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Tracy James
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gay and bisexual men use vibrators in similar proportions to their heterosexual counterparts

Nov. 11, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A recent study published by researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University found that vibrator use among gay and bisexually identified men is common, with approximately half (49.8 percent) of men in the study reporting that they had used a vibrator at some point in their lives. Not only was vibrator use common among these men, but most vibrator users also reported that their use added to the quality of their sexual experiences.

These findings are consistent with a 2009 study published by the same research team, which found that 45 percent of adult men in the U.S. had used a vibrator -- based on data from a nationally representative study in which most men identified as heterosexual and their vibrator use was predominantly with a female partner.

This new study, published in the October issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, is one of the first to describe vibrator use among gay and bisexual men, and is also one of the largest studies of sexual behaviors among gay and bisexual men in the U.S., with more than 25,000 participants completing the online survey.

"Vibrators and other sex toys have become widely available in the U.S. marketplace, yet prior to this study there was strikingly little information about how gay and bisexual men use such products and the role they play in their sexual lives," said Michael Reece, CSHP director and lead author of the study.

Some of the specific findings of the study include:

  • 49.8 percent of men in the study reported having used a vibrator at some point in their lifetime and 26.8 percent of the men had purchased a vibrator
  • Bisexual men with female partners reported more vibrator use than did men with male partners
  • Men most commonly reported using vibrators during masturbation, with 42.8 percent having done this at some point and 22.8 percent having used a vibrator during masturbation in the past month
  • Vibrator users consistently reported that the use of a vibrator both during masturbation and sexual interactions with partners contributed positively to sexual arousal, pleasure and orgasm.

Debby Herbenick, a co-author on the study and associate director of CSHP, said sexual behavior is highly diverse and that people have numerous ways of experiencing their sexuality, including the use of vibrators when alone or with a partner.

"This study echoes our earlier work with largely heterosexual men and women, which found that vibrator use was associated with positive sexual function, such as arousal and orgasm," she said.

Reece is the lead author of "Characteristics of vibrator use by gay and bisexually identified men in the United States." Co-authors include Joshua G. Rosenberger, Vanessa Schick, Debby Herbenick and Brian Dodge of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion and David S. Novak of Online Buddies, Inc. and the OLB Research Institute. The OLB Research Institute coordinates research recruitment and health promotion activities across OLB's family of brands: Manhunt™, DList™, Manhunt Cares, and Manhunt Daily.

To speak with one of the researchers, contact Tracy James, University Communications, at 812-855-0084 and