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Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Vibrator

For many of us with vulvas, vibrators have become an indispensable part of our sex life, whether that’s solo or partnered sex. They can make stimulation easier and more intense, and offer types of sensations we can’t achieve with our bodies alone. Vibrators can make pleasure more powerful and more accessible, and that’s something everyone deserves. But they can also be very challenging to shop for — there are a dizzying number of options, everyone’s body is different, and the technology is always changing. Here’s what to know to make the best and most informed choices when buying a vibrator.

Do you want external stimulation, internal stimulation, or both?

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The way we like to experience pleasure is intensely personal and unique to each of us — often linked to how we first started masturbating early in life. For some people with vulvas, they’re looking mainly for stimulation of their clitoris, or external stimulation — this might be true if you mostly masturbate or get pleasure from partners rubbing your clitoris with their fingers, or by grinding up against something. For others, penetration of some kind is key to feeling the most pleasure, and they may be looking for g-spot stimulation above all. Maybe you know you like both — or want an all-purpose vibrator that can be used for a variety of purposes or with a variety of partners. 

Answering this question first is helpful in narrowing down what broad category of vibrator you’re looking for. An external vibrator might be shaped like a wand, or a small palm-sized object; some may have two prongs. Internal vibrators will have a more extended, often curved, shape; some might be phallic or shaped like traditional dildos, while some will be less representational. “Rabbit” style vibrators try to offer the best of both worlds, with an insertable internal vibrator and also an external extension designed to stimulate your clitoris at the same time.

What kind of sensation do you like?

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Even within the categories of external or internal stimulation, we all like radically different types of sensations. When it comes to vibrators, there are two important categories to keep in mind: the intensity of the vibration, and whether the vibration is more “buzzy” or more “rumbly.” 

Intensity is perhaps the easier of the two to parse. When you’re masturbating or being touched by a partner, do you generally like fast, firm touches or soft, gentle ones? Does it sometimes feel like touching your actual clitoris feels too intense or overwhelming, and you prefer being touched near or around it? If so, then a more gentle vibrator might be a good fit for you — or one that uses two prongs to provide stimulation around the clitoris instead of directly on top of it. Alternatively, if you frequently find it takes you forever to orgasm or can only orgasm with very intense pressure or stimulation, a higher-intensity vibrator might be a good fit for you.

“Rumbly” vs. “buzzy” is a bit less obvious. “Rumbly” vibrations have a lower frequency, which may feel less immediately intense and be felt deeper in the body — think about a deep tissue massage with the masseuse’s whole hand rather than pinpoint pressure with fingertips. Rumbly vibrators (10% Discount Code: InclusiveJoy)may feel more like sensation building up over time, and some people with more sensitive vulvas find them a better fit. “Buzzy” vibrators (10% Discount Code: InclusiveJoy) work at a higher frequency and target a smaller area, and are usually external vibrators. If you’ve historically only been able to come using intense stimulation directly to your clitoris, a buzzy vibrator might be your preference — maybe even a “pinpoint” vibrator.

Are you using it for yourself, dates, or both?

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For some, vibrators are personal items for solo sex only — for others who enjoy using toys in their partnered life, vibrators are a big part of dating and relationships. If you’re planning on using your vibrator for yourself only, then you should feel empowered to choose exactly what feels most suited to you!

If you’re planning on using your vibrator with others, you should definitely still prioritize your own pleasure, but there may be additional considerations. For instance, if you’re using a vibrator with different partners, you may want to prioritize something that can be easily sanitized — or commit to using condoms over any toys you use with partners, an easy fix!

What other considerations do you need?

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Our lives are rich and complex, and may influence what would work best for us in a vibrator. For instance, if you live with others, family or roommates, it may be important to you that any toy you buy is as quiet as possible. If you travel frequently or are in a long-distance relationship, you may want something more portable or that plugs in to avoid forgetting a charger. If you or partners have any disabilities related to fine motor skills or grip, it may be easier to use something with a large handle and surface area like a Hitachi Magic Wand (10% Discount Code: InclusiveJoy) rather than a small, fine pinpoint vibrator.

Everyone, regardless of other needs or considerations, should make sure to prioritize using body-safe materials — vibrators from Amazon, Temu or other sites may be cheaper, but they’re often cheap because they’re made of materials that aren’t safe to use on delicate mucus membranes, like low grade plastic (this includes most “jelly” style translucent toys). When looking for a vibrator, try to find one that’s coated in medical-grade silicone — this should be easy at a reputable, dedicated sex toy distributor.

Can you buy online, or do you need to shop in person?

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Both options have their pros and cons. Buying online means you have the widest possible selection — any vibrator sold by any company! — and can shop discreetly and from within the comfort of your own home. It may also be easier to find sales and discount codes — sex toys can be expensive! 

However, shopping for a vibrator in person can let you make a more informed decision — you may be able to handle a sample and learn exactly what the material feels like and whether the quality of vibration fits your needs. It may mean you can be more confident about your purchase, which is a priority for many — sex toys can be expensive! Furthermore, brick-and-mortar sex shops are often staffed by knowledgeable and experienced employees who can help you make the best possible purchase, perhaps suggesting options you didn’t even know about. If you’ve never visited a sex shop in person, it can feel intimidating, but in today’s world there are options besides the tawdry back-alley shops you may be thinking of. Many cities now have independently-owned feminist sex shops that may be a better fit for you — it’s worth looking into.

For More Articles Check Out These Recent Posts:

What to Know Before your First Time Having Lesbian Sex

Everything You Need to Know About the G-Spot

The Basic of Safer Sex for Lesbian, Queer and Trans Folks


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