, as there is currently more evidence for its effectiveness in (cis) men.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a herb that originated in India and has been utilised in various ways for centuries. A 2015 pilot study showed that ashwagandha root extract could improve sexual functioning in otherwise healthy cis women. Another 2022 study indicated that treatment with ashwagandha provided a “statistically significant improvement” in sexual functioning amongst women with HSDD. Ashwagandha is in For Play’s “For Her” chocolates.

Fenugreek

Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek, a clover-like herb that belongs to the pea family, finds use in both cooking and herbal medicines. One study found that “Sexual function analysis for all women… found that treatment with fenugreek resulted in reported increases in sexual arousal and desire in women” (Tester, 2015.) Another double-blinded and placebo-controlled 2021 study found that fenugreek “offered significant beneficial effects to sexual problems” amongst its female participants.

Korean ginseng

Ginseng

Ginseng is a vasodilator, or something that opens the blood vessels. By increasing blood flow in this way, it can have sexual benefits such as helping with erectile dysfunction. A small 2002 study and a 2008 systematic review found “suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of red ginseng in treating ED.” Likewise, a placebo-controlled double blind 2010 study found that “Oral administration of KRG extracts improved sexual arousal in menopausal women.”

In a Nutshell…

A product like For Play Chocolate is a helping hand, not a magic bullet. If you’re stressed out, angry at your partner, or suffering from the sexual side effects of health problems or medication, it isn’t going to magically override all that and make you horny. No food or substance can, because human sexuality is way more complicated than that.

What its ingredients can do, though, is give your body a natural nudge in the right direction. Combined with creating the right conditions for pleasure and intimacy – which we’ll discuss more in the next section – these adaptogenic ingredients can work with your body to enhance intimacy and pleasure.

For Play notes that you should seek medical advice before using their products if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any medications. And, of course, you should avoid this product if you are allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients.

The Indirect Effects: Finding New Ways to Stay Connected

For Play Couples' Chocolate

The indirect way that For Play Chocolate works is all about creating the time, space, and physical and emotional context for greater intimacy in your relationship.

Sex, after all, is mental at least as much as physical. In her life-changing book Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski writes extensively about the devastating impact that life stress, mental health challenges, lack of trust, lack of emotional safety, and feelings of pressure can have on sexual desire. To connect better with our partners and ourselves, we need to reduce stress, feel safe and seen, and make space for desire and pleasure.

Staying connected and keeping intimacy, passion, and sex going in a long-term relationship can be challenging. New relationship energy (NRE) naturally fades over time into the more comfortable, cosy warmth of long-term love. This is particularly true when you’re married or nested, your lives are very entangled, or you’re raising children together.

It is important for couples to set time aside to focus on each other and their relationship. Exploration, adventure, and trying new things can all help to keep the spark of novelty alive. With those things and a little effort, the long haul can be where the really good stuff is. There’s nothing like completely knowing someone and them knowing you inside and out, and choosing each other every day.

Using a product like For Play Couples’ Chocolate can help you to create that all-important time together. It can facilitate the conditions needed for intimacy of all kinds – including sexual, physical, and emotional – to flourish.

For Play Couples’ Chocolate is really a date night in a box. You get to set aside dedicated time for your relationship, enjoy some tasty treats together, and explore new ways of connecting. There are even some suggested Spotify playlists to help set the mood.

I found the question cards particularly great for this aspect of the experience. The question prompts sparked some interesting discussions and also plenty of laughter. Even seemingly simple questions (“What does intimacy mean to you?” was my favourite) can get you thinking and talking about things in a different way.

Verdict

For Play Couples' Chocolate

I really enjoyed this product, which is far more than just a gimmick. A lot of thought and care has gone into the formulation and creation of For Play’s kits. The quality of the chocolate, ethical credentials, and beautiful presentation really elevates them, too.

For Play Chocolates retail for £28 per kit. That’s less than you’d pay for a meal in a mid-range restaurant or about what you’d pay for a couple of drinks in a nice bar. Since you only need one chocolate each time, you’ll get three experiences out of one box. And, of course, you can continue to use the cards for as long as you like.

A thoughtful (and tasty) romantic gift or a cute way to set aside a little “us time” with your partner. There’s also a 30 day satisfaction guarantee with your purchase.

Shop For Play Couples’ Chocolate here.

Thanks to For Play Chocolate for sending me this product to test and sponsoring this review. All views are, as always, mine. Professional product images by For Play and reproduced here with permission.

[Cosmetics Review] Eye of Love After Dark & One Love Pheromone Perfumes

A year ago, I’d never heard of pheromone perfumes. Now, suddenly, they seem to be absolutely everywhere. The hashtag #pheromoneperfume has been used over 33,000 times on TikTok and 57,000 times on Instagram at the time of writing this post. In my last Eye of Love review, I tried out the Red Diamond and Black Diamond scents. This week, I also received the Eye of Love After Dark and One Love pheromone perfumes to try out.

What is Pheromone Perfume?

Pheromones are chemical substances that some animals secrete in bodily fluids (such as sweat and urine) and which play a role in attracting a mate. Some believe that much the same is true for humans though, as we’ll cover in the next section, this is far from conclusive.

The thinking behind pheromone perfume, then, is that by applying synthetic pheromones to our bodies we can become more attractive to members of the gender(s) we’re attracted to. Eye of Love has created a range of scents based on this premise, including these two from the company’s Classic Collection.

All Eye of Love pheromone perfumes are certified vegan and cruelty-free.

Does Pheromone Perfume Actually Work?

Anecdotally, a lot of fans seem to believe that pheromone perfumes work. Service staff report getting better tips, single people say they’ve been hit on more often while wearing the perfume, and some users simply describe a sense of people being unusually nice to them.

But why is that?

The science for pheromone perfumes having a direct impact on attraction just isn’t there. But even more than that, there’s actually still uncertainty about whether or not humans even have pheromones (or, if we do, if they have any impact on attracting a partner in the same way they do for some animals.)

In my last Eye of Love review, I delved into some of the relevant science relating to pheromone perfumes. I recommend having a read, because it’s interesting stuff – I certainly learned a lot in writing it!

In short, spraying some perfume on isn’t going to make you irresistible to members of your preferred gender(s.) But that doesn’t mean the perfume is useless. Here are a few things that might happen:

  • If you believe in the effects of the perfume, you might carry yourself with more confidence. This means you’ll project the open, flirtatious vibe of a person who knows they’re desirable and wants to be approached. In other words, it’s a simple placebo effect in action.
  • Wearing a scent that makes you feel sexy can, likewise, help you project sexiness outwardly.
  • Scent can be incredibly erotic, so wearing a nice perfume can itself increase people’s attraction to you.
  • Other ingredients in the perfumes might be having a positive impact on your mood. For example, some plant compounds and essential oils are associated with calmness and relaxation. This can make you come across as more open, welcoming, and approachable.
  • Confirmation bias. In other words, you expect to be more attractive wearing the perfume, so you notice attention from others more than you normally would (even if the actual type or amount of attention you’re receiving hasn’t changed.)

