Jan
5

“Can I become addicted to my vibrator?”

If you worry that using a vibrator can desensitize you or lessen your enjoyment of other sexual activity, do not fear. Vibrator addiction is a myth, just like many other sexual myths borne of cultural stigma (remember when masturbation was thought to cause blindness?).

Misconceptions about sex toys — like that they can replace partners, for instance — are at the root of the myth that people can become addicted to vibrators. Unfortunately, popular culture isn’t helping. While vibrator usage became more mainstream when Sex and the City featured Charlotte enjoying a rabbit vibrator, the episode simultaneously perpetuated the vibrator addiction myth when her friends had to stage an “intervention.”

Part of the issue is the word “addiction.” This word has extremely negative connotations, and most clinical definitions characterize addiction as something harmful and compulsive. There is nothing harmful about using a vibrator. While it is possible for a person to become obsessed with any object or behavior, there is nothing about vibrators in particular that evokes this kind of attachment, just as there was nothing in particular about Beanie Babies that made people collect them like mad!

It may be useful to view vibrator usage as a sexual preference. Humans are quick to fall into sexual patterns; in fact, our bodies grow nerve pathways in response to stimulation. You can become accustomed to the type of stimulation that a vibrator provides, or how quickly it gets you off. You can fall into a routine with your vibrator just as you can fall into a routine with partnered sex (the same foreplay, the same positions, etc). Your body will come to expect certain triggers in order to orgasm, but these triggers can always be re-established by switching up your sexual patterns and finding new ways to experience pleasure.

If you were orgasmic in other ways before trying a vibrator, you will retain that capability after using one. If you have only had orgasms with a vibrator, that’s okay too — it may be that your body requires a certain type of stimulation. Some women simply need strong stimulation for an extended period of time in order to orgasm, and hands and mouths often cannot provide that. Otherwise, you can always experiment with other sexual play that feels good to you; over time, your body will adapt and orgasm may follow.

If you are concerned about becoming accustomed to one type of stimulation, try switching to manual stimulation every once in a while, or buy a new sex toy that offers a unique sensation, like the Sqweel or Eroscillator. If you feel like you’re relying on your vibrator more than you’d like, retire it for a period of time and test some new techniques.

Some women worry that the vibrations from a sex toy could numb or desensitize them over time or permanently. This is untrue. Vibrator use will not damage your tissue or nerves. An extended session with a very powerful toy (like the popular Hitachi Magic Wand) can cause temporary numbness or desensitivity, but this sensation will dissipate after a short rest period. Numbness can also occur if you tend to push down on your genitals with your vibrator. This sort of numbness is akin to your hand or foot falling asleep — which happens when nerve endings become fatigued — and it is harmless. The blood will return to your genitals and all will be well again.

If you find yourself going numb while using a vibrator, try moving the toy around and varying the amount of pressure you use. Or place a towel between yourself and the toy to dull the vibrations. You can also wean yourself off of a very powerful toy by practicing with slightly weaker ones.

Will vibrator usage harm your partnered sex life? Far from it! In fact, at least one study has shown that people who use vibrators report fewer problems with sexual function. Using a vibrator can help you understand your body, which can improve the sex you have with others. Vibrators can also be a great complement to partnered sex. They can be especially helpful to the many women who have difficulty achieving orgasm during intercourse. Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Female Orgasms has some great suggestions for incorporating vibrators into partnered sex.

In short, vibrators are not at all harmful, neither physically nor emotionally, and they will not stop you from having the wonderful sex you want to have.

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  • Wonderful and factual article! I’ll be updating an older post of mine about this to link to your article as well.

  • Bri

    That Sex and the City episode really made Charlotte look crazed and addicted. Lovely article which dispells many ridiculous myths. I’ve been using vibrators for nearly 10 years and can still get off from simple manual stimulation with fingers. Totally false. There’s a time and place for all types of techniques!

  • Rebecca

    Thanks! It’s nice to have some answers to a handful of questions that have been floating around in my head for quite some time!

  • Elisa

    Thanks for the good info!

  • tiffany

    Thank you for writing this article! So nice to hear some sanity 🙂

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