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December 21, 2022

Can I Get Addicted To My Vibrator? The Myth of Sex Toy Addiction.

The short answer is no, but here’s why.
Written by
Elizabeth Kirkhorn
Published on
December 21, 2022
Updated on
What's changed?
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You may have heard a rumor that you can get addicted to your vibrator. It may have been through the media, your favorite reality TV show, or conversation with a friend. But in actuality, vibrators can be an aid for sexual dysfunction, not an inhibitor (1) . Here’s what you need to know about sex toy addiction. 

Vibrator addiction is not a thing 

According to the National Health Service (NHS), addiction is defined as “not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you” (2). By the definition of addiction, vibrator usage cannot become technically “addictive.” That’s why expert consensus says that leaning on a vibrator for assistance with orgasm cannot become a toxic obsession. 

“You might develop a comfort or “safety” in grabbing your favorite vibe knowing you’ll always get off, but this definitely isn’t an addiction,” sex and relationship coach Catherine Drysdale tells O.school. 

“Addiction” implies complex interactions among your brain circuits that create harmful cycles, increased tolerance, and withdrawal (3). You’ll never rewire your brain or require intense medical treatment because you used your vibrator too frequently. However, as Drysdale points out, you can get used to giving yourself an orgasm in a certain way, such as with a vibrator. This creates a neural pathway, telling your body, “this mechanism will speed up the process.” It’s helpful to note the same thing can happen if you find orgasm easier in certain sexual positions or via specific methods like oral. 

So, while you might have a comfort vibrator that you reach for when you want to get the job done quickly, this doesn’t mean you have an addiction or a problem. The same applies to your favorite dildo, nipple sucker, or anal toy. Think of them more as allies on your way to meet your pleasure goals, as opposed to a bad habit. 

Needing a vibrator to orgasm is normal  

“There’s nothing wrong with you if you need a vibrator to get off,” Drysdale emphasizes. In fact, studies show that masturbation, even enhanced by a pleasure product, can make people more satisfied with their sex lives (4). 

As most of us aren’t taught pleasure-centered sex education, it’s common to feel insecure about using a vibrator or even masturbating. If this is something you’re struggling with, Drysdale recommends reframing your mindset to focus on your own pleasure, and giving yourself permission to do what you need to get you off. 

If you find it difficult to orgasm from penetration alone, you’re not alone. Studies on the matter show that anywhere from 15 - 20% of women report being to orgasm from penetration alone, without clitoral stimulation. When you think about that, combined with recent findings there are double the nerve-endings in the clitoris as in the entire penis, it makes a lot of scientific sense why vulva owners love their vibrators - and there’s nothing wrong with that. However you choose to give yourself pleasure, and whether your plan relies on a toy or not, is up to you and your body. 

Editor’s pick: Best vibrator for clitoral stimulation 

Hitachi Magic Wand
Hitachi Magic Wand White
Hitachi Magic Wand Hand
Hitachi Magic Wand Hand Flexible Head
Hitachi Magic Wand Packaging

Known as the most famous vibrator of all time, the Magic Wand offers penetrative vibrations with a variety of patterns and intensities. Unlike the original version, this wand is cordless, and it comes with newly improved features, including a smooth silicone head, quieter sound, four power intensities, and four vibration patterns. It can even be used to ease tension on your sore muscles, maximizing pleasure everywhere on the body. The Magic Wand continues to be the world’s best-selling vibrator, even after 50 years on the market.

Benefits
Ultra-powerful vibrations
Long handle and flexible head
Very durable
Can be used as a massager for erogenous or non-erogenous zones.
Drawbacks
A bit pricey, but high-end quality
Can be a little loud
Heavy and not travel friendly
Not waterproof
The nuts and bolts
  • 4 intensity levels
  • 4 vibration patterns
  • USB rechargeable
  • Body-safe silicone material
  • Water-based lube compatible

Using a vibrator every day does not mean you’re addicted 

Using a vibrator every day or multiple times a day does not indicate that you have a vibrator or sex toy addiction.  Just like the frequency or solo or partnered sex varies person to person, the frequency of vibrator use does too. “A ‘healthy’ amount is whatever feels good for you,” Drysdale says. “This could mean daily use, multiple times a day, once a week, once a month, or even once a year. There’s a lot of factors to consider in determining what the ‘right amount’ means for you!”

The vast majority of people are able to enjoy using a vibrator on their own time as well as partnered sex, no matter how often they choose to indulge. 

When to take a break from your vibrator 

Using a vibrator properly cannot desensitize your clit. But if you find yourself taking longer to orgasm with your toy of choice, or if you’re suddenly less excited about solo sex after a period of more frequent masturbating, try taking a little break or giving yourself pleasure in another way or switching up your routine. 

If you typically use your vibrator in bed, experiment with how it feels to masturbate in the shower, the bath, or in front of the mirror. Try out sitting on your knees or flipping onto your stomach to mix things up. And don’t be afraid to invest in a nice lube and see how that embellishes your playtime. 

“It can be easy to reach for the same toy, the same lube, the same hand, because we know what works and sometimes we want to get to the finish line as quickly as possible,” Drysdale says. It’s this kind of repetition that might make vibrator owners afraid they’ll become “addicted.” “You might be surprised to discover that something else feels good too – maybe even better than your comfort zone.”

The bottom line

While it’s impossible to develop a clinical vibrator addiction or sex toy addiction, it is possible to find comfort in getting yourself off in one specific way. If you’re looking to broaden your pleasure scope, however, try a new position, a different environment, or enhancing what your vibrator already does for you with lube or sensation play accessories. To switch up your routine even more, pick up a completely different sex toy and treat yourself to new sensations.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Elizabeth is a graduate student from New York, New York. She writes personal essays about identity, womanhood, and love.

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