In other words, go in with realistic expectations.

Did Pheromone Perfumes Work for Me?

Personally, I don’t believe pheromone perfumes are going to help me meet the woman of my dreams (which is probably good because right now I’m so not ready that I wouldn’t know what to do even if she fell right in my lap, but that’s neither here nor there.)

What I do believe in, though, is using cosmetics – including perfumes – to feel more like myself, evoke the kind of mood I want to project, and boost my confidence. I find scent powerful, and I do feel myself walking a little taller and smiling a little more when I know my makeup looks good and I smell nice.

There’s even something a little bit magical in spraying on something from a bottle labelled “attract her.” The perfume probably won’t, in itself, attract her (whoever she is)… but maybe, when the time is right, I can?

Eye of Love “After Dark”

Eye of Love After Dark and One Love pheromone perfumes in boxes

With all of that said, let’s look at the two fragrances Eye of Love sent me. Eye of Love After Dark is described by the company as:

Sharp. Sexy. Bold. Want your evening to end with more than just a kiss? After Dark is the perfect scent to accompany you on a nighttime tryst or bring the passion back to life with your partner.

Eye of Love

After Dark is definitely the sexier of these two fragrances. It contains top notes of galbanum oil, lily and grapefruit, middle notes of white chocolate and jasmine, and base notes of costus root, ambergris, and vanilla. The florals don’t come out as strongly as they do in some fragrances, and the overall effect is quite sultry. It calls to mind the kind of kiss you share at the end of an amazing date, the kind of kiss that you just know is leading to a lot more.

This perfume feels quite androgynous to me, which isn’t always my personal vibe. However, I actually like this one more the longer I wear it. The initial sharpness wears down, leaving a warm fragrance with just a hint of underlying sweetness.

Eye of Love “One Love”

Eye of Love After Dark and One Love pheromone perfumes

Eye of Love describes One Love as “refined femininity at its peak”. It contains top notes of orange, middle notes of jasmine, rose and lily, and base notes of musk, ambergris and vanilla. For me, the vanilla comes through the most strongly when I first apply the perfume. Over the next few hours as it settles onto my skin, it mellows and the rose and lily take centre stage.

One Love is a light, floral, and summery scent. It’s a fragrance I’d spritz on for a picnic date with a cutie in the park or to sit outside and drink cocktails on a sunny patio (the latter being exactly what I did with a friend the first time I wore this fragrance!) It evokes long warm evenings, long fruity drinks, and smelling the flowers on the nighttime breeze as we walk home.

This one is ultra femme and pleasingly easy to wear. It also lasts well, with a distinctive scent still detectable on my skin many hours after applying it.

Where to Buy

You can buy Eye of Love After Dark and One Love pheromone perfumes directly from the company. They each retail at £20 for a 10ml travel size tube and £44 for a full size (50ml) glass bottle.

Thanks to Eye of Love for sending me these products to try. All views and experiences are, as always, my own. Affiliate links appear in this post.

[Cosmetics Review] Eye of Love Pheromone Perfume

Scent is powerful. It can evoke feelings, stir memories, and play a major role in the sensory experience of arousal and sex. That’s probably why pheromone perfume is having a big moment right now. There are 33.5k posts carrying the #pheromoneperfume tag on TikTok and 57.5k posts on Instagram at the time of writing. So when I got offered some Eye of Love pheromone perfume products to try out, I couldn’t wait to delve into what this viral craze is all about.

What Are Eye of Love Pheromone Perfumes?

Eye of Love Pheromone Perfume in Black Diamond (left) and Red Diamond

To understand what pheromone perfumes are, we first have to understand what pheromones are.

In short:

Officially named in 1959, pheromones are chemical substances that are secreted outside of the body in fluids like urine and sweat. Essentially, pheromones are a hidden form of communication. They send signals from one individual to another of the same species. This triggers a response in the individual receiving those signals, such as a hormonal change or specific behavior.

– Healthline

Interestingly, there is still a gap in scientific understanding when it comes to exactly how, or even if, pheromones work in humans. According to one paper from 2013 published in Facts, Views and Vision in ObGyn, “Many examples exist in animals but their role in humans remains uncertain since adults have no functioning vomeronasal organ, which processes pheromone signals in animals.” Deb Levine, MA and Stephanie Watson, writing for WebMD, say, “It’s not clear how the [pheromone] process works in humans. We do have VNO organs, but they’re small and may be too poorly developed to process pheromones like the VNO organs in animals can. More likely, we process these signals through our olfactory system.”

Pheromone perfumes, then, operate on the assumption that – like animals – humans use pheromones to increase their sexual attractiveness to potential mates. These fragrances contain synthetic versions of the substances that are commonly called human pheromones. The idea, then, is simple. Wear them and people will be more attracted to you.

Eye of Love pheromone perfumes utilise two key compounds that have been deemed to be human pheromones or to have a pheromone-like effect in humans: estratetraenol and androstenol.

All Eye of Love pheromone perfumes are vegan and cruelty-free. They smell yummy, as we’ll discuss more a bit later. But do they actually work?

Do Pheromone Perfumes Really Work?

Eye of Love’s pheromone perfume can supposedly help you “be more attractive. Be more social. Be more successful.” It’s a lofty claim.

There’s a lot we don’t understand about how attraction works. And, as we established in the section above, there’s also a lot we also don’t understand about how (or if) pheromones work in humans. So whether or not these perfumes “work” in any scientific sense isn’t really provable right now.

And look, I’m inherently somewhat cynical. As a general rule, I don’t believe in things for which I cannot see meaningful evidence.

Anecdotally, pheromone perfumes do seem to have a positive impact for many people. You’ll hear stories about service staff doubling their tips when they wear pheromone perfume, people getting asked out at the shops, and people suddenly having way more sex with their long term partners when they start using these products.

Is that down to the perfume, though? Honestly, until there’s more robust scientific backing behind the pheromone phenomenon, I’m going to assume it’s a placebo affect. If you believe something is going to make you more attractive, you’ll act like a person who believes themselves to be attractive. This, in itself, can be highly desirable and can draw people to you in a way that might make you think “wow, it’s the pheromones!”

Let’s not forget the fact that simply smelling nice can be a turn-on to many people, too. When I see a woman I find attractive, smelling a nice perfume on her as she walks by can make her even sexier.

Shawn Talbott, PhD, quoted in a piece by Charlotte Hilton Anderson, MS, for The Healthy, also points out that “We know that plant compounds, like lavender and chamomile, can be used to reduce stress and enhance relaxation. So if stress is interfering with mood and suppressing libido, then we can use ‘plant pheromones’ to reduce stress. And if you’re less stressed then maybe your sex drive increases a bit.” In other words, the perfume might be having an impact but possibly not in the way you think.

