This article was published as part of FELIX’s Sex Survey launch. Do the survey here.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt over the course of my adult life, it’s how to get myself off, and I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting that. In recent years, more and more women have begun taking control of their sexuality, and although there is still a huge stigma attached to female masturbation, the sex toy market has silently turned into a huge industry, with thousands of products to tickle your fancy however you like it.

From the early days of Ann Summers parties, to the advent of (discreetly packaged) internet shopping, to vibrators being stocked on the shelves in Superdrug, we’ve come a long way. This revolution is unquestionably thanks to certain iconic gadgets that have made women so excited that they’ve broken down social boundaries to share them.

Sex toys these days range from the cheap to the high-end – from those who want to get themselves off repeatedly with a vibrator that cost a fiver to those who want to drop a ton on a more luxury glass dildo. Some are made from cheap plastic, and others are pieces of art in themselves, designed to be displayed when not in use.

These don’t always have to be solo escapades either. I’ve used every sex toy that I’ve ever owned with a partner, to varying degrees of success: from the guy so intimidated that he only wanted to go near small clitoral vibrators (but appreciated the break they gave to his fingers and tongue) to the guy who kept stealing them for his own personal use.

The world is starting to realise that women love to rub one out as much as men, and whether you’re already acquainted with battery-powered pleasure, or just starting to look around, there’s always going to be something new out there for you to try.

The Magic Wand

The Hitachi magic wand (although no longer branded as Hitachi) is a mains-powered ‘vibrating massager’ that’s been around since the 1960s, and is responsible for fifty years of sexual liberation of women all over the world. This many years on, it’s still as popular as ever, with many variations available.

I’m not going to lie; it’s as loud as it is powerful. This is not one to use with your housemates chilling out in the next room, unless, like me, you’re a bit of an exhibitionist. Considerate usage aside, there are justified reasons that women have raved about this for decades. Being mains powered, this magic gadget can deliver incredibly powerful vibrations for as long as you desire, although you’ll probably find yourself getting into multiple orgasm territory within a f ew minutes.

Although I’ve had some amazing orgasms with the Magic Wand, and have found myself at near-addiction levels of distraction by having it in the house, I do find that the vibration can be too intense, sometimes preventing me from seeing my climax through to the end. The strength of the vibration can, with prolonged use, lead to short term loss of sensation in the stimulated area, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re using it solo, but can sometimes lead to a temporary loss of appreciation for other stimuli.

I would recommend it for anyone who finds it difficult to achieve an orgasm consistently, or who wants to get themselves off, hard, in a very short amount of time.

The bullet vibrator

The bullet vibrator has revolutionised discreet masturbation for women all over the world. Coming in many different designs, including some disguised as lipsticks, the bullet is subtle, and can bring quick and silent pleasure. Being so small, the bullet is only really good for clitoral stimulation, but is great if you want to get yourself off quickly. You can easily use it with other toys to customise the experience.

I’ve owned many of these, and they definitely have different vibrational intensities, so depending on what you like, it might be worth spending an extra couple of quid on this. In my experience, these things eat through the batteries, and there’s nothing worse than having the power wane when you need it. Even so, one of these comes with me in my make-up bag whenever I travel, and in all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never had any awkward discovery moments.

Honestly, I think that everyone should own one of these, and take the time to discover all the different ways that you can use it.

The Rampant Rabbit

Now available with as many features as you can imagine, the rabbit vibrator was dreamed up in the 1990s, following demand for sex toys that provided simultaneous vaginal and clitoral stimulation.

I have several friends who claim to have been sexually awakened, and to have had their first orgasms by the ownership of a rabbit vibrator, and based on such recommendations, I’ve bought several. While I can’t argue that they don’t work, they always end up languishing in my drawer, taken out only for a very occasional craving.

Although more luxurious versions are available, most rabbit vibrators are made of this jelly-like, plasticky material, which never loses the smell of rubber (even after years). I’m definitely a hard-and-firm-vibrator kind of girl, so these just don’t tick my boxes. Aside from the texture, I’ve always found it a bit of a faff to correctly align the different parts of the vibrator to get the stimulation that really does it for me.

I recommend this for anyone who’s new to using sex toys for vaginal penetration. You can get ones that are a bit smaller for beginners (there’s nothing wrong with being nervous!), and there are so many varieties out there that there’s one to suit everyone.

The G-spot vibrator

The elusive G-spot, located somewhere on the front wall of the vagina, is traditionally ignored during sex and masturbation, probably because it’s awkward to get to, and it might not occur to you to go poking there for specific pleasure. In this era of a vibrator for every occasion, one type that has really made the difference to many women’s orgasms is one that specifically targets the G-spot, precisely stimulating it to give powerful orgasms with or without the need for additional clitoral stimulation.

G-spot stimulation can take some getting used to. With any sex toy that stimulates your G-spot, it will take some practice to figure out the positioning that works for you, and G-spot stimulation, in any context, can be an intense new sensation that might feel strange at first. With some perseverance, recognising these sensations and building on them has given me some of the strongest orgasms that I’ve every experienced.

Vibrators and dildos designed to stimulate the G-spot come in many shapes, designed for use with and without a partner. Anyone who has never experienced the arousal and pleasure arising from their G-spot should be encouraged to experiment and seek it out – it’s worth the effort!

The butt plug

Even in this enlightened age, many people are still afraid to talk about anal. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, if you use plenty of lube, and take your time, it can be something that both men and women can enjoy.

Butt plugs have been commercially available for more than a hundred years, demonstrating that there is nothing new or strange about wanting to fire up these often ignored nerve endings. There are dozens of kinds of anal toys out there, but beyond a cheeky finger, butt plugs are what usually first sell the intoxicating world of anal play.

In women, anal toys add a feeling of fullness, heighten sensitivity, and provide additional stimulation both in the ass and in the vagina through the walls. For many women, this can be eye-opening, and enhance other sensations. Contrary to what I’ve been told my whole life, I can assure you that the butt is not just for the boys.

There’s nothing strange of unusual about enjoying anal play either with a partner or as part of your solo routine, and by using anal toys such as butt plugs instead of going in all guns blazing, people are starting to realise how much fun it can be.