I was posed with an interesting question and thought I’d take this one to a pro. Does long term use of a vibrator (by a woman) for sexual stimulation cause any sensitivity problems or orgasmic difficulties?
This is a very common question that is related to that other common vibrator question: Can I become addicted to vibrators?
It’s not surprising people ask this question. Most of us are raised with the message that sexual pleasure if allowed at all, comes with a heavy price. Whether it’s an unwanted pregnancy, a sexually transmitted infection, or simply the fact that the teens who have sex are always the first to be killed in horror movies, we’re told over and over again not to trust anything that seems too good. Researchers are not immune to these biases:
- H. Kaplan, a key figure in the development of contemporary sex therapy, argued that vibrator use could lead to women being unable to orgasm from non-vibratory stimulation, without any evidence.
- More recently a group of researchers in Michigan cast a clumsy net over sex toy use, drug use, and non-monogamy, and suggested that sex toy use is linked to risky sexual practices.
The short answer to your question is that currently there is no research that suggests there are negative consequences in terms of sensitivity or orgasmic difficulties for women who use vibrators. But there has been almost no research in this area at all. Here’s what we know.
A 1996 study, which is one of the only studies of women who use vibrators published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, surveyed women vibrator users about their behaviors and patterns. They found that of the women who regularly used a vibrator for masturbation, half were also masturbating in other ways, without the vibrator. While a majority of women did report that their orgasms felt stronger with a vibrator, less than 10% of the women who said so reported that they could only have an orgasm with a vibrator.
While there haven’t been any studies that have actually looked at the impact on the genitals from regular vibrator use (in fact it wasn’t until 2000 that researchers even started to explore what could be considered normative genital sensation for women) there is plenty of research on the impact of vibration on nerves and muscle function.
Mostly these studies are done in the area of occupational safety and look at what the impact is of holding a tool that vibrates for long or short periods of time. One study which had people hold a vibrating object for 30 minutes (which is as long as you are supposed to use most standard vibrators) found no long term sensation impairment and no significant problems in motor control following the exposure.
That said, it is expected that if you’re using a powerful vibrator you will experience some reduction in sensation immediately following. But this isn’t permanent, and I should point out that the same is true for any form of intense stimulation. In terms of sensation, there is no evidence that vibrators cause any permanent change in physical sensitivity or sensation. It’s also not uncommon for some people to get used to vibrators and then feel as if they need them to have an orgasm. But this is rarely the case.
Studies show that the sensation of “numbness” of the female intimate parts is short-lived. The “tingling” sensation usually disappears within no more than an hour or two.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine in the United States found that the harmful effects following the use of a vibrator are uncommon. Only 0.5% of women report that they lose sensitivity for more than one day.
“The idea that you can dull the nerve endings of your vagina forever and prevent you from having an orgasm is absurd. This is a completely fictional statement that has no scientific basis, “said Dr. Leah Milhaser, director of the Women’s Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Those who believe in the existence of the syndrome claim that the use of a vibrator leads to a loss of sensitivity of the vagina due to its overstimulation. And eventually, this would lead to a problem with reaching orgasm in the long run.
In fact, even if you make any part of your vagina numb after masturbating with a vibrator, this is a temporary phenomenon that will pass very quickly, Dr. Milhaser said.
“Nerve endings will quickly regain their tone. If you ever overdo it, just take a break. Vibrators play an important role in maintaining sex life and satisfaction, especially in postmenopausal women. In other words, the vibrator is what keeps your vagina alive and does not allow it to become numb, “said the expert.
Whether you use a vibrator once a week, several times a week, or while watching your favorite TV show – there is no way you can permanently influence the sensitivity of your vagina or reduce your chances of reaching orgasm. The only way a vibrator may damage the vagina is if there is some sort of mechanical damage to the device.
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If you are one of the rare cases that have a tendency to reach this unusual condition, you should be more careful when using a vibrator.