What I’m really saying is, if you’re going to try pheromone perfumes, go in with realistic expectations. You’re not going to just spritz this stuff on and instantly become irresistible to everyone of your preferred gender(s) who lays eyes on you. (That’s fairytale love potion silliness and even if it was real, it would be highly ethically questionable!)

What you might find, though, is that you find a little more confidence. A little more of your own, internal and unique brand of sexiness. And that can be just as magical, if not more so.

Eye of Love Matchmaker Collection

The Eye of Love pheromone perfume Matchmaker Collection consists of two scents: Black Diamond and Red Diamond. Red Diamond is marketed more towards straight women and other people looking to attract men, while Black Diamond is marketed towards straight men and other people looking to attract women. (There are LGBTQ+ versions of each also available – mine both say “Attract Her” – though I’m unclear on whether there’s any actual difference in the product! I assume they contain different pheromones according to the genders of the people you’re trying to attract.)

Ultimately, though, both scents (like all scents!) are gender-neutral and for whoever feels good wearing them.

Eye of Love “Black Diamond”

Eye of Love Pheromone Perfume in Black Diamond

Eye of Love describes Black Diamond as “a bold blend of cedar, blackcurrant, and lemon. Undertones of oak, white amber, and musk.” I’m kinda wary of describing scents using gendered language, but this one feels decidedly masculine to me.

When I first put it on, the cedar is the main thing I can smell. I actually like this one more when I’ve been wearing it for a couple of hours and it’s had time to mellow out on my skin. At that point, the fruity scents start to come out a little more.

Black Diamond is definitely sexy. This one calls to mind dark corners in atmospheric cocktail bars, leaning over to kiss a soft butch girl whose lips taste of whiskey. It calls to mind the black leather and dark wood of the swankiest BDSM dungeons I’ve been to, of the tug of restraints around my wrists and the slap – slap – slap of a flogger across my back.

Ultimately, I think I enjoy this perfume best on someone else rather than on myself. Black Diamond is a lovely scent, I just don’t think it’s my scent.

Eye of Love “Red Diamond”

Eye of Love Pheromone Perfume in Red Diamond

Eye of Love describes Red Diamond as “a sensual blend of jasmine, grapefruit, and amber with a touch of citrus.” There are also middle notes of lily and blackcurrent and base notes of musk and vanilla. It feels femme and flirty, and calls to mind the way that summer sunshine always makes me want to fuck.

This one feels far more at home on my skin. I like the way it softens over the hours I’m wearing it, leaving me feeling like I’m wearing a bouquet of fruit and flowers.

Red Diamond is sexy, too, but in a very different way to its counterpart. If Black Diamond is kissing in a dark corner of a cocktail bar, then Red Diamond is flirting at a wholesome coffee shop while thinking about alllllll the terribly non-wholesome things I would like to consensually do to the pretty femme across the table.

This one smells good enough that I’ll seriously consider buying more when my sample bottle runs out.

How Did I Feel Wearing Them?

I tried Eye of Love pheromone perfume at an… interesting time. I’m not dating at the moment, mostly because I’m still recovering from the most brutal breakup of my entire life. So opportunities for trying them out in traditionally “sexy” contexts were few.

However, I did manage to find a few chances to try them out. For example, I wore Black Diamond to a kink play party with Mr C&K and Red Diamond to a munch. I’ve also been wearing them around the house to see if they can help to lift my mood amidst my endless fog of post-breakup depression, even if just for a moment.

Who doesn’t feel more confident with a sprizt of a scent that makes them feel most like themselves? Confidence is the sexiest thing of all to many people, and it’s something I have been sorely lacking in the last couple of months.

This perfume didn’t help me find the next great love of my life. But it did help me to briefly remember what it feels like to see myself as sexy, attractive, and desirable. And right now that’s something.

Where to Buy

You can get each Eye of Love Pheromone Perfume from the Matchmaker range individually (£24 for 10ml in a tube or £44 for 30ml in a gorgeous glass diamond-shaped bottle), or a set of both (£41 for two 10ml tubes) directly from the company’s shop.

Thanks to Eye of Love for sending me these products to try. All views are, as always, my own. Affiliate links appear within these posts.

[Toy Review] FirmTech Tech Ring

When you’re a sex writer, you occasionally send texts to your friends what would be objectively weird in any other context. I recently sent one to my dear friend SilverDom (who has kindly helped me with reviews before) that amounted to “hey, do you want to test a dick Fitbit for me?” Obviously he said yes, because who could resist such an offer? So with SD’s help, I’m pleased to be bringing you a review of the FirmTech “Tech Ring.”

What is a Tech Ring?

FirmTech’s Tech Ring was developed by Elliot Justin, MD, FACEP, an Emergency Medicine specialist, telemedicine expert and sex toy enthusiast. The Tech Ring is a cock ring with a difference: this high-tech device features various sensors which gather information about the wearer’s penis health. It then connects with an app on your smartphone, allowing you to review and interpret this data.

FirmTech Tech Ring on its charging stand

FirmTech Tech Ring smart cock ring

So yes: it’s like a fitness tracker… but for your penis. I will never stop getting joy from calling it the “dick Fitbit.”

The Tech Ring has a penoscrotal design, meaning that it it wraps around both the testicles and shaft of the penis. It provides light pressure on the urethra (which some people say makes their orgasms more intense.) With an incredible 8-10 hour battery life and comfort-focused design, it’s suitable to wear for several hours or even overnight. And, of course, you can also wear it during sex.

I thought it would be easiest to show you how the Tech Ring is designed to be worn. To that end, I took a picture with the assistance of my Valm Triple Density Silicone Dildo:

FirmTech Tech Ring cock ring wrapped around a bright orange and pink silicone dildo

The Tech Ring comes packaged in an attractive circular box. It’s not unlike the sort of packaging you’d expect a fancy smartwatch or piece of tech to come in. Inside, you’ll find the Tech Ring, its USB charger, an extra sleeve, a travel pouch, and an instruction manual.

The Tech Ring is not waterproof (though it is splashproof) and it is compatible with all water-based lubes. You can take the sensor out of the sleeve to clean it, but it’s really fiddly to get it back in and there’s also the risk of ripping the material so I wouldn’t recommend doing this any more often than you really need to.

Why Would You Need So Much Information About Your Penis and Erections?

Please note that I am not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. I am sharing the facts as I understand them based on the available data, but please do not take anything in this review as any kind of medical advice. If you have concerns about any aspect of your health (sexual or otherwise) or are not sure whether a product like the Tech Ring is right for you, consult your doctor.

According to FirmTech: “number of nocturnal erections a man[1] has during REM sleep is predictive of vascular health.” They also state that “There is a very strong link between erectile dysfunction and heart disease. Several studies have shown that if a man[1] has ED, he has a greater risk of having heart disease.”

Did you know that? Because I didn’t.

