There's many paths we can take in order to reach the destination of pleasure. The world of pleasure is wide, and—to break away from the geographic navigation comparison—offers many different types of vibrators for us to try. While exciting, the variety of different vibrators can be confusing to navigate. So, with so many types of vibrators available for you to buy, how do you know which direction to take?
- Alexandra Fine, sexologist and co-founder of Dame
- Alicia Sinclair, certified sex educator, certified sexuality coach, and founder of b-Vibe
- Chanta Blue, LCSW, sex therapist and licensed clinical social worker
- Rebecca Alvarez Story, sexologist and founder of Bloomi
- Zhana Vrangalova, PhD, New York City-based sex researcher, writer, and educator
Don't worry; we called in some reinforcements to help guide us. Below, seven types of vibrators you'll find on the market, and expert takes on the specific ways each will help you climax. There’s something for everyone on this list, from vibrators for beginners to more advanced toys to play with.
First, what is a vibrator exactly and how does it work? Sexologist and founder of Bloomi Rebecca Alvarez Story explains that a vibrator is a device that—you guessed it—vibrates. “[Vibrators] are designed to stimulate the body sexually, especially intimate areas like the genitals,” she says. There are many different types of vibrators, as you’ll learn below, and each typically has various vibration intensities and vibration patterns to directly stimulate different erogenous zones and help support or speed up achieving orgasms. And, depending on the vibrator design, they are typically either USB rechargeable or battery-operated.
During solo play, Story says vibrators allow you to take control of your own pleasure and explore new sensations. “If you’re new to masturbation, vibrators are a great opportunity to learn what your body likes and doesn’t like and feel in control throughout the whole learning process,” she says. “You can press the on/off button at any point, increase vibration, or change vibration pattern at any point.”
When using a vibrator during partnered sex, it’s an opportunity to practice sexual communication. “Guiding your partner verbally is not only attractive, but will strengthen your connection and create a deeper understanding of what sensations feel good or not,” Story says. Plus, “for those with different mobility levels, vibrators can help you reach orgasm without straining yourself or causing discomfort during solo or partnered sessions.”
Also, there is a common myth that using vibrators desensitizes intimate areas and decreases the chances of experiencing orgasm. According to Story, this isn’t true. Vibrators are perfectly safe to use, she says. However, not all vibrators are created equal. She notes that some vibrators on the market are not made with 100% body-safe materials. For that reason, she emphasizes the importance of reading the ingredient labels and shopping from brands that use transparent labeling on their products and website versus vague language when disclosing the materials that are used.
Research shows that during sexual intercourse, most vulva-owners simply can't climax from penetration alone. The exact figures vary, but one study suggests it's fewer than a dismal 20 percent1. But the flip side to that is that with clitoral sex toys, your ability to come more and faster jumps way higher.
"The easiest type of orgasm to reach for a vulva-owner is the external clitoral one," says developmental psychologist and human sexuality professor Zhana Vrangalova, PhD. "This is because the external clitoris is the part of the body that contains the greatest density of nerve endings that, when stimulated, can lead to pleasure."
And as Well+Good Changemaker, Dame CEO, and sexologist Alexandra Fine points out, that's majorly important. "I think that having a sex toy that caters to clitoral stimulations—and specifically one that can be used during partnered sex—really shows people with vulvas that their pleasure is a priority," Fine says.
That means if you're prioritizing getting your orgasm efficiently (and yes, joyfully as well) this is the way to go. Clitoral vibrators can be kind of a catch-all terminology for toys that focus on that area, but for the purposes of this piece, we're talking about any vibrator that pinpoints that area. Technically the Zumio S focuses more on rotational movements versus vibrations, but if you're looking for something direct, its SpiroTip will get the job done.
Unlike traditional vibrators, the Zumio Clitoral Stimulator has a powerful tip that vibrates without the super loud buzzing. With it, you can unlock new pleasure points and customize your experience with its 8-speed design. Increase the intensity if you want to up the ante, or slow things down with a lower speed. What’s more, it’s waterproof, so you can take this device to the showers. It’s pleasure with a push of a button.
Size: one size
- Has a user-controlled tip
- 8-speed design
- Some say battery life doesn’t last as long
This Swiss army knife of vibrators (aka, massage wands), are extremely versatile. Generally, they have a long, slim handle for maneuvering and a bulb head for massaging or pleasure. “Sex wands are personal vibrating massagers that can be used for sexual pleasure and to relieve muscle tension,” Chanta Blue, LCSW, a sexuality and relationship therapist in New Jersey, previously told W+G. The Magic Wand, which belongs in the Vibrator Hall of Fame (does that exist?), is a great example of a massage wand.
