How to Use a Vibrator, According to Experts

A little knowledge keeps the good vibes going.

collage of woman with two vibrators
(Image credit: Future)

Of the myriad sex toys available on the market, vibrators are among the most popular—and not just because of their prevalence in popular culture (we're looking at you, Sex and the City). Vibrators come in all shapes and sizes, and can be used to stimulate the clitoris, G-spot, prostate, erogenous areas and more, which means that there's truly something out there for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, genitalia, or personal preferences. Being that there are so many options out there, though, it can be difficult to understand how to use these toys. 

Let's start with the basics: Certified sex educator Javay Frye-Nekrasova (opens in new tab) defines a vibrator as "a motorized sex toy that can used on the body, typically for sexual stimulation, by offering vibration or other forms of stimulation." These vibrations can often be adjusted to different speeds, patterns, and levels of intensity. Other forms of stimulation also include suction (often incorporated into clitoral stimulation toys) and bursts of air. 

LELO sexpert and NYU professor of Human Sexuality Dr. Zhana Vrangalova says that these sensations feel so good because "our genital areas contain a large number of nerve endings that are quite sensitive to different types of touch." Furthermore, she explains, "Vibrating sex toys are basically motors that run at different frequencies (low to high), creating a unique form of stimulation that can't really be replicated with other implements (like hands, mouths, genitals etc.)." 

And because people like to be touched in varying ways and spots, there are a number of different sex toys on the market employing unique shapes, forms of stimulation, technologies, and techniques. Below, we consult sexperts, sex educators, and more to unpack how to use each type of vibrator, 

Finding the Right Vibrator

If you're not sure which type of vibrator is right for you, Dr. Vrangalova suggests, "Ask yourself what kind of stimulation you enjoy with other implements (hands, mouths, penises etc) and how you masturbate. Do you stick to clitoral stimulation only or do you like to have something inside your vagina as well as on your clit? Do you like outside anal stimulation? Do you like things inside your vagina and/or anus?"

So long as you're not hurting anyone, there is no right or wrong way to desire or experience pleasure, she reminds us.  Founder & Director of ethical feminist porn site Sssh.com Angie Rowntree agrees, elaborating, "For some women, clitoral stimulation is the “tried and true” way for them to experience orgasm–because that’s just how their body is. It’s totally normal and ok if you cannot orgasm from penetrative sex alone, or actually prefer clitoral stimulation to penetration. By contrast, some women experience such an intense degree of clitoral sensitivity that they would prefer internal stimulation with occasional manual strokes of their clitoris—so literally, it’s 'different strokes for different folks!'"

Indeed, the only non-negotiable qualities one should look for in a vibrator are that it's "strong enough to be felt by our nerve endings, and made of a material that are body safe, durable, and easy to clean." Rowntree adds that safety is also paramount. "Don’t skimp on lube," she urges, "and don’t forget to clean up after to ensure hygiene and longevity [of your toy's shelf life]."

How to Use a Wand Vibrator

A wand vibrator is one of the most distinctive-looking and popular vibrators on the market. Frye-Nekrasova describes it as "a vibrator with a long handle and typically a round or oblong shaped head that the vibration is felt through." 

According to sexologist and Lovers (opens in new tab) sexpert Marla Renee Stewart, MA, a wand is a great choice for those who enjoy non-penetrative stimulation that concentrates instead on their clitoris. It's also fabulous for those who "want a vibrator that is not 'phallic' as such and can also be used to stimulate other external body parts (like teasing your nipples or gently massaging your partner’s back, etc)." She adds that wands "are quite versatile―not to mention intense!"

Frye-Nekrasova also applauds the versatility of the wand vibrator, adding, "You can use them for direct stimulation of genitals; you can use them for body massages around the shoulders and the back; you can use them for any and all erogenous zones, such as the nipples and inner thighs."

How to Use a Bullet Vibrator

According to Frye-Nekrasova, "a bullet vibrator is a small, handheld, typically cylindrical, sex toy that can be used for direct, pinpointed stimulation on the body." To be even more specific, sexologist and sexpert for Lovers (opens in new tab) Marla Renee Stewart says that this type of vibrator is typically "small in size, less than 2 inches, and typically oval in shape." 

And why is it called a bullet, exactly? Angie Rowntree says that it's precisely because of their traditional elliptical or cylindrical shape. However, she adds, "Nowadays, there are many types of bullet vibrators; some are a bit larger, some made for penetration, and some with attachments, so they've come a long way from the traditional small vibrating oval."

