Vibrators can create different types of sexual stimulation, which can be beneficial when there is decreased sexual sensation, low libido or an inability to enjoy orgasm.
“Using a slim vibrator can help to stretch the tissues of the vagina to enable penetration without pain and the vibrations increase blood flow to the walls of the vagina, promoting healing, stimulating nerves and improving lubrication,” adds Evans.
Some medications can also impact upon sexual function and pleasure in both men and women, including cancer treatments, antidepressants, antihistamines, and blood pressure and heart medicines.
Dr Stephanie de Giorgio, a GP with a special interest in women’s health, recommends the use of sex toys for certain health issues.
“One unexpected benefit of sex toy use, seen in a study of menopausal women, was an improvement in sleep and overnight menopausal sweating”, she says. “There is also some evidence that the use of slim internal vibrators with plenty of good-quality vaginal lubricant can help to increase blood flow to the vaginal area, improving the symptoms of some vaginal conditions. Some research suggests that women prefer to use slim vaginal vibrators rather than the more clinical dilators that are often prescribed. This can complement other treatments that may be recommended, such as local anesthetic gels, medication and psychological therapies.”
Former nurse Samantha Evans is co-founder and managing director of sex toy company Jo Divine. She says an increasing number of customers are looking for products to help with specific health conditions:
“Sex toys can be helpful in the treatment of menopausal symptoms such as vaginal atrophy; vulval/vaginal pain and tightness (due to veganism’s, vulvodynia, lichen sclerosis, gynae cancer treatments, and surgical interventions; neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis; lack of arousal, and low libido.”
Some medications can also impact sexual function and pleasure in both men and women, including cancer treatments, antidepressants, antihistamines, and blood pressure, and heart medicines.
The sex toy industry is abuzz with ‘good vibrations’ and the purchase and use of sex toys are becoming ever more mainstream. Studies conducted at Indiana University in the USA found that 53% of women and 45% of men aged between 18-65 years had used a vibrator, and that vibrator use is associated with improved sexual function and being more proactive about sexual health. As well as offering pleasure and fun, sex toys can be a useful adjunct to medical treatment.
“Using sex toys to enhance sexual pleasure and orgasm can help you to sleep, boost immunity, relieve pain, reduce stress, and boost your brainpower,” comments Evans. “And age is not a barrier. One lady told us she enjoyed her first orgasm at 70 using a sex toy. They have few side-effects, unlike medication, and can help many women enjoy clitoral orgasms and G-spot orgasms, something they may not have achieved before. Sex toys can also help people continue to enjoy sexual intimacy and pleasure when penetrative sex is not possible.”
For both men and women, one benefit of introducing sex toys into the dynamic is to open up a dialogue about sex and what they enjoy as individuals and a couple.
“It may be something that they haven’t tried before due to embarrassment or fear of purchasing items, but expert advice is available,” says de Giorgio, “and they may find that their sex lives benefit from this new openness.”
Help and advice
“Jelly and rubber are both porous, therefore difficult to clean, and they degrade over time, so avoid those and latex. Also invest in a pH-balanced lubricant,” she says. “Customers sometimes buy inappropriate products to resolve their issue, which they are unable to use, so I always advise people to call us to find out which sex toy would be suitable; what you need is totally dependent upon your health condition.”
When choosing a sex toy, Evans recommends ‘skin-safe’ products made from silicone, toughened glass, metal or ABS plastic, as some are made from materials that may be detrimental to sexual health.