Q&A: Pain From Using A New Vibrator

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QUESTION: I recently bought a vibrator in order to try some new things. The first time I used it, it hurt. Then the next time I had sex with my partner that hurt, too. Have I hurt myself with the vibrator?

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There are numerous causes of pain during intercourse and this is definitely something that you should ask your healthcare provider about if the pain or discomfort continue, or if it bothers you.

Vibrators are commonly used by women and men, and they are rarely associated with negative side effects such as discomfort, pain or injury.

Negative Side Effects

That said, vaginal sex, anal sex and masturbation – with or without a vibrator – can all result in negative side effects such as genital itching, burning, irritation or tearing. Mostly a person’s risk of such side effects depends not only on how they are having sex, but also what their personal health status is like.

For example, some women find that they are particularly prone to tearing if they have certain genital skin disorders or if their genital skin is thin, as occurs during times of low estrogen, such as menopause.

Vaginal Tears

If you have accidentally caused tears in your vagina, they will likely heal on their own within a matter of days, provided you don’t keep irritating them through partnered sex or masturbation.

Once vaginal tears are healed, however, women can usually return to their usual preferred sexual behaviors. The risk of getting small vaginal tears, often called micro-tears, can be reduced by spending more time enhancing your arousal before starting penetration, or by using a store-bought lubricant for masturbation or partner sex.

That said, it could also just be a coincidence that you experienced pain around the time that you used a vibrator and then had sex.

There are many different reasons why a woman might experience discomfort or pain, including medical conditions, and I’d encourage you to check in with your healthcare provider. Annual pelvic exams are recommended for all women who are sexually active or who are at least 18 years old, whichever comes first.

Learn More

To learn more about women’s sexual health issues, check out Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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