Next to an Epsom salt soak and some buttery Castelvetrano olive oil, we love nothing more than tossing our shrimp net into the web, and feeding your curiosity with bouquets of seafood, TikTok-viral cowboy pole-dancing boots, and everything else that makes your heart go pitter-patter. Often, that means sexual wellness—mostly Guy Fieri-core clothing, but also sexual wellness items in their many glorious forms, from cult-fave vibrators to the best condoms on the market (that don’t smell like balloons). Today, that quest brings us to the electrifying, niche kink of E-stim play.
E-stim, or electro-stimulation/electro-sex, falls under the category of BDSM. More specifically, it sits under the umbrella of sensation play, as it brings lightly shocking sex toys and electro-pads into the bedroom. “Kinksters have been ‘perverting’ everyday tools for quite a while now and electro-stimulation isn't any different,” sexologist Marla Renee Stewart, MA—who is also the in-house sexpert for one of our favorite sexual wellness boutiques, Lovers—tells VICE. She also finds that “[E-stim] is more popular than ever, with more and more people enjoying not only the stimulation that it provides, but the titillation of the shocks.”
“It has always been around, and it is definitely evolving,” adds Venus Cuffs, a New York City-based lifestyle domme and nightlife mogul, about the fetish. “At all of my events, I include a station for electro play.” Particularly in these post-lockdown days, Cuffs has also noticed more and more people asking if the kink will be present at their events. “I think it is because during this pandemic a lot of people were isolated, and dealing with [their] mental health, and couldn’t sexually get in the mood,” they explain. “We were all feeling too much in our heads. Now, people want to get out, and feel present in their bodies again. Electro play seems to help people [with that],” says Cuffs. “Everyone, from sadists to sensualists, enjoys [it].”
As with all sexual experiences, consent and conversations with partners about boundaries, safe words, and more are a must before diving in—and don’t hesitate to bring all of your questions to a brick and mortar adult store, either. “There's nothing more fruitful than learning about the product, asking questions with an expert, and then being in a place where you can practice your new craft,” says Renee Stewart. “Find a toy and experiment with the toy on yourself first,” Cuffs adds. “There is no one right answer for this… Take your time and go at your own pace. If you love the feeling [a toy] gives you, then it is for you.”
If you’re completely new to sensory play, you might want to start off with dripping candle wax on a lover, or dabbling in temperature play sex toys. “Please do not play with actual electrical wires, outlets, cords, etc.” stressed Cuffs. “This is extremely dangerous and NOT what [E-stim] is about. We want you to feel more ALIVE while playing, not end up DEAD.” Understand how E-stim toys could affect your own body based on your own medical health, stick to vendors and brands that you trust—and for the love of Zeus’ lightning bolt, never DIY your own E-stim devices or place electrodes above the waist, as that can be dangerous or even fatal. Capiche?
But take it from us, the horny folks who will try (most) anything once: E-stim can (and should) be hella fun, whether that entails a little zap on the bum before sex, or a full roleplay dive into your wildest Dr. Frankenstein fantasies. We’ve broken down the best E-stim sex toys for beginners and seasoned zappers alike, from paddles to wands and more.
The best beginner’s E-stim sex toys
If you’re new to E-stim, you may want to start off with toys designed for external use on erogenous zones below the waist, such as your booty or thigh. (And below the waist only, as anything above could be seriously dangerous.) The Stinger by Doc Johnson is a best-seller on Amazon that has over 700 reviews, with fans advising that the properly applied shock is mild, and “more sight and sound than actual pain,” adding that “if you're on the fence about E-stim or the likes, get this toy as a beginner.” Besides, just imagine all of the roleplay opportunities with this toy—you could go from sultry wizards to Star Wars in a flash.
Another rad starting point in the good old electro-paddle, because it can be enjoyed with or sans electric shock. “You can spank the person with the leather side [of this paddle] and then run the electro plates over the sensitized area,” says one reviewer of the ElectraStim on Lovehoney, which we would love to bring into our Matrix fantasies. There’s just something so slick about black leather and studs.
Baby’s first electro-pads
“My partner decided to buy this, and it was my first ever time using an electrical stimulator,” writes one reviewer about this set of electro-pads, which are designed to be placed on erogenous zones and include a variety of settings for you to safely explore. “At the first setting going up it felt like a slight tingle like a vibration, then the higher the settings felt like a deep massage.” You can also rest assured that you’re getting everything you need to dive into the kink with the kit, which comes with a USB charging cable, a connecting cable, four uni-polar adhesive pads, and a carrying pouch to keep it all organized.
If you use lube, it has to be E-stim safe
Attention: Do not use silicone-based ingredients, as silicone is an insulator and will dull the sensation. Instead, shop for E-stim-approved, water-based lubrications on vetted sexual wellness websites and platforms that make the product’s use clear, such as these packets of ElectraStim lubricant on Lovehoney.
The best-selling Spectra lube on Amazon also has a 4.5-star average rating from over 27,000 reviews. “I feel it not only adds a better connection to the pads but the pad life is also extended,” writes one reviewer. “The gel wasn't greasy and came off with ease.”
The best E-stim cock loops
Do you have a pair of balls in your life that you’d like to watch tap dance? Well, this set of E-stim cock loops might not be able to make your nethers do that, but with a five-star rating on Lovehoney, they’re doing something right. “If you own an E-stim machine, then these are a must!” writes one reviewer. “These loops are SO much more conductive [than my old loops]; Definite purchase if you love your electronic pleasure.”
The best E-stim sex toy bundle
The whole smorgasbord, my friend. This ElectraStim bundle has a 4.6-star average rating on Lovehoney, and comes with basically everything you need to become an E-stim laird. You’ll receive a rechargeable power unit that provides motion-activated electrical currents at 24 different intensity levels, all the cables and instructions necessary for setup, and a goody bag of toys to play with such as penis rings, patches, and an anal plug. “I have been interested in electro play for the last few years,” writes one reviewer, “but have never taken the plunge, mainly due to the cost of the equipment.” With this affordable, extensive kit, you know that you’re in good hands to spice things up in the bedroom.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.