You’ll also be able to learn how various factors, such as medications, alcohol, recreational drug use, and exercise play a role in your erectile health. This can help you to make more informed decisions about your health and lifestyle.

In other words, understanding your erectile and penile health is one way into a broader understanding of other aspects of your health. Pretty cool. This product is also endorsed by various medical doctors and urologists, so I feel pretty confident in saying that it’s not just a gimmick and the science stands up to scrutiny.

Of course, if sex is important to you – as it is to most of us! – the Tech Ring can also give you a bunch of interesting information about your sex life and sexual wellness.

[1] I don’t love the gendered language here. Apparently it’s been used so as not to turn off older men from the product. I have a general policy against gendered language which is why I’ve used “penis owner”/”person with a penis” throughout this review.

How Does It Function as a Cock Ring?

On their most basic level, cock rings do one thing: they help to keep blood inside the shaft of the penis, allowing the penis-owner to maintain a firmer erection for longer. They can also be very pleasurable to wear. Many different iterations, including vibrating cock-rings and even remote control ones, are now available.

But how does the Tech Ring stack up as a cock ring?

The exterior of the Tech Ring is made of medical-grade elastomer. It’s unclear whether this material is porous – the information I could find online was conflicting – but it is body-safe for external use.

When I first published this review, I said that I couldn’t see why the product wasn’t silicone. However, I’ve since spoken again to a member of the team and it turns out there’s a great reason for this!

Silicone is too tight and inelastic a material to be worn for hours. That’s why, when you see ordinary cock rings for sale, the advice is typically to wear them for no more than 30 minutes. Silicone can also choke off the arterial flow into the penis, meaning that silicone rings should be put on when already erect. Trials were conducted with silicone but elastomer was found to be both far safer and more comfortable for overnight wear.

FirmTech Tech Ring smart cock ring

The material feels flimsy and gathers lint and dust something awful, meaning that it starts to look dull and dirty again moments after washing it. It also has a slightly gummy texture that I don’t find particularly pleasant. Unfortunately, elastomer just isn’t as durable as some materials and there is already an area on the back of my Tech Ring where it’s starting to degrade and split.

The FirmTech tech ring’s material is very stretchy and gives a light but noticeable pressure when worn. If you have a girthier penis, though, the Tech Ring may be too small for you. The site says that it will comfortably fit anyone “except above 95% in girth.” SD reported finding it too tight to wear for a long period of time.

If you want your Tech Ring tighter for sexual pleasure purposes, though, you can just use the loop or a twist to tighten it. Never do this for overnight or long-term wear.

This product is not primarily designed for pleasure, and it shows. And that’s fine – I would never advocate spending close to $300 on a simple cock-ring! But if you’re primarily looking for something to increase pleasure during sex, this isn’t it.

How’s the App Functionality?

The FirmTech app is free to download for Apple or Android. First you’ll need to set up an account. When you do this, the app asks for data such as your height, weight, and date of birth as well as whether you have certain health conditions, drink alcohol, or use recreational drugs. You can choose to skip these questions if you’d prefer.

Warning: if you input your weight and height, a BMI chart will pop up and tell you whether you’re “underweight”, “healthy,” “overweight”, or “obese.” I hate this. Not only because it can be really triggering to people who suffer with body image struggles or disordered eating (hello!) but also because BMI is a massively flawed system.

You can then do something called the “Sexual Health Inventory for Men” which consists of a few short questions and helps you to assess your erectile fitness and identify whether you have any current or potential erectile dysfunction issues. Then, once you start using the Tech Ring, you’ll get access to information such as a “firmness score”, your average number of nocturnal erections, and your total number of erections per week.

Screenshot from the FirmTech app

(Screenshot shared without any actual data for privacy.)

Once you’ve set up your account, it’s time to connect the toy. This should only take seconds. Simply turn on the toy by pressing the power button once and then select “pair” in the app.

SD reported some issues with getting the app to connect to the device. He says: “Once charged, I was initially unable to get the device to pair with my phone. The blue light came on to indicate it was ready to pair, but no connection was ever estabished. In the end, I had to delete and reinstall the app and everything worked as it should”. When I tried it on my end, it worked the first time.

The app is fast and responsive, and becomes more and more useful the more you use it. I also found it fairly straightforward and intuitive to use once I’d taken a few minutes to learn what all the different functions did.

Using the FirmTech Tech Ring During Sex

One of the main selling points of the FirmTech Tech Ring is that you can wear it during sexual activity, including partnered sex and masturbation. Before you begin, simply set your ring to record a “session” and then masturbate or have sex as you normally would.

Screenshot from the FirmTech app

You can then use this data to make comparisons and use it to inform your health decisions. If you experience firm nocturnal erections but struggle to stay hard during sex, for example, that indicates that the problem is likely psychological. A declining number of nocturnal erections, decreased firmness or decreased duration can all indicate potential health problems. (They don’t necessarily, though – so it’s important not to panic and to ask your doctor if you have concerns.)

The Tech Ring is small and unobtrusive enough to not get in the way during sex. In fact, if you’re wearing it correctly and it fits you properly, you’ll likely barely even notice you’re wearing it.

Verdict

Retailing for $275, the Tech Ring is a pretty expensive piece of kit. If you’re just looking for a cock ring, skip it and get something much (much) cheaper.

I don’t really think the Tech Ring is a sex toy, to be honest. I’m just categorising it in that way for ease of publishing this review in the absence of a better option. It’s actually really more of a wellness device or a health tracker.

As a sex toy, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it. But as a health tracker, I actually think it’s pretty damn cool! As with any technology like this, you’d have to use it very regularly to enjoy its full benefits. But if you’re suffering from any kind of ED issues, want to keep track of your erectile health, or are just curious, it can offer you a wealth of data.

I’d love to see the next iteration drop the gendered language on the website and marketing materials. Also: this is an admittedly small gripe, but the print on the provided instruction flyer is tiny. I have near perfect eyesight and I still had to squint to read it.

Thanks to FirmTech for sponsoring this review and to SilverDom for helping out with the testing! All views are, as always, my own.

[Better Sex Products Review] Bijoux Indiscrets CBD Arousal Oil and CBD Oral Sex Oil

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is all the rage at the moment. This non-psychoactive and now legal (in many places, including the UK) compound found in the cannabis plant is touted as having all kinds of incredible benefits, from reducing anxiety to helping with chronic pain… and, yes, improving your sex life.

I am, it’s fair to say, rather cynical about such things. I don’t tend to believe amazing claims unless there’s amazing evidence to back them up. Maybe CBD really is a magical cure for all kinds of ills, and the science will prove it over the coming years. Or maybe it’s a very expensive and overhyped placebo. The reality, I imagine, in somewhere in the middle – it probably has some genuine benefits, and it’s probably been overhyped.

I wrote a little more here summarising very briefly what some of the available data says about CBD and sex so far. All this to say that I am approaching CBD-infused sex products, such as CBD lubes and oils, with a healthy amount of both curiosity and skepticism.

