That’s not natural!

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Something I see in the spirituality/sacred sexuality community is the Appeal to Nature fallacy, which can be summarised: (1) That which is natural is good, (2) X is natural, (3) therefore, X is good. It can also be the negative sense: (1) That which is natural is good, (2) Y is not natural, (3) therefore, Y is not good. The Appeal to Nature is a logical fallacy because it poorly defines what is considered “natural” and presupposes that everything “natural” is indeed “good.”

I’ve also noticed the Appeal to Nature fallacy in discussions about sex toys. Among certain purveyors, it’s believed that vibrations and synthetic materials are not natural and are thus not good and should therefore not be used. Some believe that using a vibrator will lead to “Dead Vagina Syndrome,” a significant decrease in vaginal sensitivity.

When people say vibrators are unnatural and shouldn’t be used, my instinct is to retort, “Cars and planes are also unnatural, so does that mean we should never use them, and just stick to walking instead?” This isn’t conducive for civil discussion so here’s some research.

While genital desensitization was reported in one study by 16.5% of women who have ever used a vibrator, it was largely described as mild and transitory (Herbenick et al., 2009). In other words, the genital nerves may adapt to high intensity vibratory stimulation and thus be temporarily less responsive to other forms of stimulation or lower intensity stimulation, but this state improves quickly with the introduction of new types of stimulation. Similarly, it is unlikely that, given the continuous restructuring of female genital nerve beds, vibrator use could result in long-term genital desensitization (Prause et al., 2012).

Yes, the pudendal nerve can potentially be temporarily overwhelmed by constant vibration. Nerves like variety. To avoid vibrator fatigue, choose a toy with different intensity settings and patterns to switch things up. It can also help to put up a barrier, like a sheet or underwear, between the vibrator and clitoris. Focussing on the whole genitals, not just exclusively the clitoris, can also help prevent temporary desensitization.

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