Steps in Choosing a Vibrator


Now would be a good time to go over an important statistic: Only 30% of women have an orgasm from intercourse alone, 70 -80% have an orgasm from a hand or a mouth, and 95% can have an orgasm from a vibrator.

Among the myriad of vibrators out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Well you’ve come to the right place. We’ll try to make some order out of the vibrator chaos.

Learn more about treatment options for orgasm challenges or low libido.

Which Vibrator is Right for Me?

There are more types of vibrators out there than you can imagine. Really. There are big ones, little ones, internal ones, external ones, strong ones, weak ones, soft ones, hard ones, long ones, short ones, vibrators shaped like animals and vibrators that talk to you! The only thing I haven’t seen is a vibrator that tells you the time, but I’m sure they are working on that! 

The most important thing to remember is that even though there may be a million “different” vibrators out there, they are all essentially variations on a few themes. So basically, if you are familiar with 4-6 types of vibrators then you have all the information you need and can pretty much assess the subtle differences and choose accordingly.

If you’re not sure which vibrator to choose, watch our Video Series, How To Choose A Vibrator, to learn more about the different types available.  

External vs. Internal Vibrators

The first distinguishing factor you need to think about is external vs. internal. That is, there are vibrators that are meant to go inside your vagina and ones that are meant to be used externally on your clitoris.

The internal ones are long and thin (or at least thin-ish) and are meant to go into your vagina. Some of them are penis shaped whereas others are not. It doesn’t matter. These are vibrators you would look at if you are interested in inserting something vaginally besides your partner’s penis. This might be because you don’t have a regular partner, your regular partner doesn’t have a penis, or you and your partner think it would be fun and exciting to watch you or him put something else into your vagina. Of course, I need to remind you that you never have to follow the rules with vibrators and you can use that penis shaped vibrator anywhere you darn please, but we’re just telling you what they are best for!

Vibrators that are meant to be used externally, directly on your clitoris, may be shaped like very thick pens, eggs or microphones. They may be curved, with wide cup handles. They are clearly not meant to be used internally because they are either not long enough and will get lost in the vagina or they are too wide and would be painful to insert. These vibrators are best if you want clitoral stimulation (usually for orgasm).

They can be used alone or with your partner, either with you holding the vibrator or with your partner holding it. Often these vibrators make it easier to have an orgasm than with a hand or mouth.

Actually, now would be a good time to repeat an important statistic: Only 30% of women have an orgasm from intercourse alone, 70 -80% have an orgasm from a hand or a mouth, and 95% can have an orgasm from a vibrator.

So you can see why using an external vibrator might be an attractive option.

Plug-In vs. Battery Operated

Another distinction you want to make is plug-in versus battery operated. Battery operated vibrators tend to be smaller, cuter, and subtle. The plugin ones tend to be much bigger, bulkier, and “in your face.” So, many women gravitate towards the small battery ones. The important thing to keep in mind is that the plugin models are significantly stronger, so if one of the reasons you’re considering using a vibrator is because you are having trouble having an orgasm, it’s taking too long, or they are not strong enough, you may want to consider a plug- in or chargeable one.

Vibrator Strength

You’ll also need to decide at some point how strong a vibrator you need. Every woman needs her own level of stimulation, so it’s difficult to know without trying them exactly what type of strength you will need. Generally vibrator strength is ranked at a 1-5 strength level, with 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest. The only thing to keep in mind is that most women underestimate the intensity level they will need. I haven’t figured out why this is, but it’s a good thing to be aware of.

Okay– that’s it. Internal vs. external, battery operated vs. plug-in, gentle vs. strong. Pretty much you’ve got the lay of the land now.

Choosing an Internal Vibrator

Internal vibrators are meant to be used inside your vagina. That doesn’t mean that people haven’t found unique and interesting variations on how to use them, but most people buy them for that. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and levels of realism. First of all, you should figure out what width looks good to you. Some women love having something very wide that makes them feel full and even stretched. Some women don’t like that feeling at all, and prefer something more slender.

You also have to decide how long you want the vibrator to be, but for the most part, a 6-7 inch vibrator is long enough for most women. Although the longer ones may look like fun, most women can’t insert them much farther than 5-6 inches so you may want to take that into consideration.

Another consideration is how realistic you want your vibrator to be. Long thin vibrators can be sleek and smooth, looking more like a space age, over-sized lipstick dispenser than a penis. Or they can be shaped to look like a penis. The ones that are penis shaped can look more or less realistic, with some in skin tone shades with testicles and others in pink or purple plastic.

One of the things to think about if you are buying an internal vibrator is how your partner will react. Some partners love the idea of another realistic penis penetrating their partner’s vagina. Others find it discomfiting and don’t like it at all. So you might want to discuss this issue with your partner and take their opinion into consideration if you are planning on using it with them.

Some internal vibrators are bendable which can make for more comfortable insertion and use.

You should also take into consideration whether or not your vibrator is waterproof since some women or couples like playing with them in the bath or shower. Please make sure you never, ever take a vibrator into the shower or bath unless it is specifically marked to do so. You could get electrocuted, and no orgasm is worth that! However, a significant number of vibrators are specifically marketed to go into water and so if that’s fun for you, keep that in mind.

There are also internal vibrators which are fashioned with an additional component to use on the clitoris. The famous “rabbit,” as presented on Sex in the City, popularized these. These types of vibrators have come a long way from the first models which had clunky cords and noisy operating systems, but be wary, because they have so many moving parts (the penis and the clitoral stimulator separately) models often break easily.

