Science Says: “Yay for Vibrators!”

Well it's about damn time! Though physicians and therapists (not just Dan Savage, we're talking mainstream doctors) have been known for decades that vibrator use be great for sexual health and help women have orgasms, there's never been a scientific study to back up the common knowledge. Until now!

Trojan funded a national research project to determine the extent and impact of vibrator use and la-di-da, look what they found: not only do a majority of American women use vibrators, they're happier for it!

According to the surveys of 2,056 women and 1,047 men ages 18-60, a whopping 53 percent of women (and 45 percent of men) say they use a vibrator - a quarter of those in the last month. Women who use vibrators were more likely to say they were sexually happy and more likely to get gynecological exams.

"Vibrator use is common, it's linked to positive sexual function such as desire and ease of orgasm, and it's rarely associated with any side effects," said Debby Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, on Science Daily. The study was originally printed in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The New York Times picked up the study for a great, long article about the mainstreaming of vibrators and sex toys in general. Even Fox News wound up reporting vibrators' benefits despite a skeptical headline and laughable lede ("a new survey that sheds light on acts that take place beneath the covers and behind closed doors" ... oooo! ominous mainstream sex acts!). Studies like might help improve media coverage of Americans' sexual activity -- Hell, these days even squeaky clean Barbara Walters is making vibrator jokes.

So on this weekend celebrating independence and freedom of thought, take a few private moments to celebrate a what is now known to be a true American tradition: ye olde friendly vibrator.

by Sarah Mirk
View profile »

Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

Get Bitch Media's top 9 reads of the week delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! Sign up for the Weekly Reader:

12 Comments Have Been Posted


I'm a big fan. Masturbating also helps with menstrual cramping. :D


I love the old time-y ad. Yes, vibrators really do help with "JITTERY NERVES". Ha!

Not here in Bama

IT's illegal to buy any vibrators here in Bama and a good majority of the deep south, yeah, I'm pissed and have been since I found out the judge who passed the bill I went to HS with his daughter. next time I go up North I know what my souveneir is...


Weird... There are seemingly thriving sex shops all over my area of SC. Is it one of those latent laws from the past that everyone in their right mind ignores? For example, I know oral sex is also officially on the books as being illegal in South Cackalacky. <i>Breakin' the law, breakin' the law!</i>

raise up

The Carolinas are fine... the US states in which vibrator sales are restricted are (if I am not mistaken) Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia.

Which is INSANE.

When did this happen? I live

When did this happen? I live in central Bama and I bought a vibrator about a year ago...

We've got a couple adult stores very close to where I live, and they've got plenty of toys -- of all types, sizes, flavors, etc.

Though I don't know, maybe it was recent and they've since taken them off the shelves?...

But I don't think so...


Southern vendors get away with it by selling it as something else--I know that in Texas you can sell a dildo (as a 'novelty item' or 'educational aid') or a non-phallic vibrator (as a 'personal massager') but not something that vibrates AND looks like a penis.

At least, that used to be the law. I'm pretty sure Texas overturned it a few years ago and now you can buy whatever you want.


<i>Forty-five</i> percent of men surveyed reported that they use a vibrator? I find that to be a surprisingly high proportion, kind of even if they're specifically asking if they use them on women. Does that seem skewed to anyone else?

Me too.

Yeah, I was wondering how they worded that question (to men) as well.


Thanks for this wonderful article! Makes my day!

Okay, but...

just to be clear, the article (or at least the excerpts) doesn't establish causality between vibrator use and sexual health, it only establishes correlation. So, while correct that women who use vibrators are more likely to get exams, you could also say that women who get exams are more likely to use vibrators. It's likely that there is another variable (say, comfort with one's sexuality, liberal political views, age cohort, etc.) that causes women to both use vibrators and get exams.

I will look up the actual article later, I'm curious to know whether they had any deeper findings that weren't reported on or whether the study was mostly descriptive in nature. If they didn't control for other factors than, while interesting, I don't think it really tells us that much.

Either way, it's good to see more serious research being done on women's sexuality and how it relates to their health and well-being!

Add new comment