Science of Sex: Lube

April 11th, 2017

Welcome to the second installment in a new feature on Of Sex and Love: Science of Sex. In this feature, I plan to discuss the science of sexuality in an easy-to-digest format that’s accessible to the casual reader. I will also follow up with some extended reading material for people who want to know more about the subject of each post.

Enjoy!

science of sex lube

I am not the first person to write about lube, and I doubt I’ll be the most effective. But lube is so interesting from a scientific viewpoint, and I believe we can never talk about it enough.

Lube should make sex better, but it doesn’t always. For example, lubes that contain the spermicide nonoxynol are quite abrasive to sensitive tissues, resulting in micro-tears that actually facilitate the transfer of infections. Multiple studies have shown that Nonoxynol-9 contributes to HIV transmission.

Osmolality

Depending upon its osmolality, the measurement of particles per KG in a solution, lube may be doing unseen damage to your vagina or anus that increases the likelihood of an infection, too. Many lubes have a much higher osmolality (greater than 1,000 mOsm/Kg) than the vagina (~275 mOsm/Kg) or anus meaning there are more particles in the lube than the tissue it comes in contact with.

Osmolality is also important when it comes to sperm, which have a different measurement than vaginas, anuses, saliva and many lubes. By default, nearly all lube proves to be an inhibitor to sperm, so you’ll want to look for sperm-friendly lube when it comes to

Lube pH

If your lube has a pH that differs from your body’s natural pH (between 4.5 and 7 for most vaginas; pH varies during your cycle and life), you might find yourself dealing with a yeast infection while your body seeks balance.

Other Problematic Ingredients

And personal lubes that contain L-arginine, which is typically used to encourage sensitivity and arousal, can cause a herpes breakout. Sensation lubes (warming or cooling) typically rely on menthol or capsaicin to produce the desired effect, and every body responds to these chemicals differently.

Numbing agents such as lidocaine or benzocaine are sometimes found in anal lubricants. However, experts recommend against numbing the area because it both reduces pleasure and makes it harder to tell if you’re being too rough, which could lead to damage.

Lube and Your Toys

Even if lube is good for your body, it may not be compatible with your toys, which is the case with low-quality silicone lube and silicone toys. Using them together can cause an interaction that increases the porosity of your silicone toys, so they’re not as body-safe as they once were.

Further Reading

Did you enjoy the second installment of Science of Sex? Do you have further questions or suggestions for next month’s subject? Leave me a comment!

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Split Peaches Unicorn Horn Dildo (Pastel Pleasures – Medium)

March 31st, 2017

Have you ever used a toy that’s just too good? Yea. It’s a thing. I didn’t know either.

Sure, I’ve have toys that were very good. Some were, eh, good enough. Some were, wow, not good at all. This dildo might be the first that’s too good. It’s almost unbelievable like a unicorn, you might say.

So let’s talk about that first. This is a dildo like a unicorn horn. I got one swathed in pastels with silicone wrapping its way down the shaft. To be honest, it looks a bit more like ice cream than a unicorn horn, but you can also get it in pearlescent white, which might be more traditional for unicorns, along with a bold, rainbow-colored one. There’s even a gorgeous blue-purple one on the manufacturer’s site that SheVibe doesn’t carry (yet…?).

There’s a flat base that could be compatible with your harness if you want the power of the unicorn; though, I’ve only used this solo.

The dildo is surprisingly flexible. You can bend it backward to touch itself. The outer layer has a fair amount of give. It’s not squishy like VixSkin, more like a softer version of Tantus’ shiny silicone. The core is firm enough to remain upright. And it’s not so soft that you can’t control it from the base when it’s inserted. I really enjoy the formula of this silicone, and much silicone has fallen into the “meh” camp for me previously.

The one thing that’s not good about the silicone? It’s the lintiest lint-magnet ever. Like wash-it-and-wash-it-again. I’ve never had to spend so much time washing a toy as I have the unicorn dildo. And there is no way possible to photograph it without picking up more lint and hair. Sorry.

The end of the horn is rounded, so penetration feels easy with a little lube, even if it’s not particularly awesome lube, haha. And the particular increase in circumference is nearly perfect. I don’t need to be warmed up at all, and the narrower tip doesn’t bother my cervix. Again, near perfection.

