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Thursday, September 4, 2014

***CLASS WEEK 2 STUDY GUIDE** vibrators 101 part one

Once considered kinkyor exotic, sex toys can now be found on the shelves of small retail stores and  boutique websites as well as major corporate chains and the e commerce giants. They are also widely considered a positive and healthy way to explore your sexuality by medical and mental health professions. But finding straightforward, honest information about sex toys can still be a challenge. Most sex toy information is created by marketers and publicists, so the messages are likely slightly biased.
Increased media attention to sex toys doesn’t always translate into better information. There continue to be many myths about sex toys , some of which you can find repeated in entertainment media, and even occasionally, news media. Some popular sex toy myths include: 
  • Only lonely people and losers use sex toys.
  • You can become addicted to sex toys.
  • If you use sex toys too much it can ruin “regular” sex for you.
  • Sex toys can fix your sexual problems.

Different Kinds of Sex Toys

There is nothing like the Periodic Table for sex toys; there are no exact definitions or answers as to what is and isn’t a sex toy, or what is the absolute difference between a vibrator, a dildo, and butt plug. But to make life easier, sex toys can be categorized by function: 
  • Vibrators: A sex toy with a motor that whirrs, it creates extra stimulation beyond how you move it.
  • Dildos: Sex toys made for penetration that only move as much as you move them yourself.
  • Harnesses: Allows you to use a dildo without holding it in your hands. Most harnesses go around your waist, some go around your thigh, or can be strapped to furniture.
  • Anal Sex Toys: Toys that are designed for safe anal penetration. They will have a flared base, and have a smooth and seamless surface.
  • Lubricants: Essential for use with other sex toys, lubricant makes sex slippery, often more sensitive and more comfortable. Also required for any anal penetration.
  • Penis Rings: A ring that’s worn around the base of the penis that can create pleasurable pressure for the wearer. Some men report rings can prolong an erection.
  • Penis Pumps: Pumps will not permanently enlarge the penis, but some men enjoy the pressure sensation and use pumps for masturbation. Pumps may be used on other parts of the body as well.
  • BDSM Toys: Also known as power play toys, these include floggers, paddles, nipple clamps, restraints, blindfolds, and more.
  • Luxury Sex Toys: A newer category of sex toys, well designed and made from the best quality materials and motors.
  • Homemade Sex Toys: Many people find the best sex toys are the ones they make at home. Be careful to use common sense when using homemade sex toys.
  • Adult Movies: Sex films can be used as a sex toy to stimulate sexual thoughts and actions whether it’s an individual or couple watching.
  • Erotica: Like movies, erotic fiction can be integrated into sex play as partners read to each other, use erotic fiction for inspiration, or directly act out scenes from what they’ve read.

Your First Sex Toy

Sex toys are all about experimentation, and you may have to try a few before finding what works. Here are some basic tips when looking for your first sex toy: 
  • Start inexpensive.
  • Choose something that is versatile and can be used several ways.
  • Start simple. The bells and whistles are nice but usually not necessary.
  • The first time you try a toy, try it alone. You’ll feel less pressure and freer to experiment.
  • Make sure you have lots of lubricant and lots of batteries.
Read More Sex Toy Shopping Tips 

How to Use Sex Toys

Sex toys are one of the few consumer products in the world that don’t usually come with a user manual. In fact they often come with no instructions at all. Of course how you use a sex toy depends entirely on what you want the sex toy to do, and what works for you. Whether you’re a first time sex toy user or an old pro looking for a few new tricks, here are some ideas on using sex toys. 

Where to Buy Sex Toys

Thousands of websites and retail businesses sell sex toys, which is a boon for consumers who know how to navigate their way around. Avoid getting ripped off and find a great sex shop with these guides. 

Sex Toy Safety

Most sex toys are perfectly safe, as long as they are used with common sense. But some sex toys are more likely to cause problems (for example allergic reactions or slight abrasions due to rough edges). And even if a sex toy is safe, you may still have a negative reaction to it (from not liking it to finding it a serious turn off). 

Sex Toy Q & A

Scientists have yet to turn their attention in earnest to sex toys, making it difficult to get well researched answers to common questions. Difficult, but not impossible. 