Bijoux Indiscrets recently offered me two new products to try: their Arousal Oil with CBD and their CBD Oral Sex Oil. But did they live up to their claims?

Bijoux Indiscrets Slow Sex CBD sex oils: Arousal Oil and Oral Sex Oil in their packaging

Bijoux Indiscrets Arousal Oil with CBD

Slow Sex Arousal Oil with CBD from Bijoux Indiscrets is made up of a range of natural oils and extracts including Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (an emollient derived from coconut oil), Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (AKA olive oil), shea butter, soybean oil, castor seed oil, and a number of others. Bijoux is an all-vegan company and uses only plant-derived ingredients.

Bijoux Indiscrets CBD arousal oil

The idea of the Arousal Oil is simple: apply it to your vulva and clitoris before sex or masturbation. The CBD, so it is claimed, may help to increase natural lubrication as well as stimulating blood flow to the area to increase sensitivity.

I did feel as though I experienced an increase in sensitivity when I applied a few drops of this arousal oil to my clitoris and labia and then waited a few minutes. When I touched myself, I was incredibly wet and sensitive and I reached orgasm very quickly. So from that perspective, yes, it worked!

Some sources I looked at claim that CBD is a vasodilator (something that opens the blood vessels, improving blood flow), which would go some way to explaining this effect. Others, however, claim that CBD without THC – that’s Tetrahydrocannabinol, or the high-inducing compound in cannabis – has few if any vasodilatory effects.

So what happened, then? Maybe the CBD had a direct causal effect on my arousal and sensitivity, and maybe it didn’t. Some of the other ingredients may have had an effect. The simple act of rubbing something on my genitals while in a sexual headspace might even have been the cause. Then, of course, there’s the potential for a placebo effect. At some point,I’d love to set up a blind experiment with this stuff and regular oil-based lube to see if there’s any difference when I don’t know which one I’m using.

Also worth noting that this product is only 1% CBD. That’s the equivalent of 0.3ml of CBD in a standard 30ml tube. That is, by anyone’s definition, a tiny CBD concentration and has left me a little doubtful that the CBD itself was the main cause of the effects I experienced.

The oil has a fairly strong and distinctive scent that I can best describe as “floral.” It’s fine, not really my sort of thing but not unpleasant either. Be careful when using the pump top bottle because it has a tendency to squirt out suddenly and go everywhere! I also found that my fingers felt quite sticky after applying this oil and I wanted to wash it off my hands as quickly as possible (neurodivergent sensory issues!? Me!?)

Bijoux Indiscrets Slow Sex Arousal Oil with CBD retails for £34/€38 for a 30ml bottle.

Bijoux Indiscrets CBD Oral Sex Oil

The Bijoux Indiscrets Oral Sex Oil contains far fewer ingredients than the Arousal Oil. It’s just sweet almond oil, coconut oil, cannabis sativa seed oil, CBD, peppermint oil, limonene and linalool. This product, too, is only 1% CBD.

Bijoux Indiscrets CBD oral sex oil

The instructions say to apply a few drops to your lips and genitals, so that’s what I did. I was hoping I might feel some noticeable effect on my lips, such as tingling or an increase in sensitivity. Sadly, I didn’t feel much of anything even after several minutes and a reapplication.

It was the same when I tried it on my vulva and clit. The oil worked quite nicely as a simple lubricant, making everything pleasantly slippery. However, I did not notice any increase in sensitivity, sensation, or pleasure on any of the occasions that I tried it. This was a surprise, actually, since – whatever I do or don’t believe about CBD – peppermint-based products have worked well for me in the past.

The taste and smell of the Slow Sex Oral Sex Oil oil isn’t at all unpleasant. The overwhelming impression is of it being kind of minty. However, when I’m going down on a lover I want to be able to taste and smell them. (See also: why I don’t like flavoured lubes.)

Close up of CBD oil dropper with oral sex oil

Unlike the Arousal Oil, the Oral Sex Oil comes with a little eye dropper applicator. This makes it easier to apply to your lips and genitals with precision and without spilling it everywhere. It’s much less sticky than the Arousal Oil and didn’t give me the same sensory “ick.”

BIjoux Indiscrets Oral Sex Oil with CBD retails for £22/€25 for a 15ml bottle.

A Quick Word of Caution

Because they are oil-based, these products are not compatible with latex or polyisoprene. Don’t use them if you’re using safer sex barriers, such as condoms or dams, made from these materials. They’re okay to use with polyurethane, though.

Verdict

I remain intrigued but cynical about CBD in general, and for sex in particular. The available information is interesting, but far from conclusive. I’ve also now had a number of different experiences with different CBD products, and the wildly varying results tell me something in and of themselves.

If there was a simple causal relationship between CBD-containing products and increased arousal, boosted sensitivity, or faster and harder orgasms, surely I would experience that reliably every time in much the same way that I experience a reduction in pain every time I take a paracetamol?

The verdict, then? It’s complex and I wish there was more – and more reliable – data to draw on.

Ultimately though, if something works for you, I think that’s valuable in itself. I can’t explain why the CBD Arousal Oil worked for me (or why the Oral Sex Oil didn’t!) I suspect it has to do with a number of factors: the other ingredients, my headspace at the time, my level of cynicism, and possibly even the CBD itself.

All I can tell you about is my experience. Why not try it for yourself and see how you get on?

Thanks to Bijoux Indiscrets for sending me these products to review. All views, as always, are mine. Affiliate links appear in this post.

[Lube Review] Morgasm CBD Lube

Two things you’ll know about me if you have been reading my work for some time: I am both highly curious and highly cynical. This means that, when I hear about a cool new sex thing, my brain goes “it’s probably not all it’s cracked up to be… but damn I want to try it and find out!” Enter CBD lube, which (along with CBD products in general) has been having a major moment over the last couple years.

You might remember this guest post by Hattie Gladwell from back in 2021 in which she shared how CBD lubricant helped her to overcome orgasm difficulties.

So when Morgasm reached out and offered me a sample of their CBD-infused lube, obviously I was a “fuck yes” for that.

Morgasm CBD Lube

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the main components of cannabis and comes from hemp (a cousin of the marijuana plant.) CBD is available in various forms: oils, extracts, capsules, and so on. It’s been infused into numerous products, from foods and drinks to health and beauty products and more.

CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that causes a “high.” This means that it is legal in many places even where cannabis is not, including here in the UK. According to Harvard Health, CBD is generally safe for adults. However, it can produce adverse interactions with some medications (check with your doctor), may cause side effects in a small number of people, and is not advised for use by anyone under 21.

How Does CBD Lube Work?

It’s cited as a miracle remedy for countless problems from chronic pain to low mood and insomnia. And in some areas at least, the positive data points are beginning to stack up. In others, however, the evidence just isn’t there yet. The science of CBD and its effectiveness is still in its infancy in many areas, including in the sex space.