But I think a custom size would be better up my all. The length — 10 inches — isn’t really necessarily, and I don’t feel especially full when the toy hits my cervix. If this were maybe 3″ shorter, I would absolutely adore it. It would still not be the toy for size queens, but I’d be able to appreciate the 2.75-inch circumference near the base in a way that I just can’t now.

Still, I can use the dildo, get it right where I want it (thanks to the flexibility), press it right against my G-spot (thanks to the firmness) and hold it in place until I squirt. It’s made me squirt nearly immediately. Like 10 seconds or less. It doesn’t take much to make me squirt, but this is still impressive. A second ejaculation following needing less than half that time.

But if it only takes fifteen seconds, what else do I do it with it, you know? Fortunately, I do find the unicorn dildo to be quite enjoyable while stroking. The twisted texture seems too subtle to notice, but I can feel the waves in a way that’s in no way objectionable. Split Peaches makes dildos with much more texture if that’s up your alley, however.

If there were any toy that was going to give me a vaginal orgasm, the unicorn dildo is probably it. We’re not there yet, but, hey, sometimes you’ve got to believe in magic, right?

SheVibe

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Cloud 9 Pro Sensual Warm Touch Silicone Rechargeable Vibrator

September 1st, 2016

If there’s something I dislike more than trying really, incredibly hard and long to get off and failing to do so, it might be having to write about a toy that I would describe as “Meh.” I’m several hundred toys into my sex-toy-reviewing, er, career, and this increasingly happens despite that fact that I am now reviewing fewer toys than ever.

These two things go hand in hand, as I’ve discussed before. When I have little or nothing to say about the toy, you practically have to pry the secret from my brain via physical surgery like the mice wanted to do to Arthur Dent in H2G2. I digress just a bit.

So.. this is your introduction to the Cloud 9 Pro Sensual Warm Touch Silicone Rechargeable Vibrator, which you may never have heard of before. Even if you did, you might have forgotten about it given that the name seems more of a random assortment of words than a strong branding choice.Cloud 9 seems to be the new kid on the block, and they’ve got everything from basic

Cloud 9 seems to be the new kid on the block, and they’ve got everything from basic G-spot wands to kegel balls to heated, rechargeable vibrators. Once upon a time, this might have knocked my socks off, you know, if I even kept them on during masturbation (I am not that kind of heathen, after all). It’s still enough to draw my attention, and that’s how I wound up with this vibrator in my hands courtesy of SheVibe.

But making a rechargeable vibrator from silicone and well under the $100 price range is no longer difficult. Lovelife does it, and while their Cuddle may not heat up, it won over several reviewers/bloggers, myself included. But I digress.. again.

The Cloud 9 Pro Sensual Warm Touch Silicone Rechargeable Vibrator is one that shares similarities with many toys. The controls and heating function are similar to Svakom Leslie. The general shape reminds me of a Lelo toy, but that can be said about most toys that are trying to be – or at least look – premium.

Two-button control panel

plus, the magnetic charger reminds me of many Fun Factory toys. Cloud 9 might actually have the leg up because instead of just two contact points, there’s an ellipse groove into which the charger sits, making it more stable and providing more consistent contact during charging.

It’s not exactly like the other toys, however. While for Leslie and this sex toy take a while to warm up, The Cloud 9 vibrator does eventually become noticeably warm, warmer than Svakom’s Leslie. The description says it gets over 100 degrees F. In fact, some people might find the amount of heat to be too much. Of course, you can turn it off, but you can’t adjust it. Perhaps that will be a feature we see in similar toys in the future.

Unlike Lelo, the tip is quite squishy. The entire shaft is much squishier, actually. You might prefer this to those toys with thin layers of silicone that are mostly rigid. It may even make someone a good clitoral vibrator, but it was less than stellar for me personally.

I think I need more deep and strong vibrations or a toy with a shape that juts out in some way to be useful clitorally. This vibrator has quite buzzy vibrations that tickle my hand and leave my clit feeling a little “numb” after use — not because they’re so strong but because of how shallow they are.

I always find that toys with buzzy vibrations have lackluster modes. How can a pulsation feel good if it’s just not deep enough? This can be said for the Cloud 9 Pro Sensual Warm Touch Silicone Rechargeable Vibrator, sadly.

