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Ask the Relationships Editor

How to Choose a Vibrator

I'm often asked how to go about purchasing a vibrator — probably because buying a solo sex toy isn't an easy task. Even if you're not apt to blush when purchasing an item at your local drug store or sex shop, it's not always so simple to choose one in the first place, especially if you've never done so before.

There's a great deal to consider when shopping vibes: the size and shape of the toy (you may prefer something less phallic, especially if you are a vibrator newbie, or if you plan to use it during sex with your man), the materials it's made with, the strength of the vibrator and what you plan to use the vibrator for (solo, with your partner, internally, externally).

I consulted Ethan Imboden, founder of elegant sex toy brand Jimmyjane (which makes two of my recommended vibrator picks below), on how to go about shopping for sex toys. ...Read More

For first-time vibrator buyers, Imboden suggests “something nonthreatening and intuitive.” However, there are two ways to going about this, he says, depending on your budget. “You can make a pretty good bet that you are like the majority of women out there who require clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm,” he says. So one good approach, if you have a bit of money to spend, is to invest in a vibrator that addresses external stimulation since there is a high likelihood that you'll like that sensation (based on statistics and physiology). He recommends buying one that's rechargeable, since it “ends up paying for itself, unless you think you're going to walk away from it completely after a couple uses.”

However, Imboden says that “if you're feeling less certain, or if you don't know what you're looking for, buy a couple of simple, inexpensive products.” He suggests getting both an internal and an external vibrator. “Something like the tried-and-true pocket rocket is a great way to start that's extremely inexpensive — it's like a $20 experiment,” he says. Then you can supplement that with something you can use internally, something that's slim and simple in shape. “Or [try] something with a bit of curvature to it for G-spot stimulation.”

Imboden also advises buying from retailers that you feel comfortable with: You can trust their recommendations, and these companies will also offer products with warranties as well as allow you to return items if there's a problem.

With this information in mind, here are my top vibrator picks (you can see images of them by clicking through the photo gallery, up to the left):

Best for External Stimulation: Jimmyjane FORM 3, $145

I'm pretty much in love with this toy. I know, that's a kinda weird thing to say, but it's true. Here's why: Most externally stimulating vibrators have a bullet shape or are quite ridged, while this one forms nicely into the palm of the hand. Even better, this design allows for the toy to be used solo, by your partner on you or even during sex if carefully placed in the right spot. Plus, like all of Jimmyjane's toys, it's made from body-safe materials (no icky phthalates), it's waterproof, rechargeable and completely washable. It also has the much-appreciated lock function if you choose to travel with it. (If you click the link above, you can watch a very G-rated video showcasing its functions.)

Best for Internal Stimulation: Jimmyjane FORM 6, $185

As far as phallic-looking vibrators go, this one is by far the sleekest. It has the same features as the FORM 3 and, as far as internal vibes go, this one is the most easy to use. While its controls are virtually invisible, you can effortlessly change things up without ruining the experience. And since it's made from soft rubber and has a continuous surface, it's more comfortable than most toys of its kind. I love the fact that this toy is essentially a dildo, but it looks super-sophisticated, making you feel très chic by association. (Do note that this vibrator really is primarily for internal stimulation — it's not a double-duty kind of toy.)

Best All-In-One: Trinity Deluxe Rabbit, $36.95

The latest version of this vibrator, made famous by the ladies on Sex and the City, features both internal and external stimulators that are controlled by buttons at the base of the toy. There's also a band of pearls that moves with the toy for added sensation. This toy has a great reputation, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for beginners: When I saw it in person, I was actually a bit taken aback by how large it was. (And one small drawback to this toy is that it has a bit of a plastic-y smell. As with any sex toy, be sure to wash before use.)

Best Deal: Trojan Vibrating Tri-Phoria, $39.99

The well-known condom company just expanded its product line to include vibrators. While they are already available online, you'll be able to buy them in your local drug store in early 2011, which gives this product not only ease of purchasing, but a good price point too. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the product itself is pretty great. Trojan has been making high-quality and affordable vibrating rings (for use during sex) for years, and this vibrator lives up to that reputation. It has five speeds, five pulse patterns and three interchangeable tips (domed, flickering and hard stimulator) to suit your preference. And if you're not sure what your preferences are yet, this would be a good toy to start with. (Though, the packing on this one is harder to get into than Fort Knox and requires strong scissors. Best to open the product before you're in the mood to use it.)

One last thing: When using a vibrator, make sure to have some lubrication on hand to enhance the experience, especially if you are using one meant for internal stimulation. I really love Astroglide Natural, which you can get at your local drug store or online here.

  • Click through to see images of our editor's product picks.

  • Jimmyjane's FORM 3

    Courtesy of Jimmyjane
  • Jimmyjane's FORM 6

    Courtesy of Jimmyjane
  • Trinity Deluxe Rabbit

    Courtesy of Amazon's Sexual Wellness Store
  • Trojan Vibrating Tri-Phoria

    Courtesy of Trojan
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How to Choose a Vibrator
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