5 Women Pay Homage to Their First Sex Toys, From Gen Z to Gen X

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

Sex toys. While they’re not usually an intergenerational talking point (“Back in my day, we used to walk 3 miles through the snow to charge our bullet vibrators…”), the stories around a woman’s first sex toy say a lot about contemporary attitudes about sex, pleasure and yes, female power.

Despite the fact that they’ve actually been around for ages (as author Rachel Feltman says in her forthcoming history of sex, Been There, Done That, vibrating belts were teased as sexual aids in ads as far back as the turn of the 20th century), it wasn’t until as recently as the 1970s that sex toys were even a considered a mainstream product category. Thanks to discreet internet vibrator boutiques, they're even more popular today—though usually behind closed doors.

In the interest of delving even more deeply into the increasingly well-parsed world of sexual wellness, PureWow conducted an anonymous poll of women between the ages of 25 and 52 about the first sex toys they ever owned. As it turns out, the discourse and attitudes surrounding toys that are used for sexual pleasure have changed immensely over the years.

As one Gen Xer explained, "“I am in my mid-40s. I had a lot of shame around pleasure and I don't have that anymore. ... I've started to put more effort into seducing myself lately and it's much more rewarding than just pressing a button—although that is, of course, still part of it."

Several members of younger generations seemed to agree that they enjoy more freedom when it comes to discussing their sex lives—and their toys. Said one Gen Z woman, "Sex toys are a normal conversation that I have every so often with my friends. We encourage each other to buy a new one or go to a sex shop. No conversation is off limits—the juicier the better.”

And as for those who fall in between the two? "I'm sure younger generations are much more clued-up than I ever was, although my friends and I are all quite comfortable talking about sex toys with each other and our partners," a millennial woman that we surveyed said.

Here’s to women of all ages dishing about their firsts—along with some suggestions for purchases of your own.

25 of the Best Sex Toys for Women That Will Seriously Rock Your World

first sex toy classic vibrator
Ella Paradis

1. The Toy: A Classic Vibrator

Age: 27

“I [bought my first sex toy] in high school, [at] maybe 17 or 18 years old. A friend and I each got one from Spencer's at the mall (if you don't know what that store is, count yourself as lucky). We named them ridiculous names, I think mine was José. It was really cheaply made and the switch would toggle on if it wasn't perfectly switched in the right position, meaning it would randomly turn on all the time. That's how my mom found it and confiscated it!”

What it is: The classic vibrator has a simple, rod-like or slightly curved shape and is around 7 inches long, give or take. Many are waterproof, and buyers can choose between a wide range of battery-powered and rechargeable options.

What it does: Classic vibrators offer internal and external stimulation, and their simple design is non-intimidating to many users, as it doesn't have any newfangled spinning parts or tarted-up shapes. The Je Joue Uma, shown here, is a classic 8-inch model that's been updated with contoured curves. Other contemporary models without too many bells and whistles include the Adam & Eve quilted purple massager ($124; $82) and the smooth Fifty Shades of Grey multi-speed model ($65; $43).

first sex toy magic wand1

2. The Toy: The Magic Wand

Age: 45

“I have accidentally referred to ‘plugging in my vibrator’ in front of younger people and been teased for it. But obviously, that's just someone who hasn't experienced The Magic Wand, [which was my first sex toy], and it's their loss....I haven't had an orgasm without a vibrator in over two decades, I don't know if I can at this point, but I plan to tell my next lover this and hopefully the challenge will be accepted.”

What it is: This corded toy has a round tennis ball-sized head, which is attached to a long handle that plugs into an electrical outlet.

