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Pelvic + Sexual Health

The Best Clitoral Vibrators for Vaginismus

Dec 01, 2022Dr. Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT5 MIN
a close-up image of two people lying side by side in bed for a story on the best vibrators for vaginismus

One surefire way to get more pleasure out of solo or partnered sex is to add vibration. A vibrator can bring more blood flow to your genitals, enhance stimulation to the nerves, and turn on your erogenous zones like no body part ever could. But if you have vaginismus or any kind of pain with vaginal penetration, the thought of using one can be intimidating or even triggering.

With vaginismus, a condition characterized by involuntary pelvic floor muscle contractions in response to anticipated or attempted vaginal penetration, pelvic pain can become so significant that sexual activity or touch of any kind (even without vaginal penetration) can lead to pain.

If you have vaginismus or pelvic pain, rest assured that healing is possible — and an important part of the healing process is exploring safe, pain-free sexual touch. 

When treating conditions like vaginismus, pelvic floor physical therapists use evidence-based treatments including patient education, manual therapy, vaginal dilators, and movement-based therapies to help your brain and body interpret pain and touch differently. When you’re ready, external (aka clitoral) vibrators can complement these treatments, helping to re-introduce pleasurable sexual touch without penetration.

Why vibrators are good for Your PELVIC HEALTH

Vibrators can have multiple benefits when it comes to your sexual and pelvic health. When you use one solo, a vibrator can help you develop confidence and independence around sex, allowing you to explore when, where, and at what intensity you like to be touched.

With a partner, vibrators can encourage connection and communication — and lend the added stimulation you may need to reach orgasm. After all, the majority of us born with vaginal anatomy don’t orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. We're more likely to hit that peak when additional stimulation (manual or vibration) comes into play.

Yet another reason to try an external vibrator: Research suggests that they may provide therapeutic benefits by decreasing urinary incontinence, improving vulvar pain, and helping to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.  

How we decided which CLITORAL vibes to test

If you haven’t looked into buying a vibrator lately, you may not realize how many options there are. Beyond coming in all shapes and sizes, most vibes offer multiple vibration speeds and intensities.

A growing number of vibes also offer special features like suction or pulsing action that mimics the sensation of oral sex. There are also Bluetooth-enabled vibrators that can be programmed to buzz along with your favorite playlist and vibes that can be operated by remote.

With all of the options out there, how did we narrow them down? We started by polling our expert physical therapists to find out which brands they recommend to their patients, then we took them for a test drive.

The 11 highly-recommended vibes we tested:

How we tested each vibrator

Without a doubt, choosing a vibrator is personal. Discovering pleasure with vibes — particularly if you have pelvic pain — may take some exploration, practice, trial, and definitely some error. Everyone is unique, with varying anatomy, erogenous zones, and what you do or don't enjoy during a sexual experience.

As a cis-gendered female with history of dyspareunia (shout out to my pelvic PT for helping me overcome my pain), my experience may be quite different than yours. To stay as objective as possible, I worked through the details on everything from how intuitively the buttons worked to how ergonomic it felt in my hands, and — most important — how it actually felt on my body while I used it.

So without further ado…

Best ALL-AROUND clitoral vibrator UNDER $50

The Maude Vibe topped our list for best external vibe on a budget because of its duel vibrate-and-flutter functionality, variable intensity vibes, and elegant design.

About the Vibe by Maude:

  • Buying info: $49 on Maude
  • Material: “Platinum” grade silicone, which uses a slightly cleaner process than medical grade silicone.
  • Colors: Gray, charcoal, and green 
  • Waterproof: No, the Vibe is water-resistant, so this vibrator cannot be fully submerged. This is something to consider if you were hoping to take it into the bath or hot tub with you.
  • Size: 1.5 inches thick by 4.9 inches long
  • Charge time: 1 to 1.5 hours 
  • Run time: 1.5 to 2 hours 
  • Comes with: A cute zippered travel pouch that is very inconspicuous and USB charging cord
  • Volume: Whisper quiet! It can also be kept in travel mode so that your TSA agent doesn’t get a fun surprise.

What we love about THe Vibe: 

The Vibe is an all-around great personal vibrator. It is simple in design so it’s not intimidating for beginners, comes in three inclusive colors, with a unique vibrating and fluttering sensation that is wonderfully unexpected. 

