1/24/21 update. I published this post in April 2020. I’m getting so many questions about this topic that I’m moving it to the top of my blog.
Seniors often ask me, “What’s the best vibrator?” I’m happy to help, but the answer isn’t that easy. The question usually comes from people who identify as women who never used vibrators in the past, or who tried vibrators but never got attached (so to speak) to them. Now they discover orgasms are elusive, and they need an assist to intensify sensation, ramp up arousal, and reach orgasm.
I’ve reviewed more than a hundred vibrators on this blog over the last decade, and tested many more that I decided not to review. My blog reviews screen for the best vibrators for our age group and give you the pros and cons of each. Despite all my experience, I can’t tell you which one is “best.” That’s not an inadequacy on my part, it’s because the vibrator that’s best for you depends on many factors.
Your first step is figuring out exactly what you need. We’re all different, and your own needs and preferences will determine which vibrator will become your best friend. Let me guide you through how to sort through the many possibilities.
How Do I Get Started With Vibrators?
Start by answering these questions:
- How will you use your vibrator? I know, you’ll press it against your sexy bits to give you orgasms, but how and where? Do you want a vibrator that stimulates your clitoris? Goes into your vagina? Does both at the same time? Will you use it solo or during partner sex? Do you want it to double as a back massager?
- Do you care what it looks like? Some women want a sex toy to look like a penis. Others really don’t want it to look like a penis. Some want it not to look like a sex toy at all.
- How should it feel against your skin? Vibrators can be firm, flexible, cushiony, hard, soft, textured, smooth and any other tactile quality you can think of.
- How strong should the vibrations be? Do you want your vibrator to be quiet and whisper-light, turbo power, earth-shaking strong, or something in between?
- How much does noise matter? Will you worry that your neighbors in the next apartment or a family member in the next room can hear it?
- What size is too big, too small, just right if this is a penetrating toy? Sometimes a size that would have felt perfect 30 years ago is just too girthy and uncomfortable for us now, especially if we’re not having regular penetrative sex.
- Do you have mobility restrictions or other physical issues to consider? Is wrist arthritis an issue for holding a vibrator? What position will you be in when you use it?
- What else is important to you? This is completely individual. You may want it to be no-brainer easy to use: off, on, that’s it. Or you may relish multiple patterns, rhythms and intensities, and not mind a bit of a learning curve. You may want the controls to be comprehensible by touch without your reading glasses. You may want to travel with it.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start narrowing your choices.
Never underestimate the power of a good orgasm, whether it’s vibrator-assisted or not. At this time in our lives, catching that evasive orgasm can be difficult. Make it easier with the right tool!
How do I Choose the Right Vibrator and Purchase Online?
Read online reviews. I review sex toys from a senior perspective on this blog, taking into consideration intensity, ease of use, body-safe materials, etc. Click “vibrator review” and keep reading and scrolling until you find those that match your criteria. Links to order from the reputable retailers that I endorse are included within each review. If you’d like to compare several vibrators, choose a retailer from my advertisers and affiliates. (Find their banner links in the right-hand column of my blog if you’re using a computer, or scroll past a few posts if you’re using your phone.) These folks support me in providing senior sex education to you, and I’ve vetted each one as a high-quality, reputable online store.
The most entertaining way to learn more about some of my favorite sex toys is to view my webinar, Sex Toys for Seniors. In this 90-minute online class, I do a lively show-and-tell, covering these topics:
- My criteria for evaluating sex toys
- 8 questions to help you choose your personal vibrator.
- 5 myths and facts about vibrators.
- Show-and-tell: my highly recommended sex toys for seniors.
Subscribe to my newsletter for a special webinar discount!
You’ll also find a ton of sex toy information in my book The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty, including how to buy sex toys made of body-safe materials (the cheaper ones may not be). You’ll also find info on every other senior sex topic!
2. Enjoy solo sex during high energy times. When do you feel most sexually charged? When you first wake up? After morning coffee and a good poop? Mid-afternoon? That’s when to indulge in a solitary romp, rather than after a meal when you’re digesting or at night when your sensations are shutting down. When you feel the tingle, indulge it!
3. Create your own foreplay. Do sexy things that get you in the mood. Remember hot times with a special lover. Read erotica, play special songs, watch porn (or, if you prefer, a movie with a star who always turns you on), write sexy thoughts in your journal, take a waterproof vibrator into the bath or shower — whatever starts your path to arousal. Appreciate, decorate, and celebrate your body with lingerie, silk, velvet, massage oil, candlelight–whatever feels good and puts you in the mood.