Overall, the Cloud 9 vibrator lacks bells and whistles. It’s got a gentle curve and is coated in soft silicone. But there’s no defined hook or bulge for G-spot stimulation. I don’t typically require texture, but I did finhas quite buzzy d the lack on this toy to be underwhelming.

This fact that it’s got 5 insertable inches and a 1.5-inch diameter kind of adds to this feeling. It’s just so.. middle of the road.

To be fair, it’s a decent, rechargeable vibrator made of soft silicone for less than $60. But unless you’re dying to try a heated toy or don’t own a single rechargeable, internal vibrator, I can’t see why anyone would rush out for one. I mean, you don’t have to. SheVibe can ship it right to your house complete with awesome box art. But I’d hate for that the be the best thing about the package you receive in the mail.

SheVibe

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Embrace G Wand

August 11th, 2016

Do you know what California Exotics is good at? It’s not really making amazing sex toys; although, you certainly could argue that the company is pretty good at churning them out. Henry Ford would be proud.

No, I think California Exotics is good at some other things, including:

  • Being late to the gate (rechargeable toys and silicone)
  • Designing toys that look premium and charging slightly less for them than those who did it first
  • ..but ultimately disappointing me

The Embrace line pretty much embodies all of these frustrations, and I should know better by now. This isn’t even the first toy I’ve tried from the line!

So you probably wanna know why I tried another one? I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.

Okay, there’s at least one improvement over the G Wand from the Beloved Wand: it’s rechargeable and doesn’t just use AAA batteries. This should be a win, but if you thought that means it’s any stronger, well, you’re wrong. Probably. I no longer have the Beloved wand in my collection, but I can absolutely confirm that the power output of the G Wand isn’t what I expected because, you guys, there are three fuckin’ motors in here.

There’s one in the bulbous portion of the shaft, one in the neck and one between the clitoral nub and handle. The latter two are definitely smaller and weaker, but I can distinctly feel them in the setting that simply goes through each motor separately. But the overall impression on the steady vibration modes is just bland.

Seriously, though. It’s been a while since I’ve used a toy that just felt so “meh.” It’s odd because it feels stronger and deeper in my hand. The higher setting is noticeably buzzier, but it feels like it should do a decent job once inserted. It doesn’t, though. It may be the way the silicone absorbs the vibrations.

The G wand having a much more drastic curve than the Beloved wand. It reminds me of my Rondo, which I still have somewhere. In fact, I think the curve combined with the handle made it look like it would please me, and that was one of the main draws.

But I haven’t had a ton of success with G-spot wands that share this general shape. I’ve liked some, including the aforementioned Rondo and a toy by Ophoria. You may recall that I didn’t like the Pure Wand or the Comet, however, and many women have found those to be excellent G-spotters. To be fair, the Embrace G Wand is going to be a better tool for G-spot stim if you like those curves; although, there’s more flexibility than the Comet. So you may not be able to get a lot of intense play out of it.

To be fair, the Embrace G Wand is going to be a better tool for G-spot stim if you like those curves; although, there’s more flexibility than the Comet. So you may not be able to get a lot of intense play out of it.

As for the shaft, my favorite part was the rounded head, which I found to work decently for clitoral stimulation. However, the clitoral nub on the base of the shaft didn’t do it for me. In order to get it into the right position, the inner portion of the toy would cause pain. And the three ridges on the clitoral stimulator didn’t do it for me, anyway.

Is there anything I did like? I like the layout of buttons, which were easy to find. A single button switches through the seven settings (and powers the toy on/off), and each has six speeds. The other two turn the intensity up or down. I find it strange that the toy would start on the middle setting, however. It makes me think you’ll have a lot more power than you actually do. Who starts on medium and goes back down, anyway? But I was trying to be kind..

The loop in the handle was just big enough for a single finger, which I foud more useful than a toy whose loop is just shy of fitting two fingers. It feels pretty natural to slip my index finger through the hole and press buttons with my thumb.

It’s waterproof and recharges via USB. It’s not all that loud, so I might recommend it to someone who was looking for a vibrator of this shape but wanted more flexibility than the Comet and similar toys offer.

As for me? I really can’t quite put my finger on why the Embrace G Wand seems so lackluster. It has a less severe curve than toys that I really dislike, and the flexibility means I should at least be able to work with it. Perhaps I need to give it another go ’round before I toss it in the swap drawer. I’m just not looking forward to it.