It is particularly agile in getting to all the wonderfully sensitive nooks and crannies of the clitoris, vulva, or whatever body part loves the sensation. I would definitely pay more for this vibrator, but thankfully it is very affordable. Whats more? Maude is a sex-positive, pelvic health-informed sexual wellness company that values inclusive sexual health and sex education for all. Check, check, check!

Putting the Vibe to the test:

  • First impression: The Maude Vibe is really beautiful and has a cone shape that looks like a little sculpture. I feel like I could easily integrate this into my bookshelf decor, and no one would know it was a vibe.
  • Grip/ergonomics: This vibe is very soft and comfortable to hold. It can easily be held like a wide-gripped pencil which allows for very familiar precision and control when moving the vibe around to explore.
  • Controls: With only one button to control, you don’t have to worry about fiddling around too much to find the right intensity. Click once to progress through each of the 3 intensities. Once the lube hits it, the button can get a little slippery, but this is not a deal breaker.
  • Texture: The silicone on this vibe is very soft and velvety, without any sticky surfaces. You almost don’t need lube (except you should definitely still use a water-based one particularly if you have a history of pelvic pain). 
  • Vibration type(s): The vibration is a delightful combination of a rumbling and gentle flicking movement created by the unique flutter tip.

Best thing about it: It’s simple, affordable, non-intimidating, and packs an amazing punch. Some Origin staffers consider the Maude Vibe to be the ultimate hostess gift.

Best clitoral vibrator if you like oral sex

With very stiff competition from Dame’s Aer, and Unbound Babe’s Puff, the Lelo’s Sila Cruise is our pick for the best vibrator if you like oral sex. 

About the Sila Cruise by Lelo:

  • Buying info: $169 on the manufacturer’s website. The good news is that it is frequently on sale. 
  • First impression: Looks like a tiny crafting or office tool, like it could effortlessly add buttons to your shirt or something.
  • Material: Silicone with non-toxic plastic on the sides
  • Colors: Pink, aqua, and lilac
  • Waterproof: Fully waterproof, this vibrator can be fully submerged under water without worry.
  • Size: 3.1" x 2.9" x 1.4"
  • Charge time: 2 hours 
  • Run time: up to 2 hours 
  • Comes with: A satin storage pouch and UBS charging cord
  • Volume: The Sila Cruise starts out quiet, but once in contact with your vulva, the suction and hard-working vibrations can actually be fairly loud for a vibe.

What we love about the Sila Cruise:

The Sila Cruise's claim to fame is its extra-wide mouth that cups the whole head of the clitoris, using gentle sonic waves to generate pulsation and suction. But the real kicker is its cruise control technology — this vibrator senses how hard you’re pressing it to your body and automatically adjusts its intensity to match. It’s waterproof and made with soft, body-safe silicone, plus it has eight vibration patterns to play with (and can electronically lock when you’re done).

Putting the Sila Cruise to the test:

  • Grip/ergonomics: Designed to focus and mostly stay put on the clitoris, the curved shape of the Silo Cruise with flat sides is very easy to hold in place while focusing on controlling the various pulsations and speed options.
  • Controls: There are three control buttons on the vibe, which help you to navigate through 8 different vibration patterns, while increasing or decreasing the intensity of each pattern. The buttons take a good amount of dexterity to operate, and when caught up in the moment, all of these buttons feel like a bit much. But with a little practice, you can find your favorite patterns, and it’s definitely worth stumbling around to get there. 
  • Texture: While very smooth, the wide mouth feels a bit more like a soft plastic on your vulva and clitoris versus soft skin or silicone (even though it is silicone). This may be a bit more irritating if you have dry vulvar skin (while breastfeeding or in menopause, for example). 
  • Ability to stimulate the clitoris: The wide mouth of the Sila Cruise allows for an oral sex-like feel to the head of the clitoris with suction, and pulses of vibrations that ripple out to longer arms of the clitoris (aka the vestibular bulbs) for extra, very welcomed stimulation. The vibrations are more gentle and diffuse feeling like oral sex (vs manual stimulation) for a slower build of pleasure, with focus right at your clitoris. This vibrator is not necessarily meant to focus on the other parts of the vulva, but can certainly be moved around to explore.
  • How well does it work solo? This is a great solo option particularly if your clitoris is your sweet spot, and penetration feels scary or painful. 