Rowntree goes on to explain that bullet vibrators, unlike G-spot and rabbit vibrators, are designed for external stimulation rather than penetration. "They are designed to provide targeted intense external stimulation," she says. "If holding a bullet vibe directly over your clitoris is too intense, try experimenting with indirect placement (like the top of the clitoral hood) or try holding it horizontally."

And if you're in the mood to get creative, there's a world of stimulating possibilities outside of the bullet's traditional uses. Frye Nekrasova suggests experimenting with using a bullet vibrator on other erogenous zones "such as the clitoris, nipples, perineum, and more for sexual stimulation. They can be used by just holding them directly on the area, rubbing them around the area, or using them over clothes."

Wondering if a bullet vibrator is the right sex toy for you? AASECT Certified sex therapist Shamyra Howard says, "A bullet is often recommended to people who have never used a vibrator before because it’s easily accessible, inexpensive, and provides fantastic clitoral stimulation." Meanwhile, Rowntree adds that this vibrator is a great option for those who are "looking for a toy that’s 'small and mighty' and not too intimidating to beginners, a bullet vibe is a great choice. Bullet vibes allow you to find all your sweet spots and really hone in on them."

Another advantage of bullet vibrators? Their subtlety. Howard points out that "they are immensely portable and discreet if you need to sneak in a quick pleasure break during lunch or pack for travel."

How to Use a Rabbit Vibrator

Rabbit vibrators are among the most popular sex toys on the market, but what are they and what do they have to do with rabbits?

"A rabbit vibrator is a classic sex toy that originally was designed with a long insertable portion for the vaginal canal and an outer clitoral stimulation portion that looked like bunny ears," explains Frye-Nekrasova. "Over the decades the designs have changed where some rabbits now don't have the traditional bunny ears, but they still have the dual stimulation with an insertable portion and an outer portion that touches the clitoris."

In short, a rabbit vibrator is a vibrator that stimulates both the G-spot (internal) and the clitoris (external) at the same time when in use. 

"To use a rabbit vibrator you are going to insert the longer arm of the toy into the vaginal canal (be sure to use lube to ease and enhance the pleasure)," Frye-Nekrasova continues. "You will adjust how deep the insertable portion is so that the outer portion touches the clitoris. Some rabbits are designed so that the insertable portion is adjustable to ensure that it hits the right spots for your body." An adjustable function is also great for those who don't like deep penetration or are still getting used to penetrative play.

But if you're having trouble getting the logistics of this toy right, Stewart says that there are options when it comes to using it. The first, she says, is "to make sure that you put the penetrative piece inside first, start the vibration, and place the other part on the clit and start that vibration." If that doesn't work for you, she says that an alternative is to "use the clitoral piece to stimulate the clit, and then when you're ready, you can put the penetrative piece in and start that one up." Remember, practice makes perfect, and every body is different!

When it comes to safety, though, Rowntree says, "To use a dual action toy safely, lube up and let the swirling shaft tease your vaginal entrance or pleasure you internally while the clitoral stimulator delivers good vibes. Again, this is a toy for both penetration and clitoral stimulation, not designed for body massage or anal play."

And when you choose your lube, remember to pay attention to what it's made of! Stewart points out that most rabbit vibrators are made of silicone, so be sure to avoid silicone-based lubes in order to prevent your toys from degrading.

How to Use a G-Spot Vibrator

The best G-spot vibrators can induce incredible pleasure for women who enjoy penetration, but first it's important to unpack what a G-spot is, how to find it, and how to use a G-spot 

"The G-spot is one of the most talked-about erogenous zones," explains Howard. "Most people want to know where it’s located and how to stimulate it." But this desire brings up the oft-debated question: What is the G-spot, and where is it?

"The G-spot is said to be a sensitive area located at least two to three inches inside the vagina," Howard continues. "One way to stimulate the area is by using a finger in the 'come here' motion. New theories suggest that the G-spot is actually a part of the internal clitoris. Some people report intense orgasms when this area is stimulated."

Not only does this information help when engaging in partner play, but it's also useful in understanding how those of us with vaginas can bring ourselves pleasure. If you're interested in exploring G-spot pleasure, though, the first step is gently exploring your vagina to find where exactly your G-spot is.

