What if you could get head anytime you wanted, with no strings attached? For people with vaginas, this would be excellent news: Many report that oral sex is a more reliable way to have an orgasm than through penetration alone, because it provides consistent, direct sensation to the clit and surrounding areas. Unlike basic manual and penetrative stimulation done on one’s own, you obviously can’t eat yourself out with your own mouth, and oral sex with a partner is a little harder to come by in moments when dating and casual sex aren’t as viable as they might usually be.
There’s another way, though. Increasingly, companies are making sex toys that aim simulate oral sex using suction, tongue shapes, roving silicone-covered balls, licking, flicking, tapping, pumping, and more. But how real could they actually feel?
Here’s a breakdown of the many recent developments in oral sex–simulating toys, how they work, and which work best for different kinds of sensations and techniques. With help from sex educators and sex shop owners, let’s look at three types—suction toys, tongue toys, and pumps/sleeves—that work well for clit-owners, including on transmasculine, AFAB, and non-binary bodies. The future is here, and it’s amazing.
Calling these “suction” toys is kind of a misnomer: They don’t really suck your clit the way, say, a vacuum would. What suction toys actually do is use small bursts of air, pulsation, and sometimes even sonic waves to stimulate the clit and surrounding areas. (They work great on nipples, too.)
Suction toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They typically end in a wide-mouthed silicone hole that you place over your clit and let the pulsation do its work. Otherwise, they most commonly look like small, sleek vibrators, although that’s not always the case: Some look like baby barnyard animals or dapper penguins.
Popular brands like LELO’s Sona Cruise, Womanizer’s Premium, and Satisfyer’s Pro 2 range in price from $50 to $200. Cheaper options abound, as well, including disposal toys like this $10 one from Satisfyer that is made to last 90 minutes. Some suction toys come with vibration and penetration options, as well as different levels of intensity; some are rechargeable; and some are waterproof, so you can take them in the shower or bath (while you also practice squirting).
Searah Deysach, owner of the Chicago-based feminist sex shop Early to Bed and gender expression gear shop FTM Essentials, said the sensation suction toys provide is “hard to describe, as it’s not quite a sucking sensation, [and] not quite a blowing sensation, but more like a combination of the two that can send many people over the edge to orgasm quickly and powerfully.” Deysach, who recommended Satisfyer’s Love Triangle or the We-Vibe Melt, said that suction toys are “unlike any other type of vibrator,” which is why they’re so popular.
June Pilote, a transmasculine Montreal-based sex educator and sex toy aficionado, likened the sensation to the feeling of standing “next to a big speaker at club. You can feel the air and pressure all around.”
Many people who use suction toys praise them for the speed and efficiency with which they facilitate orgasms—some say it takes less than a minute to get off when they use the toys—but as with any sexual experience, your personal mileage may vary. Fans also note that, unlike vibrators, they don’t require a lot of strength or power to get you off—they work just as effectively on the lower settings, which is likely due to the toys’ very targeted sensations and pressure.
For transmasculine and non-binary people on hormones, both Deysach and Pilote advised potential users to make sure the silicone openings are wide enough to accommodate them. “Sometimes those toys can be a bit too small for our growth,” Pilote said, “so make sure it will fit, or it’s gonna be too intense and not pleasurable.”
If you find that the suction is a little too intense for you, using a water-based lubricant can help, as it creates a thin barrier layer between the toy and your skin. (Silicone lubes degrade silicone toys, so should be avoided.) If your goal is to simulate oral, then you might want to use lube anyway, even if you’re not particularly sensitive. “When trying to reproduce or repliate sensations of oral sex, adding lube to the action will make it even better,” Deysach said “Mouths are wet, so a toy that has a healthy dose of lube applied will get closer to that feeling.” Lastly: If you have piercings or jewelry, many toy manufacturers recommend that you remove them prior to using suction toys, which might interfere with them.
The toys that most closely resemble their oral counterparts are, in fact, the ones that feel least like them. “Since I started my shop 20 years ago, everyone has always been excited about toys that are or have tongues,” Deysach said, “the expectation being that it will feel like your toy is going down on you.” Deysach was disappointed to find that those kinds of toys often didn’t measure up, as she found the sensations “annoying” or “way too light” to produce orgasm. “That said, if you look at these toys more as flickering toys, like this Flutter Tongue Vibe ($45), and release yourself from the expectation that it will feel like human oral ministrations, the rapid, pointed back and forth can be a very intense, pleasurable sensation.”
