For a long time, the main categories of sex toy have remained clear-cut and relatively unchanged. You’ve got your vibrators, your dildos, your butt plugs, your strokers and a few more. It’s only within the past decade or so that another major category has taken the industry by storm: pressure-wave toys.
These products look vaguely like a thermometer that a doctor might stick into your ear. They have a nozzle that goes around your clit, delivering a unique form of stimulation that’s altogether different from vibration. They’ve been heralded as “truly game-changing,” “better than actual sex” and “so good they’ll make you pass out.” But is the hype really warranted?
What Are ‘Pressure Waves’ and Why Do They Feel Good?
Although most are designed to focus on the clitoris like many vibrators, pressure-wave toys use a different mechanism to get you off.
Each pressure-wave toy has a little “mouth” that you place over the tip of the clit. When the toy is turned on, it uses rhythmic waves of air to stimulate your clit “touchlessly.” If the toy’s mouth fits your anatomy well, the air waves will create a gentle seal around your clit, which increases arousal by gently drawing blood to the area and also just feels cool.
The overall sensation is like a mix of fast tapping and mild suction, and some users find it’s reminiscent of receiving oral sex. If you peruse this category of toy, you’ll see the tech referred to by many different names — Pleasure Air technology, air pulsation and so on — but it’s all more-or-less the same thing.
This type of toy is somewhat divisive, if online reviews are anything to go by. Some users are underwhelmed by the sensation (especially if they’re used to strong vibrations), while some are overwhelmed by its precision. But the clitoris is so packed full of nerve endings, and yet so variable in subjective sensitivity, that one clit’s heaven can be another clit’s hell. There’s a huge contingent of users who report orgasming more easily, more intensely and more often when they use these toys. When a pressure-wave toy shaped like a rose recently went viral on TikTok, for example, tons of people posted testimonials about how the famous flower had sucked their soul out of their bodies.
There are various theories about why these toys feel so damn good for so many people. It’s possible that pressure waves resonate through parts of the internal clit, producing deeper-feeling pleasure than many vibrators can. On the flip side, some clit owners are too sensitive for standard vibrators, in which case a more indirect method of stimulation might feel better.
After testing more than 25 different pressure-wave products over my 10-plus years as a sex-toy reviewer, I know that when these toys are good, they’re very, very good. Let’s talk about how to find one your clit will love…
What to Look for in a Pressure-Wave Toy
1) Mouth Size. There are nearly nine million results on the web if you Google the phrase “penis size,” but comparatively little attention is paid to clit size (outside of communities that directly fetishize big clits, that is). So it might not seem obvious initially that variance in mouth size could make such a huge difference for these clit-focused toys, but it really can.
The smallest mouths found on pressure-wave toys are so teeny that the tip of your pinkie might not even fit into them, while the largest ones may be big enough to fit an index finger up to the first knuckle (depending on the size of your fingers, obvi). Most pressure-wave toys have a small-to-medium-sized mouth that should work fine for a majority of users, though, and some even come with alternate silicone mouthpieces that you can swap out if you want a tighter or looser fit. A well-fitting nozzle matters with these toys because they’ll get a better seal — and thus stimulate you more strongly — if they fit well, without gaps around your clit. A looser-fitting mouth will tend to deliver softer, subtler stimulation. Keep in mind, too, that the clit swells with arousal.
2) “Lips.” Some pressure-wave toys have a wide, flat rim surrounding their nozzle, which can make it easier to achieve a good seal, and also allows the air waves to stimulate you deeper into the internal portion of your clit. Some, on the other hand, have very little rim at all and focus their stimulation on the tip of your clit. This is a matter of personal preference — I find wide-lipped ones easier to use, though, because they maintain their seal better and don’t need to be adjusted or repositioned as often.
3) Multiple Settings. I’d strongly advise you to get a pressure-wave toy that has at least eight different speeds. Air waves can be a lot, especially if you’re not used to them, so it’s best to pick a toy that starts at a low setting and gives you room to go up from there. Toys with more speeds also tend to have smaller jumps between each setting, so that you won’t be thrown off mid-session by a sudden, jarring shift in sensation when you turn up the power.
Many users — myself included — find that air waves can suddenly feel way too intense during and right after an orgasm, so multiple settings are also helpful because you can quickly dial back the power when you need to. Trust me, having an orgasm that’s half-pleasure, half-pain isn’t that fun, unless it’s specifically your jam.