If you’re looking for a bullet that’ll shoot you into orgasm heaven in more than a couple of ways, look no further than the high voltage Le Wand Rechargeable Vibrating Massager. With 10 vibration speeds and 20 vibrational patterns, this wand hits all of the right spots. Also nice is the travel-friendly case, so you can enjoy the sensations no matter where you go. “It’s a crowd-pleaser and must-have for all sex-toy collections because it can please all bodies,” says Alicia Sinclair, certified sexologist and creator of Le Wand Massager. “With a broad head and long handle, this vibe can be angled in a variety of positions and hard-to-reach places. Plus, it feels good for pleasure and relieves pain like muscle soreness.” So, yes, you can use it as a neck massager, but why stop there?
Size: one size
- 10 vibration speeds and 20 patterns
- Comes with a travel case
- Body-safe silicone head
Of all the different types of vibrators, bullet-style are great for their simplicity and variability. You're either grabbing one because you want something small-but-mighty and simple, or you're looking to get creative.
"Bullet vibrators offer direct, pinpointed stimulation," says Fine. "They’re great for travel and also for pairing with other toys, like harnesses and dildos. Bullet vibes are usually strong and take away a lot of the bells and whistles that other vibrators have—lots of vibration patterns, for example."
Small but mighty, Le Wand’s Bullet Vibrator will transport you to orgasmic places. The bullet-style vibrator targets your erogenous zones using 11 pulsating patterns and four vibration intensities. Additionally, it’s made from body-safe metal that glides easily. Now, who’s ready to play?
Size: one size
- 11 vibrational patterns
- Made from body-safe metal
- Only 4 speeds
Rabbit-style vibrators have a slim head for penetration and a smaller head (sometimes literally a rabbit head with ears) to stimulate your clitoris. Blended orgasms, here we very literally come!
Now, given new innovations in sex tech, the rabbit style often comes complete with new bells and whistles. Story is a big fan of Lioness, a sophisticated device that can help you strength-train your pelvic floor while tracking orgasm data-length, strength, and the factors that fuel it.
Rabbit vibrators work double duty, enabling for penetration and clitoral stimulation at the same time. Enter, Tracy’s Dog Rabbit Sucking Vibrator. Made of premium silicone, this device is safe for all bodies and is skin-friendly. Prepare to be amazed with its double sensation, ten vibration modes, and three suction patterns.
Size: one size
- 10 vibrational patterns
- Made from body-safe silicone
- 2.5 hours of run time
- Easy to clean
- Might be loud for some
Wearables are an amazing option if you're coupled up and want to play with extra opportunities for stimulation. The Lelo Tor 2 ($128) is a wearable vibrator that, while meant for couples, one writer finds to be great for solo play as well. MysteryVibe has the Tenuto ($150) for men, a wearable that basically turns an erection into a vibrator.
"Finger vibrators are a great choose-your-own-adventure toy," says Fine. "Dame's finger vibrator, Fin, is engineered to augment natural touch and can easily be integrated into whatever you’re already doing with your hands." The couples vibrating toy options are endless!
Made of silicone and boasting six pre-set vibrational patterns, this vibrating cock ring is designed to please both the wearer and wearer’s partner. Not only is it comfortable to wear, the Lelo Tor 2 is waterproof up to one meter, so you can get jiggy with it in the shower or tub.
Size: one size
- 6 pre-set vibrational patterns
- Comfortable to wear
- Can be enjoyed by wearer and wearer’s partner
- May not be as powerful for some
While many types of vibrators focus on a rumbling sensation, brands like Womanizer and Satisfyer are developing products that focus on using pulses directed at your clitoris. It's an entirely different sensation, to say the least.
"These toys use air technologies to create a sucking-like sensation that's intense," says Fine. "Many people say that suction vibrators mimic the sensation of oral sex." For dual penetration and suction action all in one, you can look to Womanizer's Duo ($219), or the widely beloved Tracy's Dog Vibrator.
Using gentle air pressure waves, Womanizer’s Starlet 3 stimulates your clitoris with its six intensity settings. What’s great about this device is that it’s made of silicone and is non-porous, making it easier to clean. Not to mention, the Starlet 3 is waterproof, so you can take your fun to the water.
