5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Using a Strap-On for the First Time

By Isobel Paton

I was recently talking with a friend about how we defined sex and during the conversation, she said “no offence, but I think sex has to be penetration, everything else is foreplay.”

The assumption was that I, as a lesbian, was unable to have penetrative sex or any sex other than what she considered to be ‘foreplay’.


I had to disagree with the statement on two grounds:


Firstly, sex can be defined in any way you want to define it; sex is not limited to a single act.


Secondly, people with vaginas can, and frequently do, buy penises. Despite this, there’s very little information in the mainstream media regarding how to use any kind of sexual toy safely. So, I’m here to share the 5 things I wish I knew before using a strap-on for the first time.


Go Professional

The first time I bought a strap-on was on a late-night, wine-fuelled whim. I had assumed, perhaps naively, that the dildo would come with a harness. It did not. Never to be discouraged, my partner and I decided that we could make a DIY harness by cutting a hole in an old pair of boy shorts. Do not do this. Please, for the love of all that is good, do not do this. The memory of the chaffing haunts me to this day. Years later, I still struggle to walk through the underwear section of Primark without cringing.

There are a whole spectrum of products available at a range of price points which brings me on to my next point:

Do your research

Strap-ons come in many forms: there are harnesses that look like underwear, ones with buckles, leather ones and that's before you even get onto the dildo. What size do you want? Do you want it to vibrate? How realistic do you want it to look? Finding the toy that’s right for you can be overwhelming and that’s why I’d advise anyone to go into a sex shop to buy their first strap-on if at all possible. Talk to the staff; they know what they’re on about; they can advise, answer questions and will sometimes even let you take things out and have a proper look at them before you buy.


If that isn’t possible, do as much research online as you can to find out what might work for you. There are links for more information around harnesses for strap-ons here and here and for strap-ons in general here.

Do Some Prep

The morning after my first successful strap-on attempt, I could barely walk. I felt like I had done a whole lot of squats. Of course, there are parts of using strap-ons that you have to learn on the job but there are ways of getting yourself ready for some of the physical exertion. I have friends who swear by humping a stack of pillows for prolonged periods of time to prepare for the big event while others have their go to glute and core workouts. Alternatively, there are lots of positions in which the strap-on wearer can take a backseat and let their partner do the lion's share of the work.

Lube, lube and more lube

Lube is key. Needing lube is not, as one of my straight male friends once told me, a sign that you are bad in bed. Lube is great, lube is fun, I will never cease to sing the praises of lube. Lube makes things more comfortable, it can also aid in preventing minuscule tears forming inside the vagina or anus which can act as ports of entry for infections. However, research the lube that you buy. Water-based lubricants can be used with pretty much any toy but won’t last as long as other types of lube. Silicone-based lube, on the other hand, will last a long time but should not be used with silicone toys as it can damage them.

Protect yourself and your partner

If multiple people are using the same toy it is recommended that condoms are used to prevent the spread of STIs. Never use the same condom more than once; that kind of defeats the object of using a condom.

It’s also important to clean your toys after every use to prevent bacteria growth leading to infections. The way in which a toy is cleaned can vary depending on the material it’s made from and its functions. I hope I don’t need to say this but, whatever you do, do not submerge electrical appliances in water. Some toys are dishwasher safe (although if you live in a house share, let your housemates know first; they might not be happy to find that your dildo had rolled into their cereal bowl in a wash). Cleaning instructions should be provided when you purchase your toy but for more information on keeping your toys clean you can check out articles here and here.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Panic


It’s normal for things to be awkward and difficult whenever you try something for the first time. It’s also normal to not like everything you try; keep experimenting until you find something that you do enjoy. The most important thing is that you and your partner/s keep an open dialogue and communicate how you're feeling. Now, enough from me, go forth, have some fun and check out some of the links below for more information.

Useful Links

https://milwaukeerecord.com/city-life/mke-sex-strap-on-harnesses/

https://www.curvemag.com/advice/sex-relationships/your-harness-shopping-guide/

https://www.curvemag.com/advice/sex-relationship/six-tips-for-purchasing-the-perfect-strap-on/

https://www.elitedaily.com/p/how-to-clean-sex-toys-because-its-really-gross-if-you-dont-7859049

https://www.self.com/story/how-to-clean-your-sex-toys-so-you-can-use-them-safely