What Are Vibrators?

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on March 05, 2024
5 min read

Vibrators are sex toys that are used on the body to create sexual stimulation. Modern vibrators, also known as massagers, use electronic power to create vibrations or pulses. Vibrators come in many shapes and sizes.

Vibrators are used by placing the device on sensitive erogenous zones, which are places on your body that increase sexual pleasure. They can be used externally on the penis, vulva, clitoris, and anus, or can be used internally in the anus or vagina. Continued stimulation can create feelings of sexual pleasure and may eventually lead to orgasm.

Vibrators can be used alone or with a partner. Vibrator use is popular among both men and women of all sexual orientations. Over 43.8% of heterosexual men and 49.8% of homosexual men in the U.S. reported using vibrators, either alone or with partners. Another study found that 52.5% of women aged 18-60 in the U.S. have used a vibrator before.

Clitoral vibrators are devices specifically designed to stimulate the clitoris, a very sensitive area near the vagina. The devices create a pulsing sensation that boosts blood flow to your clitoris, which makes it more likely for you to have an orgasm.

Vibrators can increase feelings of sexual pleasure and make orgasms easier to achieve. Scientists aren't entirely sure why vibrators feel good, but vibrators can help both men and women orgasm more quickly. Different people may prefer different intensity levels of vibration, and some people may be more sensitive to vibration than others. There are many different types of vibrators, so some may be better suited for certain people than others.

Some surveys show that almost half of women are unhappy with their frequency of reaching orgasm. Orgasms release the hormone oxytocin, which can create feelings of affection or social bonding and may increase feelings of happiness.

While many people enjoy vibrators, they are especially popular amongst women who have trouble achieving orgasm through masturbation or penetration from a partner. Research shows that for nearly 75% of women, penetrative sex alone doesn't lead to an orgasm. Many sexual health experts suggest people having these issues use a vibrator to help them achieve orgasm more easily.

The clitoris is a key area for sexual pleasure for people who have vulvas. Clitoral vibrators directly stimulate it, which can lead to intense orgasms that happen quickly. A clitoral vibrator can be one way to have greater arousal and a better chance at an orgasm.

Vibrators may also be helpful for people who have low libido (“sex drive”), anorgasmia (a condition where a person cannot reach orgasm), motor or sensory disabilities, or conditions that prevent vaginal penetration.

One popular myth about vibrators is that overuse of vibrators can make sex without a vibrator less fulfilling. However, vibrators don't numb the genitals or make your genitals less sensitive to nonelectronic stimulation.

In fact, one study found that only 11% of vibrator users reported genital numbness occasionally, with only 3% reporting frequent numbness.

Clitoral vibrator myths

Myths about clitoral vibrators are similar to those about other vibrators. Some people may think that using them too often will desensitize your genitals or make other sex seem boring. Here are the facts:

  • The clitoris responds to stimulation no matter if it comes from a vibrator, a penis, fingers, or something else. Using a vibrator, even if you do it often, won’t change that.
  • Using clitoral vibrators won't make sex less enjoyable. Though they do provide intense stimulation, they can’t deliver all the other things that make sex feel great.

Vibrators are safe to use. Research shows that side effects related to vibrator use are extremely rare.

There are many different styles of vibrators. Some styles are meant for insertion, while others are not. Additionally, some may vibrate more strongly than others. Some vibrators plug into the wall, while others are battery-operated. You may want to do some research to pick a vibrator that will satisfy your needs, although many vibrators have a variety of possible uses and vibration strength settings.

Lube may also help make vibrator use more pleasurable. It's important to make sure that the lube is compatible with your toy. Usually, water-based lubes are best.

It's also important to read the directions of the vibrator before using it. Don't insert vibrators anally if the vibrator is not meant for anal insertion.

Talking to your partner about trying vibrators

You can use vibrators alone or with a partner. You may find that these toys help increase your physical excitement before intercourse, or may help you achieve orgasm. When talking with your partner, you may find it helpful to explain that using a vibrator may help you achieve certain sensations that aren't possible without it.

It may be helpful to familiarize yourself with your vibrator before using it with a partner. Play around with the different settings, and figure out different spots on your body that may feel good.

If you’re using a vibrator for the first time, start by placing it on your clitoris with light pressure.

To make things more intense and get to an orgasm more quickly, try this: use a vibrator on your clitoris, withdraw it, then use it again. Repeat this process until you climax.

Vibrators are great on their own, but you can use one with a partner, too. You can use it to stimulate your clitoris during vaginal sex to try for a more intense orgasm.

It's very important to always clean your vibrator, as bacteria left on the toy can cause infections such as urinary tract infections. Cleaning is especially important when you have used your vibrator with a partner, or when it may have touched your anus. 

Hard plastic and silicone toys are easiest to clean with anti-bacterial soap and cool or warm water. Most vibrators can be lightly immersed in water, but read the instructions to find out if your silicone toy can be cleaned in the dishwasher.