Vibrator Use Improves Sexual and Urinary Outcomes


Studies have demonstrated positive effects of vibrator use on a number of sexual and urinary outcomes in women, according to a review of published literature presented at at the American Urological Association annual meeting.

Though limited in number, the studies induced favourable changes in blood flow and muscle tone of genital tissues, improved multiple aspects of sexual arousal and satisfaction, increased orgasmic response, and decreased sexual distress. In women with pelvic floor dysfunction, vibrator use was associated with decreased urine leakage and urinary symptoms and significantly improved pelvic muscle strength. Vibrator use also decreased pain and improved sexual enjoyment in women with vulvodynia.

“Medical providers, especially gynaecologists, urologists, and FPMRS [female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery specialists] need more education on women’s sexual health and vibrators,” said Alexandra Dubinskaya, MD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “We need to remove the stigma from vibrators and I do believe this soon will be possible as we are now normalising discussion about women’s sexual health.”

Vibrators should be viewed as another form of technology that can be applied to benefit patients in clinical practice, said Rachel S. Rubin, MD, of Georgetown University in Washington.

“I believe we use technology to make our lives better in almost every way … and the bedroom should not be absent of technology,” she said. “Sex tech is incredible now, from what it used to be. It’s no longer just the seedy stores with newspaper over the windows, but really high-end wonderful devices for couples for all genders. There are so many health benefits to these devices.”

“I believe that if we get male partners interested in devices in the bedroom, everyone’s sexual health will improve,” she stated.

According to Dr Dubiskaya, therapeutic vibratory stimulation has its origin in the now-disproven condition known as female hysteria, associated with excessive emotions and thought to be related to marital relationships, orgasm, and pregnancy. Practitioners were said to have to turned to vibrators to relieve hysteria by stimulating the female patients to orgasms, referred to as “paroxysms”, and turned to vibrators when the practice started to take a toll on their hands and wrists. It’s a now-familiar idea that was popularised by Rachel Maines in her 1998 book “The Technology of Orgasm”, which even inspired a movie.

However, there is no actual evidence in support of this supposed practice as Dubisankya claims. Hallie Lieberman and Eric Schatzberg, the chair of the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech, were some of the few who actually bothered to check Maines’s 465 citations. “Maines fails to cite a single source that openly describes use of the vibrator to massage the clitoral area,” they wrote in a contentious paper. “None of her English-language sources even mentions production of ‘paroxysms’ by massage or anything else that could remotely suggest an orgasm.”

Nevertheless, vibrator use is now widespread despite its seedy reputation it had acquired in modern times. In a survey conducted over a decade ago, a majority of women and more than 40% of men reported the use of a vibrator at some point in their lives.

To assess the evidence supporting vibrators’ medical benefits in women, the researchers conducted a systematic literature review, focusing on studies related to sexual health, pelvic floor function, and vulvar health. They found 21 meeting the inclusion criteria, 11 of which were studies of female sexual dysfunction, nine on pelvic floor dysfunction, and one on vulvodynia.

The sexual dysfunction studies showed that vibratory stimulation facilitated vasodilation and blood flow, improved tissue perfusion and metabolism, decreased muscle tone, and increased relaxation. Clinically, use of vibrators was found to be associated with improvement in the Female Sexual Function Index score, as well as increased arousal, orgasm, and genital sensation.

Patients who used vibrators reported increased sexual desire, satisfaction, and overall sexual function, as well as reduced time to orgasm, achievement of multiple orgasms, and reduced distress.

The pelvic floor dysfunction studies showed that vibratory stimulation was linked to a reduction in use of hygienic pads among women with stress urinary incontinence and urine leakage, as well as urinary symptoms. There was improvement in pelvic-floor muscle tone, QoL and patient satisfaction with the treatment.

The vulvodynia study focused on vibratory stimulation for relief of pain and associated symptoms. Dr Dubinskaya said that after 4 to 6 weeks of vibrator use, women reported antinociceptive and desensitising effects, reduced pain, and increased sexual enjoyment. More than 80% of the study participants expressed satisfaction with the treatment, and 90% said they were comfortable with their doctor offering a vibrator as a form of therapy.

Dr Dubisankya is recruiting for a clinical trial to identify which conditions can be most effectively treated with vibrator use.

Source: MedPage Today

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