SheVibe

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Lovehoney Desire Clitoral Vibrator

May 15th, 2016

I am constantly on the hunt for the perfect clitoral vibrator. From this statement, you can infer a few things. First, that I have yet to find it. Secondly, that I have a pretty good idea what I am looking for. You’d be right. I have tried more clit vibes than many of my fellow reviewers. Some people focus on G-spot dildos or BDSM gear, but for me, the Holy Grail will always be the clitoral vibrator.

This is why I always get so excited about new clitoral toys. Because I’m looking for something that combines all my favorite toys: the right shape and the right vibes. And just because I’m on the hunt for the perfect toy doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed some others. In fact, the perfect clit toy, in my opinion, would be a combination of the Siri/2 and the Laya Spot, the latter being one of the first toys I ever reviewed and perhaps the only one I’ve had to replace after heavy use.

The reason I picked these two toys? I enjoy the rounded nose of the Layaspot, but it’s not as strong as I’d prefer. it’s also not made of silicone like newer Fun Factory toys. And Siri, especially the second one, has the right type of vibrations. They’re stronger and deeper than Layaspot’s AAA-powered vibes.  But it doesn’t protrude quite enough to be the perfect shape. In fact, I’ve been known to use Layaspot just for its shape alone with no vibrations at all, which is why it’s still in my Divine toy box within reach even though I’ve literally tried hundreds of other toys, including a dozen or so clit vibes, since I first got my hands on the Layaspot.

Layaspot, Desire clitoral vibe and Siri 2

Layaspot, Desire clitoral vibe and Siri 2

So my quest eventually lead me to the clitoral vibrator in Lovehoney’s Desire line of toys. This new line of toys screams “Luxury,” from its royal purple silicone housing to the storage container that comes with every toy. Yes, you read that right. The clitoral vibrator comes with a smaller version of the Lovehoney Deluxe Sex Toy Case. It might be bulky for everyday storage, but it’s more convenient and functional than Lelo boxes ever were. Sorry, my Swedish friends.

So how does the Desire clitoral vibe stand up to my two favorites?

Lovehoney’s Desire clitoral vibe is like a bigger and more exaggerated version of the Siri, so it’s more protruded. This might make it less feasible during partner sex, but that’s not what I use clitoral vibes for. As arthritis progresses in my hands, I also find that larger toys are a little easier on my hands.

I enjoy the purple but there’s this shiny, hard plastic spot that looks like it should be  a touch pad a la the Better Than Chocolate, but it’s not.

It’s also rechargeable (via USB) and fully waterproof, which the Layaspot isn’t. The buttons, there are three, are easy to use. Turn it on and increase power. Swap through modes. Decrease power and turn it off. Plus, you can lock the thing.

While presentation and design might be pretty impressive, it falls short on the one thing that really matters: vibrations. They’re both more buzzy and weak than I would like. While this might not be a problem for many people, it is for me. There might be 8 vibration options, but none of them were quite good enough.

I’ve tried to give it a fair shake. I’ve used it multiple times, and I have been able to achieve orgasm. But it’s not an experience that I like. It takes longer and more effort than I want. When I use sex toys, I do it get off impressively and quickly. Plus, I’m not much into clitoral teasing.

This is a bummer because I know that toys of a smaller stature can be stronger. Siri 2 is. And the motor for the Ooh by Je Joue line is impressively strong despite its small size (in fact, I bought the clitoral attachment — the first sex toy I’ve bought myself in years). I also really wanted to love this and use it to give other Lovehoney Desire pieces a try. However, I’m more reluctant since trying this one.

I seem to be in the minority with my criticisms, though. It’s got more than 4 stars on the Lovehoney site, and mine is one of only two 3-star reviews, the lowest on the product page. However, the other critical review also labels buzzy vibrations as an issue despite others calling it “powerful.”

If you don’t require rumbly vibrations in your sex toys, you might love the Lovehoney Desire clit vibrator. There certainly is a lot to like. Unfortunately, that just makes it all the more frustrating for me that I don’t.

