Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

#AskJackie: Good Vibes

Anonymous asks: I’m thinking about getting a vibrator but I’ve never been with a boy intimately. I’m worried that getting a vibrator will ruin the first time that I’m with a boy. What should I do?

The myth that masturbation ruins sex is a huge obstacle deterring people from using sex toys or indulging in self pleasure. I know that at one point it discouraged me as well; however, I have since realized that this fear is unwarranted and that masturbation is, in reality, a very healthy process.

When a middle school friend first told me what masturbation was, she explained it as something that we should never do, because it would lessen our ability to be stimulated and therefore, by comparison, sex wouldn’t feel as good. She specifically warned against vibrators, because they were notoriously sex-ruining. As a result of this advice, I, like many others who hear this myth, stayed away masturbation even after I started to have sex when I was 16.  

However, this advice was very untrue. First of all, masturbation and the use of sex toys are very normal. About 92 percent of women masturbate regularly and 50 percent of women have used a vibrator at least one, either with a partner or by themselves.

Masturbation has also been proven to have enormous health benefits for all genders. It relieves stress, releases endorphins, helps you sleep, and can even relieve menstrual cramps. And, according to sex therapists, masturbation has no negative effects. In fact, self pleasure can actually help people to better enjoy sex.

People with vaginas often find they need to “train” themselves to understand how to have an orgasm, and there’s no better way to get to know your body than with a little one-on-one time with it. For this reason, people with vaginas who masturbrate tend to have more orgasms during sex. For those with penises, masturbation aids in lasting longer and helps individuals stay sexually active later into life. In addition, knowing what your body responds to and being able to convey that information to your partner can greatly increase the pleasure and comfort level of a sexual experiences.

Studies have shown that using a vibrator to aid in masturbation or a sexual act has no negative consequences for loss of stimulation. In fact, those who use vibrators score higher than those who do not on the FSFI (The Female Sexual Functioning Index), a questionnaire measuring sexual enjoyment in those with vaginas. All and all, getting a vibrator is probably going to help you have more fun during sex.

If you do still fear that using a vibrator might have an impact on your first time, it is important to understand that that the sensation you feel from a vibrator is going to feel very different than what you will feel with a partner (in my experience, most penises don’t vibrate). It’s not necessarily better or worse, but it will definitely be different. If you decide to get a vibrator, how different you want that experience to be is entirely up to you. Many people enjoy the combination of a vibrator with penetration to create additional clitoral stimulation.

There is an extraordinarily diverse selection available in the world of vibrators. The main difference is that some are penetrative, focusing on the G-spot, and some are not, focusing on stimulation of outer regions, such as the clitoris or the anus. Dildos tend to be used for penetration and are shaped similarly to penises. Some vibrate and some do not. Of course, there are many vibrators that do both and more, but penetrative versus non-penetrative will probably be the main decision you have to make when purchasing your first vibrator.

If penetrative masturbation isn’t something you’re interested in, then a vibrator that’s more catered toward outer stimulation might be more what you’re looking for. As a wise woman once told me: the clit is lit. These are words to live by when you’re looking for a sex toy. I find that most people with vaginas who decide to purchase a vibrator do so mainly to achieve this outer stimulation, because that’s where the vibrations tend to feel most intense. However, if the idea of something hitting your G-spot seems more appealing to you, then you might want to get something that penetrates. There are also products that offer combinations; “butterflies” and “rabbits,” for example, are great if you can’t decide.

I would suggest that if you do choose to get a vibrator that you do so in person. There are some great stores in the Boston area. Good Vibrations has locations in Cambridge and Brookline and comes highly recommended. Though the idea of going to a sex shop is scary to some people, just know that the people who work at these stores are super friendly, easy to talk to, and there to help you out.

Masturbation is a totally natural, healthy, and fun thing to do—and having a sex toy like a vibrator can really enhance that. Don’t let the misconceived fear of ruining sex get in the way of making yourself happy.

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