Accessible Sex Toys

Most sex toys are mass manufactured and not very accessible for those of us with limited mobility or fine motor control, or anyone who is easily fatigued. As with any other device, sex toys can be adapted. It just takes some creativity, and often a little duct tape. 

 - Image courtesy of  Come As You Are
Image courtesy of Come As You Are
Electric vibrators are usually the most powerful and of the highest quality.
The electric vibrator has been available in one form or another for well over 100 years. Electric vibrators are usually sold as full body massagers, not sex toys, and are available at many department stores and big box retailers (you can find them in the small appliance section, between the hair dryers and the waffle irons).
Electric vibrators tend to be stronger, made by large reputable manufacturers, and come with good warranties. Most electric vibrators are designed for external stimulation only, but many sex toy companies now make attachments that allow you to use them for vaginal or anal penetration.
The main difference among electric vibrators is the mechanism of vibration. The two main kinds of electric vibrator are the wand and the coil.
Wand-style vibrators are the strongest vibrators currently available. At the end of a wand is usually a strong two-speed motor that whirs and creates intense “thumpy” vibration. TheHitachi Magic Wand (pictured on the left) is probably the best known wand-style vibrator.
Coil-style vibrators look like a small hair dryer and vibrate using a completely different mechanism. There is no motor that whirs inside a coil vibrator. Instead, there is an electromagnetic coil that the tip of the vibrator vibrates against 60 times per second. The result is a completely silent and more “buzzy” or “pointed” feeling vibration. Their quiet running makes them very popular with parents who don’t want to make a lot of noise or anyone with thin walls and/or nosey neighbors.
Electric Vibrator Pros:
  • Stronger than battery vibrators
  • Long lifespan
  • Manufacturers offer proper warranties (usually at least one year)
  • Great for full body massage and sexual use
  • Can be a less threatening introduction to vibrators
Electric Vibrator Cons:
  • Fewer power settings (usually just two speeds)
  • More expensive than battery vibrators
  • For some they can be too strong
  • Louder than battery vibrators
  • Require proximity to a power outlet
When choosing an electric vibrator, consider the warranty and how comfortable it feels in your hand. If you want something you can use with a partner, you may find the wand styles more flexible and comfortable. Finally, if you don’t have a lot of outlets in your house and/or you love sex outdoors, a plug-in electric vibrator may not be the best choice.

Rechargeable Vibrator

A Guide to the Rechargeable Vibrator
Rechargeable vibrators offer power and durability, plus greater freedom of use as you don’t need to be near an outlet.
A rechargeable vibrator is designed to be plugged in for a period of time to gain a charge, and then can be used without being plugged in. Most rechargeable vibrators take between 7-12 hours to charge and hold their charge for anywhere from 30 minutes to five hours.
In the past few years, many luxury sex toy manufacturers have begun making rechargeable vibrators that are both powerful and durable. Indeed, the main benefit of the rechargeable vibrator is that it combines the strength of a plug-in electric vibrator and the freedom of a battery vibrator. Rechargeable vibrators also reduce the need for batteries (a benefit in terms of cost and the environment).
Rechargeable vibrators come in a wide range of styles and functions. Some are made for just for external stimulation while others can be used for penetration as well. Many of the rechargeable vibrators feature multiple speed settings and different styles of vibration (e.g. pulsing, ascending/descending). The best designed among them also feature innovative control mechanisms.
Rechargeable Vibrator Pros:
  • Stronger vibrations than battery vibrators
  • Usually are are more durable and of better quality
  • Often come with warranties (at least one year)
  • New designs are more ergonomic and comfortable for solo or partner play
  • Eliminates the need for batteries
Rechargeable Vibrator Cons:
  • More expensive than battery vibrators
  • While selection is growing, still fewer models than battery vibrators
  • Charge can (and will) run out at the worst possible time
When choosing a rechargeable vibrator make sure you know the limits of the warranty offered, how long it takes to charge, and how long it holds its charge. Beyond that, the choices are personal and based on what you’d like to use the vibrator for, the shape, size, and color. Some of the top vibrator designers are making rechargeable vibrators so the selection from a function and aesthetic perspective is wide.