4. Use a silky lubricant. Don’t just settle for the drugstore variety — there are many different varieties of lubricants for moisture and slickness that feel great and bring back the joy of friction, whether we’re using our hands or a toy. Experiment to find your favorites. Keep the lube within reach so you can reapply frequently.
5. Explore sex toys and other erotic helpers. Our hormonally challenged bodies may need extra help to reach orgasm these days, and our wrists may tire before we reach our goal. Women: try a clitoral vibrator, with or without a dildo, depending whether you like the feeling of a full vagina. (Read the many vibrator reviews on this blog to help you choose.) Men: try a sleeve, cock ring, or prostate stimulator. Lucky for us that sex toys for both genders are easy to find, fun to try, and wow, do they work!
6. Fantasize. Let yourself explore fantasy scenes and partners, no limits. Let your brain (your main sex organ!) indulge in whatever arouses you. Be open to whatever comes into your mind, even if it is something you would not do in real life or with someone you consider off limits. No fantasy is “wrong,” and no one has to know what images or scenarios turn you on. Just go with it.
7. Be physical in daily life. Walking, biking, dancing, yoga, Pilates, lifting weights, and other forms of exercise all enhance blood flow and get you in touch with your own physicality. This translates to your sexual arousal because the blood flows to your genitals as well as to your muscles, making arousal easier and faster. Plus you mentally feel “in your body.”
8. Realize that your solo practice not only gives you pleasure, it’s important for health. Experts recommend at least one orgasm a week for both men and women for genital health and for heart health as well. Weekly orgasms keep the pelvic floor strong and the nerves firing, boost the immune system, and reduce the risk of incontinence, depression, and heart disease. Men – regular orgasms are important for prostate health.
9. If you think you’re not in the mood, do it anyway. It’s too easy to put solo sex on the back burner, and once we’re out of the habit, it’s harder to get revved up again. This is especially true at our age, when our hormones are no longer screaming for release. So reread tips #1-8, and just do it. You’ll find that the physical arousal will happen, that that will trigger your emotional arousal, and that triggers more physical arousal, until it’s all working just right.
10. Don’t think of solo sex as “settling for” a substitute for partner sex. You’re celebrating your own sexuality, glorying in your body’s capability of pleasing you, and enjoying the journey. This is a gift you can give yourself whenever you want, and isn’t that wonderful?
(These tips are copyright 2010-2011 by Joan Price and may not be reprinted without permission from Joan Price. Thank you!)
Q: My man says I should reach orgasm “naturally” and not have to use a sex toy. But I just can’t come during intercourse unless I add my vibrator at the right moment.
A: I hate those “should’s.” Most women do not come through intercourse alone, and that gets truer the older we get. Point out to him where his penis contacts you during intercourse vs. where your clitoris resides.
And when he arouses you manually, which I hope he does, point out that he’s less likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome from your long arousal time if he incorporates a vibrator in arousal play.
That’s right, it’s not a choice between him or it — make it a threesome: the two of you using the vibrator together.
Q: I had two friends who burned themselves with sex toys. Aren’t they dangerous?
A: The cheaper ones are cheap for a reason. They generally have no quality standards in materials or construction — they’re called “novelty items,” and I don’t recommend them.
If your eyes widen at the price of the vibrators I recommend on this blog, consider that I only recommend safe products of medical-grade materials, careful construction, and the best design and function for our older (still sexually passionate!) bodies.
You’re paying for research and development and high-quality material that won’t degrade, melt, leach nasty chemicals into your body, break, overheat, or burn. That’s also why I recommend shopping in woman-friendly sex shops (brick-and-mortar or online) with an emphasis on health and education, like the ones I link to.
Q: You recommend going into a sex toy store and asking questions. But when I do, I see workers who are the age of my grandchildren! I’d be horrified to talk about sex with them.
A: I’m often invited to visit education-focused sex toy stores to help the staff understand our needs better. I’m always impressed by how well-trained they are already, and how seriously they take their mission to provide sex education to everyone.
We mistakenly assume that if they’re the age of our grandchildren, (a) they don’t know much; and (b) we can’t possibly talk about our sexual concerns with them.
But in reality, they’re smart, well-educated “sex nerds” — meaning that they find sex information the most fascinating topic ever. They have knowledge that will help us enrich our sex lives. They want us to feel comfortable asking them questions. It’s up to us to meet them with a smile and a question, and give them a chance to help us.
