does insurance cover vibrators

Should You Be Able to Get a Prescription for Vibrators?

Using a vibrator can help you amp up your sex life whether it’s during masturbation or with a partner. But it isn’t all fun and games. Vibrators also have therapeutic applications and can help with various medical conditions. That begs the question – should you be able to get a prescription for a vibrator? 

The History of Vibrators in Medicine

Long before you had an endless selection of rabbit, bullet, and G-spot vibrators to choose from, vibrators were thought to have been used in a medical context. A lot of people think that vibrators were invented in the 20th century to treat “hysteria in women,” an outdated umbrella term that encompassed everything from chest pain, to increased heart rate, to excessive emotions, and an increased or decreased sex drive. 

The supposed “treatment” for hysteria was supposedly orgasms. At one point, doctors “administered” them by hand, before vibrators started being used to save them from carpal tunnel syndrome – not to mention emotional distress and possible trauma for the patients.

This theory has mostly been debunked, but still is part of the historical (fiction) of the use of vibrators in medicine. What more likely happened was that cis-women and people with vaginas began using “vibrators” advertised as back and neck massagers for more intimate purposes. 

Vibrators for Pelvic Floor Health

While the history of vibrators in gynecological medicine may not be accurate, they may have a place in healthcare now. Let’s take a look at the pelvic floor

The pelvic floor is a wide network of muscles and connective tissues that support the internal organs like the uterus, bladder, and bowel. A healthy pelvic floor is necessary for functions like going to the bathroom, having a vaginal birth, and having sex/orgasms. 

As strong as the pelvic floor is, it is also fairly common for people to experience injuries or issues with it. An estimated one in three AFAB (assigned female at birth) will experience a pelvic floor disorder in their lifetime. Pelvic floor disorders can lead to pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, bowel control problems, and difficulties with sex.

When it comes to treating pelvic floor dysfunction, many people turn to pelvic floor physical therapy (a great option) and/or surgery. Another treatment option? Using vibrators. The use of vibrators for pelvic floor dysfunction has been shown to help decrease urinary symptoms and leakage, and significantly improve pelvic muscle strength. 

Vibrators for Vulvar Pain

Another gynecological issue that can interfere with people’s sex lives, and overall health is vulvar pain. Vulvodynia is chronic vulvar pain that has lasted for at least three months. The cause of it is not well understood, and neither is treatment for it.

Some people only experience vulvodynia during sex, penetrative or otherwise, but some people also have it during daily activities like walking, sitting, and exercising. This not only affect people’s sex functioning and relationships, but their daily lives as well. 

Vulvodynia is addressed with a wide range of treatment options including using topical or injectable medications (steroids, local anesthesia, estrogen, etc.), physical therapy, the use of antidepressants, and even surgically removing the affected skin. 

A newer treatment called “Vulvar Vibration Therapy”, VVT, aims to target nerve functioning through the use of a vibratory stimulus, aka a vibrator. One study found that 83% of people with vulvar pain surveyed experienced a decrease in pain, while 70% reported sex as being less painful and more enjoyable. Another point for vibrators!

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Vibrators for Anorgasmia

Anorgasmia, or the inability to orgasm affects an estimated 15% of cis-women, or AFAB people. There are four types of anorgasmia:

  • Primary: If you’ve never had an orgasm.
  • Secondary: You once were able to orgasm, but now can’t.
  • Situational: You can only orgasm in certain situations like during masturbation.
  • General: You never reach orgasm even if you’re aroused. 

Like vulvodynia, anorgasmia is also misunderstood. It may have psychological roots from mental health disorders or after trauma, or be from other medical conditions like multiple sclerosis or hormonal conditions. Anorgasmia can happen during or after menopause, or when taking certain medications like SSRIs.

Because anorgasmia can be caused by a variety of things, its treatment is not straightforward. Outside of addressing mental health or other health conditions, another possible treatment is using vibrators. Vibrators have been found to be an effective treatment for anorgasmia in people with vaginas and penises. 

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A Trip to The Pharmacy: Vibrator Prescriptions

Like many things having to do with female reproductive health, the use of vibrators for medical purposes is understudied. The research that is available however supports this idea, and can be encouraging for people struggling with issues that vibrators may be able to help with.

For most people, sex is a vital part of their relationships, pleasure, and ability to live life to the fullest. When something gets in the way of that, it can greatly affect their well-being. Let’s put it this way – most insurers cover medically necessary treatments for erectile dysfunction. That means they understand the necessity of a healthy sex life for someone’s overall health, and should apply the same understanding towards people with vaginas.

Of course, as we’ve explained, prescription vibrators aren’t just to help with sexual function, but basic human functioning like being able to hold your bladder or bowels, and avoiding vulvar pain. Let’s be clear. We’re not saying that you should only be able to get vibrators through a prescription, but if vibrators were prescribable, insurance would then cover them in cases where they’re “medically necessary”. 

Insurance coverage varies widely between countries and individuals, so this is a complex topic. But overall, vibrators have been shown to be able to help people with a wide range of gynecological issues. So, let’s see that Rx doc!