Whether used solo or with a partner, vibrators can bring a ton of pleasure. “You can find a lot of different settings and intensities on them, so it’s important to start out slowly,” Eilber says.
They’re also relatively simple. But why do vibrators feel so good, exactly? To answer this question, Mic spoke to a few experts.
1. They stimulate the vaginal lining.
Vibrators are great for masturbation, especially if you use the toy in ways that stimulate your clitoris and vaginal opening. And they can help you find out what pressure, friction, and speed feels good to you, says Fleming. “Just don’t go crazy with it, because what feels good today could feel different tomorrow,” she adds.
One study involving 100 women found that vibrators can relieve the negative symptoms of menopause, including a loss of sexual arousal, by stimulating blood flow to the vulva. And many gynecologists have even prescribed vibrators to their patients, particularly those who are perimenopausal or going through the early stages of menopause.
Besides masturbation, you can also use your vibrator for edging—a form of self-arousal that helps you get closer to coming and pushes you to the edge of climax. It’s a way to build up and release tension, and it can also be used during penetrative partner sex.
And, if you have a partner, you can bring your vibrator into the bedroom to create a whole new level of pleasure. “It’s a great way to introduce intimacy into the sex experience,” says Corrado. Just make sure you clean it thoroughly before giving your partner a chance to try it. You don’t want to risk bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. And remember that if you’re not using your vibrator with your sex partner, it’s okay to do it alone.
2. They stimulate the clitoris.
A good vibrator will stimulate your clitoris, but it’s not the only thing that will. Your clitoris is sensitive and responds to stimulation, whether that’s your partner, the tongue or fingers, or anything else. In fact, a great way to think about the feeling of using a vibrator on your clit is to compare it to brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush.
But what really makes a clit vibe feel amazing is that it’s designed to focus on the head of your clit and how it moves. It’s a specific sensation that is hard to describe because every body is different. You might love a deeply-thrumming vibration, but that can feel too intense for someone else, or even squirty. Air-pulsing toys are also great because they can give a targeted, but more diffuse sensation than a traditional vibe.
But no matter how you use your vibrator, make sure to play with it in a non-sexual way to get used to its settings and speeds before trying it during sex. That will also help you figure out what you like (and don’t) about the experience so you can talk about it with your partner ahead of time. Sex experts agree that this kind of pre-sex discussion is healthy, especially if you’re in a relationship with someone new or don’t have one at all.
3. They stimulate the perineum.
The perineum is a sexy little patch of skin that, regardless of whether you have a penis or a vagina, can give you a lot of pleasure. During sexual arousal, the area becomes more sensitive, and it can be stimulated with the fingers or a sex toy. The perineum is located close to the clitoris and anus, which are common erogenous zones for both men and women. Playing with it can elicit orgasms on its own, but it can also enhance the sensation of orgasms that originate from the clitoris.
Vibrators can also help people who have trouble reaching orgasm in a sexual relationship. One study published in 2020 in the journal Sex Relation Therapy found that vibratory stimulation was a safe, effective treatment for anorgasmia in both men and women. The researchers found that it can increase arousal and sexual desire, as well as decrease anorgasmia caused by pelvic floor muscle weakness.
Some sex and body image experts have warned against sex toys, but the truth is that vibrators are just as satisfying as sex with a partner. And they can help you discover new sexual fantasies and combat sexual anxiety without having to ask a partner for permission or worry about judgment. Plus, they’re a great way to work on your pelvic floor muscles. If you have a vibrator that has an extension on the toy end, you can even use it to gently massage the prostate and the perineum simultaneously.
4. They stimulate the erection.
As sex toys, vibrators come in every color of the rainbow, and with a variety of materials, intensities, shapes and price points. They abide by the Goldilocks principle: some feel too this, some too hard and some just right. Choosing a toy can seem overwhelming, but experts recommend starting slow and on a low setting. Using lube can also help.
Vibrators have been shown to increase orgasms in both men and women, and can be used alone as well as during sex. They can be especially useful for people who suffer from vaginismus, which is a condition that causes the muscles to spasm in the vagina and can make penetration painful or even impossible (Knight).
Many people use items around the house as vibrators, like water bottles, t-shirts or reusable pads. However, these items aren’t designed for masturbation and may not be body-safe or sanitizable. It’s best to invest in a dedicated toy for this purpose.
If you’re ready to try a vibrator for yourself, visit a sex and wellness store with knowledgeable staff. They can offer tips on how to use and care for the toys, as well as debunk some of the myths surrounding masturbation. If you’re not quite comfortable with trying a vibrator on your own, consider asking a sex partner to join you in masturbation. This can be a great way to work out the kinks of a new sex toy and build confidence in a relationship.