Tongue toys are either tongue-shaped, or they simulate the sensation of a moving tongue with the help of vibration, a tongue-like texture, or a mechanized rolling ball. These toys flick, tap, circle, and/or surround your clit with soft movements and sensations. Many also vibrate, come in a multitude of speeds and settings, and are available in an array of designs. (Some are a little silly-looking, like this tongue windmill.) Many tongue toys are under $100, like the CalExotics Mini Marvels Marvelous Flicker ($66)—also fun to say. A few have higher price points, such as the Fun Factory Volta ($140), a two-pronged (two-tongued?) vibrator that looks like a flame and purports to cover more clitoral surface area.
On the higher-tech end of the tongue toys are ones with rings or roller balls like LELO’s Ora 2 ($150), which employs a “pleasure nub” (a metal ball covered in silicone) that rotates and vibrates around the clit and vulva. This toy, which won a Cannes Lion award for product design, also uses technology that increases intensity automatically when you apply more pressure.
“Roller-ball style toys are meant to stroke a clit like your lover’s tongue might,” Deysach said. “Some of these toys can feel really interesting and delightful on your bits, but none that I have tried feel like a human tongue or honestly have resulted in an orgasm.”
One thing that helps tongue toys feel good, the experts said, is lube, especially since the sensation of flicking or tapping might be intense for some users. Pilote added, “Lube is a good way to stimulate natural lubrication, just like saliva would during oral sex.”
And what about the humble tongue windmill, such as the Sqweel 2 Oral Sex Simulator ($40)? “It did not work as well as I expected, but I did reach climax,” Pilote laughed. “It felt more like tapping than oral sex, though.”
Sleeves and pumps
Sleeves, pumps, and suction cups provide other oral-simulating options that aim to replicate the feeling of someone pulling or sucking on your clit. These toys may work better for folks with larger clits or hormone-related growth downstairs, those who want an experience more akin to a blow job, or those who simply enjoy the more intense sucking sensations that these toys provide.
For trans people who take testosterone, Pilote recommended small sleeves like the ShotPocket ($22), “where you masturbate your growth into a silicone sleeve that comes with suction.” With sleeves, lube is a must—it helps to create the necessary suction in the ribbed interior.
As more than one review on ShotPocket’s website noted, sleeves work just fine for folks who are not taking testosterone. One pre-testosterone reviewer said, “Pumping a bit before and using lube helps increase the suction.” Another said the sleeve felt like a blow job (and was great for alleviating gender dysphoria–related discomfort and distress).
Deysach recommended the Buck Off ($26), a non-electronic sleeve that was made especially for guys who have experienced growth from taking hormones. “It’s a bit bigger than clit toys, but smaller than your classic jack-off sleeve,” she said.
Another option for people looking to simulate a sucking or pulling sensation are pumps, such as the Trans Masc Pump ($30), which, when placed over the genitals, increases blood flow, sensation, stimulation, and size in some people on T when used regularly. Pumps, like sleeves, work best with lube, and come with a cylinder, pump, and release valve.
Other pumps marketed to cis people with clitorides provide a similar sensation and vary in sizes—some cover just the clit, and others cover the whole vulva, outer labia included. Clit pumps, like the LA Pump ($40), shortcut the body’s natural arousal response, as pumping causes blood to fill and engorge the area, heightening sensations and making it more sensitive to the touch.
Some enterprising people have reportedly even DIYed their solo oral efforts by using literal suction cups from acupressure kits on their clits along with hand pumps. As one Redditor put it: “I tried it with the hand pump, and OMG! It felt like someone sucking on my clit, for sure. It was pretty awesome, though not the sexiest thing.”
Are any of these toys, whether they’re designed for this very reason or improvised at home, an actual replacement for oral sex? Not completely, both Deysach and Pilote said. As Pilote said, “Oral sex is more about the connection with the other person.” On the other hand, they also pointed out that sometimes toys are preferable to oral sex with a person who you’re not feeling it with, or vice versa: In that case, “even if they have a tongue, it won’t be good,” they said. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to go down on yourself now.
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