Sex Advice

Sex Educators Share 6 Strap-On Sex Tips To Know Before, Well, Strapping On

Tiffany Curtis

Photo: Getty Images/filadendron

Strap-on sex is a customizable, queer-positive sexual experience that holds the potential to level up anyone and everyone’s sex life, no matter how you identify or what genitalia you possess. It involves a dildo secured to a harness, often used by queer folks with vulvas to penetrate other people who have vulvas and who enjoy penetration. Straight folks also practice strap-on sex, often via pegging, which is strap-on sex that typically involves a person with a vulva (anally) penetrating a person who has a penis.

No matter how a person chooses to explore strap-on sex, though, it stands to offer benefits that allow for defying, exploring, and affirming gender identities, playing with power dynamics, and expanding understood notions of what constitutes penetrative sex. But, especially if the practice is new to you, make sure to note the following six strap-on sex tips from sex educators before giving it a try.

Sex educators share 6 strap-on sex tips to know before trying it out.

1. Communication is key

“Strap-on sex entails a dildo and a harness…but beyond that the world of strap-on sex is your oyster,” says Gabrielle Kassel, Well+Good contributor and queer-positive sex journalist and educator. “So before agreeing to explore strap-on play, make sure to talk with your partner about what strap-on sex means to both of you.”

For instance, do you want to engage in oral, anal, P-in-V sex, or a combination with a strap-on? Whatever you decide, make sure you and your partner(s) are on the same page, because, Kassel adds, “this dictates how the actual play goes, and it’ll also play a role in deciding which dildo and harness you pick out.”

For those who aren’t in a committed monogamous relationship structure, establishing ground rules with a new partner before engaging in strap-on sex is important. Reasons for this vary, but, for example, it’s not unheard of to feel emotionally attached to a dildo, and if you don’t like the thought of a partner using the same one with other people, then that’s important to articulate.

2. Know you won’t become a pro overnight

If you’re new to strap-on sex and feel nervous about…well, strapping on for the first time, practice can help. “It can be really fun to get your new strap-on on and just walk around wearing it,” says Hunter Riley, director of education and outreach at Self Serve, a sexual education resource center. Riley also suggests wearing it while doing everyday things, like the dishes, dancing around, or even sexting.

You can also masturbate alone while wearing it, which can help you figure out where the dildo feels best on your body. Ideally, you’ll get to a place where the strap-on will feel like an empowering extension of you.

3. Not all dildos are created equally

Shopping for a strap-on can be a fun and intimate experience, but whomever is going to be penetrated should ultimately be the one who selects the dildo because it’s important they feel comfortable. If this is more than one person, perhaps there’s a reason to select more than one dildo.

In terms of what to look for in this selection, beyond ensuring the dildo has a flared base (to fit with a harness), the sky’s the limit. Do you want something flesh-like and realistic-looking like this selection from New York Toy Collective or rainbow-colored and abstract-looking like this one from Avant? There are also slim dildos, girthy dildos, and dildos that don’t require a harness and can penetrate both partners at once.

4. Cleaning your dildo is important for safe strap-on sex

It’s crucial that you clean your dildo before and after each use—just as you would with any other sex toy—since they can harbor bacteria and spread infections, especially if they’re made of a porous material, like jelly rubber. So, if you can, buy a dildo made of body-safe material, like silicone or stainless steel. Be sure to clean it using a mild, fragrance-free soap and water or a specialty sex toy cleaner, and note that silicone and stainless steel can also be cleaned by boiling.

Safe-sex guidelines apply when using a strap-on, so after gaining consent and setting any ground rules, make sure you and your partner(s) disclose your STI statuses. From there, make sure to use condoms with your dildo. If you switch from vaginal to anal use—even with the same person receiving—use a new condom. Also use a new condom if you if you switch from wearing to receiving.

5. Harness options are vast

Just as the receiver in strap-on sex should be the one to pick out the dildo, the person wearing the harness should select it—and there are a number of options. A harness that straps or secures around the pelvis is most common, and they can take be strappy, made of nylon or leather (which tends to have a longer lifespan). There are also versions that resemble boyshort and boxer-brief  underwear. For beginners who want a strappy-style harness, Kassel recommends the SpareParts Jocque for its adjustable fit and dual bullet-vibrator pockets, and for those interested in underwear-style harnesses, she suggests Tomboii and Rodeoh brands. Ready to expand beyond pelvis-based harnesses? Options exist that are worn around the thighs, the palms of your hands, or even your face.

Whatever you decide, though, just make sure your purchase is compatible with your dildo, which is secured within the harness with an “O-ring.” Some harnesses come with multiple O-ring sizes, while some only have one fixed size, so make sure your dildo fits.

6. Strap-on sex should be pleasurable for both partners

That’s right—the person being penetrated doesn’t have to be the only one having a good time. The aforementioned strapless or double-ended dildos are a great option when both people involved enjoy penetration, and there are also vibrating versions that offer extra stimulation.

You might also consider enhancing the experience by adding additional toys to your strap-on. “You can always add a cock ring onto a dildo for a bit more stimulation for the person on the receiving end of the strap on,” says Riley. There are also some harness options, like this one, that leave room to insert a bullet vibrator to provide more stimulation for the wearer.

As for aftercare, which is the practice of transitioning back to reality after experiencing a sexual encounter, a number of options may be helpful. “Maybe it’s a bath or a massage—especially if someone’s thrusting muscles are still developing,” says Riley. “You might want some cuddling, or maybe you want some alone time. These are all great things to communicate beforehand in your negotiation, as well as checking in afterward.”

Ultimately, communication is the star of all strap-on sex sex tips for ensuring it’s an enjoyable time for all. Kassel says partners should be checking in throughout and after the experience, asking questions like, “Do you prefer deep slow strokes like this, or more shallow strokes like this?” or “How does this feel for you?” After all, it doesn’t matter what harness or dildo you have if you don’t communicate your wants and needs.

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