Sex & Relationships

How to Find a Vibrator That *Actually* Works For You

A *ahem* handy guide to the different vibrators out there on the market, whatever type of stimulation you're looking for

So you want to buy yourself a vibrator. First of all: Congrats! Your reasons for seeking out a vibrator may differ: Perhaps you have trouble reaching orgasm through penetration. Maybe you’re looking to try something new with your partner. Or maybe it’s simply because lockdown life (and/or Michael B. Jordan’s OnlyFans announcement) is making you horny as eff. (The sexual frustration is real, folks!)

What you do know, however, is that you have no clue where to start. And we don’t blame you—it’s pretty much impossible to not feel overwhelmed by the vast array of vibrators that are on the market.

Before even considering adding anything to your cart, it’s important to remember that no two orgasms are the same—there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to reaching climax. In fact, a 2018 study found that only one third of women were able to orgasm through penile penetration, which means the majority of women can’t. (It’s important to note that this stat doesn’t include trans women). “Some people need glasses to see, some people need a calculator to do math and some people need a vibrator in order to orgasm,” says Carlyle Jansen, a sex therapist and owner of Good For Her in Toronto. Vibrators, she says, add more stimulation than a penis, finger or tongue can, due to their power and speed. They’re also excellent for those solo sessions when you’re just too lazy to use your fingers.

For first-time buyers: Figure out what feels best to you and where that is; the arousal areas on your body are limitless, says Katrina Marie, sex educator at Toronto lifestyle shop The Lake. “You can have orgasms in so many weird and wonderful ways.” Do some research and feel yourself out, and if nothing’s happening, don’t be discouraged. There are different ways to test what works for you. Evaluate your environment: Do you feel safe? Relaxed? Warm? Then, try pulling out a mirror, Marie suggests: “If you’ve never looked at yourself how are you going to expect to know what works for you?”

If you already kinda know what floats your boat, but are unsure of what to get, we’ve got you covered. Keep in mind that there are battery-operated and rechargeable vibrators. If you can afford it, opt for the latter as it’ll save you money in the long-run. In terms of material, silicone is best as it’s non-porous, body-safe and easy to clean. And finally, DON’T! FORGET! LUBE! The last thing you want is to have a painful experience. Note: Some silicone toys don’t pair well with silicone lube—they can end up damaging the material, so look for a water-based or hybrid lubricant to use with your devices. 

The Best External Vibrators

External vibrators are a crowd pleaser because they’re versatile and can generally be used “by anyone with any genital configuration,” says Jack Lamon, worker/owner at Toronto co-op Come As You Are. Here are some of the best picks depending on the area you’re looking to stimulate:

For clitoral stimulation

Most people think of the clitoris as that cute little nub on the frontside of the vulva. Newsflash: There’s actually *way* more to it than that. The nub, technically known as the glans, is the part that’s visible. Beneath the surface, however, is an entire complex of different parts, like the body, root and vestibular bulbs. “All parts of the clitoris are involved in sexual sensation and all parts are erectile, meaning they can engorge with blood, becoming firmer,” writes Dr. Jen Gunter in her 2018 book, The Vagina Bible

Some of the most popular clitoral vibrators on the market right now (e.g. Womanizer, Satisfyer, Lelo Sona) don’t vibrate, nor do they actually touch the glans. Instead, they use air pressure technology, which delivers a suction-y feeling, and gets deep into all of the erectile tissue of the clitoral complex. “A lot of people describe it like having an orgasm for the first time,” Jansen says.

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For beginners getting acquainted with their clits, Marie suggests a device that looks approachable (because, let’s face it, some sex toys just look downright terrifying) and “encourages exploration.” Soft textures, like the mochi-esque silicone used in Iroha’s line of vibrators, might be more comfortable for those with sensitive clits or those who have just undergone transition-related medical care. 

And of course, we can’t talk about the clit without shouting out wand vibrators. These have larger surface areas that rumble, which, according to Jansen, feels great near the vagina (to target the erectile tissue of the internal clit complex) or on any other external genitalia. Yes, wands may be a little too intense for some (Lamon says half of his clients love it, while the other half find it way too strong), but most of them can run at various speeds and patterns, unlike the original Magic Wand that only had two settings. “You can run them very, very low and get a subtle vibration, or you can run them at a much higher speed to get more,” Lamon says. 

