Good Vibes Coming At You

In Female Pelvic Pain by pelv_adminLeave a Comment

May is a great month. Summer is starting to creep in, which in San Francisco means more fog, but if you are a sex nerd like me then you know that May is Masturbation Month. An entire month dedicated to self-love and pleasure. In a prior post, I talked about masturbation in general, including the benefits and a basic “how to guide,” which if you missed it you can check it out here. When one discusses the topic of masturbation, it makes sense that another subject will pop up: vibrators!


The world of sex toys can seem overwhelming. You may not know where to start or what to look for. You may feel embarrassed. You need help, but are unsure who to ask. If you tried asking Alexa or Siri and found that they weren’t up to the challenge, fear not, because I decided to breakdown the different types of toys for self titillation so that you can celebrate Masturbation Month year round.


First, let’s dispel any concerns that no one uses sex toys. A study by Herbernick et al in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that in a sample of women age 18-60 approximately 52.5% reported vibrator use. The study went on to say that these vibrator users scored higher on most sexual function domains, which may mean better sexual function overall. For those business minded readers, reports indicate that the sex toy market in North America is predicted to exceed $6 billion by 2020. So, unless someone is making a pretty awesome sex toy museum, people are buying these things!


Ok, so I am not the only one buying a vibrator; how do I pick one?


It is important to note that not all sex toys vibrate. Some products that vibrate can also be used in other ways without the vibration feature. For example, a dildo is a sex toy that is phallic shaped and is typically used for vaginal or rectal penetration during masturbation or with a partner. Yet, some dildos may have the ability to vibrate. The vibration feature may be a consideration when trying to select the right sex toy for you.


Another factor that may influence your sex toy selection is its material. Some common sex toy materials can be: glass, plastic, silicone or metal. Most vibrators are made of the last three materials. The material is important for many reasons. First, certain materials are more porous than others. The more porous the material the easier for bacteria to set up a home and reproduce. Your sex toy should be for your pleasure; not for germs! Certain types of plastic and rubber are more porous whereas stainless steel is an example of a non-porous material.


What a sex toy is made out of is also important because certain materials may contain chemicals that can lead to skin irritation. Some toys, primarily those made out of plastic, may contain phthalates, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has labeled as a potential carcinogen. Don’t let that scare you; it is just important to look at the package the product comes in to determine what the item is made of. Try to look for something made with high quality materials like medical grade silicone. If you already have a device and aren’t sure what it is made of or it is made out of a porous material, you can place a condom over it to act as a barrier. Regardless or the material, it is always important to clean and properly store a sex toy after each use.


Another factor to consider is the shape/style of your good-time gizmo! There are many options, from a “rocket,” which is a small, battery operated device, a “bullet” which is small, oblong and considered the most basic option. There are some that have a slender, shaft-like appearance. Some are designed to only be used externally; whereas some can be inserted vaginally or rectally, and some are dual stimulators, which are often referred to as “twice as nice.” There are vibrators that fit in the palm of your hand. Some that can be worn over the finger-tip. There are even some that look like ordinary items like lipstick or even a rubber ducky! The possibilities are endless!


The Silver Bullet by Pleasure Works



A Dual stimulator by Je Joue


Image result for dame products fin

The Fin Vibrator by Dame Products


The intensity of vibration is also a consideration when shopping for a device. Many sensual sidekicks have options that allow you to change the intensity and in some cases the rhythm of the vibration. Think of it as being a vibration DJ. There are some products on the market that connect to your phone and change vibration to match the beat. What a time to be alive.


As mentioned earlier, sex toys don’t need to be reserved for solo stimulation. There are many options that can be used with a partner. Vibrating rings worn at the base of the penis is one example. There are some gadgets that come with a remote control that allow one person to control the vibrator while the other person uses it. Many of the options described earlier can be used with a partner as well, but keep in mind that sharing toys can increase the risk of transmitting an infection.


Finally, if a person has sexual dysfunction, a sex toy can be used as part of the treatment plan. However, during treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction a healthcare provider may recommend not using a certain device. Vibration may irritate nerves or the pelvic floor muscles being addressed during treatment. Always ask your provider if you want to use a product, but aren’t sure how it will affect your symptoms. Recently, writer Nicole Guappone has been sharing her own experience with pelvic floor dysfunction and sex toys. You can read about her experience here.


Still unsure if a toy is right for you or where to start? There are some great resources out there including the shops themselves such as Good Vibrations or Smitten Kitten. There are also subscription box companies like Unbound or What’s in Your Box that allows you to try out new products which can have you using #treatyoself on a monthly basis!


Bottom line, there are many options out there to allow you to feel good and embrace your sexuality. Either way, have fun and Happy Masturbation Month!



Other Resources and References


Queen, C., Rednour, S., & Lafrenais, A. (2015). The Sex & pleasure book: Good Vibrations guide to great sex for everyone.


