SquarePegToys® Community Learning Center

Plug Primer

Whether you’ve just been considering a plug as your entry into anal play, or you’re already experienced at ass play and curious about incorporating plugs into your repertoire, this primer contains some good information.

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The Toy

Material Safety should always consider into your choice of toys, but it is so much more relevant with respect to plugs due to the long periods it will be in contact with your rectal lining and sphincter. This is where the manufacturer’s claims about use, country of manufacture, and reputation of the toy maker should play a larger role in your choices. Adult insertable toys are an unregulated industry with no labeling standards in place so it’s entirely up to the consumer to protect themselves.

Silicone – the material should be nothing less than 100% Platinum-Grade silicone. This is crucial to your health as the rectal lining is designed to absorb and so any chemicals present in the toy will be drawn up into your blood stream. Beware even of silicone items that are too cheap to be believed1, that don’t plainly state “100% Platinum-Grade silicone”, or say just “silicone” but then also have a disclaimer that it’s not for internal use. Read more about this in the FAQ here.

Metal – be sure that they are made of stainless steel from a U.S. source and not plated.  As with silicone, cheaply made metal toys from overseas are most likely composed of previously irradiated or otherwise contaminated recycled metal from the waste of various industries.

PVC – because this is a material that requires chemical plasticizers to make it soft, PVC should be avoided.  Unless the chemical softeners are listed, all claims of safety should be disregarded.

{See below for important information regarding warning labels on packaging)

An adequate flange to keep it from going in. When worn for longer periods, a plug can work its way inside without you knowing it, especially if the material is soft and flexible.  For my plugs, this means a specially designed external part that works with the unique properties of my own SuperSoft material. Bases will vary in size or form between manufacturers depending on material density , so be sure to regard each brand on their own merits.

Neck to Plug Ratio plays a role in both plug retention and comfort. The larger the difference between the plug part and the neck the easier it should be to keep in theoretically. Part of the enjoyment of plug play for some is the constant stretching of the sphincters, so exploring plugs with a lower plug to neck ratio where the neck is thick is something to consider. When considering a plug with neck and bulb closer in size, it will be important that the bulb be closer to the maximum circumference of what you can accept if you want the natural tension of your sphincters to help keep it in.

Toy Firmness. Harder plugs will pose greater risks for developing hot spots but are the most effective at targeting the prostate. Hot spots are where the toy presses the rectum up against bone and cuts off blood flow, presenting the risk of tissue and nerve damage. Silicone is wonderful here because its specific gravity ( a technical term to refer to how much a material weighs compared to water ) is essentially 1, which means it is the closest of all materials to your body’s own composition weight, making it more buoyant inside, further helping to reduce the risk of pressure spots from weight alone.

Special mention on metal plugs: the added weight exacerbates the potential for hot spots simply due to the pressure from the weight. Damage can also occur to tissues between metal on bone, and the nerves that extend out from the Coccyx, which the rectum naturally follows on its inside curve. 

The Body

  1. Prostate stimulation. The prostate sits just inside the anus, from about the second to third knuckle on your inserted finger on most men. It’s important you discover where your own prostate is, what type of manipulation it likes, and choose a plug with the right shape for you. You may need to experiment with this before finding the right plug for you, or it may change depending on context.
  2. G-spot stimulation. An anal plug can provide pressure that crosses the rectal and vaginal walls to involve the G-spot in your solo play.
  3. Sphincter stimulation. Some plugs come with textures on the neck that provided stimulation to the anus at the same time. The anus has additional nerve receptors that can feel quite good when stimulated. But some of these can be overly aggressive in the hours that some set out to wear a plug. Be mindful of any soreness or fatigue and cease use at the first sign. You can also use a ToyBandIt!™ kit to make your own soft collars for your plugs.
  4. The need to push. To generalize, the smaller the neck the less you will likely have challenges with wanting to expel it. Thicker necks that hold the anus open wider can stimulate the peristaltic response and can pose the challenge of having to overcome the force of the body wanting to expel it. But learning to manage this immediate urge is part of making anal play more comfortable.

How long can I wear a plug and it still be safe?

There are those within the plug wearing community that aspire to prolonging their session for longer and longer periods, some even with the goal of wearing a plug overnight while they sleep. I am often posed the question whether this is a safe practice or not, and as you might already expect I have to say that I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. And quite frankly, this isn’t something I suspect your doctor could even help you with as there really isn’t any research on the subject as you might imagine! Besides, most doctors would tell you strictly not to put anything in your butt, period.

So we proceed the same as with any of the extreme ass play that we engage in and rely on each other to share our own experiences. It is important that we take care and listen to our bodies as we explore into uncharted lands. With this in mind, understanding the physiology and knowing what warning signs there will be if we go too far, plays a large role in keeping us safe and healthy as a community.

