Let’s cut to the chase: Many of us are horny right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has made getting some challenging, as most Canadians staying at home are either abstaining from partnered sex or reducing their number of intimate partners.
It’s no surprise then that masturbation continues to be a regular pandemic past-time, long after quarantine baking and gardening have lost their fad appeal. You might even call solo play a collective responsibility, as authorities like B.C.’s public health agency endorses the ménage à moi to minimize potential viral exposure.
Helping people fulfill their intimacy cravings solo is the booming sex toy business, with the industry reporting worldwide spikes in sales as the pandemic continues. And with a second wave on the horizon, those cravings during the colder months are likely to persist or possibly deepen due to fewer outdoor spaces to convene.
To find out how Canadians are using sex toys and intimacy aids to get through the worst of times, HuffPost Canada asked Twitter, along with two sex toy experts for their pandemic recommendations. Story continues after the slideshow.
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From the toys recommended by Erin Sue, Pink Cherry’s sales director, and Jack Lamon, worker-owner of Come As You Are, some common features emerged, as many provide comfort in ways that mimic partnered sex (through suction, thrusting, or “come hither” motions), or fulfilled a need for human affection:
Rising sales point to more time for exploration
Sue noted that Pink Cherry’s sales have doubled. Come As You Are’s expertise is also more popular than ever, with a storefront expected to open in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood later this year.
Both said that many sales came from first-time customers, with Lamon noting Come As You Are’s reputation as a trans- and queer-owned co-operative making it an accessible location for those exploring their sexual needs.
I think that we’re seeing this trend in different aspects of people’s lives, not just in sexuality,” Lamon said. “For folks who do have more time at home and maybe don’t have access to partners or dates, they’re taking all that energy that they usually put out in the world and spending more time really getting back to basics of ourselves and making ourselves right with the world.”
Sexually speaking, that may look like exploring what G-spot or prostate stimulation feels like; improving pelvic health and increasing insertion comfort with dilator use; or reading up on pleasure and boundaries.
He also connected this need for self-love in a pandemic with pleasure activism, adding that for folks fighting for Indigenous and Black causes, “being right with ourselves” helps people work in their movements sustainably by alleviating stress.
Multipurpose toys FTW
Toys don’t have to provide only sexual stimulation in one way, Sue noted, as many of Pink Cherry’s bestsellers are wand massagers, like the legendary Hitachi wand, which can be enjoyed by many genders for its hardcore externally-stimulating vibrations.
“They’re great for overall wellness and back massages that are not necessarily sexual-related,” Sue explained.
Canadians are suckers for suction toys
Both Sue and many who answered an informal Twitter callout sung the praises of suction toys, which use air waves to create satisfying vacuums that can mimic oral sex. Famed for causing intense orgasms, suction toys make up much of Pink Cherry’s list of bestsellers.
Suction toys have also received rave reviews for simulating human touch in other ways, by applying them to nipples and other sensitive body parts.
Household items can help too (within reason)
Weighted blankets and hugging pillows are great for anxiety, while also making for excellent intimacy aids for those looking to simulate the weight and size of a body; weighted blankets can feel like someone’s embrace, while hugging pillows can assist big-time canoodlers.
longing for human comfort so much i got a weighted blanket— andi c. ✨ average tiddy white-passing gf (@airismile) September 19, 2020
On the other hand, some everyday essentials like electric toothbrushes, which are notoriously known as makeshift vibrators, might not be a good idea, as mouth bacteria is probably not good to have close to one’s genitals in the long-term, Lamon said.
Come As You Are is a great fan of using fresh produce in the bedroom.
“If you get an organic cucumber and you peel it, it’s a super fun toy to play with for penetration,” he said. “And if you’re someone who has a penis, grab that melon baller, scoop into a cantaloupe, and go at it for a super fun time.”
Tips for first-time shoppers
Volume: Many toys bring the good vibrations, but some may be more audible than you, your roommate, or your family members would appreciate. If you’re in the market for a new bedside companion, it’s a good idea to look for reviews on noise levels and water durability, should showers be where you feel most relaxed.
Shipping: Trying to hide your purchase from prying eyes? While many stores ship in discreet packages, it’s worth double-checking on the store’s website how exactly you’ll be receiving your toy.
Make your dollar matter: Supporting local businesses is easy thanks to online stores. In Ontario alone, shoppers can pick up glass toys from Peace Lily Toys, leather harnesses from Unicorn Collaborators, and transmasculine products from FTM PitStop. It’s also easy to buy from Black-owned product lines that have partnered with Canadian distributors, such as New York Toy Collective.
Prioritize fun: Sue’s biggest tip for any sex toy newbie?
“Remember that whatever you want, or what interests you is the right decision for you,” she said.
And always remember to use lube. You’ll thank yourself later!
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada and has been updated.