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Sex toys high on South African web searches

A special report, released by StatisticsBrain last year, indicated South Africans were third in the world for sex toy searches online. Following this, upmarket sex toy brand Désir commissioned a survey to find out more about the complex relationship South Africans seem to have with their sex toys.
Sex toys high on South African web searches
©pasiphae via 123RF

The country’s first dedicated sex toy industry survey reveals that over three-quarters (76.7%) of the respondents use sex toys and that the biggest reason for people not using them (23.3% of the sample) is because they are ignorant about the choice available and what sex toys can do for them, rather than being embarrassed or ashamed to use them.

Double the amount of people buy their sex toys online (42.9%) rather than from a ‘brick and mortar’ store (20.7%) and the biggest reason people gave for buying sex toys was for spicing up their sex life (44.4%) or for introducing something new in their sex life (17.5%).

Key findings

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Problem of achieving orgasms, which nearly 30% of the test group attested to
  • Preferred use for sex toys was as a couple (43.2%)
  • When asked how sex toys could improve relationships, a fifth of the sample said sex toys extend foreplay (20.8%) with over a quarter saying that sex toys make orgasms stronger and/or better (26%)
  • When asked how often they used sex toys, 80.4% of respondents admitted to regular usage (often, once a week or 1-5 times a month)
  • The survey’s respondents are sexually active, with nearly three-quarters (73%) having sex in general either multiple times per week or up to five times a month
  • When using a sex toy, the vast majority (94%) reach orgasm when using a sex toy

However, non-users of sex toys would prefer to buy a sex toy for use as a couple (64.4%) than for solo use and nearly a quarter of them (24.2%) admitted they didn’t have enough sex, with many of them saying the quality of their sexual relations could be improved (only 24.8% were really satisfied with their sex life).

The vibrator still scores highest in terms of being favourite, most frequently bought and most used.

Still shame around sexuality

Désir's CEO, Brodie Meyer, says, “The non-user group responses confirmed many of the outdated biases and stigmas that challenge us here at Désir. People want to be able to buy sex toys safely, in non-judgemental environments, which are not associated with smut or porn. There is still so much shame around sexuality and sexual expression in South Africa and it needs to change.

“We will continue to strive to combat negative sentiment by introducing more and more education and awareness about sexual health and in a bid to help free people from sexual prisons.”


The Désir survey involved more than 700 respondents, and collected data on sex toy perceptions, usage and attitudes from both users and non-users. The survey was conducted via various platforms, including, Cosmopolitan SA and 2OceansVibe.

To read the full report and the detailed infographic, click here.

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