Much of the evidence I could find for the effectiveness of CBD lube was anecdotal. According to one survey, 68% of 1000 participants who tried CBD said it improved their sex life. Obviously anecdotal evidence is far from conclusive, but there’s enough of it out there that it’s at least worth more than a passing glance.

Scientifically-speaking, a few of the commonly cited potential effects and benefits of CBD lube include:

  • Increasing blood flow to the genital area, which can increase sensitivity and physiological responses to arousal (such as wetness)
  • Reducing discomfort during sex due to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties
  • Aiding in muscle relaxation, including around the genital area

But when it comes to CBD lube and its benefits, to what extent is any of this a placebo and to what extent is the CBD actually having a direct effect? The bottom line is that right now we don’t really know. But it’s an intriguing enough area that I hope we’ll see more studies over the next few years.

Morgasm CBD Lube: What’s In It?

Morgasm’s CBD lube is a water-based lubricant infused with 250mg of CBD per 50ml. It contains an array of plant-based and hypoallergenic ingredients including mentha piperita (peppermint leaf extract), the amino acid L-Arginine, aloe vera, and vanilla extract. Check out the ingredients breakdown for a full list of what’s in Morgasm lube and what each ingredient does.

Morgasm CBD lube ingredients

Morgasm CBD lube is vegan and not tested on animals. It is also safe for use with both latex and non-latex barriers as well as all body-safe sex toy materials.

A Quick Note on Glycerin

The only ingredient on Morgasm’s list that gives me pause is “organic kosher vegatable glycerin.” It has long been cited that glycerin(e), a sugar alcohol, can contribute towards the development of yeast infections. However, some sources are now saying that this may not be entirely accurate, or at least that it may not be that simple.

I couldn’t find any definitive scientific literature either way. Personally, I’m still going to be avoiding glycerin-containing products internally until I see proof that they’re not harmful to the vagina. Unlike many glycerin-containing lubes, however, Morgasm CBD Lube isn’t sticky and doesn’t leave an unpleasant tacky residue on my skin. This means I’m happy to use it externally. You’ll need to make your own risk assessment based on your body and preferences.

Morgasm CBD Lube: First Impressions:

I had two initial reactions to Morgasm’s CBD lube when I first opened my sample:

  1. It smells gorgeous! It has a distinctive but not overpowering tangy, subtly minty scent. That’s probably the peppermint leaf at work. Taste-wise, that tang and slight sweetness comes through too.
  2. It’s a really, really weird colour! It comes out of the tube in a sort of beige-brown. I initially wondered if my sample was off but no, that’s just the colour it is. It’s not noticeable once it’s applied to the body, but it was jarring at first. I’m used to lube being clear, or white at a push.
Woman's hand with a smear of Morgasm CBD lube

So How Did It Feel?

I was deeply cynical about this product, folks. Really, I cannot express that enough. I went in fully assuming that my reaction was going to be a severely underwhelmed “well, it’s lube, so that’s good I guess?”

So imagine my shock and delight on discovering that it actually, genuinely works for me!

I applied the lube a few minutes before I was planning to masturbate, as the information I’d read indicated that topically-applied CBD can take a while to kick in. I was slightly aroused when I started, but I could feel my vulva and clit getting really sensitive really quickly once I applied the lube.

When I started masturbating, I couldn’t believe how sensitive I was. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like I’d shortcutted the build-up, essentially arriving at the “every nerve ending quivering” state that normally comes from protracted arousal building, anticipation, or edging.

The bottom line is that I came really hard and really fast.

Again, I have no way to conclusively prove or disprove that this effect was caused by the CBD. It could have been, or it could have been any of the other ingredients (mint, for example, is commonly used in arousal-enhancing products for the cooling and tingling sensation it provides.) It could have been the combination, or it could have been a placebo despite my cynicism. No way to know for sure.

But also… if something works, does it actually matter all that much? Whatever the cause, the orgasm I had was real. And when something helps me to cum that hard and that quickly, I’m going to take the win.

Morgasm CBD Lube left my skin feeling soft and healthy, with a hint of that minty scent. I didn’t feel a need to rush to the bathroom and wash it off, which – for my neurodivergent and highly sensorily-sensitive self – is an achievement in itself.

Verdict

I don’t really understand how it worked, I only know that it did. This stuff gave me one of the strongest (not to mention fastest) solo orgasms I’ve had in quite some time.

The one downside? Like most CBD products, it’s seriously pricey. Morgasm CBD lube retails for a slightly eyewatering $54 for a single 60ml tube. You can save by buying in bulk packs of 2, 3, 4, or 10 tubes, but it’s still an expensive product.

It should tell you how much I liked it that I am seriously considering splashing out on a full-size tube or two.

Thanks to Morgasm for sending me this product to test and review. All opinions and experiences are, as always, mine. Affiliate links appear in this post.

What You Need to Know About Sex Toys, Sexual Health, and STIs

Today’s post about sexual health, STIs, and sex toys was chosen by my supporters over on Patreon. If you want to support me and get some cool perks, head on over and join at any level. If you want to vote on future content for the blog, join at the $3 tier or above.

DISCLAIMER: please note that while this post draws on current scientific understanding of sexual health, I am NOT a medical professional and nothing in this post should be construed as medical advice or a substitute for such.

The first time I went to a sexual health clinic for an STI test, I was 19 and had been in a consensually non-monogamous relationship for about six months. When I awkwardly told the practitioner that I had sex with women as well as men (a reductive view of gender, of course, but my knowledge wasn’t anywhere near where it is today!) they cautioned me never to share toys with fellow vagina-owning partners.

Looking back, there were a couple of problems with this. First, “don’t share toys” is both unrealistic and unnecessary advice. The truth is more nuanced and less absolute than that. Second, why did they only offer this- albeit incorrect – advice when I said I was sleeping with women? People of all genders and in all types of relationship configurations use sex toys.

To that end, I thought it was time to bust some myths. So let’s look at the truth about STIs and sexual health when using toys, shall we?

You Can’t Transmit an STI via Sex Toys, Right!?

Sorry to break it to you, but you can. What you cannot do is get an STI spontaneously from using a sex toy alone. That’s impossible.

If a person who has a sexually transmitted infection (STI) uses a toy and then shares it with a non-infected partner, though, that person can contract the infection. This applies to STIs that spread via bodily fluids (such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluid) and those that spread via skin-to-skin contact. If you’re doing anal play, there’s an additional risk for infections that spread through fecal matter such as Hepatitis A, B, and C. It also applies to conditions such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections, by the way, though these aren’t STIs.

Most STIs cannot live for very long outside the body. However, this may still be longer than you think! One study showed that Human Papillomavirus (HPV) was still present on thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) sex toys 24 hours later after cleaning in 40% of cases. Other infections can last anything from minutes to hours or, rarely, days or weeks outside the body. This means that sharing a toy in quick succession is the highest risk activity. However, you’re still potentially at risk if you share an unsterilised toy even some time later.

