Everything You Wanted To Know About Strap-Ons

Interested in trying a strap-on but aren’t sure where to start? We’re here to help.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Strap-Ons

Everything You Wanted To Know About Strap-Ons

Everything You Wanted To Know About Strap-Ons

5 minute read

Perhaps you’ve heard them mentioned before, but are still unclear what strap-ons actually are. Or maybe you’re looking to introduce a strap-on to your sex life but don’t know which one to get. Although there’s a lot of variety when it comes to strap-ons, the task of finding the right one for you and your partner shouldn’t overwhelm you — in fact, the entire experience, from start to finish, should be a blast. We’re here to break down the basics of strap-ons, get you started on the right foot, and rev you up to have a good time with your new toy.

What’s a strap-on? A strap-on is a sex toy that includes a dildo (usually a non-vibrating, penis-shaped silicon toy), and a waist/hip harness that the dildo can attach to. 

Why do people use strap-ons? Strap-ons are used to have penetrative sex in a hands-free way. These toys can be used for vaginal or anal sex, which, when performed by a woman who is anally penetrating a man, is often referring to as “pegging.”

As Carol Queen, PhD., staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, tells O.school, there are a variety of different ways people can get pleasure from using a strap-on. For some, “strap-on use can feel gender-confirming, and gender-fucky to others!” Queen says. “A strap-on might be relevant to use with people of any gender, as long as they want to experience vaginal or anal penetration (or whatever they call their pleasure parts),” noting that male-female pegging especially can be “very informative” and “not to mention hot.”

Alternatively, strap-ons are also a great option for those who may struggle with erectile dysfunction, yet wish to please their partner through penetration. Or, some people with penises may wish to wear a strap-on for double-penetrative purposes.

There’s really no wrong way to use a strap-on, as long as everyone is consenting and enjoying themselves.

How to use a strap-on

1. Get comfortable. Dr. Queen says that first-time strap-on users should take some time to get used to actually wearing the strap-on before diving into anything.

“Wear your dildo and harness around the house for a while first, just to see how it feels on you,” Dr. Queen suggests.

2. Get clear consent. As with any sexual encounter, get clear consent first. Ask your partner if they’re into the idea of introducing a strap-on into the equation and talk about the pros and cons before going forward. If there’s any feeling of discomfort with the notion, then don’t push it — you can always take time to warm up to the idea or not.

3. Strap on and grab the necessary accessories. Most strap-ons will come in two parts: the dildo and the harness/brief. This means you can custom fit a perfect strap-on for both you and your partner (we’ll get more into the different types of strap-ons later). You’ll also definitely want to have some lube on hand and any other toys you want to include.

4. Find positions that work for you. “There are many positions to try,” Dr. Queen says, “but one really nice one is lying on your back and having your partner take their time settling onto the dildo. This is sexy, gets both of you used to it, gives them some control about timing and depth, and it's a good position to do clitoral and breast stimulation from, too. (If your partner has a clitoris!)” However, this position may not be the best if you’re working with a harness that buckles in the back. So, it’s necessary to experiment. 

All parties involved should take it slow at first as you figure out how exactly to work your strap-on so that everyone is getting pleasure from it. It’s okay to be a little anxious and nervous when trying something new, so take a few deep breaths and know it’s okay to tap out if things just don’t feel right.

5. Keep it clean. Once you are done using your strap-on, make sure you clean it immediately after to avoid bacteria growth. You can buy a specialized anti-bacterial toy cleaner from most sex toy retailers.

Types of strap-ons

1. The harnessed strap-on. Probably the most recognizable models of strap-ons, the harnessed strap-ons come in several different styles — jockstrap, G-string, and corset.

2. The jockstrap: This three-strap style of harness has one strap around the waist, and two straps that wrap around each leg, leaving the crotch mostly exposed. The jockstrap may be the best choice for those who like to customize their fit because all connecting straps are adjustable.

(Image via Good Vibrations, $124.95)

3. The G-string: As the name suggests, the G-string harness fits like a classic G-string. One strap sits at the waist, and the other sits between the legs. Though some may not find this comfortable, others might like the stimulation it can provide when thrusting.

(Image via Amazon.com, $11.00)

4. The corset: Finally, the corset style of harness laces up in the back to provide a snugger, more customized fit, as well as more support and control.

Strap U Burlesque Universal Corset
(Image via JackAndJillAdult.com, $39.96)

5. The boxer brief/lingerie strap-on. If you’re not sure any of the above harnesses will be comfortable for you, then you might want to try a boxer-brief or lingerie-style strap-on base first. This style of strap-on base may also make you feel as though the dildo is a natural extension of your body. Though, be aware that this type of base cannot support heavier dildos, nor do they fit as snug to the body as the above harnesses.

boxer brief/lingerie strap-on
(Image via WetForHer.com, $39.95)

All of the above come in a variety of different materials. The most common materials harnesses come in are leather, faux leather, and rubber, and some even include decorative fabric or metal accents, including the rubber or metal ring in which the dildo fits. Some companies, like Good Vibrations, sell strap-on accessories like these stackable rubber rings that can prevent any discomfort that may be caused by the metal ring hitting the pubic bone during thrusting or harnesses that include built-in vibrator pockets so the strap-on wearer can also get some G-spot and/or clitoral stimulation.

6. The strapless strap-on. Strapless strap-ons are dildos that are double-headed with one bulb meant to be held by the thruster internally. They are the perfect option for those who aren’t comfortable with the harness aspect of the traditional strap-on. However, be warned that most strapless strap-ons require quite a bit of kegal skills, though the reward of both parties being penetratively pleasured at once may be worth the workout.

(Image via us.FunFactory.com, $105.99)

How to choose a dildo for your strap-on

Dr Queen notes that when you buy a strap-on, “you are actually getting two separate items:”: the dildo and the harness. Dr. Queen adds that one-piece strap-ons are notoriously not worth the buy due to sizing and fit discrepancies. “You'll want to choose a dildo with a base, so it fits in the harness, and a harness.” The person who will be wearing the strap-on needs to be the one choosing the fit and style. “If you are both going to use it, shop together and negotiate!” Dr. Queen suggests. “If you are sized pretty differently, it's possible you will each need one.”

“In choosing the [dildo], if you have a specific partner you'll use the toy with, pick it out with them or get their feedback about size and shape,” Dr. Queen notes. “Some people want a realistic-looking dildo that resembles a penis. Others don't want that.”

You also may want to start with something on the smaller and shorter side — although everyone’s taste is different, and the person who will be penetrated should obviously have a say in starting size. If you end up wanting something bigger, make sure the hole in your harness will fit a larger size.

“The dildo you choose can be slender, but choose one that isn't too soft, since it's harder to get into your partner if the toy is too wiggly — especially if you are doing anal,” Dr. Queen tells us.

Dr. Queen also offers some no-nos: “Don't choose a butt plug to go with your harness, even if you are doing anal strap-on sex; these aren't made for in-and-out play (plus they are mostly too short),” she says, adding, “Also don't use a dildo made of a hard material (like metal, glass, Lucite); these can hurt or even cause injury if a thrust happens at an unexpected angle.”

The bottom line

If you’re feeling more confident about starting your strap-on journey, then the fun part starts now. Browse your favorite sex toy shop to see if any of their offerings in the strap-on category suits your fancy, and then put your new knowledge to good use. As long as you and your sexual partner are both feeling good and keeping things consensual, then you’re doing this strap-on thing right.

Olivia Harvey

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Olivia Harvey is a freelance writer and award-winning screenwriter from Boston, Massachusetts.

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