A sex toy is a device that helps humans get more pleasure when they have sex or when they masturbate. Sometimes these devices are also called adult toy, or marital aid. "Marital aid" may also apply to herbs or drugs that have such an effect. Herbs with such an effect are aphrodisiacs. Pornography is not called a sex toy. Neither are condoms or methods of birth control.
Sex toys can be bought in sex shops. There are also special trade fairs for them. And many online stores sell them on the internet.
Artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic of a type called bâton de commandement could have been used for sexual purposes. Few archaeologists consider these items as sex toys, but archaeologist Timothy Taylor put it, "Looking at the size, shape, and—some cases—explicit symbolism of the ice age batons, it seems disingenuous to avoid the most obvious and straightforward interpretation. But it has been avoided."
There has been research into sex toys, to see if their use is good for health or not. Most studies show that most people have a positiive experience about using sex toys. They report that they are sexually aroused and satisfied more often, that it was easier to get an orgasms (especially for women), and that there was a more playful approach to sex and the fun of something new during sex. There are stores that specialise on toys for women. Some organizations link the sale of sex toys with sexual education and aim to support women's sexual empowerment. In clinical settings, more positive effects have been found: Sex toys are used for therapies, for example, in the context of therapy for orgasm disorders. They can also enable people with disabilities to have more sexual activity.
Types of sex toys include:
- Camilla Cenni et al.: Inferring functional patterns of tool use behavior from the temporal structure of object play sequences in a non-human primate species. In: Physiology & Behavior. Band 222, 2020, 112938, doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.112938. Camilla Cenni et al.: Do monkeys use sex toys? Evidence of stone tool-assisted masturbation in free-ranging long-tailed macaques. In: Ethology. Band 128, Nr. 9, 2022, S. 632–646, doi:10.1111/eth.13324.
- Marshack, A. 1972 The Roots of Civilization McGraw-Hill New York: 333
- Taylor, T. 1996. The Prehistory of Sex. New York: Bantam. p. 128.
- Paul L. Vasey, Intimate Sexual Relations in Prehistory: Lessons from the Japanese Macaques. World Archaeology, Vol. 29, No. 3, Intimate Relations (Feb., 1998), pp. 407-425
- Singh, Jyotsna (20 June 2007). India rattled by vibrating condom. BBC News
- Chin, Christina (28 July 2013). "Shop online but don't break the law". The Star (Malaysia). Retrieved 17 October 2014.
- Fahs, Breanne; Swank, Eric (2013). "Adventures with the "Plastic Man": Sex toys, compulsory heterosexuality, and the politics of women's sexual pleasure". Sexuality & Culture. 17 (4): 666–685. doi:10.1007/s12119-013-9167-4. ISSN 1936-4822. S2CID 144190614.
- Waskul, Dennis; Anklan, Michelle (2019). "'Best invention, second to the dishwasher': Vibrators and sexual pleasure". Sexualities. 23 (5–6): 849–875. doi:10.1177/1363460719861836. S2CID 197696589.
- Comella, Lynn (2017). Vibrator nation: how feminist sex-toy stores changed the business of pleasure. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-6854-0. OCLC 963793523.
- Herbenick, Debra; Reece, Michael; Hollub, Ariane (2009). "Inside the ordering room: characteristics of women's in-home sex toy parties, facilitators and sexual communication". Sexual Health. 6 (4): 318–327. doi:10.1071/SH08086. ISSN 1449-8987. PMID 19917201.
- Huff, April (2018). "Liberation and pleasure: Feminist sex shops and the politics of consumption". Women's Studies. 47 (4): 427–446. doi:10.1080/00497878.2018.1454923. ISSN 0049-7878. S2CID 149662437.
- Laan, Ellen; Rellini, Alessandra H.; Barnes, Tricia (2013). "Standard operating procedures for female orgasmic disorder: Consensus of the International society for sexual medicine". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 10 (1): 74–82. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02880.x. ISSN 1743-6095. PMID 22970851.
- Morales, Ernesto; Gauthier, Véronique; Edwards, Geoffrey; Courtois, Frédérique; Lamontagne, Alicia; Guérette, Antoine (2018). "Co-designing sex toys for adults with motor disabilities". Sexuality and Disability. 36 (1): 47–68. doi:10.1007/s11195-017-9506-8. ISSN 1573-6717. S2CID 149352882.