Shopping for your first vibrator is kind of like when Alice tumbled down that rabbit hole: a little scary and possibly confusing but ultimately a pretty exhilarating trip into a whole new world. Welcome to wonderland.

Vibration is great because the vast majority of people with vaginas require external clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm (or have the most pleasurable sensations possible even if they don’t lead to orgasm). Yes, there is an internal part of your larger clitoral structure, but a lot of people need to stimulate the little nub on the outside in order to actually get off. So vibrators are basically designed to make it as easy as possible for you to come. But given the number of options, how do you figure out where to spend your money if you’ve never actually bought a vibrator before? You read these five tips, that’s how.

1. Masturbate with your fingers first.

Maybe you’re like, Uh, yeah, I’ve done a lot of that, ready to graduate onto a mechanical version! But if you haven’t masturbated with your fingers first, see what feels good to you manually before you go looking for a vibrator. Getting to know your body is the first step in knowing what kind of vibrator might work for you.

If you don’t know where to start, try rubbing your clitoris in a circular motion or tracing your fingers up and down over your clitoral hood (the skin designed to protect this sensitive spot in the same way a foreskin does an uncircumcised penis). If you want more stimulation, you can try pulling back the hood and directly, very gently touching your clitoris. This can be a lot, so don’t worry if it’s not your thing. (Or if anything sexual isn’t your thing, really.)

You can also try inserting a finger or two into your vagina and curving up towards your belly button to press your G-spot. Do you like the mix of stimulation? Or are you more of an external or internal play person only?

If you have a partner and want them to be involved in your pre-vibrator exploration, go for it. Do you enjoy their tongue alone? Does it feel good when they stimulate your G-spot in tandem with your clitoris? Do you like one and then the other? Ask yourself these questions before you shop.

2. Shop in the right places.

Do some research before you head to a sex toy shop (or buy online). Luckily, sex toy shopping is no longer this seedy experience where you might feel like you have to wear giant sunglasses to sneak in and out of the store.

I always recommend sticking with vibrators that are made from materials like medical-grade silicone or body-safe rubber. (Here’s more information about the different materials commonly used to make sex toys.) Many places try to sell products made from subpar materials, so it’s best to go through a reputable retailer rather than places like Amazon where you don’t really know what you’re getting. Your vulva and vagina are too fabulous to touch them with anything that might not be healthy.

3. Begin with a smaller vibrator.

While perusing options, you may come across some humongous vibrators that seem intimidating. You do not need to purchase anything that would make your vulva and vagina close up shop if they could.
As a beginner, it might be easier to go with something small. Clitoral vibrators designed solely for external stimulation are typically tinier, still powerful, and even cute in many instances. I love the Petite Wand from Le Wand.

You can also buy internal vibrators or ones that provide a combination of external and internal stimulation. Look at the Jopen Key Vela: It’s smooth, sleek, and objectively not horrifying.

4. Consider starting with a budget-friendly vibe.

If you want to splurge on your first vibrator, by all means, have at it, especially if you know exactly what you like. Otherwise, you might want to start with a less expensive vibrator so it doesn’t feel like you practically just sank your down payment into a sex toy that does zero for you.

This is particularly important because various vibrators vibrate differently! Some have a more rumbly feel, while others are lighter and buzzier. You may find you prefer one style over the other, but you won’t know before trying. At the very least, check out the store’s policy before buying an expensive vibe to see if they allow you to return used toys that weren’t a hit (some stores actually do) or at least offer partial store credit if they can’t take returns.

5. Remember you can always buy a different one.

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that buying your first vibrator becomes a really stressful experience. We’re talking about a sex toy, emphasis on that playful part there.

So pick a vibrator that you find appealing and sexy. As you experiment, remember that this doesn’t have to be the only vibrator you use for the rest of your life. It can just be the first one. Once you’ve mastered this maiden voyage into vibrators, you can always expand your collection. There are so many amazing sex toys to try. Now go out there and make us proud.

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