Japanese Vibrators

A Guide to Japanese Vibrators

Japanese vibrators usually have better quality motors and are longer lasting than vibrators with other motors. They also tend to be more expensive.
Japanese vibrators are best known as the dual-action vibrators like the Rabbit Pearl made famous by the TV show Sex in the City. In fact, Japanese vibrator manufacturers make all kinds of vibrators including small hard plastic vibrators for external stimulation, those for vaginal or anal penetration and the dual-action vibrators.
Simply put, what makes Japanese vibrators superior is the quality of motor. This isn’t merely a function of Japan making better motors (there are many high quality motors made in China, Taiwan, and elsewhere). The reliability of Japanese vibrators has more to do with the quality of the manufacturing companies, most of whom take a great deal of pride and care in the manufacturing of their vibrators. As a result, they don’t use the cheapest motor they can find, and they consider things like the ease with which a vibrator can be cleaned, and whether or not the design of the vibrator will meet its intended goals.
For some Japanese vibrators, there is also a more direct feedback loop from consumer to manufacturer. In particular, Vibratex Japanese vibrators are of the highest quality as the U.S. based distributor, Vibratex, works closely with manufacturers on design, construction, and quality control. They also listen to their customers and are able to integrate consumer feedback into the manufacturing process.
The main drawback to Japanese vibrators is the cost. Japanese vibrators can be anywhere from twice to three times the price of cheaper vibrators. For those who can’t afford a more expensive vibrator the good news is that cheaper vibrators don’t necessarily feel worse, they just don’t last as long.
If you’re shopping for a Japanese vibrator be sure to look at the package carefully (or ask the retailer directly). Some vibrator packaging boasts “Japanese quality” motors or put the word Japan or Japanese in the product name to mislead consumers into thinking the product is made in Japan. When in doubt, check the package or stick with trusted names like Vibratex.

Rabbit Vibrator

A Guide to the Rabbit Vibrator

Thanks in large part to Sex in the City , the Rabbit Vibrator has become one of the most famous and popular vibrators.
Loved my many, the rabbit vibrator isn’t actually one vibrator, but instead refers to a vibrator design which has been copied and modified into dozens of different styles of rabbit vibrator, each made by a different manufacturer. The most famous rabbit vibrator is called the Rabbit Pearl (or sometimes Pearl Rabbit) and was featured on an episode of the TV showSex in the City. But before becoming a celebrity, that same model was a favorite of many vibrator users who had discovered it in high-quality sex shops across the country.
The basic rabbit vibrator design has a shaft that can be used for vaginal penetration that rotates at variable speeds (usually with plastic beads embedded in the shaft that spin while the shaft rotates) and a clitoral stimulator that juts out at the base of the toy. The clitoral stimulator is in the shape of a rabbit and the ears vibrate on either side of the clitoris. This design is referred to as a dual-action vibrator as it provides simultaneous clitoral stimulation and vaginal penetration.
Because these vibrators do much more than simply buzz, when they are built with inexpensive motors they can break down much faster. They have at least two motors but if one dies on you it means the toy doesn’t function the way it should. For this reason it's recommended to stick with rabbit vibrators made with high quality motors and elastomer or silicone exteriors. Vibratex rabbit vibrators are the ones featured on Sex in the City and are of the best quality.
Rabbit Vibrator Pros:
  • Provides simultaneous clitoral and vaginal stimulation
  • Some models also provide g spot stimulation
  • Vibratex models are durable and made of clean elastomer material
Rabbit Vibrator Cons:
  • Many imitators are poor quality, made of cheap material and are over-priced
  • Lack versatility, not good for clitoral stimulation alone or anal stimulation
  • Most models rate high on the noise scale
A rabbit vibrator may not be the best choice for a first time vibrator. It’s wise to make sure you like the feeling of vibration and figure out if you enjoy clitoral stimulation, penetration, or both before investing the money in a good quality rabbit vibrator. Once you know you enjoy this kind of stimulation, choosing a rabbit vibrator can depend on your budget, picking a size you like, and whether or not you want a model with the batteries in the vibrator body or with an external battery pack.

