Guess who funded a new study of women who use vibrators?


Rarely do you read a scientific paper whose keywords are listed as vibrator; female sexual function; masturbation; orgasm; sex toy, but this is such a paper.

Prevalence and Characteristics of Vibrator Use by Women in the United States: Results from a Nationally Representative Study
was published in the May issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. According to the authors:

The objectives of this study were … to determine the lifetime and recent prevalence of women’s vibrator use during masturbation and partnered sex; … to examine the relationship between vibrator use and female sexual function; and to assess the prevalence and severity of side effects of vibrator use.

The study found that vibrator use is quite common. Over 52% of women indicated that they had used a vibrator at least once. The authors were certainly thorough; they solicited a great deal of information on how vibrators are used and even thought to ask whether women put a condom on the vibrator and whether or when they cleaned it:

…[N]early half of women [users] had ever used a vibrator during masturbation alone, and one-fifth had done so during the previous month. More than a third of women had used a vibrator during intercourse, and 40.9% had used a vibrator during foreplay or sex play with a partner.

The vast majority of vibrator users had used a vibrator to stimulate their clitoris, and 64.0% had used one inside their vagina. A total of 41.0% of ever users had used a lubricant with a vibrator. Few had put a condom over a vibrator before using it. More than half had ever cleaned a vibrator both before and after use, one-fourth had cleaned it only after using it, 4.6% had cleaned a vibrator before use … The remaining ever users (13.8%) had never cleaned a vibrator before or after use.

Vibrator use was associated with positive sexual functioning.

Vibrator use was significantly related to several aspects of sexual function (i.e., desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain, overall function) with recent vibrator users scoring higher on most sexual function domains, indicating more positive sexual function.

Few women experienced side effects. Over 71% reported no side effects, 16.5% reported occasional genital numbness, 3.0% reported pain, 9.9% reported irritation and irritation or swelling was reported by 8.0% of users. Only of 1.1% of users reported experiencing tears or cuts.

The authors conclude with the implications for doctors and other practitioners:

…[T]he data indicate that the women who have used vibrators—and particularly those who have done so most recently— experience more positive sexual function in terms of desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and pain… It may be that using a vibrator facilitates orgasm and arousal (and, consequently, facilitates sufficient vaginal lubrication), and that having a more comfortable, pleasurable sexual experience thus helps a woman to feel more desirous of subsequent sexual activity. Alternatively, it may be that women who are more comfortable with their sexuality, or have more positive sexual function, are women who are also more comfortable with the use of vibrators…

All of this is interesting and important information. The most intriguing fact about the study, though, is buried in the fine print at the end. The study was funded by the makers of Trojan condoms. That explains the question about whether women put a condom on the vibrator before use.

Why might the makers of Trojans commission a vibrator study?

…[G]iven the possible risk of transmitting infections through sharing toys, clinicians and educators might discuss options for safe toy use with their patients or clients including toy cleaning, condom use, and not sharing toys.

In other words, the makers of Trojans are exploring a new market for their product. It’s not enough to provide condoms for penises. Trojans wants to convince women that vibrators need condoms, too.