What Are the Benefits of Vibrators for Sexual Health?
The electric vibrator was invented in the late 1880s by an English physician named Joseph Mortimer Granville. Originally, it was designed to be used as a tool to relieve male patients’ muscle aches and pains. However, some historians claim that physicians used vibrators as an efficient way to deliver “pelvic massages” to women who had been diagnosed as hysterical, a process they had previously been conducting manually.
Despite its reputation as a sex toy, the origin of the vibrator is deeply rooted in therapeutic use, and this tool continues to have numerous health benefits. There are a limited number of scientific studies on the health benefits of vibrators, but the preliminary evidence suggests that they may prompt improvements in genital blood flow, sexual arousal, sexual satisfaction, and orgasmic response. They may also lead to improvements in pelvic muscle strength and genital muscle tone. Finally, vibrators may decrease pain associated with vulvodynia and sexual distress.
Recently, a team of sexual medicine experts undertook a systematic literature review of studies on the health benefits of vibrators. This review unearthed a total of 17 relevant studies that met the inclusion criteria (i.e., original research that studied the health benefits of vibrators on female subjects). Eight (8) of the studies dealt with female sexual function, 2 with pelvic floor muscles, 6 with incontinence, and 1 with vulvodynia. Briefly, here is what the researchers found:
Female sexual function
Vibrators may enhance a woman’s overall sexual experience. They are associated with increased sexual desire, arousal, satisfaction, and improved sexual function. These sex tools may help facilitate the widening of blood vessels (vasodilation) and increase blood flow to the genitals. Lastly, they can promote relaxation and enhance genital sensations, potentially leading to better orgasmic function as well.
Pelvic floor function/Incontinence
According to the studies focused on vibrators and pelvic floor muscle function, women who used these tools showed significant improvements in their pelvic floor muscle tone. These changes could contribute to better urinary control and fewer accidental urinary leaks, which may have been the reason for the reduction of hygienic pads the women in these studies used for this purpose.
The sole study on vulvodynia showed improvements in the patients’ pain and sexual enjoyment after 4 to 6 weeks of using a vibrator. Importantly, the majority of the women (80%) expressed satisfaction with using the vibrator as a treatment.
While these outcomes are certainly positive, they are only the beginning. Further scientific research on the health benefits of vibrators would shine light on how these devices may be used in the treatment of various female sexual health conditions.
- Bankhead, C. (2022, May 14). Good Vibrations: The Transition From Sex Toy to Medical Device. MedPage Today. https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/aua/98716
- Dubinskaya, A., Horwitz, R., Shoureshi, P., Anger, J., Scott, V., & Eilber, K. (2022). Is it Time for FPMRS to Prescribe Vibrators?. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 19(8), S14-S15. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2022.05.033
- Marcus, B.S. (2011). Changes in a woman's sexual experience and expectations following the introduction of electric vibrator assistance. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8(12), 3398-3406. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02132.x