Size: one size
- Stimulates the clitoris
- Has 6 intensities
- Some experienced difficulty with charging the device
Before getting into what exactly this is, it might help to address where your G-spot is located, and why you want to reach it. The notoriously hard-to-reach erogenous zone is located approximately a few inches deep on the front (or top) wall of the vagina. In order to hit the G-spot, you need a bit of bravery and innovation, which is where the curved shape of a G-spot-specific vibrator comes in.
"A G-spot-targeting vibrator is great for exploration," says Fine. "Arc, for example, is designed for both clitoral play and penetration. About 72 percent of respondents from our Dame Labs say they use internal toys on both their clit and G-spot. So having one that does both is certainly the consensus."
But ultimately, whatever path you want to take and using whatever type of vibrator you choose, as long as you find your final destination of pleasure, what you've done certainly proved effective.
Powered by a strong motor, Dame’s Arc Vibrator uses internal and external vibrations to stimulate your erogenous zones and hit your G-spot. Soft, easy to handle, Dame’s Arc is a joy to use. Plus, it has five intensity levels and vibration modes, so you can really customize your journey to orgasm.
Size: one size
- 5 intensity levels and 5 vibrational patterns
- Made of buttery-soft silicone
- Easy to handle
- 3-year warranty
Which sex toys are the most popular among women?
As for which are the best female vibrators, Story says vulva owners often opt for toys with dual-stimulation, such as clitoris and G-spot. “During intercourse, clitoral stimulation is oftentimes overlooked,” Story says. “Toys that are designed to stimulate the clitoris will strengthen one’s ability to reach orgasm but also create an overall enjoyable experience.”
Can a man use a woman’s sex toy?
Absolutely. Story says one of the great things about sex toys is that they don’t have genders. “While some toys are engineered to stimulate different anatomies, any person can get creative and discover new ways to use sex toys outside of what they’re designed to stimulate,” she says.
What’s the difference between a vibrator and a dildo?
A dildo is a phallic-shaped toy meant for penetration, and unlike a vibrator, it doesn’t vibrate. “Dildos are often made from silicone and can be used on their own or inserted in a strap-on harness during partnered sex,” Story says. There are, however, some vibrators that are dildo shaped and therefore double as a vibrator and a dildo offering the best of both worlds.
Are there vibrator alternatives?
The short answer: Yes, there are vibrator alternatives. Sex pillows, handheld shower heads, and a bidet (you heard that right) can all deliver pleasure and transport you to orgasm land.
Myisha Battle, sex and relationship coach and Allbodies partner practitioner, previously told W+G that regular use of a vibrator will not impact a person with a vulva’s ability to experience sexual pleasure. “Even if you use a vibrator every day, multiple times a day, your body will return to baseline a few minutes after each session or orgasm,” she says.
How to choose the best vibrator for you
With so many types of vibrators to choose from, narrowing it down to one can be tricky for some. The good news? Nothing says you can’t have a collection of different types of vibrators. More good news: Story has a few pieces of advice to keep in mind as you’re deciding what type of vibrator to add to your cart.
First, choose a versatile toy to get the most bang for your buck. “Invest in a toy that has multiple features so you have different options to explore,” Story says. “Whether that’s dual stimulation (internal and external) or a hands-free option with lots of vibration patterns and intensities.”
Also, opt for a vibrator made with safe materials. “Your intimate areas are the most sensitive which is why you’ll want to make sure your sex toys are made with high-quality materials,” she says.” Specifically, she recommends choosing vibrators made with 100 percent medical-grade, nonporous materials such as silicone. Bonus points if it’s also an eco-friendly vibrator.
Lastly, Story advises ensuring your go-to lubricant(s) is compatible with your new vibrator to avoid damaging it. As a rule of thumb, she suggests water-based lubricants for silicone vibrators and water-based and oil-based lubricants for vibrators made with ABS plastic or glass.
Ultimately, though, whatever path you want to take and using whatever type of vibrator you choose, as long as you find your final destination of pleasure, what you’ve done certainly proved effective.
- Herbenick, Debby et al. “Women’s Experiences With Genital Touching, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Results From a U.S. Probability Sample of Women Ages 18 to 94.” Journal of sex & marital therapy vol. 44,2 (2018): 201-212. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2017.1346530
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