Can a Vibrator Make You Numb To Pleasure?

Can a Vibrator Make You Numb To Pleasure?
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Since the day Samantha Jones walked into a homewares store and pointed to the massager that would “burn your clit off” on SATC, there have been questions about whether or not vibrators pose a threat to the bits of those who use them.

Okay, the question may have been asked before that point, but I imagine the memorable TV moment launched the chat into the public sphere.

Vibrator numb
You know the episode I mean. Credit: HBO

There have long been myths that surround sex acts, arguably designed to shame people on their sexual appetites, and the concept of the “dangers” of vibrators is no different. The most common theory that tends to make the rounds is that the “overuse” of vibrators (whatever that means) can result in desensitisation of the clitoris.

Seeing as Sexhacker is a space for positive sex talk, I figured it would be worth exploring this topic a little further. So, I chatted with some sexperts and got their thoughts on the matter.

Lauren Clair, a sex-positive educator and pleasure activist who is also founder and director of sexual health and pleasure store Nikki Darling, and Dr Raelia Lew, CREI Fertility specialist, Gynaecologist and the Director of Women’s Health Melbourne, shared their insights.

Can you desensitise your clitoris by using a vibrator too often?

No. There is absolutely no scientific validity to that claim.

Dr Raelia Lew put it plainly over email:

“There is no anatomical or physiological basis behind assertions of physical desensitisation. Mismatches of sexual expectations, turn ons and desires are linked to sexual psychology, not physiology.”

Clair added that we have a long history with vibrator use and in all that time no evidence about “lasting desensitisation or damage” has been uncovered.

“Instead, what we have are studies showing the opposite, and countless professionals – with no vested interest in sex toy sales – assuring us that our bodies are more than capable of handling the vibes,” she said.

Any numbness you may encounter is going to be temporary

Now, there is a chance that you may have experienced some numbness after a session with a vibrator. If that’s you, Clair stressed that there is nothing to worry about.

“It is entirely normal to experience this after a particularly long or strong session with your favourite vibe,” she said.

“Your body needs a rest! Things will reset with a little time and space – similar to what you might experience after a deep tissue massage.”

Can vibrator use impact your ability to enjoy toy-free play?

As we’ve covered above, there’s no need for concern in terms of vibrators impacting your physical ability to enjoy sensations. But if you feel that you are enjoying toy-free sexual encounters less, there are a couple of possible reasons.

In a recent Bustle article on this topic, Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen explained that there is a chance you could become used to reaching orgasm much faster when using a vibrator. This could lead you to assume there’s an issue when the toy is removed – which, of course, there isn’t. Just give your body some time, and take it slow.

If you’re concerned about your ability to orgasm without a vibrator, there’s of course nothing wrong with taking a break – or perhaps speaking with a sexologist for some advice. But there is no physical need for you to do so.

“I often find that people are concerned only because of the myths that persist,” Clair said. She pointed out that often it’s worth examining where your worry is coming from if you feel this way.

Dr Lew added that “climaxing with a partner and using sex toys are not mutually exclusive options”. In fact, studies show the use of sex toys in women is often has positive health impacts.

Clair pointed out that there are some who have trouble reaching orgasm through acts like penetrative sex alone. For women especially this is not uncommon, and sex toy use offers an avenue to pleasure.

“A lot of people have their first experience of orgasm with a vibrator correctly positioned on their clitoris,” she said.

“And for some people, utilising the speed and intensity of vibrator stimulation is the only way they are able to orgasm. Not everyone has the strength or dexterity to reach that same level of stimulation manually. Far from being just a toy, the vibrator exists at an intersection of rights, access and pleasure.”

If using a vibrator is a positive experience for you, go for gold

In the end, if a piece of technology is serving you well, why would you rob yourself of the joys of putting it to work?

Think of it this way, “I moved into a house with a dishwasher, and there is no way I am going back to hand washing my dishes when the dishwasher does the job so effectively and effortlessly,” Clair explained.

Your experience with your vibrator really isn’t all that different.

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