Prevalence and characteristics of vibrator use by women in the United States: results from a nationally representative study

J Sex Med. 2009 Jul;6(7):1857-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01318.x. Epub 2009 May 7.


Introduction: Although vibrators are commonly recommended by clinicians as adjunct to treatment for female sexual dysfunction, and for sexual enhancement, little is known about their prevalence or correlates of use.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the lifetime and recent prevalence of women's vibrator use during masturbation and partnered sex, and the correlates of use related to sociodemographic variables, health behaviors, and sexual function.

Methods: A nationally representative sample of 3,800 women aged 18-60 years were invited to participate in a cross-sectional Internet-based survey; 2,056 (54.1%) participated.

Main outcome measures: The prevalence of vibrator use, the relationship between vibrator use and physical and psychological well-being (as assessed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] Healthy Days measure) and health-promoting behaviors, the relationship between vibrator use and women's scores on the Female Sexual Function Index, and an assessment of the frequency and severity of side effects potentially associated with vibrator use.

Results: The prevalence of women's vibrator use was found to be 52.5% (95% CI 50.3-54.7%). Vibrator users were significantly more likely to have had a gynecologic exam during the past year (P < 0.001) and to have performed genital self-examination during the previous month (P < 0.001). Vibrator use was significantly related to several aspects of sexual function (i.e., desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain, overall function) with recent vibrator users scoring higher on most sexual function domains, indicating more positive sexual function. Most women (71.5%) reported having never experienced genital symptoms associated with vibrator use. There were no significant associations between vibrator use and participants' scores on the CDC Healthy Days Measures.

Conclusions: Vibrator use among women is common, associated with health-promoting behaviors and positive sexual function, and rarely associated with side effects. Clinicians may find these data useful in responding to patients' sexual issues and recommending vibrator use to improve sexual function. Further research on the relationships between vibrator use and sexual health is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Masturbation / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vibration*
  • Young Adult