Here Are Some Surprising Facts About Vibrators

by Rachel Malkin

Vibrators: an electrical device well-loved far and wide whose popularity is only rising as more of us learn about their power to bestow efficient pleasure. Here are 10 facts that may surprise you about this sometimes controversial yet extremely common product. 

1. Vibrator users were significantly more likely to have had a gynecological exam during the past year. 

Turns out people who are showing their vulva love with a vibrator are more likely to be showing their vulvas love in other ways, too. Two studies by Indiana University showed that those who used a vibrator were significantly more likely to have been to the OBGYN in the last year. 

2. In 2019 the global vibrator market was valued at 6.42 billion dollars. 

The vibrator business is no joke. Sex toy sales increased even during the recession;  people truly didn’t want to give up their pleasure. (Also, what better way to make yourself feel better during hard times than using a vibrator? Endorphins and serotonin up, cortisol down!) According to a study done by Technavio, a market research firm, the global vibrator market was valued at $2.93 billion in 2014 and has increased to $6.42 in 2019. Pleasure is certainly an industry that isn’t going anywhere. 

3. In 2012, sex toy sales increased by 400%.

While the BDSM community might not have been so thrilled with the way Fifty Shades of Gray portrayed the practice, the film franchise’s popularity did have a few positive impacts on the cultural conversation around sex toys. Besides the fact that it got people talking about sex and pleasure—particularly female pleasure—it also informed the public just how many toys and tools were out there. Ben-wa balls (kegel balls that help strengthen your pelvic floor and your orgasms) increased in sales nationally, and 772% for sex toy company Pure Romance.

4. The best place to test out a vibrator (besides the obvious) is on the tip of your nose. 

If you ever venture to a sex expo, don’t be alarmed by all the people putting vibrators to noses—these are the people in the know! The tip of your nose is sensitive, and will give you a sense of how that vibrator’s power will translate elsewhere.

5. You can be prescribed a vibrator by your doctor.

Vibrators aren’t all fun and games. Some of them are actually cleared by the FDA as therapeutic devices due to their legitimate healing and strengthening powers. Only some toys like the Viberect and Ferticare are officially classified as medically viable for various sexual dysfunctions and require a prescription (and often have a hefty price tag). However, vibrators as a category have been proven to combat a variety of health issues including dryness, nerve desensitization, and decreased libido, so more and more OBGYNs are suggesting them to their patients before turning to pills and potions of other sorts. Pleasure is health!

6. Married women are twice as likely to own a vibrator. 

It’s a common misconception that vibrators are solely for single women. But a study published in Case Studies in Strategic Communication found this is not the case. Turns out a sex toy or two keep can keep your marriage humming along.

7. It is illegal to make phallic sex toys in Japan.

In order to get around this law, the Japanese sex toy makers got creative and camouflage their sex toys. It’s in this context that they made the famous Rabbit vibe, the first dual-action vibrator, and brought it to the United States in 1983. This toy made its second debut in the U.S. on the famous 1998 Sex and the City episode, “The Turtle and the Hare,” which led to a 700% jump in sales for the Rabbit in the following year. 

8. But that hasn’t stopped Japan from having its very own vibrator bar.

“The Vibe Bar Wild One” doesn’t allow you to test any toys, but you can see and touch over 330 vibrators from around the world as you sip your sake.

9. There is a drive-thru window for vibrators in Alabama. 

While it is illegal to distribute sex toys in the state of Alabama (the only remaining state to have this law), Pleasures owner Sherri Williams did find a loophole to start her drive-through sex toy business: the law provides an exception for sex toys that are needed for unspecified "medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement" purposes. As Williams told CBS, “Customers buying toys—items that can be used for sexual stimulation—fill out an anonymous form with 10 questions, including whether they or a partner have difficulty with sexual fulfillment.” As long as they fill out the form, they are free to shop the 7,200 sq-foot store or just pick up a vibe on their drive-thru.

10. Dame's Fin was the first sex toy ever sold on Kickstarter in 2016. 

Before 2016, no other sex toys were allowed on Kickstarter. But when Dame got ready to launch our second product, Fin, a crowdfunding campaign seemed like an optimal choice to raise money. So we convinced Kickstarter to change its mind. Co-founder and CEO of Dame Alexandra Fine told Glamour back in 2016, "Our decision to reach out to Kickstarter to implore them to allow us onto their platform was an extension of our mission—to make conversations about sex and sexual pleasure more mainstream, and to treat toys for sex like any other consumer product.” 

Rachel Malkin is Executive Assistant to the CEO of Dame Products, a freelance makeup artist, and a yoga teacher.

Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants

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