Eve Ensler launched the Vagina Monologues in 1996. This was such an asset to our society, except for the hiccup in proper anatomy. The vagina is the canal where babies come out and other pleasurable things can go in. However, a woman’s entire, and exquisite, genital region is correctly called the vulva. Inside, we have the G-spot as an extra-erogenous zone, and a number of juicy glands that produce lubrication at heightened periods of arousal. Outside, we have the queen clitoris and her protective hood. We also have luscious inner and outer labia (or lips), a urethra for urinating, and the mons pubis, which can be shaved, waxed, or left alone to grow in full and furry — aka Woodstock — elegance.
The vulva is high-maintenance because she fancies numerous forms of stimulation. This can include partner penetration, tongue-play, and touch; or self-pleasure with sensational sex toys, various vegetables, detachable shower heads, or throbbing from the throttle of a motorcycle.
Unfortunately, the vulva often has to answer to a sex-negative social narrative. She’s often asked: Will a vibrator make my nerve endings die? And, will I get addicted?
Of the 8,000 nerve endings that inhabit the clitoris, not a single one will die from vibrator use. Vibrator homicide is a myth. Yes, a myth. Like those prehistoric stories about Greek gods that were half horse and half human. Sure, we can get a little numb and sore, but so do our quads after hiking up Longs Peak … and so do our genitals after a long night of raucous sex. But our quads recover and can hike again, our genitals recover and have sex again, and our clits can recover and be open and excited for more — whether with a human or battery-powered partner.
That said, pleasuring all 8,000 nerve endings may require a powerful vibrator, or a patient lover!
As for addiction, this implies an inability to cease an activity such that the compulsive behavior destroys one’s life. Unless you are completely unable to leave your house and function, such as going to work or feeding yourself, vibrator addiction is highly unlikely. If you still feel overly dependent on your vibe, put it aside and try out your shower head, a slow drip from the bathtub faucet, or the Victorian method, your index finger. But certainly do not feel afraid or ashamed to make best friends with your vibrator. Dr. Betty Dodson, mother of masturbation and author of Joy for One, asserts that using a vibrator is a great obsession to have. “It’s not fattening, not illegal, and not expensive.” Plus, it often makes you hornier for, and during, partner sex!
This is not to ignore that consistent vibrator use may cause the body to develop a “habituated response.” With any consistent sport training, the body is going to acclimate. Yet the well-trained marathon runner who is very efficient at running may struggle when attempting to use other muscle groups. Whether using a vibrator or always having sex in the same position, your body’s sexual response will habituate to the type of stimulation repeatedly provided.
Changing the routine can be good for your sex life — like the marathon runner who betters his race time by cross-training. With partner sex, change up positions, places and time of day. When going solo, try having a different vibrator for each day of the week. One can be a dildo you insert, another can be an external clit vibe, and another can be a combo of the two. Change your body position, as well as the speed of each toy if you are really interested in preventing a habituated response. And feel free to introduce your toy collection to partner sex.
Don’t worry, gentlemen, vibrators are not replacements for your lovely and long dongs. This is because you are more than your penis, and partner sex is more than genital manipulation. Sex is about connection and intimacy. Even if her battery-operated toy looks like Medusa with 24 speeds and 12 rotating heads, you are a human with a heart, soul and mind. Just remember, “real sex” is not about going bareback. It’s perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to saddle up each time with condoms, lube and toys. Even if this feels like high-maintenance, the upkeep is well worth the ride.
Jenni Skyler, PhD, is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist. She runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.