The old-fashioned vibrators were pretty scary: Ten inches long with lifelike veins and made of a squishy, horrible material that made them alarmingly penislike ‑- except much bigger and much longer and much wider and ohmigod, is that what women really want? The answer is no. Then why were they created that way? Because those sex toys were designed by men ‑- men who, sadly, didn't have any idea of what turns women on.
Fast-forward to the 21st century: Now, most successful vibrator lines are heavily influenced by women ‑- and the first thing you'll notice is that most aren't even penis shaped. They're designed to stimulate the clitoris, which is outside the vagina, rather than for penetration. Yes, the "Rabbit," made famous by Sex and the City, is a firm favorite, but many women just turn it around to use the clitoral stimulator instead of inserting it.
The reason? Well, brace yourself guys, but only 20 to 30 percent of women can orgasm purely through penetration (without clitoral stimulation). In other words, your thrusting in and out alone probably isn't going to make the earth move for her. That means one of you usually has to use your fingers to stimulate the clitoris during intercourse, which is harder than it sounds. It's awkward: Your hand gets cramped, and it's hard to maintain the gentle, consistent pressure the clitoris needs when your hand is being pushed by the thrusting motion.
The solution is a vibrator. One of you simply holds it against the clitoral area during intercourse and voila: an orgasm during penetration. This takes the pressure off men considerably; it doesn't matter if the erection is a bit wobbly (and, yes, all men experience this at some point for various reasons) because she's going to orgasm anyway. I need to quickly add here that almost all women enjoy intercourse without clitoral stimulation for its own sake ‑- she's not just pretending to like it. It's just that it's difficult for us to orgasm from that alone.
There's another very good reason why you should encourage your partner to own a vibrator and not see it as threatening or as a "replacement penis." Simply put, women who own vibrators tend to have more orgasms than women who don't. The more orgasms your partner has, the more her body wants. So she's more likely to want frequent sex if she owns a vibrator than if she doesn't.
Lots of vibrators these days are partner friendly as well. The idea isn't to chuck them into the bedside drawer but to use them together. She can use one to stimulate your perineum (the smooth, hairless bit between your scrotum and bottom) or your testicles. And lots of guys love it when a woman holds one against the side of her mouth while giving them oral sex. So there you have it: nothing to worry about and everything to gain! Now check out my column on shopping for sex toys ‑- and which ones she'll like best.
Tracey Cox has launched her own sex toy line. For more information, check it out at www.traceycoxshopusa.com.