"Everyone's G-spot is in a different place, so just because someone says they found it by going 2 inches in and 1 inch up, yours might not necessarily be in that space," Stewart explains. "With that said, once you find your g-spot, then you want to stimulate it by providing pressure with the vibrator while it's vibrating. You can move it around, move it in and out, stimulating the outside of the vaginal canal, too. However, purposeful pressure and stimulation is best coupled with erotic breathing to help you relax and get you the orgasm you desire."

Frye-Nekrasova adds, "To use a G-spot vibrator, you are going to want to apply lube to the toy and then insert it into the vaginal canal. You can insert it and just leave it while it vibrates, or you can also repeatedly thrust the toy in and out while vibrating for added stimulation."

How to Use a Suction Vibrator

Stewart says that she specifically recommends suction toys for beginners. These unique products are designed to mimic oral sex by providing gentle (and often adjustable) suction and sometimes even air pulsations to the clitoris. In addition to more high-end, luxury sex toy options that feel like the real thing, she says that those who are on a budget or are unsure of what they like can " try something like a cheap traveling pulsator to see if you like it."

But what's the best way to use this toy, you ask? "For beginners with vulvas," she says, "I suggest using toys that are appropriate for their clitoral size and shape. Laying on your stomach and using a vibrator or suction toy is a great way to start. Once that feels good to you, then you want to go for the upgraded versions with more bells and whistles, such as the Womanizer Duo (opens in new tab), that allows you to feel all the feels through penetration and the air pulse."

How to Use a Remote Vibrator

If you're interested in expanding your sex toy repertoire or if you want a creative way of using sex toys with a partner, consider a remote vibrator. Frye-Nekrasova tells us, "A remote vibrator is a vibrator that is controlled by a remote control, which can be a small handheld remote or app-controlled from a mobile device." Thus, it's worth checking on how the vibrator is controlled before purchasing the product so that you can ensure that it meets your hardware needs (i.e., if you and/or your partner don't have smartphones, you shouldn't get a remote vibrator that's controlled via mobile app). 

The world of remote vibrators is also vast and accommodating. Frye-Nekrasova assures us that "remote vibrators come in a variety of designs from clitoral stimulators to dual stimulation couples' toys to anal toys."

And why opt for a remote vibrator? Howard says that these toys "work really well with a partner controlling the motions. Several app-control vibrators work well on dates and for people in long-distance relationships."

How to Use Vibrating Panties

Vibrating panties are a specific type of remote vibrator that Frye-Nekrasova explains "are designed to sit in the underwear and stimulate the clitoris." She explains, "They can come with a specific panty or be designed to fit into any and all panties. You use them by placing them in the portion of the panties that sits against the clitoris or other parts of the vulva you want to stimulate." From there, she says, you or a partner "can control the functions with the remote that comes with the panties or the vibe."

Dr. Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., who is a sexpert for LELO (opens in new tab) and author of Becoming Cliterate & A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex, further elaborates that some vibrating panties are controlled via mobile app, and that many standalone vibrating panties (standalone meaning that the panties are not included at purchase) employ "a magnet or magnetic wings that attach to your underwear like the wings of some sanitary pads." Other times, she says, vibrating panties can be "integrated, meaning that they come with underwear with a discreet pocket to put the vibrator in. Most target clitoral stimulation, but some can be used for either external or external stimulation."

How to Use an Anal Vibrator

Anal stimulation can be highly pleasurable for people of all genders, but it's important to be prepared before experimenting with your new anal toys―including anal vibrators. 

"The first thing you have to do to use an anal vibrator is get your lube," says Frye-Nekrasova. "The anus is not self-lubricating so you always need lube. The next important step is to anal train to get your anus prepared and ready to anal toys. Once you are comfortable and your sphincters are relaxed you will apply lube to the toys and your anus and slowly insert the toy. When it is in place and comfortable, you can turn on the vibration settings."

If you're unsure about how to anal train, check out some of our favorite anal toys we've compiled, including beginner anal vibrators and trainer kits. 

Frye-Nekrasova also reminds us, "It is important to note that it is not an anal toy if it does not have a flared base. Anal toys have flared bases to make sure they don't go all the way into the rectum and get lost requiring a trip to the ER." Rowntree seconds this point, adding, "If you want to enjoy vaginal penetration, do not use a toy designed for external use only (i.e. wand or bullet), and don’t ever use anal toys in the vagina. If you want to explore 'butt stuff,' definitely be sure to use toys designed for that purpose." Safety is sexy!

For more, visit our Sexual Wellness section, where we unpack topics around consent, kink, sex toys, and more so you can have your safest and very best sexperiences yet.

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