I’m a sex writer who test-drives then writes about sex toys.

So, when the term “dead vagina syndrome” was getting tossed around the internet to describe vibrator-induced nether region numbness, I wondered: Do I need workers’ comp? Should I cut back on the buzz?

I called up my go-to sex and vulva experts to help answer this very important question: Could too much quality time with vibrators actually desensitize my clit or mess with any other part of my vagina?

The answer? No, your vibe isn’t going to wreck your V

According to professional sexologist Jill McDevitt, PhD, with CalExotics, “dead vagina syndrome” is a nonmedical, fear-mongering term invented by people who don’t really understand female masturbation, orgasms, pleasure, or vaginal and vulvar anatomy.

The folks who endorse this faux diagnosis may even be worse than the ones who say they “don’t believe in lube” (cue eye roll).

“Society feels and teaches women to feel uncomfortable with the idea of women experiencing pleasure for the sake of pleasure and getting themselves off,” McDevitt says. As a result, “Folks with vulvas are told that a vibrator will ‘ruin’ them for partnered sex and that they’ll be unable to orgasm in any other way,” she adds. But this is stigma, not science, speaking.

“It’s a complete myth that you can desensitize your vagina or clitoris from using a vibrator,” says Dr. Carolyn DeLucia, FACOG, who’s based in Hillsborough, New Jersey. And same for vibes with more vroom than a lawn mower (trust me, I know some of those power settings are more intense than you’d think).

“There should be no problem or numbness from vibrators that operate at a really high vibrator pattern or intensity,” DeLucia says. Basically, the Hitachi wand is doctor-approved. You can use it all you want — unless it legitimately hurts or you’re uncomfortable for any reason, of course.

There was even a small study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine that found that vibrators don’t have a numbing effect. The majority of vibrator users reported zip, zilch, zero adverse or negative symptoms in their genitals as a consequence.

In fact, contrary to the beliefs of vibrator alarmists, there was overwhelming evidence that vibrator use contributed to positive outcomes. These included:

  • orgasm
  • increased lubrication
  • decreased pain
  • a greater likelihood of seeking gynecological checkups

So vibe away, folks.

McDevitt does point out that in the study, “There were a few who reported numbing sensation, [but] said that feeling went away within a day.”

Clinical sexologist Megan Stubbs, Ed.D, compares temporary numbness after vibrator use to the numbness your arm might experience after cutting grass or holding a Theragun. “It doesn’t last forever. With any kind of intense stimulation, your body just needs some time to reset and recover,” she says. Same goes for sex. Great news for vibrator lovers.

If you’re numb, the vice still isn’t your vibe

If you’re a regular vibrator user and notice a loss in sensitivity, Stubbs says it’s likely something else and not your handheld buzzer to blame.

Even worrying that your vibrator is going to interfere with your ability to enjoy tech-free partnered sex could be what’s keeping you from getting off.

“For folks with vulvas, so much of the orgasm comes from the brain, and stress about orgasming is a major roadblock,” McDevitt says. Yep, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Still, DeLucia suggests booking an appointment with your OB-GYN if you’re experiencing numbness of the clitoris, vulva, or another part of your vagina. Things like stress, depression, medication, or another underlying health condition can all squash your sensitivity, so it’s important to find out what’s desensitizing you downstairs.

Still can’t orgasm during partnered sex?

First, breathe. That’s normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong.

“Only about 10 percent of women climax easily,” DeLucia says. “And most women aren’t able to climax with/from penetrative sex alone and need direct clitoral stimulation to climax.” So, sometimes vibrators are more effective because they provide that stimulation and then some.

DeLucia says that’s actually why some women are able to orgasm with the toy but not a partner. It’s not the touch that’s interfering with the O, exactly; it’s the place of touch, she says.

So, if your clit is typically kicked to the sidelines during game time (aka penetrative sex), bring that baby in for backup.

That may mean using your hand or asking your partner to use their hand. But it may also mean bringing in your buzzy boo into the mix, too. Either way, just make sure your clitoris is getting some attention so you can get off.

“I know nobody is pulling a vibrator out during movie sex, but movie sex isn’t real-life sex!,” Stubbs says. “Many women do require a vibe to get off with their partners, and nobody should ever, ever shame you for that.”

Vibe shame? Not in my house.

The takeaway

The good news is you don’t need to worry about vibrator-induced numbness.

The bad news? “The issue usually isn’t about numbness or desensitizing. The issue is people’s discomfort with females’ pleasure and misunderstandings of anatomy,” McDevitt says. The stigma of female pleasure may be lessening, but we still have a ways to go.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy that vibrator for as long (or for as many orgasms) as you want.


Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tried the Whole30 challenge, and eaten, drunk, brushed with, scrubbed with, and bathed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.