Think about strength as well. Internal vibrators are pretty much battery operated and tend to be not-so-strong.  Between 1-5, they usually rank between a 1- 3 in strength.

Finally take into consideration the material of the vibrator and how they should be cleaned. Some are hard plastic and can just be washed with soap and water; others need to be cleaned with special cleaners.

Choosing an External Vibrator

External vibrators are meant to be used outside the vagina, generally on the clitoris. They come in battery operated or plugin models. The battery operated ones tend to be smaller, subtler, and less “in your face.” Some are even fitted to go on the penis. The plug-in models are bigger and way more noticeable. They are also much stronger and therefore more likely to help you have an orgasm if that’s been a problem for you. There are three things to consider when choosing an external vibrator: strength, appearance, and noise level.

By far the most important factor to consider is the strength. Vibrators are generally rated on strength level 1-5, with 1 being the weakest and 5 the strongest. Every woman is different in the amount of pressure, stimulation, and speed she finds arousing. Generally speaking, younger women prefer lighter or weaker vibrators and older women prefer the stronger ones. However, this is one of those cases where really and truly each woman needs to find out what feels good to her individually.

Most of the external vibrators are on the smaller side and, as a rule, are battery operated. Although battery operated vibrators can get pretty strong (ranked a 4), they are not ever as strong as the plugin models, and the batteries tend to drain fairly quickly. If you’re using a battery operated vibrator make sure you have a large supply of AA batteries on hand and if a vibrator feels “weaker than it used to,” it is probably a signal to replace the batteries.

The plug-in models are big. Period. The most famous and popular model is the Hitachi Magic Wand. That is sold in drugstores or online and can be bought as a back massager. The problem with plug- in models is that they have plugs, or more specifically, it’s irritating to have a cord to contend with while you and your partner are writhing in bed. Recently, some chargeable ones have been developed that are significantly stronger.

External vibrators can be cute, funky looking, and subtle. They also can be “in your face” and quite noticeable, so take your time picking one out. You’ll have to live with it for a while. One particular line of vibrators that we like is Natural Contours, because they are so pretty and subtle.

The last thing to keep in mind is noise level. Some women are really sensitive to any noise and others, less so. If you are one of those women who will start to giggle at the first buzz, you might want to consider a quieter one (although frankly, we’ve found that with regular use the giggles go away pretty fast). I often have women asking me about how they can use a vibrator if “my kids are in the next room.” Even the big, heavy duty plug- in ones, which tend to be the loudest, are generally too quiet to be heard through a wall or a door. I know it sounds loud to you, where you are, but here’s what I tell my patients: Turn the vibrator on in your bedroom, cover it with a blanket and go outside your bedroom with the door closed. Hear anything? I’ve never had anyone tell me that they had. Next try it without the blanket on top. This should relax you and let you use them without worrying about what your kids are going to hear.

If you are having trouble with orgasms, I would highly recommend that you immediately go to a stronger vibrator. Choose a plugin model. Some women (young or old) just need the regular, strong stimulation that a vibrator can give and a strong, plugin model is the best way to achieve this.

Our Top Picks

Here are some of our favorite vibrators. We’ve created this list with an eye towards getting you the biggest bang for your buck. While there are super-fabulous vibrators out there, many of them are super-fabulously-expensive as well. To be honest, we’re often not sure that the extra $100-$200 really makes that big a difference in the user experience. So, while we do believer that in life “you get what you pay for” we’re not sure that really applies to vibrators.

With that in mind, we’ve listed some of our current favorites here and hope that will work as a starting point for you in your exploration of vibrators. If you are not sure what some of the terms here mean, go back to the explanations above. It’s all there!

Happy Vibrating!

Internal Vibrators

  • Aria by Luminance – This vibrator is not penis-shaped, it’s medium size in diameter and the material on it is soft.
  • Inspire by Sinclair – This vibrator is not penis shaped, it’s quite large in diameter and the material around it is soft.
  • I-Vibe Rabbit by Doc Johnson – This vibrator is penis shaped and comes in two sizes, L and S. It is jelly-like and the penis rotates.

Small External Vibrators

  • Jolie by Natural Contours – This vibrator is slightly larger than a lipstick but, given that it is battery operated, it is quite powerful.
  • Natural Contours Superbe – This battery operated vibrator fits in your hand (and in your purse!). It is quiet and is shaped to fit the contours of a woman’s body. 

Large External Vibrators

Plug Ins

  • Bodywand – This vibrator has a large head and because it has a revolving switch, you have a great deal of control over the intensity.
  • Hitachi Magic Wand – This vibrator is the old favorite and for good reason. It’s got an easy on and off switch with just two speeds, strong and stronger. It has a a large head and more power than any other vibrator we know.


  • Hitachi Magic Wand – Like it’s plug-in namesake, it’s got an easy on and off switch with just two speeds, strong and stronger. It has a large head and more power than any other chargeable vibrator.
  • Bodywand – This vibrator has a large head and because it has a revolving switch, you have a great deal of control over the intensity.
  • Lush Wand – This vibrator is smaller than the other two listed here and covered in soft padding material. This is a favorite because it’s extremely powerful for a smaller unit.
  • Womanizer – This vibrator is unique as it offers touchless suction stimulation of the clitoris (prevents overstimulation). There are numerous styles, levels of intensity, it’s waterproof, and has exchangeable silicone heads.


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