Please see my many other posts about sex toys here, including reviews of specific products, with links to retailers I personally endorse because they value people of our age and treat us well.
Note to retailers: Do not spam my comments section, because I’ll delete any comment that takes my readers to a retail site I have not endorsed. If you think you should be included in the retailers I endorse, contact me personally. Thank you. — Joan
8/18/11 update: I’m bringing this older post to the top because it answers so many of the questions about erectile dysfunction that my readers are asking. Michael Castleman is also one of the experts in Naked at Our Age and I respect his knowledge and ability to convey important information simply and compassionately.
So many readers–both male and female–have been asking for information about erectile dysfunction that I asked Michael Castleman, a sex educator, counselor and journalist specializing in men’s sexuality to answer some questions. His interview starts here and continues here.
Q: Explain erectile dysfunction (ED) and why it happens.
MC: Only a small fraction of men from age 45-60 have true ED. A larger but still modest fraction of men over 60 have true ED. True ED is the inability to raise an erection despite vigorous extended hand massage of the penis. True ED is usually the result of a medical problem, either a problem with the nerves that control erection, or more likely, narrowing of the arteries that carry blood into the penis. Like the arteries of the heart, the arteries into the penis can become narrowed by atherosclerotic plaques. Causes of plaque formation: heart disease, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high-fat diet, sedentary lifestyle. In other words, all risk factors for heart disease are also risk factors for ED. In addition, ED can be caused or aggravated by stress and anxiety, which constrict the arteries and limit blood flow into the penis.
Q: What about men who are capable of erections, but they’re less reliable than they used to be and require more stimulation?
MC: While only a fraction of men over 45 experience true ED, just about every man experiences what sex therapists call “erection dissatisfaction” (EDis). After 45 or 50 or so, men with EDis can still raises erections, but they don’t rise as quickly as they used to. They no longer rise from fantasy alone–seeing an attractive woman or some erotic scene. Men begin to need direct penis stimulation by hand or mouth. When erections rise, they may not look/feel as firm as they were in the man’s 20s. They may also droop from minor distractions, anything from donning a condom to hearing a motorcycle roar up the street.
The good news is that EDis is a normal and natural part of aging. If older erections wilt a bit, hand massage and/or oral stimulation bring them back up again–IF the man remains relaxed and patient with himself. If the man gets stressed and anxious, this reduces the likelihood of a return to fullish erection.
Many (most?) older men are unclear on the distinction between true ED and EDis. Many mistakenly think they have ED when they experience the normal age-related erection changes of EDis. Now EDis can be disconcerting. I’ve been a sex educator for 30 years. I knew all about what happens to erections after 50. But when those changes started happening to ME, I found them unnerving. P.S. Erection medication (Viagra etc) helps treat EDis. In fact, most men who take erection drugs don’t have true ED. They have EDis.
Q: Many men fear that they can’t please a woman without an erection, or they give up on sex altogether. Is an erection necessary for sex?
MC: Of course not. As you know, women’s pleasure organ is the clitoris. Many women prefer cunnilingus to intercourse. Surveys show that only 25% of women are reliably orgasmic from intercourse, no matter how vigorous or how long it lasts. So women know that an erection and vaginal insertion are not necessary or sufficient for sexual pleasure and orgasm. But many men DON’T know this.
Q: How did men’s sexual education skip that important concept that women’s orgasms are based on clitoral stimulation, and that most women don’t need penis-in-vagina penetration for their pleasure?
Most men get most of their sex ed from pornography. Porn is totally penis-centered. Porn actors have monster cocks, which makes normally endowed men feel they’re “too small.” Mainstream porn includes a bit of massage and cunnilingus, but it’s mostly about sucking and fucking, so that’s what men come to believe sex is all about.
I’ve spent my life as a sex educator and counselor trying to persuade men that they’ll have better sex and get better reviews from women if they ditch their preoccupation with their penis and focus instead on leisurely, playful, whole-body, massage-based sensuality. But compared with porn, which is viewed overwhelmingly by men and is by far men’s #1 source of sex ed, the combined voices of every sex expert on earth amount to a little whisper in the hurricane of porn porn porn.
Here’s where I plug my book, Great Sex. Its message to men: If you want great sex, if you want women to sing your praises as a lover, stop trying to imitate porn. In fact, do the opposite of what you see in porn. Not only will she be happier, you will be, too. You’ll enjoy sex more and have fewer sex problems–more cooperative erection and better ejaculatory control.