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What’s the Difference Between a Dildo and a Vibrator?

As the taboo of talking about sex diminishes year by year, sex literacy grow and grows. However, for every term like safe word, prostate massage or polyamory that becomes mainstream, our history of using euphemisms to talk about sex is not so easily shaken off. Even in instances where we might use blunt wording, we may not use it in exactly the correct way, such as the use of ‘vagina’ to refer to the vulva as opposed to what it actually is.

In this way there is similar confusion when it comes to sex toys. From calling everything a ‘massager’ to confusion over whether there is a difference between dildos and vibrators, we at LELO are seeking to clear the air to help you

What is a Dildo?

Simply speaking, a dildo is any sex toy that is used for insertion; be that vaginally, anally, or orally speaking. The word dildo has a fascinating history, and it seems only every few months that archaeologists unearth a distinctly phallic-shaped artifact from ancient civilizations. While today stone or animal horn are not usually the materials used to make dildos, they do come in quite a range, from glass to stainless steel to (our personal favorite) medical grade silicone like ELLA™, and even 24k gold like OLGA™.

What makes a dildo a dildo is not necessarily that is shaped like a penis (in fact, a trip to any sex toy shop today will show you the great range of shapes both semi-realistic and fantastical that are on the market), or whether it’s used for masturbation, pegging or otherwise used as a strap on with two women; rather the general consensus of what makes a dildo is not all the things it does do but what it can’t: vibrate.

What is a Vibrator?

Whether you believe the story of Cleopatra having the first vibrator created for her out of clay with bees trapped inside or not, it cannot be argued that the invention of the vibrator did a lot for women in terms of unlocking sexual satisfaction. After all, with almost ¾ of women requiring clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, a dildo that you insert clearly wasn’t going to do it.

And that’s where today you find all manner of handheld vibrators and vibrating bullets that are meant to be use externally.

What then, of toys that are designed for internal use, particularly G-spot targeting toys like the MONA™ 2 or GIGI™ 2? While they could arguably be called ‘vibrating dildos,’ common usage tends to put these in the vibrator column rather than the dildo one, for reasons that are as mysterious and inexplicable as, well, very nearly anything in the English language.

So What is a Massager?

When people talk about massager, they are generally talking about products that were ostensibly designed and marketed as exactly that; a handheld, vibrating personal massager that helps you take care of any body aches and pains on your own, without the aid of professional massage therapist.

Does ‘taking care of your own body’s needs without requiring someone else present’ sound pretty similar to a sex toy to you? You’re not alone; one of the arguably most famous sex toys ever made was a gigantic plug-into-the-wall back massager from the 80s (though thankfully, we’ve gone ahead and made a massage wand that won’t give you a cramp in your arm AND can go into the bathtub with you).

While many a curious yet shy young person has figured out that massagers are cheaper and less conspicuous masturbatory aids than most sex toys, they do suffer from the major flaw that they simply aren’t designed for to be sex toys; thus, not only do they lack the careful crafting to stimulate your different pleasure points, they’re often made of porous materials that are not body-safe or can’t be cleaned properly.

Does that mean everything with a ‘massager’ label on it is bad for you? Not necessarily!  We call a lot of our external vibrators ‘personal massagers’ because that’s exactly what they do: massager. Whether you want to use a pocket-sized massager like SIRI™ 2 to massage your vocal chords or somewhere else is up to you because it’s safe for both!

How Many Types of Sex Toys Are there?

There is a saying that ‘anything can be a sex toy if you’re brave enough.’  This is definitely not advice we would give out, but it is true that there are many, many types of sex toys, and things that can be used as a toy or prop during sex for some; for instance, it might just be a feather duster for some, but for others it’s an erotic feather teasing toy.

Our bestselling sex toy section is a great place to start, but we also can offer specific advice about the difference between love eggs and ben wa balls, or the different types of prostate massagers there are.

Which Sex Toy is Best for Me?

Knowing the names for different styles of sex toys can help you feel a lot less intimidated when it comes to visiting a store, but it can still be an experience that makes new sex toy users a bit uncomfortable.  Do your research into what the best beginner sex toys are (both for solo sex and for those vibrators made for couples) and find yourself an online retailer or shop with a female-friendly, sex-positive ethos!

About Katy Thorn

Katy Thorn is a post-grad writer with a passion for - and a history of - writing about sex, sexuality and all that it entails. She spends her time running, reading, writing and socialising. Katy has a cat named Feargal, she loves coffee and hates writing bios.

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