Sexual Wellness Resource Center
For Adults over 50.

History of the Vibrator

Doctor and Vibrator


Evidence of phallic shaped devices for sexual pleasure has existed since the Middle Ages. In the mid to late 19th century the first vibrators were introduced as medical devices to treat hysteria, a diagnostic term first recorded by Egyptian physicians. Hysteria was a diagnosis applied exclusively to women. Symptoms were vague and not focused on the genitalia, including faintness, nervousness, sexual desire or lack of it, insomnia, bloating, shortness of breath, and “a tendency to cause trouble!” In extreme cases it caused psychiatric hospitalization or resulted in hysterectomy. This diagnosis existed in credible psychiatric medical references until 1952.

The causes of the “condition” were as vague and varied as the symptoms. To name only a few, uterine melancholy, abnormal movements of the uterus (uterine fury), to uterus choking caused by sexual deprivation.

Genital massage to treat hysterical “paroxysm,” was mainstream medical treatment and no cause for shame. This was done manually by the physician or midwife, it could take up to an hour, and be quite tiring! Wealthy patients received the treatment via house calls. A device was needed to make the popular treatment faster and more efficient, after all, the more patients, the more revenue. An evolution of specialized and bizarre bulbs, chairs, syringes, pressure hydrants, electricity and batteries led to the birth of the modern vibrator, as part of the industrial revolution of America.

History of the Vibrator Article

Around 1900 the vibrator became commercially available as consumerism, critical to the success of our modern society, developed rapidly. Vibrators were advertised in department store catalogues as blood circulators (later actually confirmed by modern scientific studies) and marketed to restore the youthful glow, a sort of fountain of youth.

The introduction and boom of the film industry in the twenties, including porn, caused the downfall of the vibrator from respectable society. Vibrators appeared regularly in porn films and they took on a negative image. After disappearing from public view for forty years, the vibrator reappeared with the arrival of the feminist movement of the 1960s, and has slowly progressed back into mainstream society.

1800s Vibrator Table

Over the centuries sexuality has evolved from sex being restricted to achieve conception (with sex for pleasure considered unhealthy and socially or religiously degenerate behavior) to the understanding of sex and sexuality as normal, natural, and healthy. Vibrators have been part of the evolution, once accepted in respectable society, then rejected, to once again becoming a part of mainstream American culture, with more options than ever before. Their use ranges from enhancing sexual pleasure to treating sexual dysfunction.

 

 Early VibratorWoman with Vibrator

X's and O's is a sexual wellness resource for men and women in their 50s and older. Vibrators have proven to be an effective sexual aid for women as they get older. These "toys" are effective for increasing sexual pleasure, improving relationship between couples and aiding in sexual dysfunction. We offer a variety of in our online store - Shop for Vibrators

About the Author

Michael Bates, M.D.

Dr Bates practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 34 years in Wichita, Kansas, until his retirement in 2011.

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