March 10, 2020 at 03:00PM by CWC
There are two kinds of sexual urban legends: the ones that turn out to be delightfully true, like exercise-induced orgasms, and those that are, thankfully, not grounded in reality. (FWIW, you can’t get permanently stretched out from butt play, no matter what your college roommate told you.) So what’s the deal with the notion of masturbating too much—and, specifically, can using a vibrator too much lead vulva-owners to become less sensitive to sexual stimulation from another human?
Although it may sound like a myth, I’ve experienced such desensitizing effects after long stretches of quality time with my buzzy bedmate, and according to a very non-scientific poll of my friends, I’m not not the only one. If you’ve experienced the same, though, no need to panic. As it turns out, there’s pretty much no risk of lasting desensitization following an extended session with your vibrator of choice. “Regular use of a vibrator will not impact a person with a vulva’s ability to experience sexual pleasure,” says Myisha Battle, sex and relationship coach and Allbodies partner practitioner. “Even if you use a vibrator every day, multiple times a day, your body will return to baseline a few minutes after each session or orgasm.”
“Even if you use a vibrator every day, multiple times a day, your body will return to baseline a few minutes after each session or orgasm.” —Myisha Battle, sex and relationship coach
However, a small percentage of people may experience a longer-lasting dulling of sexual sensation if they use super-strong vibrators on the reg, especially if this is their only method of reaching orgasm. “The nerve endings in the genital area get so used to this very high and fast vibration—they get conditioned, in a way—that slower and less-intense sensations just don’t do the trick,” says Zhana Vrangalova, PhD, Lelo sexpert and professor of human sexuality at New York University.
If you fall into this camp, says Dr. Vrangalova, the fix is simply to take a break from using high-powered vibrators and test out other modes of self-pleasure, perhaps using your hands, gentler vibration, or non-vibrating sex toys. (And in case you were wondering, there’s no such thing as masturbating too much, so feel free to do a lot of experimenting.) “If someone’s nerve endings were responsive to other forms of stimulation before starting to use vibrators, they will still be responsive,” she says. You can also create a buffer between your body and the vibrator using clothes or a blanket, which can help to soften the sensation but not orgasmic effects.
And when you’re getting busy with a partner, there are a few other strategies you can try to dial up your pleasure response without adding a vibrator to the mix. “Some vulva-owners will notice that experiencing orgasm using a vibrator is simply easier because they are actually targeting the sexual powerhouse of female-bodied anatomy, whereas partnered sex sometimes skips the clitoris completely,” says Battle. “Demand some attention be paid to your clitoris and guide your partner toward what you like. This might include more pressure or time spent stimulating your clitoris.” And since one major upside to heavy vibrator use is that it helps tune you in to what turns you on, adds Allbodies co-founder Ash Spivak, don’t be afraid to communicate what you’ve learned—whether or not that has to do with your clitoris.
Finally, remember that vibrators in general are a positive addition to any vulva-owner’s sexual repertoire—especially those who have a hard time reaching orgasm through other means. So, to reiterate, can you use a vibrator too much? Not. At all. “It’s empowering to have a reliable way to experience orgasm quickly and reliably,” says Battle. Can’t argue with that.