Should You Be Worried About “Dead Vagina Syndrome”?

“Dead vagina syndrome” (DVS) sounds like a nightmare, calling up horrifying scenarios in which your vagina stops working and no longer gives you pleasure in the bedroom. What it really refers to is desensitization of the vagina, which sounds really scary in itself but doesn’t have to be. Here’s what you need to know about it.

  1. DVS is said to be caused by using your vibrator too much. Dead vagina syndrome refers to using your vibrator too much, causing your vagina to lose sensitivity. Lots of stories about this condition have spread, which might’ve made you worry about how often you turn to Mr. Buzz to get off.
  2. How does DVS happen, anyway? OK, so how dead vagina syndrome is said to occur is that you use your vibrator so much that you lose clitoral and vaginal stimulation. It gets worse—by depending on your vibrator too regularly, you actually end up being unable to orgasm in any other way, like with a partner during sex. If you carry on using your vibrator, you’ll end up with a vagina that can’t get any pleasure. Hence, it’s dead.
  3. Don’t throw out your vibrator just yet. Experts are quick to dissipate fears over DVS because there’s no medical evidence to suggest that it can wreck your vagina or that it’s a scary trend that many women are going to experience. Hey, just because it happened to Olivia Wilde, it doesn’t make it a trend to worry about. No matter how many vibrators you use or how much you use them, you can’t actually empty the well of your vaginal pleasure.
  4. However, there’s a catch. If you’ve ever experienced feeling a bit numb down there after an amazing session with your vibrator, you’re not imagining it. It’s possible to have decreased sensation in your vagina after lots of stimulation, but don’t freak out—it’s totally temporary.
  5. Desensitization isn’t reserved for vibrators. Interestingly, the same loss of sensation can happen to you in other ways, such as after you’ve had a baby or when you’re on hormonal contraception. The feeling comes back, though, so it’s nothing to worry about.
  6. How long can decreased sensitivity last? Research has found that decreased vagina sensations tend to last less than an hour. In 0.5% of women, loss of vaginal sensation can last over a day, but that’s a really rare occurrence.
  7. Your vibrator shouldn’t be punished for this. After using your vibrator a lot, you might go back to a real life partner and battle to reach the same level of orgasms that you experienced with your vibrator. You fear that your vagina is ruined. Hold on. You might’ve had difficulty orgasming before you used a vibrator, as explained in this Glamour article, so your vibrator’s not really to blame. Or, you might just find it easier to climax when you’re on your own, with the use of sex tools, which is totally fine and not a problem to solve!
  8. Vibrators give you amazing orgasms. Your vibrator gets you off like nothing else, right? You’re not alone! Research published in the Journal of Sex Research has found that many orgasms which were caused by the use of vibrator stimulation were fiercer than other orgasms. So there! Shouldn’t you just enjoy it?
  9. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure. Don’t let stories related to DVS put you off vibrators or make you worry that you’re somehow ruining yourself for sex with someone else. That’s bullcrap. If you achieve better orgasms when you use a vibrator, then you should continue to use it. The same study mentioned above found that the clitoris is the most preferred site of vibrator stimulation for most women, but there’s a variety in how it’s stimulated and where. This shows that there’s great value in “being self-reliant in enhancing sexual responsiveness and satisfaction,” the study reported. You have the freedom to stimulate yourself in the most pleasurable way, which is empowering AF.
  10. Your vibrator might be better than a man. Using a vibrator might make you feel a little numb and desensitize your vaginal area, but give using it a break and then go back to it. You can’t help it being a little addictive, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As a psychologist says in this Cosmopolitan article, “Almost 100% of women can have orgasms with a vibrator. A man cannot do what a vibrator can.” Hear, hear!
  11. Think you need a vibrator break? If you can’t seem to orgasm from anything other than a vibrator and you’re worried this is throwing a wet blanket over your sex life with your BF or limiting your pleasure variety, try this: put your vibrator away for a few days and concentrate on what gives you pleasure in other ways. You could also try to put your vibrator on a lower setting so that it takes you longer to reach orgasm, which is more realistic for RL sex with a partner.
  12. Or, screw that! Perhaps a better idea is to suggest to your partner that you bring your vibrator into the bedroom. That way, he can join in on the fun! He’s likely to be down with it. According to a study by the University of Indiana, 53 percent of women and almost 50 percent of men use a vibrator during sex, which shows that more couples are bringing sex toys into the bedroom.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.