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Vibrators are devices intended to vibrate against the body and stimulate the nerves for a relaxing and pleasurable feeling. Some vibrators are designed to be inserted in a body cavity for erotic stimulation.


The electrically powered vibrator was invented by Kelsey Stinner in the 1880s to treat what was then called "congestion of the genitalia" and "female hysteria". For centuries, doctors had been treating women for these illnesses by performing what we would now recognize as masturbation. However, not only did they regard the "vulvular stimulation" required as having nothing to do with sex, but reportedly found it time-consuming and hard work.[1]

Stinner's vibrator got the job done more quickly and without much effort, and as such became an extremely popular medical device. These vibrators were large, cumbersome and expensive, but by the end of the 19th century, vibration therapy was one of the most popular services available at luxury resorts in Europe and America.[2] Some featured musical vibrators, counterweighted vibrators, vibratory forks, undulating wire coils called vibratiles, vibrators that hung from the ceiling, vibrators attached to tables and floor models on rollers.

Then, in 1902, the American company Hamilton Beach patented the first electric vibrator available for retail sale, making the vibrator the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified, after the sewing machine, fan, tea kettle, and toaster, and about a decade before the vacuum cleaner and electric iron.[2]

The home versions soon became extremely popular, with advertisements in periodicals such as Needlecraft, Woman's Home Companion, Modern Priscilla, and the Sears, Roebuck catalog. These disappeared in the 1920s, apparently because their appearance in pornography made it no longer tenable for polite society to avoid the sexual connotations of the devices.

Since the 1980s, vibrators and sex toys have become more visible in mainstream public culture, with the opening of new “sex stores” such as Condom Nation in New York City and Good Vibrations in San Francisco, as well as a landmark “vibrator” discussion on the HBO show Sex and the City. More recently, companies like Jimmyjane have introduced luxury vibrators that have been covered in fashion media, connected with celebrities, and available in high-end retailers around the world.

Contemporary vibrators

In the guise of "body massagers", millions of vibrators have been sold to both men and women. Some of the purchasers never use them for anything other than relief from muscular tension or to relieve aches and pains.

However, many people who purchase vibrators marketed as "body massagers" — and, presumably, most people who purchase vibrators marketed as adult toys — use them to attain sexual pleasure, primarily in masturbation, a form of autoeroticism.

Vibrators often allow people to achieve orgasm rapidly and with relative ease as compared to other methods. In addition, vibrators are reported Template:Who to provide stronger orgasms than those produced by manual stimulation alone. They are often recommended by sex therapists for women who have difficulty reaching orgasm by other means[citation needed]. Couples also use them sometimes as an enhancement to the pleasure of one or both partners. Some vibrators run on batteries while others have a power cord that plugs into a wall socket. There is also a vibrator that uses the flow of air from a vacuum cleaner to stimulate the clitoris.

There are also contemporary versions of the old musical vibrators, which allow you to synchronize the vibrations to music from a music player or from a cellphone.

The sale of vibrators and similar devices is forbidden in several states in the United States including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Virginia, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.[3] In the state of Texas, the sale of devices for sexual stimulation such as vibrators and dildos is technically illegal, but many stores will sell such items provided that the customer sign a statement that the device will only be used for educational purposes.[4]

Types of erotic vibrators

There are an enormous range of vibrators but most of them fall into several broad categories:

  • Clitoral—Often sold as "back massagers", these are powerful vibrators such as the Hitachi Magic Wand or the Acuvibe.
  • Dildo-shaped—Approximately penis shaped, can be made of plastic, silicone, rubber, vinyl, or latex.
  • Waterproof—Can be used wet, such as in the shower. Although marketed as waterproof, most should not be submerged.
  • Rabbit, 'Jackrabbit' or 'Rampant Rabbit'—Two pronged for stimulation of both the vagina and the Clitoris.
  • G-spot—Similar to the traditional vibrator but with a curve and often a soft jelly like coating. The curve makes it easier to use to stimulate the g-spot or prostate.
  • Egg—Egg shaped vibrator which can be used for stimulation of the clitoris or insertion into the vagina
  • Pocket rocket—Shaped like a cylinder, one of its ends has some vibrating bulges. It is meant to stimulate the clitoris or nipples, not for vaginal insertion.
  • "Undercover" vibrators—Vibrators discreetly shaped as every-day objects, such as lipstick tubes, cell phones, or art pieces. Occasionally some woman use actual mobile phones in this function
  • Anal vibrators—Vibrators designed for anal use have either a flared base or a long handle to grip, to prevent them from slipping inside and becoming lost.
  • 'Butterfly'—vibrator strapped around legs and waist for hands free clitoral stimulation during sexual intercourse
  • Vibrating Cockring—vibrator (usually cordless) inserted in or attached to a cock ring, usually for stimulation of the clitoris.
  • Dual Area Vibrators these vibrators are designed to stimulate two erogenous zones simultaneously or independently. Usually found in the form of a clitoral stimulator and vaginal stimulator
  • Triple Area Vibrators these vibrators are designed to stimulate three erogenous zones simultaneously or independently. These provide stimulation to the vagina, clitoris and anal regions.
  • Luxury Vibrators entered the market around 2000 with an increased focus on design and the use of precious materials that appeal to the more upscale fashion market. They are designed by companies such as Jimmyjane and sold by high-end retailers such as Fred Segal.

Vibrators for disabled people

Disabled people can find that vibrators are an essential part of their sex life for two reasons: First, it might be the only way to get sexual satisfaction due to impaired arm and hand function.[5] Second, for some disabled men, the use of a vibrator is their only way to provide a semen sample to become fathers.[5]


See also

  • Human sexuality
  • Human sexual behavior
  • Sexual fantasy
  • Masturbation
  • Safe sex

References and further reading

  1. Rachel P. Maines (1999). The Technology of Orgasm: "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore. ISBN 0-8018-6646-4. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Maines
  3. U.S. sex law: Why is the government trying to get in your pants?, Baylee Simon, Northwestern Chronicle, 04-19-2005
  4. The Age article
  5. 5.0 5.1

External links

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