4) Toy Size. The larger a pressure-wave toy is, the more awkward it can be to use it while being penetrated by a dick or a dildo. The best toys in this category for using during intercourse (or strap-on sex) are slim, so that they fit between bodies easily and don’t take up too much real estate on your vulva. That said, if you’d prefer to concentrate on your clit only and won’t be combining your toy with penetration, all that matters size-wise is that you be able to comfortably hold it.
5) Vibration vs. None. Some pressure-wave toys combine their signature sensation with vibration. If you know you need a lot of power to get off, then you’d probably enjoy some air waves backed up by vibrations. But if you’re quite sensitive, or you want to be able to focus on the pressure-wave sensation without it being overshadowed, you may want to get a toy that does that and only that. Some toys offer both options but let you decide which one(s) you want to use at any given time, and that’s the best-case scenario for a pressure-wave beginner who doesn’t quite know what they want.
6) Waterproof vs. Not. Lots of toys in this category can be taken in the shower or tub. I find that pressure waves feel pretty different in water — sometimes even better than they do, uh, on land. But even if you don’t plan on turning bath time into ‘bate time, you may still want a waterproof toy, because they’re easier to wash: You don’t have to worry about accidentally wrecking your toy if any water gets where it shouldn’t.
A Few Tips on Using Pressure-Wave Toys
I find that using these toys isn’t quite as intuitive as pressing a vibrator against your junk. There’s a bit of a learning curve for many folks. Here’s some advice for first-timers:
Get Turned On First. This is a good thing to do before using any type of toy, frankly, but it’s especially important with pressure-wave toys because they focus so directly and immediately on the most sensitive part of your entire body. Like a lover skipping straight to the main event with no preamble, air waves can feel overly aggressive and even painful if you’re not ready for them.
You could try watching porn, reading erotica or doing whatever else reliably gets you going. You can also turn your toy on and move it over your labia, clitoral hood and so on, to stir up some arousal before zeroing in on your target.
Use Lube. Oral sex wouldn’t have half its charm without saliva (gross but true) — and for the same reason, lubing up a pressure-wave toy’s mouth, inside and out, can make a massive difference in how it feels. These toys’ nozzles are almost always made out of silicone, so you’ll want to avoid silicone-based lubes so as not to damage your toy. A thick water-based one would be perfect. This step is especially important, as increased lubrication can improve the suction of the toy.
Don’t forget to reapply as needed, same as you might hand a glass of water to a partner whose weed-induced cotton mouth was interfering with oral.
Spread Those Labia. You’ll be able to position the toy on your clit more easily if you spread your lips open with one hand while applying the toy with the other. If you have a genital piercing, you should also take out any jewelry before using this type of toy.
Experiment With Placement. Pressure-wave toys are generally made to be positioned on the exposed tip of your clit (also known as the glans) — but that’s a highly sensitive spot, so you may want to try putting the toy in various different places to see if you find one you like better. Pressure waves can feel good through the clitoral hood or inner labia, for example — these tissues create a little buffer, like the foreskin on an uncircumcised dick, that may make the sensation more pleasurable for extra-sensitive users, especially in the early stages of arousal.
Are you sold on air waves yet? Below are some of the best pressure-wave toys in the biz.
Best Overall Pressure Wave Toy: Womanizer Classic 2
Womanizer is the brand that pioneered pressure-wave technology in the first place, and they still make some of the best toys in this entire category. The Classic 2 has an understated design that doesn’t scream “sex toy,” and its functionality is just as impressive as its aesthetic.
This toy has 10 intensity levels that range from a pleasant tease to full-on power. It comes with two differently sized heads to help you find a better fit. It has a cool feature called Afterglow, which quickly reverts the toy to its lowest speed when you short-press the power button, so you can ride out your orgasm without getting overstimulated. All in all, the Classic 2 is a top-notch pressure-wave toy that would delight a whole lot of users, both those who’ve tried this technology before and those who haven’t but would like to.
Best Affordable Pressure Wave Toy: Satisfyer Pro 2
Toys in this category vary wildly in terms of cost: The priciest models top out around $200, and there are some you can get for as little as $15. The low-end ones tend to be weak and poorly made, though. At $43, the Satisfyer Pro 2 is about as cheap as you can go without sacrificing on power, functionality and durability.
It’s got 11 intensities, and an ergonomic, hourglassy shape that’s easy to hold onto. The mouth is made of soft silicone and is comfortably rounded off, so it won’t dig into your labia during use. This toy isn’t as strong as some of the others on this list, but I’d recommend it if you’re on a budget and curious about air waves — it has enough power for users whose sensitivity is medium-to-high, and you can always save up for a stronger model down the line if you decide you like pressure-wave toys after all.