An aside for the kinksters: if you are using toys that can break the skin (such as whips, floggers, and so on) then be aware that STIs can be transmitted through blood if you are using the toy on more than one person. Once a toy has blood on it, the most sensible thing is to consider it as belonging exclusively to that person. And if you play with rope, ropes that touch naked genitals or get sexual fluids on them should either be washed (if possible) or used exclusively on that person from then on.

Washing Your Toys is Not Enough

I feel like I bang on about this all the time, and especially in my sex toy workshops: washing a sex toy and sterilising it are not the same thing. Remember that HPV study I linked above? Those TPE toys had been washed! On silicone toys, HPV was present immediately after cleaning in 44% of cases. It was not present after 24 hours. This disparity may be due to the fact that TPE is porous and silicone is not.

Washing your toys after each use is a great thing to do, and I encourage it. This applies even if you’re the only person using them. Unclean toys can cause all kinds of problems for your body. However, washing your toy may not be enough to prevent STI transmission if you are sharing it.

The only way to be sure that a non-porous toy is STI-free is to sterilise it. This might include boiling, using a 10% bleach solution, or using a sterile medical wipe. I wrote an in-depth guide to cleaning and sterilising sex toys for Godemiche. Read it here.

One of the biggest problems with porous sex toys, and the reason I do not recommend them, is that they can never be fully sterilised. This means that they can harbour bacteria in the material itself. This is not just an STI transmission risk, but also incredibly unhygienic even if only one person is using the toy. If you must use a porous toy, always use a barrier such as a condom.

So What Can We Do to Stay Safe?

None of this is to say you shouldn’t share toys at all. If you know what you’re doing and take a few basic precautions, it’s actually one of the lower-risk forms of partnered sex. It’s also hot as fuck, obviously.

So what do you need to know in order to protect your own and others’ sexual health? If you’ve been reading my work for some time, you know what I’m going to say.

Go for an STI test regularly (between every 3 months and every year depending on how many partners you have.) Know your status. Talk openly about sexual health with each of your partners. Make agreements on what barriers you will and won’t use for each activity, including when using toys. Approach shared toy use like any other sexual activity. Negotiate it, do not assume it is 100% risk-free, and default to caution if you have any worries.

You can further reduce your risk by understanding how to fully sterilise your sex toys and choosing only non-porous materials (such as silicone, stainless steel, glass, and ABS plastic). Use barriers on shared toys if they are porous or if you have not negotiated that level of fluid exchange with the relevant partner(s.)

If you’re really cautious, it’s fine to just agree that each person will have their own toys for use on them exclusively. The downside of this, of course, is the expense. The most important thing is to educate yourself so that you can make the most sensible decisions for yourself and your partner(s.)

FYI: affiliate links appear in this post.

[Video Series Review] CLIMAX

Something a little different for today’s review! When the team at CLIMAX, a new video series dedicated to sex education, approached me I knew I had to talk about it.

Sex education, such as it is, is chronically inadequate for the vast majority of people. If we get any at all, it’s likely to be either abstinance-based or focus on simply the biological facts of sex. But discussions of consent, communication, intimacy, pleasure? Where are they?

One of the reasons I started Coffee & Kink was because I wanted to make a small contribution towards rectifying this enormous problem. And it seems the folks at CLIMAX had a similar idea.

Let’s go!

What is CLIMAX?

CLIMAX is a sex education video series. It was advertised to me as “Netflix-style” but actually, it’s not subscription-based at all. Simply purchase a package once, and you’ll have access to all the content within that tier (plus future updates) for life.

Screenshot of ad for CLIMAX sex ed video

CLIMAX is dedicated to enhancing pleasure for people with vulvas. It comprises a series of videos exploring different masturbatory techniques, focusing on external stimulation of the clitoris and vulva. Each of the videos is between 2 and 9 minutes long, and features the technique demonstrated on a real vulva as well as voice commentary and accompanying notes.

A note for trans and non-binary folks (and anyone who cares about inclusivity): CLIMAX does, unfortunately, sometimes use gendered language, referring to “female anatomy” and “female pleasure.” CLIMAX have acknowledged in the FAQs that this is a shortcoming and that they have attempted to be as inclusive as possible, but there’s real room for improvement. I hope they will continue to address this problem going forward.

What makes CLIMAX different?

The cool thing about CLIMAX is that it’s based on robust scientific research.

Since 98.5% of people with vulvas masturbate using clitoral stimulation (New Hite Report, 2000), CLIMAX focuses on clitoral pleasure. This was perhaps the most refreshing thing for me as I watched the series. It’s wonderful to see the focus completely removed from the goal of orgasming from penetration alone (which is impossible for a majority of vulva owners) and the clit given the attention it deserves.

My experience

I think of myself as pretty clued up about my body. You kind of have to be when you review sex toys for a living! But even so, there are always new things to learn.

To be honest, I use sex toys so much that I don’t masturbate using just my hands very often. So when I received CLIMAX to review, I took the opportunity to get back in touch with self-touch.

Using the CLIMAX series gave me an opportunity to explore touching my body in different ways. I enjoyed that the focus is on pleasure and exploration. There’s plenty of options offered, and lots of “if this works for you.” CLIMAX acknowledges that all bodies are different, and prioritises providing permission and choice over being prescriptive.

At the moment, CLIMAX features just one vulva in its videos, but the team have said they intend to feature a wider variety of bodies in the future. They also acknowledge that the model featured in the videos is fully shaved as that was her preference, but that they do not advocate for pubic hair removal. Yay for body-hair positivity!

How much does it cost?

The full prices at the time of writing are as follows:

  • Education package (19 episodes): £45
  • Classic package (22 episodes): £63
  • Premium package (32 episodes): £89

If you want to try it out, you can get one of the cheaper packages and then upgrade later by just paying the difference.

Remember: these are one-off prices, not monthly subscriptions.

Verdict

There’s a lot to recommend about CLIMAX. If you have a vulva and are new to exploring self-pleasure or just looking for different ways to touch yourself, it’s a great investment.

It’s clearly a work in progress and I admire that the team have openly acknowledged the areas they’re looking to expand and improve. I’m excited to see where they go with this next.

Thanks to the team at CLIMAX, who provided me with access to the Premium package to review. All views, as always, are mine.

[Mini Toy Review] Satisfyer Balls Kegel Exercisers

What are kegel balls and what are they used for?

Kegel balls, sometimes called Ben-wa balls or kegel exercisers, are duos or trios of small weighted balls that are inserted into the vagina. Supposedly, they help the person to perform kegel exercises more effectively and with better results. There are also claims that they improve sexual pleasure over time, even making it easier to reach orgasm. But there is little actual scientific evidence for any of this.