What it does: First marketed as a back massager in the late 1960s, The Magic Wand became popular among women as a vibrator for clitoral stimulation in the 1970s, and continues to be a hit to this day. Since it's electrically powered, the two-speed motor offers extra-strong vibrations. Users who want to go for the maximum can hold the vibrating head directly against their clitoris, and those who want a lighter touch can start on the lowest setting or place a towel or blanket between their genitals and the vibrating head. Other similar toys include an immersible battery-powered model (the Bodywand Aqua massage wand vibrator, $75) and an attachment for the original Magic Wand (Wand essential flutter tip, $25).

first sex toy ultra bullet
Ella Paradis

3. The Toy: Bullet Vibrator

Age: 25

“I grew up knowing little to nothing about sex. I wasn't allowed to date until 16...I also lost my virginity my sophomore year of college, so I felt very behind...when it came to anything sexual....What inspired me to buy [my first sex toy] was liquid courage: I was drunk and there was a sex shop next door to the bar we were at. I decided to head into it with my guy best friend, and this woman was selling me on everything. I would have bought this intimidating-looking and very expensive one had it not been for my friend, who was level-headed and talked me into the bullet instead.… I was embarrassed to have bought it and was about to gift it away (unused, of course), but I decided last-minute to keep it and try it out. And I was NOT disappointed whatsoever. In fact, I was mad at myself for not buying one sooner.”

What it is: A palm-sized cylinder, these compact devices are popular first toys because they're small enough to fit in a drawer or your pocket, making them non-intimidating and simple to operate. Usually, they have one-button control at the base to toggle through various speeds. Some have a rounded tip, while alternative bullet vibrators might have a pointier head.

What it does: Bullet vibrators can be used for external and internal stimulation. This popular (and waterproof!) model from FemmeFun, in particular, offers 20 vibration modes. Better yet, it remembers the last setting you used and returns to it the next time you turn it on. And with three bright candy-hued colorways to choose from, it’s a mini art piece. You can also check out the Lovehoney Excite bullet vibrator, $17) or a mini hybrid rabbit version with dual bunny ears for clitoral stimulation (Happy Rabbit bullet vibrator, $40).

first sex toy rabbit vibrator

4. The Toy: The Rabbit Vibrator

Age: 52

"Thirtyish years ago, I bought a rabbit vibrator because I saw [a well-known female celebrity] buying one in the Pleasure Chest in the West Village. I’m 52 now, and I think it’s fair to say my generation thinks vibrators are as essential as a Water Pik.”

What it is: This vibrator type consist of a long shaft with a single or pair of rotating levers (aka "bunny ears"), which are attached two-thirds of the way down. This sex toy was immortalized in a 1998 episode of Sex and the City, when Carrie and the girls elected to do an intervention on Charlotte because she was playing with her rabbit vibrator so much, she refused to leave her apartment. A contemporary version can be seen in the Desire rabbit vibrator ($100).

What it does: The shaft of this device can penetrate the vagina to stimulate the G-spot as the external bunny ears massage the clitoris. Ideally, this dual stimulation results in a so-called “blended orgasm,” a purportedly more powerful, lasting climax. Later iterations of the rabbit vibrator include app-enabled remote-control versions (We-Vibe Nova 2 rabbit vibrator, $150) and a waterproof iteration (Satisfyer Mister Rabbit, $80; $50).

first sex toy dame kip

5. The Toy: Bullet Vibrator

Age: 36

“I first got a sex toy 16 years ago when I was 20. My much more experienced friend (she grew up in New York City) convinced me to get one, and I'm so glad she did!... I have to admit that I don't experiment much—I still use bullet vibrators for the most part and haven't really tried many other sex toys out there."

What it is: As we mentioned above, bullet vibrators are discreet and inexpensive; their compact size makes them well-suited to place stimulation in a precise, targeted area.

What it does: The Dame Kip ($75) is a small vibrator with something extra: It’s got a soft flutter tip that can envelope the clit, as well as cycle through five intensity levels. Other bullet vibrators with that something *extra* include the copper-toned Evolved Glam Squad ($35) that comes with bunny, wand and tulip attachments, and the powerful Le Wand Bullet Vibrator ($114) that has a textured silicone sleeve for extra sensation.

dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...