Science confirms what we knew along: Sex toys are medicine

Especially for people with vaginas.

Maxine McCrann
Solo Play

My fondest memories of the 2020 COVID lockdown, outside of trauma bonding with my friends, involves riding around Atlanta in the middle of the night with my roommates. With nearly every restaurant closing early the only places that would take our business were Krispy Kreme (the one on Ponce de Leon that burned down and Tokyo Valentino, a well-known sex shop that was listed as an essential business and remained open throughout the lockdown. Suffice to say my roommates and I bought many doughnuts and many sex toys to keep from losing our minds during the pandemic.

We clearly knew what was up because a recent study confirmed that sex toys are good for your sexual, reproductive, and urinary health. For context, similar studies have shows that using vibrators decreases pain and improves sexual enjoyment in women who experience discomfort during sex. The research, conducted by sexual health scholar Bat Sheva Marcus and their team, finds that regular use of vibrators greatly improved study participants' pelvic floor strength, increased sexual health, and vulvar health.

And while science is woefully behind when it comes to presenting gender beyond the binary, the research is important since it drills in what many have suspected for decades: Women’s pleasure has direct correlation to their physical health. And of course, there has been a historic lack of research on this topic. So really, the only thing keeping women and queer folks from a more robust orgasm and pelvic floor is shame and patriarchy.

We all know a good orgasm gives us endorphins and boosts our over all mental health, too. To have medical research confirm that reproductive and urinary health is directly benefited by sex toy usage is a big step in the work to destigmatize self-pleasure for folx with vaginas. "We need to remove the stigma from vibrators and I do believe this soon will be possible as we are now normalizing discussion about women's sexual health," said Alexandra Dubinskaya, a physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, at the American Urological Association annual meeting.

Hopefully, it won't take another lockdown for science to reckon with how and why there continue to be huge gaps in research when it comes to understanding women and queer pepople’s sexual health needs.