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Ooh by Je Joue What Happens In Vegas Kit

December 31st, 2015

More often than not, when a company tries to do something new, I am not impressed. Especially when the resulting product is trying to do too many things at once. There’s a reason why rabbit vibes are either loved or hated: it’s really difficult to do multiple things right simultaneously.

I’ve also had a luke-warm relationship with JeJoue in the past. The only thing I’ve really liked from this company is Sasi, which is now discontinued, and mine never quite worked right, anyway.

So I cannot begin to express how excited I am that JeJoue has finally mastered the dual-purpose motor/vibrator attachment toys in a way that every.other.company has thus far managed to fuck up. You’re probably not surprised if you read this Facebook update.

I have never liked inserting the tiny bullets into Tantus dildos. I didn’t have any interest in the Rocks of bullet and compatible attachments. Fun Factory has a rechargeable bullet that I might like, but I’m hesitant to try. I turned up my nose at We-Vibe’s pleasure mates. So I’m not exactly sure what made me decide to ask for the Ooh by Je Joue What Happens In Vegas Kit from SheVibe, but I am glad.

Let me say, though, this naming sucks. It’s long and bulky and confusing. But that’s totally irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

So this kit is two attachments — cock ring and insertable vibrator — along with a motor that can be used with either. It can also be used with a clitoral attachment called the Pebble, which even comes in bright yellow! You don’t get to choose colors in the kits, though, but you do get to choose which toys you’d like. There’s a kit with the internal and clitoral vibrator attachments, or you can get the cock ring and the clitoral attachment in a kit together. Each of the attachments can be purchased separately from SheVibe, but you’ll need a kit to get the first motor.

Ooh by Je Joue What Happens In Vegas Kit motor

Tiny motor!

The tiny motor — and you wouldn’t believe how small it is — easily clicks into place into each of the attachments. It can go in either way; there is a button on either side that corresponds to an indent in the silicone that you press to operate it. The button is the only thing I don’t really love. It’s indented, which makes it hard to get at with fingernails. This won’t be an issue for anyone, but a convex button would be the better option.

It’s easy to use the toys, and the vibration settings are pretty standard: high, medium and low steady vibrations; a pitter-patter pulsation that is super interesting and a regular pulsation. Could it be, for the first time in history, that Adriana likes a setting that’s not steady vibration? Maybe! You simply click the button to move between the settings or hold it for a few seconds to power on and off.

When it’s time to swap the attachments, there are handy arrows etched into the silicone. When you squeeze here, the motor is ejected easily. It’s super clever and works so well. I tend to bend and pull vibrators toward me during using, and the classic vibrator in this kit took it like a champ, and the motor remained securely in place.

Inside the attachments and arrow for ejecting the motor.

Inside the attachments and arrow for ejecting the motor.

I haven’t had a chance to use the cock ring with a partner, but it’s incredibly stretchy. Because there’s no rigid casing, the vibrations travel a bit better through the material. But the motor is heavier than other vibrators, and I feel as though this could potentially get a little uncomfortable. But if you keep the motor side up, it can stimulate your clitoris while the ring is wrapped around your partner’s penis.

Because the charging port is actually inside the toys when you use them, it’s fully encases in silicone and waterproof. There’s a little flap over the charging port. And you guys won’t believe this: it charges through standard Micro-USB! This is the same charger as your Android devices use. Words cannot describe how excited I am over this.

What really has me thrilled is how this tiny motor manages to vibrate so deeply. If Je Joue can do it, why can’t other companies? Why do so many clitoral vibrators suck? Why has it taken sex toy companies so long to please me in such a way? Why, God, why?

Melodrama aside, this is a fantastic toy. The classic vibrator attachment isn’t huge, but it flares out and there’s a rigidity that makes it work quite well for G-spotting, even though it’s not all that curved. Je Joue will soon be offering a G-spot vibrator attachment specifically, a “Flexi G-spot” vibrator, which bends — probably similar to Je Joue’s Uma — and a few plug options.

The more I discover about these kits, the more I like it. There’s quite a few other shapes that will soon be available. There will also be a mini motor. It’s hard to imagine a motor that’s any smaller than the one that came in my kit, which is technically a large, but this will work with a smaller cock ring and a mini Pebble attachment. I suspect this motor would be less powerful and more buzzy, and I’m quite happy with the size of the motor that came in the What Happens in Vegas Kit.