For nipple stimulation

Yes, nipple orgasms are a thing, which makes sense since they are packed with nerves. A 2011 study also found that nipple/breast stimulation activated the genital sensory cortex in the brain; stimulation of the clitoris, vagina and cervix, likewise, activate different parts of this region. So yes, you can definitely use a vibrator on and around your nipples. Finger vibrators are ideal for this, and can be used anywhere externally on the body; look for one with a brace that wraps around the finger so you’re not preoccupied with trying to keep a grip on it. A small bullet vibrator with a pointed tip can also work well for targeting certain spots with precision. 

For penis stimulation

As Lamon says, external vibrators work well on any genital configuration, which is why he suggests Je Joue’s Mimi. “It’s a really cute pebble-shaped vibrator that you can use on the underside of the penis, the clitoris, the nipples, really any erogenous zone,” he says. For folks who are fairly comfortable with having a penis, both Lamon and Jansen suggest the Hot Octopuss Pulse range. It can be used whether you’re hard or not (because erections aren’t the same with hormone therapy) and works by stimulating the underside of the genitals via a little vibrator.

The Best Internal Vibrators

Internal vibrators are designed to be inserted into the body and also function great as a toy for the external genitals—G spot vibrators can be used on the clitoris or the underside of the penis, for example. Again, any internal vibrator will do its job no matter your genital configuration. Here are some suggestions.

For G-spot stimulation

There has been much debate about the ever elusive G-spot and whether or not it actually exists. During a 2017 study, researchers were unable to find the presence of the G-spot in 13 female cadavers—rather they found the urethra and vaginal wall lining in the location where the G-spot is believed to be. In her book, Gunter explains that stimulating the lower part of the vagina, close to the urethra, will feel good due to its proximity to the clitoris. So basically, exploring around that area will probably feel quite nice. 

For this, Marie recommends being patient: “Most people use an over-enthusiastic, bordering on aggressive approach to finding the G-spot. They tend to overshoot and miss the mark.”

This means not going too far in. “Try exploring the very entrance inside your vagina, and get to know what that feels like first,” she suggests. And if you’ve found an area that feels good, try adding in a device with a slight curve to stimulate that G-spot region. 

For cervical stimulation

If you just winced in pain reading this heading, hear us out: People with cervixes have reported climaxing by stimulating this notoriously sensitive area, which is located at the end of the vagina. The most important thing, however, is to explore this area GENTLY. “A lot of people hate their cervix being stimulated, but that’s often because they’re using an intense hitting motion,” Jansen explains. What you should be doing, she says, is pulling the toy out about half an inch, and inserting it gently back in. Since the cervix is located behind the vagina (it technically is the entrance to the uterus), a longer, as opposed to wider, device will be needed to actually get that far in. “You don’t need [anything] big to feel that pressure,” Jansen says.

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For anal stimulation

Yes, you can absolutely use a vibrator in and around your butt! A great thing about anal play, Lamon says, is that “a lot of different folks can engage in it and it isn’t inherently gendered.” Some crucial reminders before you go exploring down there: 1) You absolutely SHOULD NOT put something up your butt that doesn’t have a flared base—if you do, it can get lost and you’ll probably have to go to the hospital. 2) The anus does not get wet, so make sure you use an ample amount of lube before going to town. 3) Make sure you’re ready and comfortable to try it out. As Marie says, trying anything behind-related is like going from 0 to 100 in three seconds. “The butthole needs to be seduced for months, maybe years.”

If you’re new to exploring your butt, Marie suggests feeling around the external area with any vibrator you may already have in your arsenal that you would use on your clit—slide a condom over it first though or clean it if you’re toggling between front and back. “There’s so much pleasure around your [anus],” she says, which makes vibrators the perfect choice for beginners. 

For those looking for internal stimulation, consider a butt plug. “Most of the sensation inside the anus is around the first three quarters of an inch in—that’s around the anal sphincter,” says Jansen. She recommends the B-Vibe Rimming plug, which has metal beads around the neck of the toy that roll around, thus stimulating the anal sphincter. “It’s a very intense feeling.” Butt plugs, when used in an in-and-out motion, can also stimulate the prostate, which is basically a win-win. 

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People with prostates will also benefit from anal play—this walnut-sized gland is located just above the rectum and is said to feel ahhh-mazing when stimulated. This is where a prostate vibe can come into play. Lamon suggests the Vibratex Black Pearl, which has a curve to it and will definitely hit the super sensitive area, and can also be used to stimulate the G-spot.