by Tamar Love
I first heard of Ben Wa Balls when I was a teenager: I was browsing in a New Age store, playing with Chinese meditation balls--those smooth, metal balls that one rolls around in one's palm, careful not to let them touch lest an internal chime clang. "Are those Ben Wa Balls?" my shopping companion whispered to me. I was startled--what were Ben Wa Balls? My girlfriend muttered something about "sex balls that you put in your vagina," and blushed, hurrying down the aisle to purchase some incense. I started at the two-inch balls in my hand. Was I really supposed to insert these?
As it turns out, no, I wasn't. Fortunately, I didn't even try. But millions of women have inserted the real Ben Wa Balls--small, marble-sized metal balls, usually hollow and containing a small weight that rolls around, creating vibrations within the vagina and surrounding sensitive tissue. Some swear by the rotating tingles these discreet toys produce; others cry bunk, claiming the insertable wonders fall short of their orgasmic promise. I decided to find out for myself.
Legend has it that women in ancient Japan or China first inserted egg-shaped hollow balls carved from ivory, then spent hours gently rocking back and forth, eventually experiencing a subtle-yet-crashing orgasm. Today, Ben Wa Balls are made from a variety of substances, including gold plating, silver, steel, plastic, Lucite and any combination thereof.
Because they are made from hard, non-porous substances, Ben Wa Balls don't absorb bacteria--so you can use them longer than other sex toys. Some women claim they wear them all day, experiencing clandestine fun at the office, the grocery store...even on dates. Other women enjoy using them for partner sex, and say their male partners love encountering the smooth balls during penetration. However, some women say the toys are little more than useless, producing a sensation so slight, they may as well not be using sex balls at all.
While many Ben Wa novices express alarm at the thought of inserting and removing the balls, it's relatively simple: just pop them in and squeeze them out. You may want to experiment with location; some people enjoy holding them lower in the vagina, while others try to position them directly behind their G-Spots. Just don't aim for the cervix--while you're unlikely to have a problem with them slipping past your body's gateway to the uterus, you probably won't enjoy any kind of clanging sensation that close to your cervix, a region some women find particularly sensitive.
Sexual health professionals state that, contrary to popular belief, Ben Wa Balls aren't as mobile as the marketing hype would have you believe. Says Dr. P. Sandor Gardos, "Once spheres of any sort are inserted into the vagina, they will simply sit there--not roll around as some people think. Any sensation a woman feels will derive from the slight vibration of the inner ball rolling inside the hollow, larger one as she moves." Apparently the vagina isn't as large as many women are led to believe; the walls of the vagina usually hold the balls in place, allowing only a slight amount of movement and the sometimes-undetectable feeling of the ball's internal weight rolling around inside. For many women, this subtle sensation just won't do--fans of power tools and pocket rockets may want to shop around for another kind of toy.
It's true that by themselves, Ben Wa Balls only provide light stimulation. However, many people argue that we should be more in tune with our bodies, that we rely too heavily on high-powered stimulus for easy gratification. While some people don't have much of a quibble with that line of thinking, many others--among them Tantra enthusiasts, Taoist sex practitioners, yoga and meditation advocates and other endorsers of spirituality, health and sensual living--feel that we would benefit from a return to enjoying life's subtler pleasures. It's rumored that the orgasms achieved from using Ben Wa Balls are worth the wait. But ultimately, Ben Wa Balls can provide one very good benefit: with proper use, they can help to tighten and strengthen your PC muscle, which not only gives you a more desirable grip during intercourse, but also helps to control your bladder and prevent incontinence as you age.
Should you bother with Ben Wa Balls, or take a pass? I say go for it! What could it hurt? But it doesn't really matter what I--or women from ancient China, or sex experts, or anyone else--think. What matters is your own sexuality and your own preference for pleasure-inducing toys. While I would definitely recommend that you at least try Ben Wa Balls (I'd love to be one of the women for whom these work!), it's ultimately your own personal decision. There's no right or wrong answer, and no medical, health or scientific reason why you wouldn't want to experiment with these toys. They aren't particularly expensive, so if you decide you don't like them, it won't be a huge drain on your wallet. Do be prepared to spend some time perfecting your technique--the payoff can be tremendous!