Featured image posted with permission by artist Ben Cameron


What are pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that run from the coccyx to the pubic bone. They are part of the core, helping to support our entire body as well as providing support for the bowel, bladder and uterus. These muscles help us maintain bowel and bladder control and are involved in sexual pleasure and orgasm. The technical name of the pelvic floor muscles is the Levator Ani muscle group. The pudendal nerve, the levator ani nerve, and branches from the S2 – S4 nerve roots innervate the pelvic floor muscles. They are under voluntary and autonomic control, which is a unique feature only they possess compared to other muscle groups.

What is pelvic floor physical therapy?

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialized area of physical therapy. Currently, physical therapists need advanced post-graduate education to be able to help people with pelvic floor dysfunction because pelvic floor disorders are not yet being taught in standard physical therapy curricula. The Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center provides extensive training for our staff because we recognize the limitations of physical therapy education in this unique area.

What happens at pelvic floor therapy?

During an evaluation for pelvic floor dysfunction the physical therapist will take a detailed history. Following the history the physical therapist will leave the room to allow the patient to change and drape themselves. The physical therapist will return to the room and using gloved hands will perform an external and internal manual assessment of the pelvic floor and girdle muscles. The physical therapist will once again leave the room and allow the patient to dress. Following the manual examination there may also be an examination of strength, motor control, and overall biomechanics and neuromuscular control. The physical therapist will then communicate the findings to the patient and together with their patient they establish an assessment, short term and long term goals and a treatment plan. Typically people with pelvic floor dysfunction are seen one time per week for one hour for varying amounts of time based on the severity and chronicity of the disease. A home exercise program will be established and the physical therapist will help coordinate other providers on the treatment team. Typically patients are seen for 3 months to a year.

What is pudendal neuralgia and how is it treated?

Pudendal Neuralgia is a clinical diagnosis that means pain in the sensory distribution of the pudendal nerve. The pudendal nerve is a mixed nerve that exits the S2 – S4 sacral nerve roots, we have a right and left pudendal nerve and each side has three main trunks: the dorsal branch, the perineal branch, and the inferior rectal branch. The branches supply sensation to the clitoris/penis, labia/scrotum, perineum, anus, the distal ⅓ of the urethra and rectum, and the vulva and vestibule. The nerve branches also control the pelvic floor muscles. The pudendal nerve follows a tortuous path through the pelvic floor and girdle, leaving it vulnerable to compression and tension injuries at various points along its path.

Pudendal Neuralgia occurs when the nerve is unable to slide, glide and move normally and as a result, people experience pain in some or all of the above-mentioned areas. Pelvic floor physical therapy plays a crucial role in identifying the mechanical impairments that are affecting the nerve. The physical therapy treatment plan is designed to restore normal neural function. Patients with pudendal neuralgia require pelvic floor physical therapy and may also benefit from medical management that includes pharmaceuticals and procedures such as pudendal nerve blocks or botox injections.

What is interstitial cystitis and how is it treated?

Interstitial Cystitis is a clinical diagnosis characterized by irritative bladder symptoms such as urinary urgency, frequency, and hesitancy in the absence of infection. Research has shown the majority of patients who meet the clinical definition have pelvic floor dysfunction and myalgia. Therefore, the American Urologic Association recommends pelvic floor physical therapy as first-line treatment for Interstitial Cystitis. Patients will benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy and may also benefit from pharmacologic management or medical procedures such as bladder instillations.

Who is the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Team?

The Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center was founded by Elizabeth Akincilar and Stephanie Prendergast in 2006, they have been treating people with pelvic floor disorders since 2001. They were trained and mentored by a medical doctor and quickly became experts in treating pelvic floor disorders. They began creating courses and sharing their knowledge around the world. They expanded to 11 locations in the United States and developed a residency style training program for their employees with ongoing weekly mentoring. The physical therapists who work at PHRC have undergone more training than the majority of pelvic floor physical therapists and as a result offer efficient and high quality care.

How many years of experience do we have?

Stephanie and Liz have 24 years of experience and help each and every team member become an expert in the field through their training and mentoring program.

Why PHRC versus anyone else?

PHRC is unique because of the specific focus on pelvic floor disorders and the leadership at our company. We are constantly lecturing, teaching, and staying ahead of the curve with our connections to medical experts and emerging experts. As a result, we are able to efficiently and effectively help our patients restore their pelvic health.

Do we treat men for pelvic floor therapy?

The Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center is unique in that the Cofounders have always treated people of all genders and therefore have trained the team members and staff the same way. Many pelvic floor physical therapists focus solely on people with vulvas, this is not the case here.

Do I need pelvic floor therapy forever?

The majority of people with pelvic floor dysfunction will undergo pelvic floor physical therapy for a set amount of time based on their goals. Every 6 -8 weeks goals will be re-established based on the physical improvements and remaining physical impairments. Most patients will achieve their goals in 3 – 6 months. If there are complicating medical or untreated comorbidities some patients will be in therapy longer.

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