Remote Vibrator

A Guide to the Remote Vibrator

Over the past 10 years, the remote vibrator has developed into a fun and functional (if quite expensive) option for vibrator enthusiasts.
A remote vibrator is a vibrator that can be controlled from a distance without cords or wires. The remote vibrators shown here are all wearable vibrators but there are also remote vibrator eggs, butt plugs, and others. Most remote vibrators use the same kind of technology that can be found in wireless doorbells (homemade sex toy hobbyists, take note). Store bought remote vibrators have been around for almost 15 years, but the quality and technology remains relatively basic. Most can be controlled within 10-20 feet.
The main reasons people use them are for greater accessibility and because they are a fun way to give up control to a partner. One partner gets to wear the vibrator and the other gets to control it. Most remote vibrators can be comfortably worn under clothing and are quiet enough not to be noticed in a crowded public space. The one wearing the vibrator never knows when it will be turned on next (or when they'll be turned on next) thus transforming any dinner party, movie night or social event into a long and slow build-up of anticipation.
While they are a lot of fun, remote vibrators have several drawbacks. They tend to be of mediocre quality and still very expensive. The vibrators designed to be worn on the body often don’t fit well and don’t fit people who are either very small or very large. The power of the vibration isn’t always enough to stimulate you to orgasm (but that’s not what they’re best for anyway). I also wouldn’t recommend using them in public if you’re someone who is very anxious. The anticipation of whether your partner is going to turn it on while you’re talking to your neighbor’s dentist at a dinner party may turn from exciting to anxiety provoking, and that can end up being seriously un-erotic. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, many of the remote vibrators available work on the same frequency, and one remote control can turn on any other remote vibrator in the vicinity. So if you happen to be outside and using your remote vibrator, and anyone else has one, your control can turn theirs on!

G Spot Vibrator

A Guide to the G Spot Vibrator

G spot vibrators are designed to easily stimulate the part of the body many refer to as the g spot.
g spot vibrator has a shape and design intended to make it easier to stimulate the g spot. A good g spot vibrator will have four key elements:
  • Design is safe for penetration
  • Material is firm enough not to bend when inserted
  • Tip of the shaft will be curved
  • Size is comfortable for penetration (this is obviously different for everyone)
A g spot vibrator is not guaranteed to “find” your g spot and may do nothing more for you than any other vibrator. This is because you may not get any pleasure from stimulating the g spot and/or you may use the vibrator in a way that doesn’t stimulate the g spot. But for women who enjoy g spot stimulation and use the vibrator correctly, a g spot vibrator is an easy way to get what you want.
G spot vibrators with flared bases are also safe for anal penetration. The curve of the g spot vibrator can be pleasurable when used anally for men as it can stimulate the prostate. If you ever use a toy vaginally and anally you must use a new condom each time you use it.
G Spot Vibrator Pros:
  • Versatile; good for vaginal penetration, external stimulation and in some cases anal penetration
  • The easiest way to stimulate the g spot other than using your own fingers
  • Allows for both pressure g spot stimulation and vibration
  • Some women find g spot vibrators helpful in learning female ejaculation
G Spot Vibrator Cons:
  • Sometimes the vibration doesn’t feel as good as pressure, making the vibrator unnecessary
  • Many models are made from inexpensive material and have short life spans
  • Misleading marketing claims; g spot vibrators will not “give” you a g spot orgasm
There isn't one g spot vibrator that's right for everyone, and you may need to explore before finding the one that is best for you. Find out what the toy is made from, what kind of motor is in it, whether or not it’s waterproof, and what speed settings it has. The size is also a consideration. A g spot vibrator doesn’t need to be wide or long, and many people prefer the styles that have a bulbous head and skinny neck. It’s also nice to get a g spot vibrator that vibrates most at the tip.

