The legend of dead vagina syndrome has been spread around for years.
It’s had the blame for women’s lack of orgasms, it’s been used as a warning away from vibrators, and stories about its effects have been spread to put us off anything rechargeable for the rest of our lives.
But is dead vagina syndrome actually a real thing? Or is it a myth used to put women off solo sexual pleasure?
If you didn’t know, dead vagina syndrome refers to a massive decrease in vaginal sensitivity following use of vibrators.
The theory goes that if you use a vibrator ‘too much’, you’ll essentially build up a tolerance to clitoral and vaginal stimulation, making you unable to orgasm through any other means. If you continue to use your vibrator, say dead vagina theorists, your vagina will desensitise to that sensation, too, meaning your vagina will be totally dead and resistant to any kind of pleasure.
Sounds scary, right? And it kind of makes sense. Keep using one method of getting off and perhaps you will find it trickier to orgasm from other means.
But do not fear, vagina pals.
We spoke to gynaecologist Dr Shazia Malik for reassurance, and she told us that there is no medical evidence that dead vagina syndrome is a real condition.
Which means we haven’t screwed ourselves out of future orgasms by being a little overzealous with a vibrating bullet. Hooray.
Shazia notes that while the vagina can have decreased sensation after using a vibrator, this is ‘almost always temporary’ – and the same loss in sensitivity can also happen immediately after childbirth, following sex with another person, while breastfeeding, and even while taking hormonal contraception.
Research shows that in cases of desensitising following use of a vibrator, the effects usually fades within an hour. Studies have analysed the effect of vibration on the hands, and see no reason why things would be different when it comes to the genitals. Vibrations may make body parts feel a bit numb, but only immediately afterwards – not longterm.
Another study noted that just 0.5% of women report losing sensitivity for more than a day after using a vibrator. So dead vagina syndrome is hardly a common, looming cause for concern.
Instead what may be happening is that women notice they tend to come more easily from using a vibrator than from sex with a partner. This is normal, but is unlikely to have anything to do with desensitisation. We tend to be more able to make ourselves orgasm than another person, especially when we’ve got all kinds of high tech tools expressly designed for that purpose.
If your vibrator makes you come every time but sex with your boyfriend does absolutely nothing for you, it’s probably not because you’ve buzzed your bits off. It might be worth chatting through what you enjoy with your partner to give him the power to get you off.
And of course, if you can only orgasm when using a vibrator, that’s not an issue or anything to be ashamed of. Vibrators are pretty fancy these days, and they’ve been made for the express purposes of giving you a body-shaking climax. It’d be a bit weird if they didn’t work. But if you’re concerned that you can only come alone, go ahead and bring your vibrator into sex with a partner. It’s fun, promise.
Shazia also recommends increasing time for foreplay, with emphasis on clitoral stimulation – which sex with a partner can often fail to deliver.
Oh, and you really don’t need to worry about using your vibrator ‘too much’. There’s no strict limit on the number of times per week you can have a buzz – masturbating isn’t bad for you, you won’t wreck your vagina or kill off your orgasms, and there’s no shame in satisfying solo sex sessions.
As long as masturbation isn’t interfering with your daily life, your mental health, or your relationship, you go right ahead.
If you do notice a loss in sensitivity, don’t immediately toss out your vibrator. Try having a break from it to see if anything changes, then go and have a chat with your doctor or gynaecologist.
You deserve great sex and even greater orgasms. You do not deserve to worry about dead vagina syndrome every time you have a wank.