Jun 042008
 

I ran into the video above while indulging in my DListed addiction, which is how I keep up on celebrity gossip without watching TV. At any rate, it gave me a chuckle and led me to consider posting a very introductory guide on tips for vibrator shopping, especially for those who have never purchased a sex toy before.

Why buy a vibrator or sex toy? If you ask me, the better question is why not buy a vibe! Back in 1869, Dr. George Taylor invented the first non-manual vibrator (yeah, they were crank-powered before that) by hooking a phallus up to a steam-driven motor. This giant contraption was used on women diagnosed with “hysteria” (a word that roughly means “suffering uterus”), a medical condition with symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, genital lubrication and even *gasp* sexual fantasies! The horror! His giant steam-driven vibrator was highly efficient in providing the prescribed treatment of paroxysm, otherwise known as an orgasm. Eventually batteries came along and doctors made house calls. Although this sounds like the stuff of a historical romance novel, it isn’t. Women were seen as asexual; orgasms and vibrators were not considered sexy, and instead were linked to illness, dysfunction and shame.

And what about men seeking an orgasm? No friendly doctors for them. Instead, they might receive a diagnosis of Spermatorrhea (think of diarrhea, but for sperm) for onanism (self-pleasuring) or nocturnal secretions (wet dreams). The treatment is worse than trying to spell those words, since these men were considered dangerous sexual deviants. Think of bracelets for ‘down there’, but with spikes on the inside to subdue any physical arousal. Eeek! Aren’t we the weirdest species ever? I digress…

Back to the women: giant batteries were invented and doctors were making weekly house calls to wealthy women in need on paroxysm. Eventually these battery and electric powered vibes were sold in major stores, like Sears, and for a few years in the early 1900s there were more vibrators than toasters in American homes! Since they were considered common household appliances, used for treating wrinkles and exhaustion, they were easy to find. It wasn’t long before the video camera was invented and Polaroids came along, so before we all knew it no one was able to pretend that the pulsing pleasure of the home vibrator was really to stimulate thicker hair growth.

While they may not do a darned thing for wrinkles, vibrators are a wonderful way for people of all genders to explore their bodies by themselves and with partners. For women who have difficulty orgasming, alone or with partners, they can be a relaxing learning tool and a route to gaining skills for experiencing more regular orgasms. Those with reduced mobility can use vibes to pleasure themselves and those they love (and lust) more easily. Some stores, like Come As You Are, can assist in suggesting or even adapting toys for those with ability- or age-related concerns. Combined with a healthy helping of high quality lube, all genders can discover their favorite feel-good areas and types of stimulation. For those accomplished orgasm experts, vibrators add variety, fun and anticipation. We all win! So, how do you pick out the right vibrator for your needs? Consider the following points:

What is my vibrator made of? Over the past few years it has become clear that there are significant health and ecological risks associated with cheaper jelly rubber and cyberskin toys. Check out my pervious post on toxic toys for what to buy and what to avoid. I recommend high grade silicone for first time buyers, since it is easy to clean, safe and firm yet flexible. It costs more than a jelly vibe but is better for your body, generally will last longer, and really does feel/look/smell better. Your pleasure is worth it!

How big should my new vibrator be? Well, first consider where it is going. The main risk here is that your eyes will be bigger than your..orifice. When in doubt, buy smaller. It will still be fun and functional, even if you turn out to be a size queen. If you have ever had anything inserted before, consider how big that item was and whether you prefer something bigger or smaller. If you are still left without a clue, then I suggest aiming for 7 inches or shorter, and 1.3 inches around or less, perhaps MUCH less, for a beginner’s toy. If you’re looking for an outie (a vibrator for the clitoris/penis/etc.), then any shape will work. Some are specifically designed as outies, and good vendors will be able to guide you there.

What shape should I go for when buying a vibrator? First and foremost, if you’re going to use it your (or your partner’s) backyard, then it is essential that your toy have a flared base. Anal toys, those with that wide base, are designed to prevent the toy from slipping up into the rectum when the anus clenched. While it is possible to get a toy back out by squatting and pushing, many an embarrassed explorer has ended up in the ER due to the lack of a flared base. Secondly, some toys have a wicked curve designed to stimulate the G (for the ladies) or P (prostate, for the gents) Spot. These are fun and I encourage them, but for first time buyers they can lead to uncomfortable fumbling. A gentle curve, bloops, and texture depend on the individual and are much less likely to cause uncomfy times. Almost any shape will work for an outie vibe, so pick something that is comfy to hold onto or in your hand and will fit well against the body part you’re dreaming of.

What kind of lube should I buy to go with my vibrator? Good question! Any toy can be used with a water-based lube. Silicone toys should NOT be used with silicone lubes, as the two silicones will fight and your lube will eat your toy. Really, I’m not kidding about that! Some silicone toys can handle it, but it isn’t worth risking your best friend over a lube error. Oil-based lubes are not recommended because, frankly, they’re not good for your sensitive bits. They harbor bacteria, are difficult to clean out, and can be felt for days. Whether or not they hurt your toy, your body deserves better. That goes for body lotions, hair conditioners, petroleum jelly, and other body products that aren’t meant to go down there.

Should I get a water proof vibe? Water proof vibrators are easy to clean, and can be used in showers, hot tubs, pools and so on. By the way, get a silicone lube for sexy times in or under the water, as the water actually increases friction. Furthermore, underwater sex isn’t good for condoms or infections, either. I digress. If you’re in nice clean shower water, and you have a silicone lube (and a non-silicone toy), then go for a water proof vibe. You can also submerge them to clean them. Otherwise, it probably isn’t worth the extra cost.

Should I buy an electric vibrator or a battery powered vibe? Electric vibes are generally louder and stronger. They may also be better for those with decreased manual dexterity, as they can be larger to grasp and still stimulate externally even if they aren’t placed perfectly. The Hitachi Magic Wand is the goddess of all electric vibes, and should be in every home. Battery vibes CAN be quieter, although nearly all vibes start to rattle with age, and are better for those seeking a more gentle level of stimulation. They’re also sometimes more adjustable. Recently, some lovely premium rechargable vibrators have come on the market from brands such as FunFactory. They’re well worth the price, and I highly recommend the brand.

Where should I buy my vibrator? There are some great companies listed in my links (on the right side of my blog) that will be happy to help you pick a vibe. Many have solid reviews on their websites, and Arkadia even staffs their phones with trained sexperts who can answer your pleasure and health-related questions while making product suggestions. They also have nice write-ups on sexual health and well-being and sex toys. Many areas have a local smut shop (dark windows, questionable bathrooms, late hours), which you can visit if you feel comfortable, although the staff is rarely trained. Some lucky cities have independent sex boutiques. I have reviews of some of these on my Yelp.com profile. If you also review sex boutiques and/or smut shops, please add me to your Yelp or contact me at ExploringIntimacy (at) Gmail (dot) com so I can link to your reviews!

Whether you’re looking to stick it, wedge it, rub it, share it or just stare at it, that should get you started on shopping for your first vibrator!

As always, you can:

Learn more about sex toys at one of Exploring Intimacy’s workshops in Atlanta this summer!

Or, drop us a question and we might answer it on our blog and include it in a podcast.

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  One Response to “How To Buy Your First Vibrator”

  1. Great Headline!
    I was looking for bathrrom blogs but had a nosey anyway.

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