Anal Vibrator

A Guide to the Anal Vibrator

Anal vibrators are designed to add extra stimulation to anal play while being safe for anal penetration.
Any vibrator can be used externally for anal stimulation, but for anal penetration you should only use a vibrator designed to be an anal vibrator. To be safe for this the vibrator must:
  1. Be seamless, with no sharp edges, rough pointy bits, or anything that can easily come off.
  2. Have a wide flared base, or ring, or something significantly big enough to prevent it from being drawn up into the rectum. When you insert something in the anus, there is a suction-like effect where objects can be drawn up into the rectum.
There are three different styles of anal vibrator; butt plugsanal dildos, and anal beads. People who are interested in exploring anal penetration often find the feeling of vibration is helpful in letting them relax and also in creating more arousal. Unlike external stimulation, when it comes to anal vibration, a little often goes a long way.
Another safety consideration is proper cleaning. An anal vibrator that is made of inexpensive rubber may be porous and impossible to clean properly. For this reason it’s recommended that you select a material that is easy to clean (silicone, metal, hard plastic) or use a condom on your toy each time you use it.
Anal Vibrator Pros:
  • Vibration can increase relaxation and make anal penetration more fun
  • Anal vibrators are the only vibrators that are safe for anal penetration
  • Many anal vibrators are designed to stimulate the prostate in men
Anal Vibrator Cons:
  • Less versatile, anal vibrators are usually only good for one thing
  • An inexpensive or poorly designed anal vibrator may be dangerous
  • Most anal vibrators contain inexpensive motors and have short life spans
When choosing an anal vibrator first decide if you're looking for a plug, dildo, or beads. Some anal vibrators have separate battery packs where the batteries and speed dial are; others have the batteries in the body of the vibrator. The other key decision is size. It’s always best to start small and work your way up. If you’re looking for an anal vibrator for a man you may want to choose one with a curve for prostate stimulation. Finally, when possible, getting an anal vibrator with a removable motor is best. This makes it easier to clean and also allows you to replace the motor, which in most cases will die out before the body of the vibrator does.

High end sex toys have been growing both in popularity and in numbers since the early 2000s. There's no clear definition of what makes a high end sex toy, well, high end. Often the label comes from the manufacturer, and is more marketing than substance. For the purposes of this review I would define high end toys in part as a contrast to most sex toys which are mass manufactured and designed with little thought for the end user or longevity. Instead a luxury or high end toy is designed for both beauty and function, and is manufactured using high quality materials and components, chosen for their practical and attractive applications.
It is worth noting that most of the people who are making high end sex toys are not from inside the adult sex toy industry. Instead they tend to come to their creations with backgrounds in industrial, graphic, or conceptual design, and marketing. The obvious (and possibly only) drawback to the high end sex toys currently available is price. With retail prices ranging from $150.00 to over $1000.00, high end sex toys are out of the reach of many of us.
The good news is that as more people buy these toys, and more people begin to make them, we will eventually reach a critical mass, when the prices of high end sex toys can go down, but the quality can remain (more or less) the same, eventually leading to the Ikea/Target philosophy of affordable design for all. Until then, if you're looking to splurge, or just do some e-window shopping, check out this survey of the new and old high end sex toy designers.

Elemental Pleasures

The creators of Elemental Pleasures, Peg and Dennis McIlnay-Moe, are both mechanical engineers who were working in the aerospace industry, and have combined their knowledge of durability and good design with their obvious passion for making great sex toys. Their line of vibrators are made of 
Titanium , Stainless Steel, and Anodized Aluminum and offer sensations and durability that are completely unique. They were the first people to make sex toys of this caliber in the U.S. for sale in retail stores. When you visit their site it's well worth clicking through to watch the profile Sextv produced on the couple who are behind Elemental Pleasures ( full disclosure: I work for Sextv, and recommended this product to the producers for a profile ).

Je Joue

Taking high end sex toys to a new level, Je Joue is the first commercially available product to really offer a practical teledildonic experience. While Je Joue lacks the organic shape and feel of other high end sex toys, it more than makes up for it in intuitive electronic design and functionality. The Je Joue not only helps you explore what you like, it remembers how you like it, and plays it back for you thanks to a powerful motor and a microprocessor which comes pre-programmed with 10 different digital foreplay 'Grooves', sensual vibration patterns designed to take you from zero to sixty, as fast or slow as you like. You can compose an infinite number of new Grooves and download them directly to the Je Joue's microchip. You can also create your own Grooves online, email them to a friend or lover's Je Joue, or leave them on the Je Joue website for anyone to download and try your Groove on for size.


