Half of Americans Use Vibrators, Study Claims

About half of American adults indicate using a vibrator, according to a new survey that sheds light on acts that take place beneath the covers and behind closed doors.

The survey was funded, however, by Church and Dwight Co. Inc., maker of Trojan brand sexual health products. It finds it's not just women taking advantage of the battery-operated tickle toy. Forty-five percent of men said they'd employed a vibrator, with most heterosexual men doing so during foreplay or intercourse with a female partner. About 17 percent of men said they used a vibrator for solo masturbation.

And while vibrators are often hidden in sock drawers or beneath the bed, the study results suggest their use is a sign of a positive and healthy sex life. In fact, female vibrator users were significantly more likely to have had a gynecological exam during the past year and to have performed genital self-examination during the previous month.

Women who used vibrators also reported better sex, including higher sexual desire and arousal, as well as orgasm. However, there was no significant difference in general sexual satisfaction between female vibrator users and non-users.

"The study about women's vibrator use affirms what many doctors and therapists have known for decades — that 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 study researcher Debby Herbenick, associate director of Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion.

The new results are based on two studies, one surveying more than 2,000 women and the other more than 1,000 men (ages 18 to 60), both of which are published this week in the Journal of Sexual Medicine

Some other findings included:

  • More than 50 percent of women participants had used a vibrator, with nearly one in four having done so in the past month.
  • More than 70 percent of women reported having never experienced any side effects associated with vibrator use. (Those side effects that were reported were typically rare and of a short duration, including mild genital numbness, irritation, or inflammation.)
  • About 45 percent of men, both gay and heterosexual, reported incorporating a vibrator into sexual activities.
  • Of men who have used vibrators, 10 percent had done so in the past month, about 14 percent in the past year and about 21 percent more than one year ago.
  • Men who reported having used vibrators, particularly those with more recent use, were more likely to report participation in sexual health promoting behaviors, such as testicular self-exam.
  • Men who had used vibrators recently also scored themselves higher on four of the five factors used to measure sexual function (erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function and sexual desire).
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Live Science Staff
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