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Women’s vibrator use in partner sex (Study review)

Women’s vibrator use in partner sex (Study review)

This research by Herbenick et al. (2010) explores women’s use of vibrators within sexual partnerships, drawing on data from a nationally representative survey of 2,056 women aged 18–60 in the United States.

The research, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, found that heterosexual, lesbian, and bisexual women frequently use vibrators with their partners.

Some key findings:

  • 51% of heterosexual women, 71% of lesbians, and 80% of bisexual women have used a vibrator.
  • 40% of heterosexual women, 69% of lesbians, and 66% of bisexual women have used a vibrator with a partner during foreplay.
  • 86% of vibrator users say their partner knows they use one, and 80% say their partner likes it. (more statistics on vibrator use from different studies)

Despite old stereotypes of vibrators as a “replacement” for a partner, this study shows they’re actually a popular way for couples to spice things up together. As researcher Debra Herbenick notes, “The reasons that women most often cited for beginning to use vibrators were related to sexual pleasure, enhancement, and recreation.”

So what’s stopping more women from bringing their buzzing friend to bed with a partner? A few cited concerns about bruising their partner’s ego. But take heart, says Herbenick: “Data from this study overwhelmingly demonstrate that women’s partners—whether male or female—are perceived as feeling positively toward their partner’s vibrator use.

Prevalence of Vibrator Use:Partnered vibrator use was common among heterosexual-, lesbian-, and bisexual-identified women“. This indicates a broad acceptance and utilization of vibrators across different sexual orientations.

Impact on Sexual Satisfaction:In addition, partner knowledge and perceived liking of vibrator use was a significant predictor of sexual satisfaction for heterosexual women (p < .01)“​​. This underscores the importance of communication and acceptance within sexual relationships regarding the use of sexual aids.

So, what’s the secret to a satisfying sex life? According to the research, it might just be a little frank discussion about franks and beans…or in this case, vibrators. Women who said their partners knew about and liked their vibrator use reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction. As the saying goes, the couple that plays together stays together.

Clinical Implications: The authors suggest that “Vibrators may be recommended as an adjunct therapy for the treatment of anorgasmia, hypoactive desire disorder, and persistent sexual arousal syndrome, as well as for sexual enhancement and pleasure.”.

Vibrators aren’t just for fun and games. The study’s authors note that they can also be a valuable tool for treating a range of sexual health issues, from low desire to difficulty reaching orgasm. Think of it as a “sexual multivitamin” that can boost your bedroom performance.

Cultural Shifts: The discussion about the changing perceptions and increased acceptance of vibrator use reflects a shift in societal attitudes towards sexual wellness and pleasure. The study notes that earlier research by Kinsey et al. (1953) and Hite (1976) reported vibrator use as rare, contrasting with the findings of this study where vibrator use has become increasingly common.

Reasons for Using Vibrators: Many women reported starting to use vibrators for reasons related to sexual pleasure and enhancement, with about one-third citing ease of orgasm as a reason for use. This dispels myths that vibrator use is solely related to compensating for sexual dysfunction or dissatisfaction.

Comfort and Communication:The vast majority of Ever Users indicated that they felt ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ comfortable using a vibrator alone (85.0%) or with a partner (69.6%)“. Additionally, the vast majority of women’s partners knew about their vibrator use and, in most cases, liked it, suggesting that vibrator use is often an integrated and accepted part of sexual activities within relationships.

Access to Vibrators: The study found that the most common way that women had accessed vibrators was by purchasing one for themselves (61.1% of Ever Users), indicating a proactive approach towards exploring sexual pleasure​.

The bottom line? A little battery-operated boost may be just the thing to amp up a couple’s sexual satisfaction. As the study found, women who used vibrators scored higher on measures of arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and overall sexual function. Sounds like good vibes all around.

Reference: Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., Ghassemi, A., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Women’s vibrator use in sexual partnerships: Results from a nationally representative survey in the United States. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 36(1), 49-65. DOI: 10.1080/00926230903375677

Amie Dawson, Ph.D.

Amie Dawson, Ph.D.

Amie is your go-to gal for all things related to sex and sexual well-being.

A certified sex educator and award-winning sex toy reviewer, Amie has spent her career empowering individuals and couples to embrace their sexuality.

With a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality and an ever-growing collection of over 200 vibrators, she's got the knowledge and experience to guide you on your pleasure-seeking journey.

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