Jimmyjane is the labor of love of a diverse group of professionals from the worlds of design, art, beauty and fashion. The company is lead by Ethan Imboden, an award winning designer who left consulting with a desire to create something genuine and unique. The concept: to infuse design & luxury with sex to bring beauty to a neglected product category. The designs are the height of simplicity and intelligence. Elements like their patented removable motor that can last up to 16 hours on a single AA battery, available engraving on their Little Gold (manufacturers site ) and Little Platinum ( manufacturers site ) products are completely unique, and their new, equally beautiful but more affordable Little Chroma ( buy direct ) series marks the first effort from a high end sex toy designer has moved to make luxury products more widely available in sex toy stores.

Kiki De Montparnasse

Kiki De Montparnasse is a New York based retailer that commissions lingerie, jewelry, home, bath, body and beauty products, and a small selection of high end sex toys, including a hand sculpted obsidian glass dildo, and several gold, silver, and titanium vibrators. The opening of the Kiki De Montparnasse store in SoHo signals an important change in high end sex toy retailing in North America. Before they were open, high end sex toys were mostly made in the U.K, and available in the U.S. only at select fashion retailers. Hopefully their existence will encourage more designers to turn their attention to sex toys, and more people to consider the investment in their sexual pleasure.


With a tag line that reads "lust objectified" Sweden-based Lelo has been making powerful and beautiful vibrators since 2003. Their stated aim is to create objects not just functional, but seductive in their own right, by blending fashion, femininity, engineering and design. The result is a line of high end sex toys that are supremely functional and attractive. Using materials including stainless steel, 18K gold, and silicone rubber, Lelo have also made a move to introduce more affordable, but equally beautiful products to the adult retail market.

Mi Su

Inspired by natural, organic forms and made from titanium, obsidian, rose quartz, gold, silver and a range of precious stones, Mi Su fuses jewelry, art object, and sex toy design, making toys that demand to be touched. Their website features a small selection, but they also offer something they call "Mi-Su Couture" where they will custom design toys to your specifications.


UK based retailer Myla may have been the first company to commission high end sex toys from established designers. Started by two friends who, according to their site "decided to work together to create the world's first luxury sex brand for women." Myla offers lingerie as well as a line of high end sex toys. They began with a vibrator called Bone which was designed by Tom Dixon, but have added other products along the way, which are now available in the U.S. and on line.

Shiri Zinn

UK based, South African born conceptual designer Shiri Zinn was one of the first designers to turn her attention to high end sex toys. From her crystal encrusted vibrators and glass dildos to her luxurious floggers, everything Shiri designs is beautiful and functional, never compromising one for the other. Her best known creation, the Minx vibrator, has been a staple at the UK erotic boutique Coco de Mer for several years and was one of the first luxury sex toys to come to the U.S. (brought here by CAKE).

Sex Machines

Because a definitive history and topography has yet to be written for sex toys, it's hard to know whether sex machines as a type of sex toy belongs in the category of high end sex toys. Some sex machines are decidedly low tech, nothing more than some soda cans, a few gears, and a lot of love. But other sex machines, most notably the Monkey Rocker, are carefully designed and perfectly executed. If you're interested in learning more about sex machines, you can do no better than to purchase Timothy Archibald's brilliant photo-essay collectionSex Machines .

The increasing visibility of vibrators in mainstream media, and in retail stores that don't specialize in sex toys is bringing some people to my door asking the question, how many people really use vibrators?
Until recently there hasn't been much reliable research on vibrator use. The people who collect most of the information about vibrator use tend to be, not surprisingly, the people who are trying to sell us more vibrators. These surveys are always tied to some form of marketing and methodologies are rarely described in detail.
In 2009 Michael Reece and Debra Herbenick, along with colleagues at Indiana University published to surveys of vibrator use which offered a much more reliable and detailed look into the hows and whys of vibrator use. Their findings are below. Beneath their findings I've included the numbers from earlier research some of which amounts to no more than marketing material but others represent serious study on vibrator use.
Overall Reece and Herbenick found that just under 50% of respondents reported using a vibrator at some point, with slightly more women (52%) than men (45%) reporting vibrator use.

When Do You Use Vibrators?