Best Luxury Pressure Wave Toy: Womanizer Premium 2
The “Premium” in this product’s name is no joke: It’s one of the fanciest, most well-made pressure-wave toys on the market. It’s got a whopping 14 intensity levels, starting comfortably low and topping out at a level stronger than most other pressure-wave toys — so it can lead you through your whole arousal process without the overstimulation that less sophisticated toys struggle with.
Most interestingly, the Premium has a mode called Autopilot, in which the toy decides when to raise or lower the power. It ends up feeling more like actual oral sex, because the sensations can surprise you.
Best Pressure Wave Toy for Larger Clits: Lelo Sila
This toy is great if you have a larger clit, or if you’d rather have the air waves stimulate more of your clit than just the tip. It’s also well-suited for transmasculine folks whose genitals have grown from being on testosterone, or who want a sensation that’s more like a clit blow job. The Sila has a bigger mouth than any other pressure-wave toy I’m aware of — about 1.75 inches tall, 0.5 inches wide and 0.75 inches deep — which can make for a more full-bodied sensation.
The other feature setting the Sila apart is the flat, wide lips around its opening. These press against the labia during use, transmitting its mix of air waves and vibration into the area around the clit, not just the clit itself. There are eight different intensities for you to try. The Sila is my personal fave pressure-wave toy, because this combo of factors makes orgasms with it feel extra intense and satisfying — but it’ll likely only work for you if your clit is medium-to-large.
Best Pressure Wave Toy to Use During Intercourse: We-Vibe Melt
The slim body of the We-Vibe Melt makes it perfect for using during penetrative sex. It lays relatively flat against the body in use and barely gets in the way at all. This is great news for anyone who’s ever wished intercourse came with a side of clit suction.
The Melt has 12 different intensities, starting with a titillating tickle and working up to a powerful rumble. In addition to the two buttons on the toy, you can also control it via We-Vibe’s app, which allows you to create custom vibration patterns and even let a partner take the wheel. The medium-sized mouth is made of soft silicone that has some give to it, for added comfort. This toy would be a great pick if you want to combine pressure waves with penetration, whether it’s a dildo or a dick that’ll be going inside you.
Best Bluetooth Pressure Wave Toy: Satisfyer Curvy 2+
While the We-Vibe Melt, above, also has Bluetooth functionality, in my experience it’s not as reliable as the connectivity on Satisfyer toys. This one works with Satisfyer’s smartphone app, through which you can make your own vibration patterns, try other people’s, control your toy remotely or let a partner operate it, whether that partner is lying next to you in bed or lives halfway around the world.
Besides its high-tech capabilities, though, this is also just an excellent pressure-wave toy. It’s got a comfortably-shaped mouth that’s on the bigger end of average. It vibrates, and the vibrations can be controlled separately from the pressure waves, which gives this toy a lot of versatility.
Best Dual-Stimulation Pressure Wave Toy: Womanizer Duo
Sometimes clitoral-only orgasms can feel a little unsatisfying on their own. If that’s true for you, consider the Womanizer Duo, a pressure-wave toy that also features a vibrating arm you can insert to hit your G-spot. Toys like this are fantastic for stimulating both the internal and external parts of the clit simultaneously, which can make orgasms more intense.
You do lose some versatility with a dual-stimulation toy, though, because it’s tough to use either component of this toy by itself. But if your G-spot craves deep, rumbly vibration while your clit is getting sucked, the Womanizer Duo can’t be beat.
Best Pressure Wave Toy for Penises: Arcwave Ion
Yep, it’s not just clits that get to experience the joys of pressure waves! The company behind Womanizer and We-Vibe also makes a pressure-wave toy for dicks called the Arcwave Ion. It’s vaguely stroker-shaped; you lube it up and then slide into it, and then (theoretically) your sensitive frenulum will be positioned right over an air-wave nozzle.
I say “theoretically” because this toy just doesn’t work as well in practice as one would hope. First off, your dick has to be at least 3.5 inches long when erect for it to line up right. But regardless of size, the suction effect tends to lose its potency when you stroke the toy up and down — even though, what with it being a stroker and all, that’s probably how most people would want to use it. Holding it still tends to produce better results.
If you can deal with these issues and are curious about what pressure waves feel like on a penis, try the Arcwave. But if you’re not sure, I’d pass on it. Nearly $200 is a lot of money for something that only sorta works.