Sexual Wellness Resource Center
For Adults over 50.

Vibrators for Men: Can They Help Treat the Symptoms of ED?

By Michael Bates, M.D.

If you are having difficulty with erections (ED), this scenario may sound familiar…

You are exercising, you have lost weight, you have limited your alcohol intake, you stopped smoking or have never smoked, and yet your erections still are not satisfactory.

You had a thorough physical exam and your blood pressure is normal, your heart is normal, and you do not have diabetes.

Your doctor prescribed Viagra or a similar medication, but you are really not much of a medicine taker. Besides, you read about some side effects. Is there another option to help you with your ED?

The answer is YES—you can experiment with sex toys. Although sex toys do not treat the cause of ED, they can help you treat the symptoms. They are safe, fun, and can help with sexual arousal and increase sexual pleasure.

How can vibrators help with ED?

I believe vibrators are overlooked and undervalued as an option for treating the symptoms of ED. This is unfortunate, as they effectively provide the extra tactile (touch) stimulation many older men need to achieve erections.

The reduced penis sensation that accompanies aging and illness means that more tactile stimulation is required to build an erection. The challenge?

  • Weakened and/or arthritic hands may tire during prolonged manual stimulation

  • Joint stiffness and muscle weakness may limit comfortable positions for oral stimulation

  • Prolonged sessions of stimulation may lead to fatigue or tiredness

In these situations, vibrators provide the kind of consistent, strong stimulation that the body no longer can.

How to use a vibrator

Many vibrators for external stimulation are non-gender. If your female partner already uses one for clitoral stimulation, you can use it, too!

Place the vibrator at the head of the penis, at its base or on the perineum (the skin between the scrotum and the anus). The vibrator gets blood flowing into the penis, resulting in erection.

If you want to buy a vibrator for yourself, where can you start?

Finger toys are a good starting point. They are small vibrators worn on your fingertips, or your partner’s fingertips. They are inexpensive and deliver a lot of pleasure for their small size. The smallest available is called Hello Touch. A popular model in the X’s and O’s Store is the Dame Fin Finger Vibrator.

You might also try a small “bullet style” vibrator. They are simple, inexpensive, and small—about the size of your finger.

What about male vibrators (“guybrators”)?

There are vibrators designed specifically for male use. They don’t require an erection to get started, and can stimulate the penis to orgasm even if it doesn’t become completely erect.

The best product that I have seen is called the Pulse, which you can get online in the X’s and O’s Store. The flaccid or semi-erect penis is placed into the sleeve. Its unique oscillating and strong vibrating effect can lead to erection. There is also a couples version that can be used during penetrative sex.

What are masturbation sleeves (strokers)? Are these a kind of vibrator?

Another option is the use of masturbation sleeves or strokers, which are not vibrators. However, they can be used to help enhance manual stimulation to produce an erection.

These work well for those who can get a partial erection, but not enough of one for penetration. The partially erect penis is inserted into the sleeve. You or your partner grab the sleeve and stroke. The sleeves have soft ridges or bumps or some other texture on the inside. The Tenga and Fleshlight sleeves are two good products.

The take-home message?

  • Although sex toys are not designed to treat ED, some offer ways in which men can experience sexual pleasure through vibratory stimulation. For many this can result in an erection satisfactory for penetration.  

  • Even if a complete erection is not possible, orgasm often is.

  • The toys can be combined with Viagra like medication if that alone is not giving you the outcome you want.  

  • Sex toys for men with ED can improve outcome, increase your sexual health and enable you to enjoy sexual intimacy.

You can shop for male vibrators and sleeves from home in the X’s and O’s Store.

This article is the third in our series on the use of sex toys by those suffering from ED. If you have specific questions or feedback, we would like to hear from you. Go the Ask the Expert page to contact Dr. Bates.

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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