There are many reasons why you may need to find an alternative for sex toys, lubes, or barrier methods. You may not have easy access to these items, you may live with your family or in an area where having certain sex toys could ‘out’ you, or you may be trans and unable to find barrier methods that fit your body and the types of sex that you’re having.
Whatever your situation, it’s always best to use items for their intended purpose—the best cock ring is one that is made to be a cock ring, and the most effective barrier methods are real condoms and dental dams. That said, there are alternatives that can be safe if used properly.
Sex Toy Alternatives
There are plenty of possibilities for finding sex toys at home. Whether you’re looking for a dildo, a cock ring, or materials for impact play, it’s important to be aware of ways to reduce harm when you’re using items outside of their intended purpose.
If you’re using household items as dildos, make sure to cover these items with a condom to help prevent infection. Hairbrush handles and vegetables are among the most popular and available. Vegetables don’t have entirely smooth surfaces, so they might make tiny tears in the condom which could lead to bacterial infections. Any dildo you insert anally should have a flared base to prevent it from getting stuck inside of you.
For items you may be using as vibrators, like an electric toothbrush handle or your phone, it’s important to know if they are waterproof. Always use a condom with these devices and only use them to stimulate areas outside of your body.
Cock rings can also be crafted out of things you might already own. You can take out the plastic ring from an insertive condom to use as a cock ring. Cock rings should only be worn for short periods of time and should be made of a flexible material that you can easily remove even if you become erect. If you start to feel discomfort or notice bruising, take off the ring immediately. If you are not able to remove it, seek medical attention immediately.
Items like pillows and socks can be used as masturbation sleeves, clothespins can be used as nipple clamps, and belts, spatulas or wooden spoons can be used for bondage and impact play. As with all of these sex toy alternatives, be aware of any possible risks and take any precautions to reduce them.
The biggest takeaways for sex toy alternatives are: don’t insert anything sharp or electric inside of you; cover all objects with a condom and do not use items that could easily break off inside of you.
Lube is an important part of sex that increases comfort and decreases the risk of STI transmission. If you don’t have access to lube, there are plenty of alternatives. Spit and different everyday items can be used in place of lube—Refinery29 has a good list of lube alternatives here.
If you’re using condoms to help prevent STIs or pregnancy, your lube alternative should not contain any oil. Oil can break down condoms and make them ineffective.
For more information on lube and lube alternatives, check out the Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health’s Guide to Lube here.
Barrier Method Alternatives
Findings alternatives to barrier methods, like condoms or dental dams, is difficult. There are very few barrier methods you should try to make yourself when you don’t have a condom or dental dam.
Things like plastic bags and plastic wrap should not be used as condoms for any penetrative sex. The point of condoms is to keep sexual fluids inside. Trying to create a roll-on condom from these items is not an effective option to prevent STIs or pregnancy.
However, you can adapt a roll-on condom, latex/latex-free gloves, or non-microwavable plastic wrap to make a dental dam used to cover an anus or vagina for oral sex. Be aware that using plastic wrap poses a potential choking hazard.
As with all of our alternatives, these items are not intended to be used as condoms and should not be relied on to prevent the transmission of STIs or pregnancy.
If you have questions about alternatives to sex toys, lube, or barrier methods, you can chat with Planned Parenthood health educators here.