Women reported using vibrators most during masturbation (46%) and least during intercourse (37%). Men were most likely to use vibrators with a partner during “sex play or foreplay” (40%). Only 17% of men reported using a vibrator for masturbation. The paper on men reported on reasons for first using a vibrator, and the most common one men gave (67%) was “for fun”. 40% of men said they used one to help a partner with orgasms, and 7% said they used it to help themselves to have an orgasm.

Vibrator Use and Sexual Function

The researchers compared vibrator users and non-vibrator users on several measures of sexual functioning (asking questions about things like erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, pain, orgasm, lubrication, and sexual desire). Overall men and women who used vibrators reported fewer problems with sexual function. And people who used vibrators more recently (the past month) responded to surveys in a way that indicated fewer problems with sexual function.

Vibrator Use and Other Healthy Behaviors

Both men and women who use vibrators were more likely to do things that indicate a comfort with their bodies and an interest in taking care of themselves. Women who had ever used a vibrator were more likely than those who had never used a vibrator to have had a gynecologic exam in the past year and performed a genital self-examine in the past month. Men who reported performing testicular self-exams within the past moth were more likely to have used a vibrator.

Sex Toy Cleaning

The good news is that the majority of men and women do clean their vibrators. The bad news is that some don’t (20% of men and 14% of women report never cleaning their toys). Of those who do clean, habits could still improve. 60% of women and 53% of men report cleaning their toy before and after use, with the rest either cleaning before or after. It’s not clear if they asked this, but what I’d be most interested in knowing is whether or not they cleaned the toy before first use, something that I think a lot of people overlook but it important considering the serious lack of hygiene in most sex toy factories.

Side Effects of Vibrator Use

The researchers only reported on women’s responses to questions about negative side effects of vibrator use. They asked women about genital numbness, pain, irritation, swelling (the bad kind) and tears or cuts. Here are the findings:
  • 71.5% of women never experienced any side effects.
  • 16% reported numbness
  • 3% reported pain
  • 10% reported irritation
  • 8% reported swelling
  • 1% reported tears or cuts
In all cases, those who reported negative side effects judged them to be relatively short lived and minor in severity.
How Common Is Vibrator Use
Previous to 2009 most statistics suggested between 20-27% of people had used a vibrator at some point in their lives. Some examples of survey research include:
  • In Shere Hite’s famous survey (1976), only 1% of respondents said they had ever used a vibrator
  • In a 2006 Elle/ survey 40% of respondents said they had used a vibrator.
  • In a 1996 survey of Swedish women aged 18 to 74, 19% of respondents said they had used a sex toy by themselves, and 15% said they had used a sex toy with a partner. Younger repondents were more likely to have used a sex toy, with 30% of women 25 to 34 reporting having used a sex toy.

Age of First Vibrator Use
Two surveys that have asked this got very similar results:
  • 15 to 17% were under 20 years old when they first tried a vibrator
  • 50% were in their 20s
  • 22 to 27% were in their 30s
  • 8 to 10% were 40 and older

Vibrator Use by Gender
In the two surveys that compared vibrator use between men and women, women were more likely to use vibrators:
  • One study found that 33% of female respondents versus 20% of male respondents used vibrators
  • Another study found that the numbers were 24% for women and 21% for men.

What else about people who use vibrators?
Here are some random statistics from the surveys listed below:
  • Most studies found that vibrator users were overwhelmingly white.
  • Most studies found that vibrator users were predominantly in their thirties.
  • According to Xandria Collection’s Toys in the Sheets survey, the most common vibrator user was a white Christian married woman, in her thirties, who votes Republican.
  • According to the Durex global sex survey Australia has the highest vibrator use reported (46%) and India has the lowest (3%). The US is up there at 45%.
  • Women in relationships are more likely to use a vibrator than women who are single.

Berman Center/ survey “The Health Benefits of Sexual Aids & Devices: A Comprehensive Study of their Relationship to Satisfaction and Quality of Life. Unpublished, 2004.
Castleman, M. & Lawrence Research Group. Toys in the Sheets. 1999.
Davis, Clive M.; Blank, Joani; Lin, Hung-Yu. “Characteristics of Vibrator Use Among Women.” The Journal of Sex Research Vol. 33, No. 4 (1996).
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