Please note, this article is from 1998, the first writing we ever published! So it's not exactly up to date in terms of product selection.
Ben Wa balls originated in Japan and were originally called Rin No Tama. In their original form they consisted of three metal covered balls linked by a delicate chain with a silk string for retrieval. The first ball was meant to keep the other two balls in place to massage the g-spot and the vaginal opening. Women wore these balls not to bring themselves to orgasm but to enjoy a lasting teasing sensation. Modern sets work similarly, so don't expect fireworks--this isn't a toy designed to stimulate the clitoris or offer the kind of intensity most people need for g-spot stimulation. The most popular modern version is duo-tone balls, which are two or four metal spheres encased in hard plastic and linked with a cord for easy retrieval. The metal balls rock back and forth inside their plastic casings and vibrate, massaging the vaginal walls as the wearer moves. Another variation, the Smart Balls, has the balls encased in high-density, non-porous plastic. This one comes in all the colours of the rainbow and has the many advantages of any other non-porous toy.
[NOTE: I do not recommend using any version of Ben-Wa balls that does not provide a cord or loop for easy removal. Traditional Ben-Wa balls can be awkward to remove yourself because, although the vagina isn't all that deep, it is angled enough that deeply-inserted balls can be hard to reach.]
The debate about these things lies in the fact that the stimulation they provide can be very subtle, and some women say they don't feel anything at all. This doesn't mean that Ben Wa balls, in whatever form, are not pleasurable. Even if the sensations aren't powerful, just knowing you're walking around with a little secret inside can be a tremendous turn-on. Ben-Wa balls have been used throughout their history as a subtle all-day distraction just strong enough to make a woman really anticipate arriving home. Of course having these balls inserted can also greatly add to the pleasure of clitoral stimulation; for some, the internal sensation is delightful on its own. Removing them is as important to their use as wearing them around all day. Try pulling them out slowly at or just after climax to see what I mean.
It's been years since I last tried Ben Wa balls so, in the name of science, I decided to brush up. Figuring a set of two would be enough, I grabbed a pair of duo-tone balls ($9.95) and with the help of a little lube slipped them into place. I went about my day and although I couldn't feel any vibrations as such their presence was more than a little pleasurable. Both balls settled just within my vagina and provided a real sense of fullness. The second ball pressed against the opening with a pleasantly firm and insistent sensation. To quote Susie Bright: "almost in/almost out is my preferred method of going insane." If anyone knows about these things, it's Susie. Of course, she was talking about using large metal relaxation balls -- but most people would really have to work up to that. Ben Wa balls can be titillating or downright enjoyable, definitely worth a go if you're interested.
I've fielded many questions about these little toys. Will anyone be able to hear them clicking? Won't they fall out? Will they get lost in my vagina and end up somewhere near my ovaries? The answers in order are No, unlikely, and my god go back to biology class! All kidding aside, Ben Wa balls can be a good introduction for those new to the sex toy world or who might be put off by "The Destroyer." They're non-phallic, inexpensive, and an interesting addition to your tickle trunk.
From our Fall 1998 newsletter. A version of this article appeared in Brink magazine (August 1, 1998).