How to choose a Vibrator and Why To Use One

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Dear Sex Counselor,

I’m thinking about getting a vibrator, but I don’t know how to pick one.  Why do women use them? How do I know which one is right for me?

P.S. I’ve heard vibrators can be addicting. Is this true?


Vibrators can be used for all sorts of things: to enhance your pleasure during solo or partner play, to arouse you as a warm-up to your usual intimacies, to help you achieve orgasm or have multiple orgasms, and even to provide a great back massage. With a vibrator, you can be pleasured for as long as you wish, with you in control.  

You may want to use a vibrator:
    
• If you want to explore another way to become sexually aroused.
• If you want assistance to achieve an orgasm or want to experience more than one orgasm.
• If your partner is tired, ill, not interested in sex when you are, or finished with sex before you are.
• If you want stimulation in addition to intercourse (using a vibrator on your clitoris and vulva can help bring you to orgasm during penetrative sex).

Also, many women find that they experience stronger, more satisfying orgasms with a vibrator’s consistent stimulation. And if you need more incentive, consider that regular orgasms are good for your health! They have been proven to boost your immune system and keep your pelvic floor muscles strong and toned (for more information on the benefits of strong pelvic floor muscles, see our Pelvic Floor brochure).

P.S. About that addiction myth:
The short answer is no, you can’t become addicted to your vibrator. A vibrator may help you to have an orgasm more quickly than manual stimulation, but it will not desensitize you to stimulation that typically leads you to orgasm. Many people grow accustomed to the speed at which they reach orgasm when using a vibrator and grow frustrated when other forms of stimulation (oral or manual) don’t achieve the same results. This doesn’t mean a person is addicted  to a vibrator, just that they’re used to its efficiency.  

In fact, a recent study showed that regular vibration actually increases the number of nerve endings in the clitoris—so regular vibrator use can lead to even more, better orgasms in the future.

One caveat, however: it is possible to train yourself to be able to achieve orgasm only with a certain kind of stimulation. This is true whether you use a vibrator or not, so vary your technique every now and then to avoid getting into a rut. Your body benefits from being reminded how to get aroused in different ways, so it’s healthy (not to mention fun!) to add a bit of variety once in a while. Who knows, you may discover something new along the way.

How to choose a vibrator

It can be overwhelming to look at all the choices, since there are vibrators in every shape and size available. If this is your first vibrator, we’ve found that versatility is the best characteristic to look for in a beginning vibrator—getting one that offers lots of choices when it comes to how and where to use your vibrator. The more you’re aware of your preferences, the easier your choice will be. To pick the vibrator that’s right for you, consider the following questions.

1.Do you want to use a vibrator externally, internally, or both?

Some women like to use vibrators on the clitoris; some like to use them on the vaginal lips; some like to use them inside the vagina; and some like to use them in all three places, and more. You’ll never know what you like until you try it yourself.

For most women, arousal that can lead to orgasm occurs when the clitoris, lips of the vulva, and first 1-3 inches of the vagina (closest to the outside of your body) are stimulated.  So, if you’re looking to increase your ability to have an orgasm, strongly consider a vibrator that will deliver at least moderate vibrations to the clitoris and vulva. If you enjoy vaginal penetration, you may want to consider a shaft-shaped vibrator that can also be used internally.

For someone using a vibrator for the first time, we recommend choosing one that you can experiment with using both externally and internally, like one with a shaft shape. This allows you to try vibration in several different areas of your body to find out where you like vibration.

If you’re going to be using your vibrator inside your vagina, make sure you get one that’s an appropriate width. The easiest way to know what width you’re comfortable with is to see how many fingers you’re comfortable being penetrated with when you’re aroused. Once you know this, you can measure the width across those fingers, and use that width to find a vibrator size that would be comfortable for you to insert vaginally.

2.  What kind of clitoral & labial stimulation do you like?

Another way to ask this question is: How much hand or tongue stimulation do you find enjoyable? If you aren’t sure about the answer, it’s good to get a vibrator that has a range of speeds from low to high. This way, you can experiment with different intensities to see what you like best. Some women like mild stimulation all the time; some women like intense stimulation all the time; some women like mild, then intense; and on and on.

Different vibrators have different types of vibration. Some have a “buzzy” feel to them; the sensation is on the surface of your skin. Others have a “throbby” feel; the sensation provides a deeper tissue massage. Though neither one is better, some women prefer one type over the other; however, it’s difficult to know which you will prefer until you try it. Our descriptions in the store and on our website tell you whether each toy is buzzy or throbby.

3. What type of material and texture do you like?

Vibrators come in a range of materials to accommodate different preferences. However, we generally recommend hard plastic for first-time vibrator users. Though it may not seem like having a hard-shelled vibrator would be comfortable on your genitals, a hard material is actually an advantage. Why? Because it allows you to feel the full range of vibrations your vibrator has. If you get a vibrator with a soft surface, the vibrations will be muted.

Some feel that hard-shelled vibrators are just too intense, but we encourage you to remember that it’s always easier to decrease a vibrator’s intensity than it is to increase it.  If your vibrator feels too intense, you can always vibrate it over a towel, blanket, or hand to mute the vibration. If it isn’t intense enough, however, there isn’t anything you can do to make it more intense.

4.  Should it be very quiet?

Vibrators produce a wide range of sounds. Apartment dwellers, people with children, and others may care about the level of noise. Our descriptions (in our catalog and on our website) tell you if they’re quiet, moderately noisy, or pretty darn loud. Better yet, come in to one of our store to hear for yourself.

5.  How mobile do you want to be?

Vibrators that plug into the wall tend to be made better, last longer, and vibrate more intensely (but tend to be noisier). They also make good multi-purpose toys when a back rub is your pleasure of choice. Battery-operated and rechargeable vibrators, on the other hand, can be used almost anywhere—you don’t need to be near an outlet. However, most battery operated toys will not last as long as their plug-in and rechargeable counterparts.

6.  Will you be introducing it to a partner?

If so, you may want to take into account your partner’s comfort level and preferences for size, shape, color, etc. Multi-purpose massagers don’t look quite as much like a sex toy, so a shy partner may be more comfortable with one of them. If you would like to use it together, choose a shape that will fit easily between two bodies, such as one with a curve.

7. Should it be waterproof?

We have sections both on our website and in our store for the vibrators that can be used in the bath or shower, if that’s something you think you want to explore.

Final Thoughts:

While it’s true that many women enjoy vibration, some women don’t like vibration on their genitals at all. If this is your first time trying it, it’s best to not invest a lot of money, until you know whether you like the sensations.  If you end up not liking vibration, it’s better to be out only $30 than it is to have lost $80 on an expensive vibrator that doesn’t work for you.

But my friend says the Rabbit Pearl is the best vibrator ever. Can I start with that one?

You can if you want, but we wouldn’t recommend it. The Rabbit has been highly publicized, and while many women love it, not everyone does. The Rabbit, and many toys like it, provide lots of stimulation to lots of areas of the genitals, and that much stimulation at once can feel overwhelming to women who have never experienced vibration on their genitals before. Keep in mind that what works for one woman doesn’t necessarily work for another woman, and save the Rabbit for a time when you know you like vibration, and your genitals are ready for it.