First Steps for Choosing a Vibrator
There are more types of vibrators out there than you can imagine. Really. There are big one, little ones, internal ones, external ones, strong ones, weak ones, vibrators shaped like animals and vibrators that talk to you, soft, hard, long short. The only thing we haven't yet seen is a vibrator that tells you the time, but I'm sure they are working on that! So, among the myriad vibrators on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? We are here to try to make some order out of the vibrator chaos and help you find one that you feel is right for you.
Even though there may be a million “different” vibrators out there, they are all essentially variations on a few themes. If you familiarize yourself with four or five kinds of vibrators, you will have all the information you need. The additional differences between each are small and often reflect personal preferences and you will be able to choose accordingly.
The basic distinctions are:
- Internal vs. external stimulation (and those which offer both)
- Battery vs. plug in
- Strength or power of the vibrator
External or internal: There are vibrators that are meant to go into your vagina and ones that are meant to be used externally on your clitoris. There are also combo vibrators that penetrate and stimulate the clitoris.
Plug in or battery operated: Battery operated vibrators tend to be smaller, cuter and more subtle. Plug in vibrators tend to be much bigger, bulkier and, frankly, in your face. It makes sense, then, that many women gravitate towards the smaller battery-operated models. The plug in vibrators are significantly stronger, so if one of the reasons you’re considering using a vibrator is because you are having trouble having an orgasm, it's taking too long or they are not strong enough, you may want to consider a plug in or rechargeable vibrator.
Strength of your vibrator: Each woman has her own level of just-right stimulation, so it’s difficult to know exactly what type of strength you may need without trying them. Generally, vibrator strength is ranked at a 1-5 strength level, with 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest. Most women underestimate the intensity level they will need when they choose a vibrator, particularly if they are having issues with achieving orgasm.
Internal vibrators are meant to be used inside your vagina. That doesn't mean that people haven't found unique and interesting variations on how to use them, but most people buy them for that. They are typically long, thin and have different shaped tips and shafts. Some of them are penis shaped others are not. Someone for whom internal stimulation and sensation is sexually exciting may prefer an internal vibrator. If you are interested in exploring sexual sensations such as the g-spot, or if penetration is a part of your sexual fantasies, an internal vibrator may satisfy in a way that an external vibrator cannot.
Choosing an Internal Vibrator:
First of all, you should figure out what width looks good to you. Some women love having something very wide that makes them feel full and even stretched. Some women don't like that feeling at all and prefer something more slender.
You also have to choose the length you want your vibrator to be. For the most part, a 6-to-7 inch vibrator is long enough for most women. Although the longer ones may look like fun, most women can't insert them much farther than 5-6 inches so you may want to take that into consideration.
Another part of choosing an internal vibrator is: just how realistic do you want your vibrator to be? You can't get much more realistic than Mr. So Real (though he's really a dildo or dilator, not a vibrator.) Even when you compare high quality vibrators like the Techno Rabbit to long thin vibrators like the Liberte, your preference for realistic versus sleek and smooth, will matter. Some of the penis shaped vibrators can have skin tones with testicles and others are made in colorful pink or purple plastic. Some vibrators look more like a space age over-sized lipstick dispenser than a penis.
One of the things to think about if you are buying an internal vibrator is how your partner will react. Some partners love the idea of another realistic penis penetrating their partner's vagina. Others find it discomfiting and don't like it at all. You might want to discuss this issue with your partner and take their opinion into consideration as you make your choice.
There are also bendable internal vibrators like the EZ-Bend which can make for more comfortable insertion and use.
Some women or couples like playing with them in the bath or shower so consider whether or not you want a waterproof vibrator. Please make sure you never, ever take a vibrator into the shower or bath unless it is specifically marked to do so. You could get electrocuted. And no orgasm is worth that! A significant number of vibrators are specifically marketed to go into water.
There are also internal vibrators which are made with an additional component to use on the clitoris. The famous Rabbit, as presented on Sex in the City, popularized these. These have come a long way from the first models which had clunky cords and noisy operating systems. But be wary, because they have so many moving parts (the penis and the clitoral stimulate separately) these models may break more easily.
Regarding the strength of a particular vibrator, internal vibrators are generally battery operated and tend to be not-so-strong. Ranked between 1 and 5, they usually rank between 1 to 3 in strength. A large, plug in vibrator may deliver stimulation up to a 4 or 5 in power.
