"this might sound silly, but what the heck are butt plugs for? why would anyone want to use them?"
Ah! Great question!
There's a lot of "taboo" surrounding inserting something into the anus for pleasure. And I get it - that body part is often thought of as dirty, germ-y and smelly.
But alas! That area of the body is ALSO home to lots and lots of nerve endings that are connected to our genitals - areas that are associated with pleasure! Quoting one of my favorite sex books, "The Guide to Getting it On" by Paul Joannides:
"You'll be hard-pressed to find a part of the body that has more nerve endings than the anus. Some women have their strongest orgasms when anal stimulation is part of the mix. And some men find a finger on the prostate to be a welcome sensation."
So how can a butt plug come into play? Inserting an anal toy during masturbation or partnered sex - be it digital, oral, vaginal, or anything else I'm missing for that matter - can stimulate these sometimes neglected nerves and therefore increase pleasure! Maybe I can insert it when I'm going down on my partner, or while my partner is going down on me, or both! Maybe I can wear one while being vaginally penetrated or my partner can wear it when vaginally penetrating me? Maybe I can have one inside me while using a vibrator on my clitoris? There are lots of options here.
Butt plugs and other anal toys like anal beads can also be a great way to make anal sex more comfortable, especially if it's something you don't have much experience with. Inserting a butt plug before inserting something larger like a penis or dildo can let the anus "practice" with having something inserted into it. Initially, the feeling can be unfamiliar if you've never had something inserted in there before. By starting with a butt plug rather than immediately trying a penis, the anus can learn,
"oh! so this is what this feels like! i was nervous a little, but this isn't so bad. it actually feels kinda nice!"
I've got to be honest with you, I never expected to "do the voice of an anus" when I started writing this post.
Aaaanywho, anal beads can be particularly helpful for this purpose, as larger sizes can continue to be inserted as the anus becomes comfortable with smaller ones.
There are also some important things to consider when it comes to using butt plugs. For example, anything you insert into an asshole must, MUST have a flared base. Period. End of story. Because if you know anything about anatomy, you know that a vagina has an "end" to it. It's called the cervix. There is only so far something will go into the vagina (which is why you can insert a tampon in there and the string is still dangling out when you go back to it a few hours later). The anus, however, is kind of like a black hole. It's connected to something like 30 feet of intestine (yup, too lazy to go look that one up). So, if you put something into it, and there isn't a flared base that prevents it from going further in than you want, and slurrrrrrrp! In it goes! And will likely have to be removed by a medical professional. Probably not the date night you were expecting.
So hopefully that made butt plugs a little less scary! As always, feel free to holler at me if you have any follow-up Q's :)