Safety and Warning Signs of Going too Far

  • Training your anus to be open and relaxed will not make you incontinent. That bodily function is the job of the pubo-rectal sling about 6-8 inches up inside.
  • Damaging the S2, S3, S4 nerves that extend out from the sacrum can however render you incontinent, as they are involved in the functioning of that pubo-rectal sling.
  • The lining of the rectum is rich in blood vessels so be aware that by wearing a plug that is too large for your current abilities, you may place enough pressure on the rectal walls to restrict blood flow enough that over time could result in tissue and nerve damage. As you gradually stretch the lining to accommodate larger and larger plugs, think about incorporating regular breaks into your training to keep the blood flowing. (a special nod to Dr George from TheHealthyBear for bringing to my attention this specific nuance of physiology and watch the interview here where we talk about this and other safety questions).
  • The rectum lies directly against the inside curve of the sacrum, from which several nerves emanate, S1 – S5 specifically. Damage to nerves here can occur from extended periods of pressure cutting off blood supply or by blunt force. Be mindful to any numbness, tingling or pain in the areas of the perineum, penis, clitoris, back of the thighs or buttocks as these should be considered warning signs of restricted blood flow or nerve damage.

What Lube to use?

The eternal question with no one correct answer.

So anything water based will eventually be absorbed and leave nothing but some residue. Often the rectum will produce a mucous in the presence of a foreign body, you will already know if you are one of those individuals. But if things do dry up, the technique is to simply reintroduce a little lube to the opening and work it in when you are ready to remove the plug.

Alternatively, oil based lubes could be considered, just be aware of what is in the lube and know that no research has been done as to the long term effects of having foreign substances in long term contact with the rectal lining.

Coconut oil is claimed by many to have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties.

Mineral oils are generally labeled for external use only as they irritate and dry mucosal tissues, and some popular lubes do contain mineral oil.  Also, as I have always advocated with toys, if the manufacturer states the lube is not for internal use, I would heed that warning, despite what the packaging or name may imply for use.  Keep a look out for swelling, burning and/or inflammation, which if you are using a 100% platinum grade silicone plug, could only be attributed to the lube.

About Warning Labels

If a company clearly states on their packaging or in their site’s legal section that a product is only a novelty or not for internal use, despite the object being entirely sold and marketed as an insertable, then you should entirely heed that warning. As late as the 1990’s, a warning like that was necessary because of the conservative climate at the time, but the culture has since evolved and a warning label should be seen exactly for what it is.  The adult toy industry is entirely self-regulated, so no matter what claims are made about what is contained in the material, if in the end they warn you not to put it in contact with your rectal lining, then it’s likely they know it’s not 100% safe. The difference in price with these questionable items is usually not substantial enough to justify the risk to you.

Here’s the very fine print of a recently introduced line of bargain priced “silicone” toys released in 2017, enlarged for readability.  The package is actually for an insertable plug and you’ll note they plainly say it’s not for internal use. So it’s buyer beware. Get your good toys from companies you know and trust, and if it doesn’t say “100% Platinum Grade” then it simply isn’t.

1 Platinum is required in the process that cures platinum grade silicones, and there just is no such thing as “cheap platinum” on the world market.  I mean, if you found a gold ring that was labeled “gold” but just too cheap to be believed would you buy it thinking you were getting a great deal? No. You get what you pay for when it comes to gold, and the same goes for platinum.  If a toy is too cheap to be believed then it’s simply not made from a pure platinum grade silicone material.

Training with cheaper plugs

Not everyone can afford to invest in silicone plugs as they progress through their training, especially knowing full well they will be growing out of them soon.  It’s only in this case you might consider using plugs of a cheaper material, just be sure to place a double or triple layer of condom on them.

With some vinyl, the plasticizers could still permeate the condom and because latex will swell with moisture from lube I advocate for the double/triple condom sheath, though you do all of this at your own risk.  If at the end of your play you can smell the vinyl through the condom, you know the chemicals are getting through and into your tissues. Another way to know is if you experience any burning from the chemical plasticizers.

This is where some of the cheaper silicone toys that are labeled not for internal use come in handy by still using a condom on them.

The S-Series

The S-Series grouping is simply a new way for us to identify the plugs in the smaller ranges to provide more confidence in selecting the right size.  For example, a Small Egg plug and Small Blunt plug are miles apart in their size because of their different origin stories.  But for the S-Series, the maximum circumference of an S4 plug is going to be the same as all other S4 plus, so once you know what S size you like, you can look for that size in other plugs and be confident they’re the same thickness.  The chart below shows the S-series plugs and compares them to some other toys in the range in case you want to branch out from plugs at some point in your play.

S-series chart