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Wednesday 21 November 2018

‘I want to buy a vibrator - what should I be looking for?

Life advice: Each week, sex therapist Emily Power Smith answers your sex-related queries

Grace and Frankie stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda
Grace and Frankie stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda

Q I'm a woman in my mid-60s and I'm curious to know what all the fuss is about when it comes to vibrators. The first time I saw one was on the show Grace and Frankie, but the one they designed seemed rather big and bumpy!

I'd like to get one and was wondering if there really are vibrators for older women. I have some arthritis in my hands and find gripping anything for more than a few minutes quite difficult. What would you suggest?

A Congratulations and welcome to the club! I'm sure there a lots of women inspired to get their first toy thanks to Grace and Frankie and for that, I love them. It is important to pick a toy that works for your personal levels of dexterity, as well as something that pleases your eye and feels great. Lots of people find holding a vibrator very tiring after a few minutes.

If you could manage to go into an actual shop you could pick some up and feel their weight and check their shape. Picking up a toy, and trying it on the tip of your nose, can give you an idea of what it will feel like on your vulva and clitoris. Outlets tend to have lots of samples charged and ready for testing.

• I'd suggest a larger toy because you don't have to stretch your arm as far to get it into position.

• Aim for a toy that is body safe, which means it's medical-grade silicone so there are no harmful chemicals to leach into your body (brands such as Lelo, Fun Factory, Mina, Jimmy Jane, Tanga, We Vibe)

• Go for a toy that has a wider handle or girth as this tends to be easier to grip for longer periods

• Go for a toy with some power. If you find it too powerful to start, you can pop a flannel between you and it, then as you get more used to it, you'll still have a toy with plenty of punch

• I recommend toys with a deep rumble rather than a high buzz. This makes for deeper stimulation, better massage and more intense orgasms

• Make sure you have a good lube, which can be lovely on your labia but is essential for any internal play

• Focus on a toy that suits you for external stimulation first, as this is how most women orgasm, and if you want something you can insert as well, there are lots that will do both

Q I've read that vibrators can be helpful for men who struggle with erections. I'm 62, healthy and fit and when I went to my doctor, he said it's normal to have this problem at my age and gave me some Viagra. However, I don't have a partner and just want to masturbate so Viagra doesn't really suit. I'd like to try a vibrator to see if it can help. Are there special ones for men?

A It's true that erections tend to become weaker with age - this is due to a drop in blood flow to the penis, so the fitter you are, the more likely you are to have good blood circulation.

I'm sure your doctor checked all the basics such as your blood pressure, heart and so on in order to reassure you that it's an age thing. Poor erections can be a warning that diabetes or heart problems are looming, so it's always good to rule those out with some basic tests.

I can totally understand that Viagra isn't appropriate when you're planning on some self-loving. It may be useful to have if you do decide to find a partner however, so don't discount it fully. I think trying a vibrator is a great idea as they can indeed help to stimulate blood flow as well as feeling really good. But there are a few other things worth knowing:

You can masturbate, experience pleasure, feel arousal and even orgasm without an erection. You may prefer an erection, but it's useful to broaden your repertoire so you have choice when self pleasuring.

It's also useful to know how to turn yourself on in numerous ways so if you are with a partner, you can teach them what to do. Masturbation can be so much more than physical stimulation of the penis if you decide to take an approach focussing on self-loving and appreciation.

You deserve loving, appreciative touch whether you're single or not. So why not give it to yourself?

When it comes to sex toys for men, there are quite a few on the market. There are medical devices that cost a lot of money and that provide vibrations and stimulation to the penis, and for some men these are necessary. But I'd suggest you start with something less clinical.

You can get yourself a simple vibrator or bullet (small) vibrator and use it on the shaft of your penis, on your testicles, behind your testicles, on your perineum and see what feels good, but you'll need to use it on the penis to bring blood flow.

You may find the head of your penis is very sensitive and stimulating it may either be too intense or may bring you to orgasm without a full erection.

Contact us with your queries. Email and website: questions@empowersme.com / www.empowersme.com

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