How does it compare to the Aer and Puff? While two very worthy contenders, the smaller mouths of the Aer (Dame) and Puff (Unbound Babes) provide less intense stimulation to the clitoris when compared to the Sila Cruise. So while the Aer and Puff may work better for those who prefer gentle oral sex, the Sila Cruise's stronger suction and pulsing sensations earned it our top spot.

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Best clitoral vibrator if you like maximum contact

Opt for the Solis Ascend 2 by Jimmy Jane for a vibrator that enthusiastically stimulates all of your vulvar hot zones, all at once. 

About the Ascend 2 by Jimmy Jane:

  • Buying info: $89.99 at Jimmy Jane
  • First impression: Very curious looking with its two long ears. Not discreet — it definitely looks like a sex toy.
  • Material: Phthalate-free silicone
  • Colors: Fuschia
  • Waterproof: Fully waterproof, this vibrator can be fully submerged under water without worry.
  • Size: 15.5 cm x 4.5 cm with an insertable length of 7 cm
  • Charge time: Up to 1 to 2 hours
  • Run time: Up to 1-2 hours of use per charge
  • Comes with: A white stretchy carrying pouch, and a recharging cord
  • Volume: Has an average noise volume. Fairly quiet, but with dual motors, it does get louder when you increase vibration intensity, but definitely nothing that would cause me to worry that my neighbors would hear if I took it with me traveling.

What we love about the Ascend 2:

I completely underestimated this vibrator. It quickly won me over though with its unique, slightly curved shape that ensures max contact with your entire vulva all at once. It also has two super soft and flexible arms, with a motor in each arm to ensure the intensity and attention is not lost on any body part, no matter how you choose to use this vibrator. 

Putting the Ascend 2 to the test:

  • Grip/ergonomics: Its curved shape is very easy to hold, and can comfortably rest in your hand. The soft curved design is also super comfortable to sit on so you can use hands-free. 
  • Controls: The controls are very easy to use, with a single raised button that is easy to find, so you can click through three different vibration types, each with three intensities.
  • Texture: The Ascend 2 is a velvety soft silicone that is slightly squishy. Up against my vulva, this feels very body-like.
  • Vibration type(s): The Ascend 2 has a good balance of buzzing vibrations, and rumbling vibrations to choose from. The buzz can feel a bit sharp at higher intensities.
  • Ability to stimulate the clitoris: It depends on how exactly you choose to use this. The flexible arms are great for stimulating the clitoris, but if using the arms to stimulate other areas of the vulva, the base is just kind of average at stimulating the clitoris. This is hard to notice though, with the amount of contact that this vibrator can provide you may not even miss it. 
  • Ability to stimulate vulva: The versatility of this vibrator is great and can allow you to stimulate as little, or as much of your vulva as you want even including the highly sensitive vaginal opening, while still avoiding penetration if this is painful for you.

How well does it work solo: If you enjoy penetration in addition to stimulation around the vulva during sex, this is a great solo sex option. The arms have a penetration depth of 7 cm, so this is a good option if you prefer penetration to stay shallow.

Best clitoral vibrator if you like gentle vibes

If powerhouse vibes aren't your thing but you want a high-quality, thoughtfully designed vibe, try the Pep by Unbound Babes.

About the Pep by Unbound Babes:

  • Buying info: $42 at Unbound
  • First impression: Sleek as a skipping stone that fits in the palm of your hand.
  • Material: A silky smooth body-safe silicone
  • Colors: 2, two-toned color options: melon/violet and aqua/teal
  • Waterproof: Fully waterproof, this vibrator can be fully submerged under water without worry.
  • Size: Height: 3.0 Inches | Length: 2.2 Inches | Width: 1.3 Inches (about the size of a makeup compact)
  • Charge time: 2 hours to charge
  • Run time: Up to 2 hours
  • Comes with: A universal charging cord but no storage pouch to keep it clean or discrete
  • Volume: Has an average vibrating volume, which increases depending on the intensity of the vibes you choose, but still totally acceptable to keep your roommates minding their own business.