There’s a bit more to know about these kits and the options available to you before you make a purchase. But I suspect Je Joue will be making many consumers happy with the ability to mix and max shapes and motors to create your perfect sex toy collection.

SheVibe

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Loveo Nox

December 2nd, 2015

Now that I’ve given more than one sound-controlled vibrator a try, I feel pretty confident comparing how they work and, more than that, whether or not they’re even a thing we need to have at all. Unfortunately for companies like Lelo and Loveo, the answer to the latter question is an unequivocal “No.”

Let’s start with Loveo’s shape, a slightly-curved shaft intended for G-spot stimulation. The head isn’t as flat or narrow as some G-spotters. It definitely is rounded and wider than some toys. The gradual taper feels more filling than some G-spot toys, but I can see why is would be a poor fit if you need an extreme angle for adequate G-spotting.

This is all covered in silky smooth silicone that could be primed with some lube but doesn’t have nearly as much drag as a Fun Factory toy, for instance. Aside from the plastic buttons, it’s covered in this somewhat-squishy layer of silicone that’s much softer than a Lelo toy.

It’s also waterproof thanks to the charging ports that’s similar to many toys on the market. You’ll need to wiggle the adapter into the port just right. I’ve had more problems with this type of port than I care to admit. I don’t know if it’s just me, though.

I’m not thrilled with the appearance, either. It’s not that it’s pink. Enough of my fellow bloggers have made public their annoyance with a certain shade befit only for Barbie. But the silver, plastic panel appears cheap. And the shape of the buttons offers no redemption; although, they do offer a nice tactile feedback when in use. It’s just the whole design reminds me of Maia Toys, too pink, too little, too late, yet not enough to stand out in any recognizable way.

Next come the buttons, 2 of which switch between modes and 2 that adjust strength of vibrations. You must first turn it on by holding the + button (holding the – turns it off) then press either the H to turn on sound activation or M button to use regular vibrators.

When you’re in steady vibes, pressing the M quickly cycles through escalation, pulsaton, a combination mode, mixed length pulses and back to steady vibrations. Interestingly, there’s a mode through the cycle that does nothing at all, which is just a wasted button push in my opinion.

The vibrations are on the buzzy side of moderate, especially when you turn up the strength, and there are only three levels of them when on the constant vibration mode. They’re enough to make me squirt but not the type that would get me off clitorally.

If you’ve used Siri 2, then you know what to expect from Loveo Nox. There’s a slight delay when making noise. You can imitate a pulse once you get used to it, but it’s much harder to achieve escalation. For steady vibrations, you would need constant noise. I find using my breath works especially well.

Music is a toss up as it’ll vibrate constantly if it’s too close to the source or the music is too loud. But the microphone in this toy, which is located in the handle, seems more responsive than that of Siri 2. There’s about a 6-inch range before the toy cuts out.

It’s undeniable that the sound-responsive function in these toys is useless as a solo endeavor. Short of screaming yourself hoarse or blaring music, both of which would likely get the cops called on you, it’s nearly impossible to create loud enough ambient noise. One could arguably masturbate closer to a source of sound, perhaps a laptop or seated in front of a desk, but that’s not my style. And it’s still a big “if.”

I think that about sums up my opinion on “innovative” “features” of sex toys. If I have to completely change my masturbation habits in a way that’s distracting, this feature is really a liability. I would even give companies some slack considering my unusual need for pressure and general ability to get off within single-digit minutes, but the Loveo Nox is one that seems just as trying for most users.

With that said, it might be more useful during partner play, when your partner is able to breathe, moan or otherwise make noise into the microphone but this still requires your partner to adapt to the toy and not the other way around. I can’t see how this bodes well.

With many toys that are “new” or “improved,” I find myself trying to sell it on virtues of being a decent albeit unremarkable toy when you fall back on standard functions, but Loveo has included a motor that’s generally forgettable. This is especially true when compared with vibrators that have dual motors or especially deep vibrations.

I always feel bad when writing a review that’s negative, but I would feel worse leading my readers astray. If you’re looking for something better, the Loveo Nox isn’t it. It’s different, but that’s certainly not a selling point in this case.

There are plenty of attractive toys, toys that stimulate the G-spot with a similar amount of girth, vibrators made of silicone and those that offer deep vibrations that would be a better investment than this one.

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