Buying Your First Vibrator, In 7 Easy Steps — Because Your Know That Purchase Is Not Refundable

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist based in San Francisco, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: how to choose your first vibrator.

Q: I’m looking to purchase my very first vibrator. I’ve never bought any sort of sex toy before, and I want to get a good one. I don’t want to buy some piece of crap that’s just going to break on me in a few weeks, but I also feel nervous investing a lot of money in a vibrator if I don’t end up liking it. And of course, it’s not like you can return a vibrator! So what can I do to ensure I get something that will actually work for my body?

A: This is an awesome question! As vibrator use becomes more widespread (currently, a little over half of all women have ever used a vibrator), women are growing more interested in buying quality products. There are a ton of crappy sex toys out there in the world, so taking your time and doing a bit of research is vital. Here are seven guidelines for finding a vibrator that will be a good match, plus some specific recommendations for my favorite products.

1. Figure Out What You Want To Use It For

The first thing you need to consider is how you want to use this vibrator. Do you want to use it primarily on your own? Do you want something that a partner could easily use on you? Or something you could use together? In general, I recommend that newbies to the vibrator world prioritize toys designed for individual use. It’s easiest to figure out what you like on your own first, before venturing into the world of couples toys.

Some of my favorite first-timer toys include the Minna Life Limon and the Je Joue Mimi Soft. I love the Limon so much that I include it in my online women’s orgasm course. Both toys have easy-to-use, unintimidating shapes that fit well into the hand, but still deliver a surprising amount of power. The Limon is an all-time favorite because it has squeezable technology, meaning that the harder you squeeze, the harder it vibrates. It’s remarkably intuitive!

2. Learn What Kind Of Stimulation You Like

The next criteria is to get a sense of the type of sensation that feels best to your body. The easiest (and most fun) way to do this is with masturbation! If you’re not a regular masturbator, try to get a sense of what you like by touching yourself. Do you like focusing on your clitoris? Do you like having a few fingers inside of yourself? Do you like G-spot stimulation? There are no “rights” or “wrongs” here.

Don’t be fooled by all the phallic-shaped vibrators out there — only 30 percent of women can orgasm from penetration alone. If you like the sensation of penetration, check out the LELO Mona II or the Minna Life Ola, both of which are also curved to hit the G-spot. Seventy percent of women require direct clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, so the odds are likely that you’ll want a vibrator that focuses on clitoral stimulation.

From there, you can try to get a sense of whether you prefer direct or indirect clitoral stimulation (again, masturbation is the key here). If you like touching the top of your clitoris, pretty much any vibrator will be fine. If your clitoris is too sensitive for direct touch, or the sides of your clitoris feel better than the top, check out the CRAVE Duet, which cradles your clitoris.

3. Meet Them In Person

Female-friendly sex toy shops have become much more prevalent in the last few years. If you live in a decent-sized city, you’ll probably be able to find a clean, well-lit, education-focused sex toy shop, like Good Vibrations, Toys in Babeland, or Smitten Kitten. These kinds of shops usually have most of their products on display, and allow you to pick them up, turn them on, and get a sense of their features. The sales associates may also be able to answer your questions or point out other products I haven’t mentioned.

Even if you ultimately end up making your purchase online, it’s nice to have had in-person experience with your new friend.

4. Read The Reviews

Another great way to find out more about your potential purchase is to read vibrator reviews online. Of course, every body is different, so what works for one woman won’t necessarily work for another. But reading a wide variety of reviews will give you a broader sense of the strengths and drawbacks of that particular toy. One of my favorite reviewers is Erica Moen of Oh Joy Sex Toy.

5. Educate Yourself About Safety

Something that not a lot of people know about the sex toy industry is that it’s highly unregulated. Many companies use legal loopholes to weasel out of having to use materials that are actually safe for the body.

Two easy guidelines to follow are to avoid any toys that say “for novelty use only,” or that have a strong chemically smell. The phrase “for novelty use only” means the manufacturer is billing their product as something that will never actually be used in or on the body. A chemical scent is usually a sign that unsafe chemicals like phthalates have been used. Learn more about sex toy safety here.

6. Consider A Programmable Toy

Vibrators are awesome because they create stimulation that just isn’t possible with the human hand. Unfortunately, this also makes shopping for them a little tricky. Even with lots of masturbation experience, it’s hard to know exactly what kind of vibration you’ll like beforehand.

That’s why I’m ridiculously excited about the Flex series developed by CRAVE. These vibrators are fully programmable by the user. You can plug your vibrator (choose the standard Flex if you like direct clitoral stimulation, and the Duet Flex if you like indirect) into a standard USB port, access their beautiful and simple interface online, adjust the vibrational patterns to your liking, then upload the settings to your vibrator.

You can play around with your choices, and keep changing them until you’ve really honed in on what your body likes best! It’s such an incredible feature for sex toy newbies who aren’t sure of what they like.

7. Make The Investment

Most premium vibrators will run you at least $100, if not more. I know that that’s frustratingly expensive (and not at all doable for many people), but most of those products are pricey for a good reason. A high price tag is usually (although not always) a sign that the company has used high-quality body-safe materials, builds their toys to last, and takes their products seriously.

Hope you find a keeper!

Images: Minna; Giphy