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My favorite multi-speed vibrator for people just getting into sex toys is the Silver Bullet vibrator. It’s only $10.
(Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m going to assume that if you’re reading The Wirecutter for sex toy advice, you’re just getting started. But we have more sophisticated recommendations later in this article, too.)
Electric vibrators are more than 100 years old. Yet they’ve only become mainstream in the past 15 years (thanks in part to the Rabbit being featured in a 1998 Sex and the City episode). And it’s only in the past decade that vibrators finally have some style rather than looking like hair dryers or cake mixers. In addition to adult bookstores, vibrators are now sold online as well as through women’s in-home sex-toy parties, drug stores, and retail chains throughout the U.S. Even Walmart sells them, albeit only tamer models.
With the mainstreaming of vibrators has come choices related to color, size, style, brand (Trojan, Durex and Phillips have all entered the vibrator business) and price (there are numerous vibrators available in the $100 to $200 range). The choices can be mind-boggling, making people wonder if price is linked to quality. Put another way: Can better orgasms be bought?
It turns out there are noticeable differences between vibrators and — as a sex researcher at Indiana University, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, and a sex columnist/author — it’s my job to know about them.
Based on research, product tests, interviews, surveys, and hearing from countless women and men about their sex lives, here’s what I can tell you: Most people who ask me about vibrators need help choosing a good beginner’s model – either their first personal vibrator or one to use for the first time with a partner.
If all you want is a great vibrator that isn’t a huge investment, and you don’t care whether it’s pretty enough to leave out on a coffee table for your in-laws to see, then a multi-speed Silver Bullet vibrator is the obvious choice. Here’s why.
First, it’s inexpensive. It features a multi-speed dial which is generally easier to use than the up/down, left/right arrows common to other vibrators — especially in the dark, while blindfolded, or after a glass of wine. If you or your partner is new to using a vibrator, or new to using one together, a multi-speed dial makes it easy to adjust the intensity and explore different settings. You’re also unlikely to accidentally turn the whole thing off, as sometimes happens with buttons, or controls that are on the vibrator itself (awkward).
The Silver Bullet has been my top pick for years. I recommended it in 2009 in my first book, Because It Feels Good, and my most recent one, Sex Made Easy. I keep recommending it, not because there’s nothing else out there (I have literally reviewed hundreds of vibrators over the years), but because I think it’s that good. And its value – remember, a $10 orgasm feels just like a $140 orgasm – can’t be beat. Nor are my students, readers and I the only silver bullet vibrator fans out there. A similar style – but with an adjustable slide rather than a multi-speed dial – has earned 4.5 stars out of 5 from nearly 100 reviewers on Babeland.com.
The Silver Bullet great choice for reasons other than its dial and low price. It delivers clitoral stimulation, and, as we found in a nationally representativestudy of women ages 18 to 59, more women who use vibrators use them for clitoral stimulation (83.8 percent) than vaginal stimulation (64 percent). And it’s not just straight women, either. Another study of women who have sex with women found that 92.6 percent had used a vibrator on their clitoris, while 73.4 percent had inserted a vibrator into their vaginas. Many women reach orgasm more easily from direct stimulation of their glans clitoris (the nubby part of the clitoris that sits above the vagina), which means that a vibrator designed for clitoral stimulation is a good bet.
More reasons to go silver: It’s versatile, being easily used during masturbation by women or men as long as it’s only used externally (never insert wired parts into vaginas or anuses). The silver bullet can also be slipped easily between two bodies, such as during intercourse, which is not the case for all vibrators. The Hitachi Magic Wand, for example, while popular (and intense), is not exactly known for being an agile or subtle part of sex play.
Also, Silver Bullet vibrators are small (Early to Bed’s is only 2.25 inches long) and not phallic shaped. Thus, men don’t tend to think of them as competition but as “helpers” (though, fortunately, we’ve also found in our research that most American women and men are vibrator-positive). It’s also easy to travel with (although remember to store the batteries separately to avoid accidentally turning the vibrator – and TSA folks – on). And you can dress silver bullets up by putting soft elastomer sleeves over the bullet or slip the bullet inside a massage mitt for more intense massages.
That said, there are exceptions.
If you’ve got the cash and you’re not a beginner — or have enough experience to know that you like clitoral stimulation and will likely like vibrations – go with the June 5, 2012
Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH is co-Director of The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University's School of Public Health-Bloomington, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, and author of five books about sex and love. Her most recent is Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered for Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex (Running Press, 2012).More Debby Herbenick.