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Can vibrators actually desensitise your clitoris?

But using them too often *might* make finishing without one a little harder. Here's how to deal.

We’ve all been there: You’ve had a little too much fun with your favorite high-powered vibrator when that fateful intrusive thought breaks through your post-orgasm euphoria. “Is it possible for me to, like, desensitize my clit from going this hard with my sex toy?” you wonder. Now, instead of feeling blissed out you’re stressed AF, worried you might’ve gotten carried away and numbed your pleasure button for good. Ugh.

But hey, don’t spin out yet: Your clit is probably fine, explains ob-gyn Amir Marashi, MD. In fact, vibrators are rarely associated with negative symptoms, and instead they typically improve your overall sexual functioning (like your ability to feel aroused, produce lubrication, orgasm, etc.), according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. That said, you should still follow best wellness and safety practices when you’re vibing out, of course. That’s where we come in.

TL;DR, vibrators aren’t going to harm you—but it doesn’t hurt to learn about additional ways to reach orgasm, how to overcome orgasm roadblocks, and how to have satisfying partnered and solo sex, with or without a vibrator. Curious? Read on…

Again, let’s be totally clear: Vibrators will *not* desensitise your clitoris.

It’s true! Vibrators will not desensitize or damage your clitoris “unless you do something truly traumatic where you are hurting your own body,” Dr Marashi says, such as using a device in a brash, violent way. (Think: hitting with force, scraping, etc.)

Carrying out your vibrator’s intended use won’t cause you harm. In fact, using sex toys, in general, is “very beneficial for a myriad of mental and physical health benefits,” Dr Marashi says, from mood and sleep improvement to a healed complexion and positive heart health.

Basically: Don’t let any fearmongering narratives around vibrators scare you. If you like them, use them—especially if they help you feel more satisfied in the bedroom. That said, if you are feeling like vibrators are impacting your ability to cum in other scenarios—especially during partnered sex—keep reading. There’s a reason why… 

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Here’s why vibes might make it harder for you to cum with a partner.

While great for bringing you tons of pleasure from the moment you turn it (and yourself) on, there *can* be one downside to using a vibrator to regularly get your O, explains Jenni Skyler, PhD, sex therapist and director of The Intimacy Institute.

Vibrators can get you used to reaching orgasm by super specific means—especially if you have a sensitive clitoris and you’re using a vibrator on a particularly strong setting—making it difficult for you to cum through alternative solo measures or with a partner. (Like manual stimulation, oral sex, grinding, various vibrational settings, and more.)

“Your genitals become familiar with one way of cultivating arousal,” Skyler says. This can create both a mental and physical roadblock for some clitoris-havers, which you may perceive as being “numb” to other types of clitoral stimulation. That said, your clitoris isn’t actually numbed and you’re not in danger of losing all feeling downstairs.

There are ways to re-cultivate your sense of clitoral pleasure so that you can orgasm without using a vibrator, especially during partnered sex!

Here’s how you can make other kinds of sex feel just as good as your vibrator

For starters, if you feel like getting off in other ways is getting harder, take a break from using your vibes, Dr Marashi suggests. How long of a break you’ll need varies from person to person, so don’t stress out if the change isn’t immediate, but try to go without it for at least a day or two.

Whenever you’re ready to use a vibrator again, consider changing up which toy you use and its vibration settings now and then. “In other words, switch it up and have a different vibrator ‘partner,’” Dr Marashi says. This way, even though you’re still incorporating a vibrator into your routine, your body and mind don’t acclimate to one specific kind of sensation.

This is also a great time to get, ahem, ~re-acquainted~ with yourself sans vibe. Take some time to engage in a little handsy self-love, exploring your body and taking note of what feels good. “It's a good opportunity to reevaluate and introduce new types of touch that you might also like,” in addition to your vibrator, Brito says. (Pro tip: You can also add water into the mix by experimenting with a detachable shower head, bath water, or jets, Skyler says.)

This can help you give your next sex partner specific guidance on what they can do to make you feel good. (Like, real good.). “It’s important to know your own anatomy and physiology to understand how your body functions,” explains sex therapist Janet Brito, PhD, founder of the Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health. You can show them what to do by guiding their hands with your own and demonstrating how to touch you the way you like, Brito suggests.

If hands aren’t doing it for you two, you can try grinding on each other, dry humping, or oral sex for reaching a partnered orgasm as well, Brito says. The most important thing is to give yourself the time to experiment with different movements and patterns, and don’t pressure yourself into reaching your orgasm immediately. If you’re only used to cuming with a vibrator, it can take time to acclimate to other kinds of touch for climax. 

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Overall, remember: Vibrators aren’t the villain.

While it’s great that you’re more informed on the ways that vibrators can impact life in the bedroom, it’s important to remember that they are not the enemy here. Needing to use a vibrator to finish is totally fine, and it’s not a bad thing.

“I work with a lot of women where a vibrator is always part of sex for them, and I think that's fine,” Skyler explains. Sometimes people experience shame or fears of inadequacy from needing to bring a vibrator into their sexual encounters, but it’s very normal and nothing to be ashamed of, she says.

So whatever your situation is, don’t stress! If you want to find other ways to orgasm, sans vibrator, that’s great. And if you’re okay with using one always, cool. Just do whatever works for you and, most importantly, relax and enjoy your O.