Is there really such a thing as using a vibrator too much? Some might say so.
Scary stories about developing a desensitized clitoris, vaginal nerve damage, or developing an inability to orgasm with a partner are rampant.
But before you toss your expensive sex toys in the trash — rest assured that vibrators do not typically cause clitoral desensitization.
(Editor’s note: for our purposes, the term “women” encompasses both binary and non-binary women.)
Here’s what you need to know:
- What Can Cause A Desensitized Clitoris Or Vagina?
- Can Vibrators Desensitize Your Clitoris Or Damage Nerves?
- Can You Use A Vibrator Too Much Or For Too Long?
- Will Using A Vibrator Cause Long Or Short Term Damage?
- Does Using A Vibrator Make It Harder To Orgasm During Sex?
- Where Did Rumors About Vibrators Causing Desensitization Start?
What Can Cause A Desensitized Clitoris Or Vagina?
Sometimes known as “dead vagina syndrome,” a woman with a desensitized vagina or clitoris may notice a minor or marked reduction in the amount of physical sensation in that region.
In a worst-case scenario, she may even experience complete numbness.
This type of desensitization can occur as a result of many things — with either physical and/or psychological roots — that might include:
- Diabetes, which can reduce genital blood flow and cause neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Autoimmune diseases that can cause neuropathy
- High amounts of stress, which can lower genital arousal overall
- Anxiety, which can lower subjective arousal
- Damage to the pudendal nerve in the perineum
The clitoris has about 7,000 nerve endings. That doesn’t change with frequent masturbation — not even with vibes.
So what really causes a desensitized vagina or clitoral desensitization?
As women age, menopause can cause a decrease in genital sensitivity due to hormonal changes and reduced blood flow to the vaginal area and clitoris.
The pudendal nerve is the primary nerve that runs through the pelvis. If this nerve is damaged through childbirth, surgery, or other injuries, numbness and a loss of sensitivity can occur as a result.
Additionally, systemic afflictions like diabetes or autoimmune disease that can cause nerve damage may potentially affect genital sensitivity to varying degrees.
If you’re experiencing any sustained numbness in your vaginal area, my best advice is to get thee to a doctor to find out why.
Can Vibrators Desensitize Your Clitoris Or Damage Nerves?
Honestly, they can. But it’s very, VERY rare.
If you use a really powerful vibe, like a Hitachi Magic Wand on full power, several times a day for months on end — you could eventually cause some nerve damage.
Ditto on leaning your pelvis up against a working jackhammer, or switching out your desk chair for that machine that mixes paint at the hardware store.
What I’m saying here is that — under normal circumstances — vibrator use won’t set you up for a desensitized vagina or clit later on (the same way hardcore sex won’t), nor will your vag start vibrating on its own.
It’s a total misconception that a vibrator is likely to cause a desensitized clit — just like the myth that having anal sex will make your butt bigger.
The first signs of clitoral desensitization are pain and/or numbness. If you notice any part of your body going numb during a masturbation session, stop immediately — but don’t panic.
Short term desensitization is not the same as nerve damage and neither one means you’d have to stop masturbating permanently.
If pain or numbness persists, however, you need to talk to your doctor about it.
Can You Use A Vibrator Too Much Or For Too Long?
Unless you’re forgetting to go to work or feed your children, there’s no such thing as masturbating with a vibrator too much, or for too long.
If you’re feeling concerned about excessive vibration through your nethers, however, you can try some other alternatives.
Switching to a less powerful vibrator may be a good option, or you can simply choose one with adjustable vibes that will enable you to lessen the intensity a bit.
You can also play with toys that don’t vibrate at all.
And don’t forget — most of us have ten or so masturbation aids right on our hands. What could be more convenient than that?
Will Using A Vibrator Cause Any Long Or Short Term Damage?
As a late-40s chick who has been vibe-friendly since my teen years, I can say that my extensive experience says “No.”
Given that at least half of all women in the U.S. use vibrators, it seems unlikely that there are millions of women walking around with vibe-damaged goods.
Think about it like this: If half of all American women had lost sensation in their sex bits thanks to vibrators, we’d have probably seen something about it on the news.
If you’re at all concerned, just take it slow. If you feel numb at any point, stop using the vibrator until sensation fully returns.
(Yes, you can check for sensation again as often as you like.)
You can also try using different vibrators because there are plenty of them out there to choose from.
Dr. Rachel Gelman, a pelvic floor therapist, offered this advice, “I suggest finding something that allows for change in the amount of vibration so that a person can use a low setting when starting out.”
Even if you’re not just starting out, a vibe that offers a variety of intensity settings can also give you an opportunity to lower the amount of vibration whenever you need to.
Does Using A Vibrator Make It Harder To Orgasm During Sex?
While vibrators feel awesome and have killer health benefits, nobody wants their vibe-time to negatively impact real-life sex, right?
There are myriad things that can impact our ability to orgasm with a partner.
Mood, stress, hydration, positioning, stimulation, and a zillion different physical factors all play into our ability to hit that O.
While it’s true that getting used to vibration or sonic stimulation can make you miss it when it isn’t there, there’s no evidence to suggest that awesome masturbation leads to a lack of enthusiasm for sex with friends.
How Did These Rumors Of Vibrator Desensitization Start?
I first heard this nasty rumor when I read a book called The Happy Hooker.
At the time, I completely believed it, too.
Published in 1971, it tells the story of real-life call-girl Xaviera Hollander, who eventually became a prominent New York madame.
Hollander told the girls in her employ to avoid using a vibrator too much due to the potential for both desensitization and a lack of ability to orgasm with a partner.
People took her word for it. But she was wrong. Mostly.
As clinical sexologist Lucy Rowett details, vibes are not bad for you.
In fact, they’re probably good for your sex life in myriad ways. She explains that “…the more a woman self-pleasures and climaxes, the easier it is for her to climax again.”
This makes good sense.
And she’s right: knowing your body is the first key step to finding your own pleasure. Using sex toys is also correlated with better health outcomes in women.
We can’t know for sure why these rumors persist. But let’s speculate, anyway!
I think these lies are perpetuated by folks who think they have something to gain from the sexually dissatisfied.
Now we must ask ourselves: Who stands to gain from scores of women who find themselves desperate for orgasms with no release?
That mystery remains unsolved.
While there are some legit health issues that can lead to a desensitized clitoris and vaginal area, using a vibrator regularly shouldn’t cause any lasting or permanent damage.
So if you’re wondering, “Will using a vibrator desensitize my clit?” or “Will using a vibrator cause any long term damage?” you can rest easy knowing your bits are likely safe from harm.
With that in mind, feel free to enjoy yourself whenever (and however often) you want!