You Need Help: When Strap-On Sex Leaves (Accidental) Bruises

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Q:

My partner and I just bought a strap-on and have had sex four times with it. Each time we have sex, it bruises my partner (the one wearing the harness). I was wondering if there was any way to fix or reduce that? We’ve tried them wearing it over underwear and putting a few layers of fabric behind the plastic that holds the dildo in place, but they’ve kept getting bruises.

A:

If you’re having a sex toy problem like this, the first thing to remember is that it’s probably not you — it’s the sex toy. Bodies are all different and some sex toys might just not work for your body, and that’s okay. Strap-on dildos can dig into whatever they’re strapped on to, and that plus enthusiastic repetitive motion can lead to an epic next-day shiner. Some folks like the reminder that they totally fucked last night; some folks decidedly don’t. Luckily, there are a few fixes for when you don’t want strap-on sex to lead to a few unintended bruises.

I ran down to Babeland to do a little research on this question and spoke to one of their fabulous sex educators. So this answer is a mix of things I already knew and things that Babeland, a veritable wealth of sex nerd knowledge, was able to tell me.

Try A Different Dildo

The Mustang Royale is a dual-density silicone dildo and my very favorite dick, and that’s because it has a soft, squishy base instead of a rigid one. It forms to vulva-having people’s vulva-having-area, and while how exactly it lines up with you will depend on how you’re built and where your harness sits, either way it’s far more comfortable than a regular base. The only drawback is the cost — if you already own a dildo that you and your partner enjoy, and spending another $129 on another might not be in the cards. If it is, check out the Mustang Royale at Babeland! (And Autostraddle’s review of it, too.)

Support The Dildo You Already Have

When I first heard of the Sili Saddle, I thought it was “silly” saddle. But no, silicone saddle… sili saddle, “handmade by beaver-loving Canadians.” The Sili Saddle is a silicone pad shaped to work with a vulva that can act as a buffer between the base of an existing dildo and your mons. At $42 with free shipping to the US and Canada, this is the second most cost-effective solution and can be used with all your dicks. (It also comes in neon ombre.) It’s perfect if your fave dildo doesn’t have a saddle base option, or if you like variety. Because it’s silicone, it can be sterilized, so this is perhaps the most financially and environmentally responsible solution (doesn’t generate a lot of waste). You can also use it to prevent bike-seat bruising, in case that’s your thing.

The Tenga Egg can also be a way to add cushioning to the base of an existing dildo. I’d always thought of the Tenga Egg as a toy for folks with penises, but the folks at Babeland pointed out that it’s a multipurpose dreamboat of a tool and I now have several in my bedside drawer. Instead of using the Tenga Egg as a masturbation sleeve, turn it inside out and pop it right onto the base of your dildo for the least expensive extra cushion. While I’ve gotten several uses out of one by washing it after every bang, this toy is made from TPE rather than silicone, so it’s not a forever toy because it can’t be sterilized (read: get a few at a time). It’s also fairly delicate, so eventually, it’ll rip. At $8.50 for one, however, it’s great in a pinch and it can be used on the head of a Hitachi magic wand as well.

Try A Different Harness

Harnesses can leave bruises, too, and leather harnesses are often culprits. Leather can be so sexy, but because it stretches a little, it’s easy to over-tighten a leather harness to feel like you have more control. Personally, I save the leather for impact toys and usually go with a Spareparts Joque ($124): hella control, made of nylon and spandex, machine washable. You’ll get the control you need without tightening it so much it hurts. The TomBoii and the Tomboi ($119 for the boxers, $84 for the briefs) are also rad, but you get a little less control with them because the fabric stretches. Also check out our shopping guide to harnesses for trans women and our strap-on shopping tips.


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Staff Writer for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

A.E. has written 528 articles for us.