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Sex toys, Oh, my!

A sexual enhancement product may be just the ticket for tuning up your sex life this year, but the idea of buying one can be daunting.

Online Shopping Surprise

IU research suggests that many individuals feel more comfortable purchasing sexual enhancement products online.

Print-Quality Photo

"Not all women and men feel comfortable shopping at adult retail stores in their community," said Debby Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University Bloomington. "Our research suggests that many individuals feel more comfortable purchasing sexual enhancement products either online or, for women, through in-home sex toy parties."

Herbenick and Michael Reece, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, direct research related to the sexual health education opportunities available through adult book stores, Web sites and in-home parties. Many people, said Herbenick, find it difficult to talk about their sexual health, even with their family doctors, so potential health problems or issues related to personal satisfaction can go unaddressed. Their research has found that, in many cases, customers are able to obtain accurate sexual health information in a discreet setting through retail stores and in-home parties that sell sex toys.

Retail stores

"Many adult retail stores, particularly those geared toward women and couples, offer educational classes related to deepening your relationship, flirting tips for singles, as well as sexual skills and techniques," said Herbenick.

Examples of such shops include Good Vibrations in San Francisco and Brookline, Mass; Early to Bed in Chicago; and Babeland in New York and Los Angeles, all of which sell merchandise through their Web sites.


In-home sex toy parties provide a range of opportunities for women, while among a small group of women, to ask questions related to sexual enhancement products.

"In addition to purchasing products such as massage creams and vibrators, our research suggests that women who attend these parties use the opportunity to seek out information about a range of sexual health topics from the party facilitators," said Herbenick. "They ask questions about anything ranging from genital pain, referrals for couples counseling or how to alleviate sexual side effects from cancer treatment."

Make it fun

The overarching element of these parties is about fun and exploring one's sexuality in a safe and comfortable environment. And there is definitely a high degree of interest in popular products such as clitoral vibrators, g spot vibrators and heightening creams to increase sensation for both women and men. Information about in-home parties can be found at, or

For more information about the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, visit

To read more articles from the Department of Applied Health Science, visit