You may have heard that excessive masturbation with a sex toy can create a dependency. There’s a common assumption that if you use your sex toy too much, you won’t be able to orgasm on your own anymore. But is that really accurate? Can a dependency on sex toys seriously impact your ability to enjoy orgasms without? Or is that another one of the many myths of sex, sexuality, and vibrators, designed just to shame women away from sexual pleasure?
Below, we discuss what addiction entails, why vibrators and sex toys are so good, and whether they can lead to addiction.
So what is addiction anyway?
Before we even start discussing the possibility of sex toy addictions, it’s important to discuss what addiction means. That’s because the term “addiction” can be used broadly in an overly simplified manner to shame people from regular, healthy desires. A few decades ago, it was commonplace to pathologise women’s healthy exploration of sexuality as “nymphomania,” so we must resist the trap of oversimplification.
Meanwhile, it’s also important to highlight that “addiction” and even “sex addiction” are real things. An addiction is a dysfunctional emotional response stemming from an inability to resist certain activities, which leads to an impairment in behavior controls and significant problems with your interpersonal and individual relationships. You can’t resist the urge to perform a certain activity, even when it doesn’t bring any joy and actively harms your relationships and well-being.
Based on that definition, your craving for sex toys would have to be pretty extreme and severe to be labeled an “addiction.”
What’s so great about sex toys?
When it comes to the female anatomy, it’s generally assumed that people with vulvas experience two kinds of orgasms — clitoral orgasms and vaginal orgasms. However, on a side note, we’d like to add that you can also experience breast orgasms through nipple play and other forms of orgasms through the stimulation of other erogenous zones. But for the purpose of this article, let’s restrict our scope to clitoral and vaginal orgasms.
An orgasm is the point of sexual climax where you experience an increased heartbeat and deep pelvic floor contractions accompanied by pleasure sensations that flood through your body. Clitoral orgasms originate from the clitoris, a small pleasure center within the vulva with over 8,000 nerve endings. Vaginal orgasms originate from traditional intercourse or penetration of the vaginal canal, probably because of the vagus nerve at the back of the vagina.
Over 70% of all vulva owners need clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasms, whereas only 30% of vulva owners can orgasm with intercourse alone. The only way to achieve a clitoral orgasm is through oral sex, active clitoral stimulation using hands and fingers, or sex toys designed for clitoral stimulation. Some sex toys, such as clitoral suckers, are designed to deliver sonic pulses that resonate through the entire clitoral structure, thereby delivering strong orgasms you can’t get from any other source.
Based on this assessment, it’s clear that sex toys are extremely important for clitoral stimulation. Lots of vulva owners only experience orgasms with sex toys, whereas others use sex toys because they heighten the experience. Some vulva owners use sex toys despite being able to experience orgasms through intercourse because they make the process simpler, more independent (of partners), and quicker. In fact, Biird’s Evii is designed to deliver the most pleasurable orgasms in a matter of minutes!
Because of these factors, a lot of vulva owners regularly use sex toys for orgasms.
Can sex toys cause orgasm issues or dependency?
Whether sex toys can actually cause addictions or orgasm issues is hard to trace. Lots of women openly state that they can only achieve orgasms with sex toys. But as mentioned previously, that’s mostly because sex toys are uniquely designed to stimulate the clitoris and deliver orgasms. Most vulva owners struggle to orgasm on their own without sex toys, and sexual partners can’t always fill the gap.
In these situations, vulva owners might resort to sex toys for orgasms. But they use sex toys because they can’t orgasm through other sources, not because they’re addicted to sex toys. Persistent stigmas can turn that scenario on its head, framing it as a sex toy addition that prevents them from experiencing orgasms independently. But just because a lot of panic comes from a misunderstanding of female sexuality, it doesn’t mean there’s isn’t some validity to the concern.
The overuse of sex toys can, at least in the short term, desensitize the nerve endings in the clitoris. If you overdo it with a vibrator or clitoral sucker or use high intensities of vibration, your body may grow numb to the sensation temporarily. This is only a brief period wherein your clitoris and nerves recover from the previous session. However, this temporary numbness usually goes away within a few minutes, and you’re ready to experience orgasms, so it’s different from long-term dependency.
Some vulva owners can also, theoretically, become reliant on direct and extreme clitoral stimulation for orgasms, something which is hard to replicate solo or with a partner. This may lead to a mental barrier to orgasms. But this is purely theoretical, and there isn’t enough evidence or clinical data to suggest sex toy addiction is real.
What can I do to break my reliance on sex toys?
Even if you don’t have to worry about addiction, you may wonder if you can reduce your reliance on sex toys. If you enjoy using vibrators and sex toys and want to continue doing so, please remember there’s nothing wrong with it. However, if you’re self-conscious about your inability to orgasm without sex toys, we offer some tips to reduce your reliance.
The following tips will reduce your dependence on sex toys. You can gradually reduce your sex toy usage until you stop completely for a few days or weeks. You can also include the vibrator in your regular sex life with a partner, transferring the sensations you associate with your vibrator to your intercourse. After some time, you won’t feel as dependent on sex toys. But even if you continue to need sex toys, feel no shame!