The 2011 movie, Hysteria, recounts the story of how the vibrator was invented. In Victorian-era England, a medical condition that physicians called "hysteria" in women resulted in fainting, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, erotic fantasies, and excessive vaginal lubrication. The condition wasn’t really understood because, at the time, many doctors believed that women did not experience sexual pleasure. But one doctor, Joseph Mortimer Granville, M.D., found a cure for the condition. He digitally brought women to orgasm (a term not yet coined or understood).
Dr. Granville eventually had more patients than he could comfortably handle and he even developed a problem with his hands due to so much concerted activity. He and a friend decided to come up with a device that could do the work for him — and the vibrator was born.
Today, more than half of all women have used a vibrator at some time, with about one-fourth using one in the past month, according to a study at Indiana University. Despite the enduring myth that vibrators are for lonely, single women, many couples enjoy using one together. A study in Australia found that 61 percent of couples own at least one adult sex toy, with the average being 2.6 sex toys per couple. According to StatisticsBrain.com, the sex toy industry brings in more than $15 billion annually.
Sex toys were once considered taboo, dirty, or perverted. To buy one, you often needed to go into a dark, seedy establishment that both men and women were embarrassed to be seen entering. One man, Tony, explained to me that in the past, he would travel outside of his town to visit the XXX store; he didn’t want any of his neighbors seeing his car parked outside. Today, Tony uses a discreet website and orders sex toys for him and his wife online.
How sex toys can help improve your sex life
Many women can’t have an orgasm through penetrative sex alone, and many have never experienced an orgasm at all. This isn’t a defect, and it doesn’t signal that something is wrong. Sex toys, which include but are definitely not limited to vibrators, can help. They can provide clitoral stimulation in a way that sex alone can’t. Men sometimes complain that they feel pressure to perform. Using sex toys can help take this pressure off, allowing both men and women to relax and enjoy the experience.
Once thought of as a solo activity, there are a variety of sex toys available today meant to be used by couples, both during foreplay and during intercourse. These don’t necessarily take the place of traditional lovemaking, but rather are meant to enhance it, making sure both partners feel fulfilled and satisfied.
Sex toys also give you the opportunity to learn what feels good. You can use a vibrator to explore different areas of the genitals, and the entire body, to find what turns you on and what turns your partner on.
Introducing sex toys to your relationship
There is still a great deal of hesitancy surrounding sex toys. You or your partner might feel uncomfortable, or you might hold on to old stereotypes. Open and honest communication is essential.
Choose the right time
Bringing up the topic of sex toys in the beginning of a relationship might not be a great idea. Your new partner might think you are saying he or she doesn’t satisfy you. Developing trust before discussing sex toys is a good idea.
Some people prefer to begin the conversation outside of the bedroom, making it a more casual conversation. You might want to mention the topic, to see your partner’s reaction before introducing the idea that you want to try them.
_Focus on enhancing your sexual relationship _
Both men and women can be insecure when it comes to their sex life. When a partner brings up the idea of sex toys, some might see it as an affront, a critique of their abilities to satisfy their partner. When introducing the idea of sex toys, make sure to focus on how it can enhance an already fulfilling sex life.
_Be specific _
Have an idea of the type of sex toy you want to try. Explain what the toy is and how you think it will enhance your sex life.
_Don’t push _
If your partner isn’t interested, let the subject go, at least for now. It’s possible once you introduce the topic, your partner will think about it and might want to give it a try. You can introduce the subject again in a couple weeks, but be careful not to push too hard. Sex toys are supposed to add fun, not stress, to a relationship.
_Shop together _
Look at the different devices together and decide what both of you are comfortable with using. For example, do you want individual devices for mutual masturbation, or one that you use as a couple. There are some reputable online stores, such as goodvibes.com, loverspackage.com, or evesgarden.com. Listen to each other and choose the device that will best enhance your lovemaking.
Don’t take it too seriously
Have fun when selecting sex toys, and make sure to have a sense of humor about the process. This could be an opportunity for you and your partner to deepen your relationship by laughing together as you explore the possibilities.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.