When I began talking to people about sex in the ’90s, very few people admitted to using vibrators to enhance their sexual lives. What a change in the new millennium! You’re in the majority if you’re female and you’ve long recognized the special value your vibrator brought to your life—now research confirms those benefits. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, about half of American adults use a vibrator, so why feel embarrassed if you forget to put yours away and the handyman stumbles over it while he’s repairing the closet door?
The study, funded by condom makers Church and Dwight Inc. (Trojan brand) found that it wasn’t just women taking advantage of electricity and batteries. 45% of men said they had employed a vibrator. While most of these cases involved straight men using a vibrator during foreplay or intercourse with a female partner, the study results demonstrated that about 17% of guys report using a vibrator for solo masturbation.
The research numbers are based on two surveys, one covering more than 2,000 women and the other more than 1,000 men aged 18 to 60. My research-minded spouse asked about the demographics, figuring (rightly I think) that people with better education and higher socio-economic status would be likely to take part in such a survey and would also take better care of themselves medically. Nevertheless I find the study quite fascinating.
Of men who have used vibrators, 10% had done so in the past month, about 14% in the past years and about 21% more than one year ago. The guys who reported having used vibrators, particularly those with more recent use, were more likely to report participation in sexual health promoting behaviors, such as testicular self-exam. And they also scored themselves higher on four of the five factors used to measure sexual function (erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function, and sexual desire).
Back in the ’90s, when I did my post-graduate study to become a sex therapist, even fellow graduate students didn’t admit to using sex toys. Now many of my female clients name their vibrators, and these whimsical users, the study shows, are significantly more likely to have had a gynecological exam during the past year and to have performed genital self-examination during the previous month. Women who incorporate vibrator use into their sex lives (whether or not their vibrator is named) also report better sex, including higher sexual desire and arousal, as well as heightened orgasms. Many women that I work with report that they experienced their first solo orgasms with their trusty vibrators, which then led to positive sexual experiences with partners.
For people who like stimulation of the many wonderful nerve endings in the anal area, vibrators can really create fabulous sensation. There are vibrators made especially for external stimulation of the genital area that work for stimulation of the clitoris, vaginal area, and anal area. For men and women who enjoy anal penetration, the vibration can actually help the relax the anal sphincters. Some men (both gay and straight) especially enjoy being anally penetrated this way since vibrators are great for stimulating the prostate gland.
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