Question: What do Yale University and vibrators have in common? Answer: Mary Jane Minkin, M.D.
Dr. Minkin is a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale University School of Medicine and one of the nation’s foremost experts on menopause and sexual health. She’s also a major advocate for vibrators. Yes, you heard that right. Here, Dr. Minkin talks about why she thinks a vibrator is vital for your FOF sexual health.
So, you tell your FOF patients to use vibrators. Why?
Women who use vibrators regularly have increased blood flow to their vaginas and increased lubrication. That’s especially important for menopausal women who can experience lack of blood flow to the vagina due to lack of estrogen. Lack of blood flow contributes to vaginal atrophy
, which we’ve talked about before. When it comes to your vagina: Use it or lose it! Sounds corny, but it’s true.
Are vibrators for women who don’t want to use hormonal treatments?
Vibrators can be used with or without hormonal treatments. Stimulating the pelvic floor can benefit anyone. Some patients will be using a hormonal treatment, such as estrogen cream, but when they start having sex regularly they find that they probably won’t need it as much. Their vaginas are seeing increased blood flow and lubrication from the sexual activity. Vibrators achieve the same thing.
How do your patients react when you tell them to use a vibrator?
If I were a stern, white-haired man people might be surprised, but my patients know my style. They know I say things that might be considered a little ‘out there.’ The fact is, these are real issues we deal with as gynecologists, and this is a real solution. There are very well-known sex therapists who regularly recommend vibrators as part of sex therapy. It’s much more common than people might think.
Do you have patients who say they can’t or won’t use a vibrator?
Sometimes. And we always want to work within the patient’s comfort zone. There are women who won’t even touch themselves “down there.” As a doctor, I want to respect their boundaries. But I also have a psychologist on staff to talk to a patient if I sense that she has emotional hang-ups. And sometimes a really good vibator can change her mind!
Is there an age-effect when it comes to how comfortable women are with vibrators?
Some of my really older ladies, years ago, might have looked askance at it--but not among the baby boomers. Baby boomers are pretty savvy about this kind of stuff. According to the data, at least half of women in this country use vibrators, so most people are pretty comfortable with them. This is not shameful--it’s cool. Most people just don’t realize that there also are health benefits.
Is there a specific vibrator you recommend?
I like the We-Vibe
vibrators. They’re made of medical-grade materials, and they’re BPA free and reliable. Some brands of sex toys are not not terribly well monitored or checked, so I like that the We-Vibe comes from a reputable, good company.
Also, they’re supplying vibrators for a study I’m doing. I help direct a clinic at Yale for women who have had cancer and want to get back to their normal lives. Often, they’ve had surgery or pelvic radiation which disrupts blood flow and causes scarring. We are getting ready to do a study on how vibrators can help these women keep their pelvic floors functional and happy.
Are there any warnings when it comes to vibrators. I’ve heard it can be dangerous to use them on a vagina that’s too dry.
If you have issues with dryness, you need to use some moisturizer or lubricant so you don’t damage the vaginal tissue. There are topical moisturizers like Replens, that provide long-term moisture, but most lubricants like Astroglide or KY are generally effective only at the time of intercourse... If you find you need more moisture than these provide, you can be assured that vaginal estrogen is absolutely safe. Most people agree with that at this point.
How often should you use a vibrator?
Whatever you feel comfortable with. Several times a week is nice.
Can you use it too much?
Well, Mae West said ‘Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!’ But I do want you to be able to go to work and stuff.
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