It took the erotica industry a decade to turn the sex toy from seedy gadget to sassy lady's accessory, from vibrating rubber ducks to dolphin-shaped dildos. But men were largely left out of the fun - until now that is.
Once the stuff of garish sex shops, vibrators underwent a small revolution in the mid-2000s, as quirky, colourful playthings flooded the market and the rotating "Rabbit" was immortalised in the US series "Sex and the City".
These days dildos in cheerful hues of pink or blue, picked up in lingerie shops or department stores across the West, nestle in the bedside tables of suburban pensioners or trendy urban singles - barely raising an eyebrow.
But now the industry's creative labs have taken on a mightier challenge: the male sex toy.
"The market has really opened up in terms of sex toys for women - and now it's opening up for men too," Patrick Pruvot, owner of a Paris chain of upmarket sex shops, told AFP.
"But it's still a real step for a man to go out and buy a sex toy - it's still much more of a taboo than for women."
Despite the advent of the designer dildo, men's sex gadgets are still viewed with suspicion.
"A woman who uses a sex toy is a woman who is exploring her body," Pruvot told AFP. "But a man using a sex toy is seen as someone who can't get a woman."
This where sharp design comes in.
"Designing sex toys for men is difficult - it requires big investments," said Pruvot's colleague Fleur Breto. "If the packaging is ugly and it's called something like 'cum-a-minute' - well it's just not going to work."
Blazing the trail is a Japanese firm that has pledged to "revolutionize the realm of adult goods".
The revolution's weapon of choice looks for all the world like a man's shower gel tube, in the same bold hues of striped red, black or white.
But don't be fooled by the tame design: flip the cup upside down and it reveals a soft, lubricated silicone chamber, whose intricate ridges and curves promise to deliver the user "never-before-experienced" sensations.
This is the Tenga onanism cup, or Onacup for short, launched in sexually-adventurous Japan in 2005 and now sold in over 40 countries - with global sales of 13 million units including 1.5 million in Western markets.
The highly-engineered, single-use toy exists in a dozen versions each claiming to simulate the feel of a different sex position - with names like "Deep Throat" leaving little to the imagination.
Its creator Koichi Matsumoto - a car mechanic by training - says he wanted to help male toys shed their "nasty" image, and promote pleasure-for-one as a healthy activity and "nothing connected to obscenity".
The firm, which recently launched a more environmentally-friendly reusable version, expects international sales to exceed those in Japan within a few years.
Pruvot started importing the Tenga 18 months ago, and now sells 1,000 per month from his three Paris stores.
"Design helps to break the ice," he said. "Like the rubber duck that made it OK to own a vibrator. The men's deodorant that conceals a sex toy is the same idea."
Advocates say the toys can have an educational role too.
"Sexologists send me men who are traumatised by the need to perform - whether it's at the office, at home or in bed," said Breto. "These objects can be very useful for getting over short-term difficulties."
The Tenga is not the only toy in town: another is the German-made "Cobra Libre", a rechargeable gadget shaped like a futuristic toy car, with a two-inch deep vibrating socket at one end.
Or for pleasure on the go, there is the Egg, also by Tenga, a ribbed, stretchy rubber sleeve that fits in the palm of the hand and is billed as the perfect travel toy - promising its users "knee-trembling sensations".
Christian Palix, the founder of a specialist erotic cosmetics firm, says he increasingly caters to male tastes in designing his products, whether targeting couples, gay or straight men.
"A white design will suggest a feminine product. With black and gold, you are moving into more masculine codes," he said.
And the same applies to smells: for the scent of his latest massage oil Palix hired a professional perfumer, who chose unisex notes like ginger and rosemary instead of the feminine vanilla or passion fruit.Reuse content