ASK A SEX THERAPIST: 11 Easy Ways To Maintain A Healthy Relationship With Your Vibrator

As a sex therapist, my two main vibrator concerns are getting a toy that is physically unsafe and becoming reliant on a vibrator to reach orgasm.

Aug 22, 2014 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

Vibrator usage is more common now than ever before -- recent studies claim that as many of half of women have used a vibrator.
 
The increasing usage has also ushered in a heightened sense of alarmism about the dangers of vibrators. “You’ll destroy your nerve endings!” “You’ll get addicted!” “Vibrators make men feel inadequate!” 
 
While that’s all a bunch of baloney, your relationship with your vibrator does warrant a bit of thoughtfulness. 
 
 
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I love vibrators and I wholeheartedly recommend vibrator usage. My intent is not to contribute to the alarmism or make you feel bad when you reach for your trusty friend. Rather, the purpose of this article is to provide information and suggestions so you can make educated decisions about your own usage. 
 
As a sex therapist, my two main vibrator concerns are getting a toy that is physically unsafe and becoming reliant (reliant, not addicted!) on a vibrator to reach orgasm. Here are some simple ways to address each.
 
 
KEEPING YOUR BODY SAFE
 
1. Pay attention to materials.
 
Most people aren’t aware of the fact that sex toy manufacturers aren’t required to use non-toxic ingredients, or even properly disclose all of the chemicals used to produce their toys. Most sex toys are made out of heavily-treated plastics that contain compounds like phthalates. Phthalates can leach out of sex toys and get absorbed by the body, leading to endocrine disruption, cancer, and infertility. 
 
Read the fine print and look for body-safe materials like medical-grade silicone, medical-grade stainless steel, and glass. 
 
2. Buy a high-quality vibrator.
 
You really get what you pay for with sex toys. Consider your vibrator a long-term investment in your pleasure, and spend your money wisely. Sure, you can buy a $5 bullet or a $10 jelly vibrator, but those are likely to break in a matter of months, and may be hazardous to your health. 
 
3. Buy from reputable companies.
 
Look for manufacturers and retailers that are upfront about the ways their products are made. Most luxury manufacturers these days make body-safe products, and are active in describing their manufacturing process. Some examples include Lelo, njoy, JimmyJane, and MinnaLife. 
 
There are also dozens of well-respected sex toy shops, both brick and mortar and online, that are proactively educating consumers about the necessity of body-safe toys. Here is a great list. 
 
4. Look out for the warning signs.
 
If your vibrator has a strong chemically smell, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s not body-safe. If it’s labeled “for novelty use only,” that’s an indicator that the manufacturer doesn’t take safety seriously. Try to also avoid products that have cracks or crevices that bacteria can get trapped in.
 
5. Exercise caution with insertion.
 
You’ve heard the story of the woman who had sex toy stuck inside of her for 10 years, right? Don’t become that woman. Keep a hand on your vibrator at all times, and don’t insert short or thin vibrators in all the way.
 
 
KEEPING YOUR ORGASM SAFE
 
6. Vary the intensity.
 
Lots of women love the Hitachi Magic Wand because it’s incredibly powerful. Intense stimulation can often lead to intense orgasms! But it’s a good idea to purchase a toy that has a number of settings. Try getting off using different vibrational patterns and lower levels of intensity. 
 
Your body is not going to get physically dependent on super-high stimulation if you turn the dial to 10 every time, but you can become somewhat psychologically reliant. If you vary your routine, you can train your body to orgasm from a variety of types of stimulation.
 
7. Learn how to orgasm with your hand, too.
 
When I’m working with a woman who has never had an orgasm, I’ll sometimes recommend that she try using a vibrator, since they are usually so reliable at producing orgasm. If she does have her first orgasm with a toy, I suggest putting the vibrator away until she learns how to duplicate an orgasm with her hand. It’s a good idea to learn how to reach orgasm without the use of a toy. That way you can teach a partner how to get you off as well.
 
8. Alternate between your hand and your vibrator.
 
If you’re worried about becoming reliant on your vibrator, a super simple preventative method is to masturbate with your hand at least half of the time. Or use your vibrator up until you’re right about to orgasm, then switch to your hand. Vibrators can provide stimulation that humans just aren’t capable of producing, so you want to make sure your body gets used to orgasming from fingers, too. 
 
9. Try not to get lazy.
 
Vibrators are nice in that they can pretty easily and consistently deliver an orgasm within minutes. Sometimes it’s really freaking nice to lay back and just receive. At the same time, I’ve worked with a few women who became so accustomed to easy orgasms that they started describing themselves as too “lazy” to climax any other way. It’s absolutely your prerogative to decide that you only want to have vibrator orgasms. But make sure you’re actively making that decision rather than defaulting to “laziness.”
 
10. Tease yourself.
 
Vibrators make it easy to get overly goal-oriented about orgasm. Rather than going full steam ahead every single time, try to draw out the process every once in a while. Take your time to set up a sensual atmosphere. Seduce yourself a little! Use the vibrator on other parts of your body, and taunt yourself by barely gliding over your clit. Get yourself close to orgasm, then pull away. 
 
11. Pay attention to numbness and orgasmic difficulty.
 
You’re not going to get addicted to your vibrator and you’re not going to cause permanent nerve damage. That being said, if you’re experiencing any sort of numbness in your genitals, or finding it harder to orgasm with your hand or with a partner, just go on a little vibrator hiatus. Some women can experience genital numbness in the same way that your butt can go numb if you sit for too long. The feelings should go away with time. Of course, see a doctor for anything that feels serious.