New research sheds light on the relationship between sexual satisfaction and vibrator use in women with male partners. The findings, which suggest that communication plays an important role, have been published in the journal Psychology & Sexuality.

“This project started from us really wanting to come up with a fun collaboration for the two of us,” said study authors Stéphanie E. M. Gauvin (@GauvinSteph) and Lindsey R. Yessick (@LindseyYessick), who are both PhD candidates at Queen’s University.

“We are both working under the supervision of Dr. Caroline Pukall but we come from different research perspectives. Much of Stéphanie’s research is more focused on relationship characteristics, with a focus on how individuals in relationships script their sexualities, and Lindsey’s research focuses on sensation and perception, with a particular interest in how vibrator use may change sensory functioning over time. Given how common vibrator use is and how little research there is in this area, this led us to the perfect collaboration!”

The study, based on a survey of 488 women with male partners, found that women who used vibrators both alone and with a partner reported greater sexual satisfaction compared to those who only used a vibrator by themselves. Women who used vibrators in both contexts also perceived their sex life as having a better cost-to-reward ratio.

“The most important takeaway from this paper is that it may be important to consider vibrator use during both solitary and partnered sexual activity. It appears that using a vibrator during both forms of sexual activity is related to experiencing more satisfaction in your sexual relationship and a more favourable balance of the ‘likes’ you receive in your relationship relative to ‘dislikes,'” Gauvin and Yessick told PsyPost.

However, vibrator use was unrelated to sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, lubrication, and pain.

“Given that the data are correlational, we do not know whether a discrepancy between solitary and partnered vibrator use is causing the differences that we are observing across the groups. It is possible that the differences we are seeing are actually reflecting individual differences or differences in relationship characteristics,” the researchers explained.

“For example, sexual assertiveness and communication may allow individuals to disclose their sexual likes and dislikes (such as their preference for vibrator use) which may facilitate a more satisfying sexual experience. Indeed, our preliminary analyses also found differences between women in communication, suggesting that the relationship between vibrator use and satisfaction may be more complicated.”

In particular, women who reported using vibrators both by themselves and with their partner were more likely to agree with statements such as “My partner has no difficulty in talking to me about his or her sexual feelings and desires” and “I seldom feel embarrassed when talking about the details of our sex life with my partner.”

The study, “Picking up good vibrations: Discrepant vibrator use, sexual functioning, and sexual well-being in women with male partners“, was authored by Stéphanie Gauvin, Lindsey Yessick, and Caroline F. Pukall.