Finally take into consideration the material of the vibrator and how they should be cleaned. Some are hard plastic and can just be washed with soap and water. Others are made of silicone or combination materials that need to be cleaned with special cleaning products.
Vibrators that are meant to be used externally, directly on your clitoris, may be shaped like very thick pens, eggs or microphones. They may be curved, with wide cup handles, They are clearly not meant to be used internally because either they are not long enough and will get lost in the vagina or they are too wide and would be painful to put inside. These vibrators are best if you want clitoral stimulation, usually for orgasm. They can be used alone or with your partner, either with you holding the vibrator or with your partner holding it.
Often these vibrators make it easier to have an orgasm than a hand or a mouth. External vibrators are meant to be used outside the vagina, generally on the clitoris. They come in battery operated or plug in models. The battery operated ones tend to be smaller, subtler and less “in your face.” Some even are fitted to go on the penis. The plug-in models are bigger and way more noticeable. They are also much stronger and therefore more likely to help you have an orgasm if that’s a problem for you.
Choosing an External Vibrator
External vibrators are meant to be used outside the vagina, generally on the clitoris. There are really only three things to consider when choosing an external vibrator: strength, appearance and noise level.
By far the most important factor to consider is the strength. Vibrators are generally rated on strength levels between 1 and 5, with 1 being the weakest and 5 the strongest. Every woman is different in the amount of pressure, stimulation and speed she finds arousing. Generally speaking younger women prefer lighter or weaker vibrators and older women may prefer the stronger ones. However, this is one of those cases where really and truly each woman needs to find out what feels good to her.
Most of the external vibrators are on the smaller side and, as a rule, are battery operated. Although battery operated vibrators can get pretty strong (ranked a 4), they are not ever as strong as the plug in models and the batteries tend to "use up” fairly quickly. If you’re using a battery operated vibrator make sure you have a large supply of AA batteries on hand, and if a vibrator feels “weaker than it used to,” it probably is and you should replace the batteries.
The plug-in models are big. Period. The most famous and popular model is the Hitachi Magic Wand. It is widely sold in drugstores and online and can be bought as a back massager. The problem with plug-in models is that they have plugs; specifically, it’s irritating to have a cord to contend with while you and your partner are writhing in bed. Recently some powerful re-chargeable models have been developed. They are nearly as strong as the classic plug-ins (5) but once they are charged, they can be used without the pesky cord.
External vibrators can be cute looking and discrete, like the Jolie or the Petite Pink Ribbon. Some can be “in your face” and quite noticeable, so take your time picking one out. It probably matters where and with whom you may be using your vibrator, and those personal details will help you weigh the balance between beauty and function. We women do this all the time, don’t we? Think shoes.
One particular line of vibrators that we like is Natural Contours, because they are so pretty and subtle.
The last thing to keep in mind is noise level. Some women are really sensitive to any noise while others are less so. If you are one of those women who will start to giggle at the first buzz, you might want to consider a quieter one (although frankly, we’ve found that with regular use the giggles go away pretty fast). We often have women asking us about how they can use vibrators if “my kids are in the next room.” Even the big, heavy-duty plug in choices, which tend to be the loudest, are generally too quiet to be heard through a wall or a door.
It probably sounds loud to you, so here’s a test we recommend to patients. Turn the vibrator on in your bedroom, cover it with a blanket and go outside your bedroom with the door closed. Hear anything? I’ve never had anyone tell me that they did. Next, try it without the blanket on top. This should relax you and let you use them without worrying about what your kids are going to hear.
If you have had ongoing trouble with orgasms, it is highly recommended that you begin with a stronger model. Choose a plug-in or one of the stronger re-chargeable models. Some women just need the consistent, strong stimulation that one of these plug-in models can provide.
It goes without saying that you will have to live with your vibrator for a while to get used to it and know exactly what shape, power and type is best for you. Also, what works now, may not remain interesting or fun down the road. So, go into your purchase with an open mind and enjoy yourself. Get additional tips for choosing a vibrator.
Read Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus' PhD Dissertation: Changes in a Woman’s Sexual Experience and Expectations Following the Introduction of Electric Vibrator Assistance.