My hand holding a set of red Satisfyer kegel balls

What the science says

“The potential benefits of doing Kegel exercises on a regular basis include: greater ease in achieving orgasm, increased intensity of orgasm, increased lubrication, heightened control over sensation during penetration, and protection against urinary incontinence and bladder prolapse.” (Bartlik et al, 2010)

When it comes to the difference between performing kegel exercises with and without balls or similar devices, though, there’s less evidence.

One 2013 study examined the effect of “vaginal spheres” (kegel exercisers) in the treatment of stress urinary incontinence and found a statistically significant difference in the improvement shown by women who used the spheres vs those who performed kegel exercises without.

A different study, however, used “weighted vaginal cones” to treat urinary incontinence, and found that “there was little evidence of difference for a subjective cure between cones and pelvic floor muscle training” (Herbison & Dean, 2013.)

So the short answer is that there is limited evidence on one of the claims commonly made about kegel exercisers, and virtually no evidence one way or the other for any of the other claims. Anecdotally, balls may help by making the user more likely to actually do their exercises, rather than making the exercises more effective by themselves – but this is little more than speculation. The literature simply doesn’t exist yet.

(Can some scientists get on this please?)

So why would I want kegel balls?

I deliberated for ages on whether to categorise this review under “Sex Toys” or “Sexual Health Products,” but eventually decided on the former. Dubiously-evidenced medical claims aside, the purpose of kegel balls is simple: they can feel really good!

Walking or moving around with something inside you can feel amazing if you’re a person who enjoys vaginal penetration. I find that on the occasions I’ve worn kegel balls for any length of time, I tend to be at a constant level of arousal for however long they’re in. Wearing kegel balls can also be fun as part of a power exchange game, if you’re into that. I definitely find it hot when my Dom instructs me to go out with my cunt full.

Basically, treat kegel ball as a sex toy and not as a medical device, and you’re more likely to have fun!

So how do the Satisfyer balls measure up?

The Satisfyer Balls come in sets of three, which get progressively heavier (79g, 114g and 150g.) There are also alternative sets available in lighter weights. Each of the pairs of balls is a different colour (blue, pink and red) and they are made of silky smooth, soft and body-safe silicone.

Official product image of the Satisfyer Kegel Balls

Each of the balls have gentle ridges to them, which provide delicious internal stimulation.

The balls themselves and the joins between them feel well-made and sturdy. However, the “handle” loops are ridiculously thin and flimsy! They stretch when pulled, making them ineffective for helping to remove the balls from the vagina, and though mine have held out so far I don’t see them lasting very long.

With that said, these sets are inexpensive and good value (3 pairs of balls for £30.95/$34.99) so if you’re new to using kegel balls and just want to try, they’re not a bad place to start.

Pro tips for using kegel balls safely and pleasurably

  • Remember to use plenty of good quality, water-based lube.
  • Start slowly – keep the balls in for just 10 or 15 minutes at first. You can build up from there.
  • Give your body a break every few hours at least, never sleep with your kegel balls in, and take them out immediately if you experience any pain.
  • Boil-sterilise your kegel balls between uses.
  • If you like, try keeping your kegel balls in while you use a clitoral vibrator or do anal play. The dual stimulation can be fun!

Have you used kegel balls? Share your experience!

Thanks to Satisfyer for sending me these to review. All views are, as always, my own. Purchasing through the affiliate links in this post helps to support my work.

Masturbation Monday: 5 Great Reasons to Wank

I’m trying to embrace the spirit of Masturbation Monday as being for both smutty stories (things that make you want to masturbate) and essays about masturbation. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about good reasons to wank – besides the obvious “because I’m horny” – and have realised they are surprisingly diverse. So here’s five great reasons to masturbate today!

To help you fall asleep

I masturbate before bed probably five or six nights out of seven, on average. If my brain is feeling restless or my body won’t quite shut down but I need to get some sleep, a quick wank is an ideal way to help me doze off. Canadian sexuality therapist Judith Golden explains that ” because blood pressure is lowered and relaxation is increased through the release of endorphins, masturbation is a good sleeping pill.” (Source here.)

For pain relief

Back before I got an IUD, I used to suffer from absolutely debilitating menstrual cramps. They could render me virtually bedridden, unable to go about my normal tasks. Over the years, I learned that orgasm was one of the few things that really helped.

One study from the University of Münster in Germany found that 60% of their participants experienced reduced migraine symptoms as a result of engaging in sexual activity. Stefan Evers, MD, believes that this could also have to do with the endorphins released at the point of orgasm. (Source here.)

There’s much more research to be done, of course, but so far the findings seem to agree that orgasm can have a positive impact on pain levels.

To pick you up if you’re feeling down

I always joke (darkly) that I know I’m depressed if I’m masturbating more often to help me feel alive… and really depressed if I just don’t want to wank at all. Seriously, though, despite outdated nonsense about too much masturbation being bad for our emotional wellbeing, masturbation can be great as a tool for managing mental health. It’s a great self care technique, a way to show yourself some love and affection, and I’ve found that the post-wank haze breaks through the depressive fog like little else.

Phychologist Jennifer Rhodes, PsyD, suggests that “masturbation helps to release dopamine and oxytocin, the feel-good chemicals, which would help with symptoms of anxiety or depression.” (Source: here.)

To turn your partner on or to explore a different kind of sexual intimacy

Let’s get a little sexier, shall we? For many people, masturbating in front of their partner or watching their partner wank is sexy as hell. Masturbating for your partner can help to arouse them and get them in the mood for sexy time with you, as well as giving them vital information about how you’d like to be touched.

Don’t forget that masturbating together doesn’t have to lead to sexual contact with the other person or to intercourse. Masturbating side by side, or masturbating while your partner holds you, kisses you, or talks dirty to you, is sex in and of itself – and it can be amazing! Whether one of you isn’t in the mood but is happy to help the other get off, one or both of you isn’t up for sex for physical or mental health reasons, or you’re just feeling like a relaxed session of getting yourselves off, shared masturbation is consistently underrated. Try it!

To learn more about your body

It’s a sex education cliche, but it’s also true that it’s much harder to show a partner how to please you sexually if you don’t know how to please yourself. Masturbation is a brilliant way to explore your own body, your arousal and responses and desires, in a safe and low-pressure way. Whether you’re not having partnered sex yet (or don’t want to ever!) or have been having regular sex for decades, there are endless new things we can learn about ourselves. This is especially true because our bodies change as we age.

Jenny Block writes that “masturbating allows you to stay in touch with your body – how it feels, how it likes to be touched, what brings you pleasure. Your body is yours. It’s your place, your home, your pleasure. It is your right and honour to enjoy it. Sharing it can be a wonderful thing. But if we don’t masturbate, we risk becoming someone else’s vision of ourselves and not remaining true to our desires.” (Source: Block, The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex, p. 85.)

Have you found great reasons to wank beyond the obvious one? Tweet me or share in the comments!

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Masturbation Monday is a meme owned and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week, or check out all my previous MM stories and essays! If you enjoyed this story, please consider buying me a coffee.