Do Vibrators Cause Nerve Damage or is that what the Patriarchy Want you to Think?

Illustration by Isabelle Mulvany

I am a big fan of my vibrator. What’s not to love? I have always found it hard to orgasm with partners, so for me a quick, convenient, stress free solution could never be a negative. I also think that it taught me a lot about sex, as I became more aware of my own body and what it liked. As a teenager, vibrators had always seemed a bit scary and taboo as all things around female sexuality are presented. Looking back now the divide between the way sex topics relating to men and women were treated in and outside of the classroom is staggering, with male sexuality being explored unabashed, while vibrators and clitorises received an array of giggles. Queer sex was also apparently non-existent, erased from the curriculum although it is an equally important (if not more, due to an unfortunate history of taboo) topic of conversation as straight sex. It’s not a fair education and most likely the root of many people's sexual anxieties and naivety to their own body.

So to me vibrators seemed almost too good to be true, and I had heard tales that the constant use of a vibrator could lead to a desensitisation and even nerve damage. There seems to be a lot of unease around the subject, as many a Reddit post and ‘Dead Vagina Syndrome’ fanatic would have you believe that your pleasure could have consequences, and it honestly had me believing too. I suddenly became uber-conscious of my vibrator use, making it more of a guilt filled act than a pleasurable one. This was a scary idea for me, and I did start to think that I was becoming desensitised to the human touch, worrying that I’d buzzed my clit into oblivion and that sex would never feel the same again. Whether this was an overdramatic panic or actual fact I was unsure, so I thought I'd research the science behind these ideas before I mourned my sex life.

Luckily for us all vibrators do not cause any long-term tissue damage. Temporary numbness can be experienced after using your vibrator, but this will fade. Vibrators can effect your physical sex life as your vagina becomes used to a certain type of stimulation, which can lead other forms of stimulation - e.g. an uneducated fumble - to feel a little lacklustre. To combat this, you can reduce use so your body becomes more used to physical stimulation from a partner. This is not damaging though and not a permanent change. ‘Dead Vagina Syndrome’ is thus overblown by the patriarchal hole that is the internet. Although ‘handheld tools’ like a Hitachi Wand may impair sensation in the hands if used excessively, this is rare and unlikely. better your hands than your clit anyways, right?

So to conclude, the worry surrounding vibrators should be completely dismissed. Listen to your body and if something doesn’t feel right maybe take a break or consult a professional, but do not compromise your pleasure for Reddit worries! Embracing sex can be especially difficult for those who have never been able to openly talk about their sexuality or experiences as it was not normalised from a young age. Sex is a natural part of human existence and not something to be ashamed of. People need to be educated on all manners of safe sex to avoid turning to the darker parts of the internet to answer their body questions. It’s a long and laborious process to overcome the shame implemented on those outside of the heterosexual, male norms in place, but once conquered you can conquer all. Explore yourself, your sexuality and the 17 settings on your rampant rabbit.

Written by Isobel Gorman-Buckley