What we love about the Pep:

This vibrator starts off with a very gentle purring vibration. The shape is comfortable to hold, and you can easily twist and move it around to explore all the parts of your vulva. It’s super cute and ideal for beginners. But don’t let any of this fool you, because the vibrator intensity and pattern range is impressive for such an unassuming vibrator, and can easily be used anywhere on your body and during coupled sex. 

Putting the Pep to the test:

  • Grip/ergonomics: It is perfectly shaped to fit in the palm of your hand while exploring, but it definitely has the potential to fly out of said hand when lubed up.
  • Controls: There are three buttons that control the Pep. One to turn on the vibrator, and then two to navigate back and forth between 8 different vibration settings (3 different rhythms, and 5 different speeds). Three feels like a lot of buttons to keep track of in the moment, but also limits you from having to click through several vibration settings that have the potential to kill the mood.
  • Texture: The Pep is made of smooth silicone that is soft on your vulva and is also squishier in some areas so depending on which part of the vibe you are using on your body, it can feel totally different.
  • Vibration type(s): The vibrations vary from purring to rumbly.

Best thing about it: The best thing about the Pep is the range of vibration options that can help you start out exploring vibes, but also limit boredom if you are prone to that during sex.

Best clitoral vibrator if you have limited use of your hands (or need something ultra quiet)

If your hands tire quickly or you can't stand fussing with buttons, the Limon by Minna is ripe for the picking.

About the Limon by Minna:

  • Buying info: $99 at Minna
  • First impression: As its name suggests, the Limon looks like a lemon and is absolutely adorable. 
  • Material: Medical-grade silicone
  • Colors: Celadon Green, Turquoise
  • Waterproof: No, the Limon is water-resistant, so this vibrator cannot be fully submerged so that is something to consider if you were hoping to take it into the bath or hot tub with you.
  • Size: H 4" x W 5" x C 3"
  • Run time: 1 hr
  • Comes with: A USB Charger
  • Volume: The Limon was the quietest option of all I tested, and will definitely help keep sex discrete if that is your goal.

What we love about the Limon:

There is so much to love about this vibrator, but at the top of the list is the intuitive, buttonless design that allows you to control the intensity of the vibrations with a simple squeeze of the vibe. The more you want, the harder you squeeze. Too much? Just relax your grip and the vibrations ease up instantly. This makes it so easy to control, almost as if it is reading your mind, even if you have limited hand use or painful joints in your hands. 

Putting the Limon to the test:

  • Grip/ergonomics: In the shape of a small lemon, it fits perfectly in your palm. Its round lemon shape is large enough for a comfortable grip, without too much strain on your joints.
  • Controls: Controlling the vibrator is so intuitive: To turn up the vibration intensity, you simply squeeze the entire lemon. To calm it down, loosen your grip for almost instant control and personalization.
  • Texture: The Limon is made of smooth medical-grade silicon. It is very squishy and almost feels like a soft stress ball or balloon when pressed against your body. 
  • Vibration type(s): The Limon provides amazing deep circular vibrations.
  • Ability to stimulate the clitoris: The Limon can skillfully stimulate your clitoris with a small finger-like tip at the top. Vibrations ripple throughout the vibe though, so it can be used to stimulate all parts of your vulva, or wherever you like vibrating touch throughout your body. 

How well does it work solo? This would be great used solo or with a partner, but the experience will probably be most personalized if using on yourself in either situation so that you can control the intensity.

Have questions about vibrators & pelvic pain?

Healing from vaginismus or pain with sex is complicated. While clitoral vibrators may be a useful way to reintroduce safe and pain-free sexual touch, it can be helpful to have a pelvic health physical therapist or another properly trained healthcare professional to guide you. Schedule an evaluation with an Origin physical therapist today and they will ensure you have all the tools and information you need to heal, and enjoy pain-free solo or partnered sex.

Ashley Rawlins Headshot
Dr. Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT

Dr. Rawlins is a physical therapist at Origin who specializes in the treatment of pelvic floor muscle dysfunctions including pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, pregnancy related pain, postpartum recovery, and bowel and bladder dysfunction. In addition to being a practicing clinician, she is a passionate educator and author.

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