5 BENEFITS TO USING A VIBRATOR (LIKE, TONIGHT)

Whether you were single or paired up during quarantine, it’s likely you purchased a vibrator. Sex toy sales boomed globally in 2020, and with more people working from home, lunchtime search results for sexy content were also on the rise. If you haven’t explored the phenomenon yet, it’s time for a vibe check.

To find out more about why vibrators are so great for solo and partnered pleasure, I spoke to Dr. Kate Balestrieri, psychologist, sex therapist, founder of Modern Intimacy, and House of Wise's resident sex expert. As it turns out, vibrators offer more benefits than your morning green juice. Keep reading for good reasons to vibe tonight — then again, why wait?

1. You’ll release feel-good hormones that lower stress, decrease pain, and help you sleep.

“[Masturbating] is a behavior that we engage in because it's fun, and it feels good,” Dr. Balestrieri says. “Much in the same way you might get a massage to relieve tension in your muscles, you can stimulate your genitals to relieve stress. It’s really nice!”

One of the hormones released into the body during masturbation is dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure. Another is oxytocin, which gets activated during orgasm; it reduces stress and regulates metabolism by lowering cortisol levels. They also kick up prolactin, aiding in a good night’s sleep, and endorphins, which act as a painkiller. The pulses from a vibrator can make solo sex even more stimulating.

2. You’ll learn what makes your brain and body tick.

The sole purpose of a clitoris is sexual pleasure, and vibrators are great for stimulating its 8,000+ nerve endings. Opening those neural pathways speeds up communication between the clitoris and the part of the brain that responds to the sensation. Doing this helps us understand our type of desire, Dr. Balestrieri tells me.

“We have spontaneous desire, which means we’re aroused in our mind first and our body arousal follows. Then we have responsive desire, which means we're stimulated in our body and then our mind says, ‘Yeah, that sounds fun,’” she says. “Engaging in clitoral stimulation can give you a strong idea of the things that are most arousing to you and help you get yourself in that space more effectively. Being open to stimulating your own clitoris and vagina really creates a conversation between mind and body.”

3. You’ll get better at setting boundaries, in and out of the bedroom.

Masturbation has historically been shamed or scandalized, and a vibrator can provide space for someone who wants to break the stigma.

“Some people with vulvas have been conditioned to think that they are dirty, or scary, or shameful, and it can create a hesitation to want to touch it with their own hands,” Dr. Balestrieri says.

“Using a sex toy gives a little bit of distance so they can be sexual with themselves without having to confront the shame and fear at the same time.”

It also helps those who have suffered trauma. “If someone is feeling disassociated, it's difficult for their mind to pick up what feels pleasurable. Stimulating yourself on your own terms creates a safe, calm way to improve that communication, which helps you learn about your boundaries and how to ask for more of what you like.”

4. You’ll help close the orgasm gap.

“The orgasm gap is real,” Dr. Balestrieri says. Also known as orgasm inequality, the term was coined to describe the disparity in orgasms between people with penises who have sex with people with vaginas, and vice versa. But why does it exist? “I think people put a lot of pressure on themselves to be ‘good at sex.’ And in that desire to have a ‘good performance,’ they lose the attunement and connectivity to the other person that actually would make them good at sex.”

Disentangling the sex-negative messaging that most people have been raised with can take some time, Dr. Balestrieri adds, but she encourages people to “examine how they have overcoupled sexuality and worth” and start viewing sex as an activity that has nothing to do with personal character.

When it comes to partnered sex, bringing a vibrator into the conversation presents an opportunity to talk about what works and what doesn't. They can offer couples what Dr. Balestrieri calls a “choose your own adventure roadmap” to explore those desires together, whether the relationship is casual or committed.

“It can feel really helpless and powerless if you're doing your very best and it's not getting you where you want to be,” she says. “[A vibrator] gives people something tangible and brings them closer to walking away with the orgasm that they're hoping to have for themselves and their partner.”

5. You’ll develop a deeper appreciation for your vulva.

Using a vibrator is great for getting off, but it’s also a way to honor our genitals. Dr. Balestrieri points out how much time we spend focused on other parts of our body, either for aesthetics or for function and health. She blew my mind when likening vibrators to the multitude of products we have for other areas (I admitted to using a jade roller on my face just before our video call).

“We use how many brushes to apply makeup — why do we neglect our genitals? They are really important,” she says. “And for people with vulvas, especially those who want to use them for some part of the reproductive process, it's imperative to take care of them inside and out.”

According to Dr. Balestrieri, having a positive relationship with your vulva creates a higher likelihood that you’ll take its health and safety seriously. “You wouldn't want anyone going up to your left arm and pulling it, twisting it around, or trying to bend it into some kind of pretzel. You'd be like, ‘What are you doing? Stop!’ If you've done that work and feel like [your vulva] is equally as valid as your left arm, you know how you like to be touched, and you know how you don't like to be touched. We want people to have that same enthusiastic yes, and a demanding no, when it comes to their genitals.”

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels





5 Benefits to Using a Vibrator (Like, Tonight)

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