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Couples and Personal Massagers.

Chantelle Otten MScMed(HSSH) Sexologist

References to sex are littered in the various forms of media we consume every day.


We read books, watch shows, listen to the news, and hear stories our friends tell us. All the while we never think about the fact that a lot of mainstream media actively socialises us into constructing one idea of what ‘Sex’ is:

That is intimacy in which orgasm is reached through penetration.


Why is penetrative sex traditionally seen as the only ‘real’ and authentic way to ‘do sex?’ Well, there are thousands of social, cultural, scientific, and historical processes that have taught us to think of penetrative sex as the be-all and end-all of intimacy. Suffice it to say that it’s no one’s fault, and we won’t bore you with that right now! But penetrative sex is one of the most beige activities to do in the bedroom.


The last few decades of research into sexual pleasure, mainly female pleasure, has shown that orgasm is not always reached through penetration. Approximately 90% of women report orgasm from some form of sexual stimulation. However, most women do not routinely (and some never) experience an orgasm solely from sexual intercourse (1).


A study of 3,627 females showed that 39.6% indicated they had faked an orgasm to please their partner, and many of these young women reported feeling frustrated with their difficulty in reaching orgasm? Only 29% of women reported always reaching orgasm during sex which is a big contrast compared to 75% of men (4). Another survey of female patients who underwent a gynaecologic check-up revealed that 83% were having difficulty with orgasm, and 67% reported feeling sexually unsatisfied (3).


Some of you may identify, and may not even be surprised at these statistics.


The thing about sex is this: there’s no black and white recipe, no ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ way to do it. It is a fluid concept that can be navigated between consenting partners, adjusted to their desires, moods, and levels of comfort. We need to remember that frequency of sexual activity alone should not be misinterpreted as an indication of sexual health.


And yet we tend to think that there’s only one way to have ‘real sex’ through penetration and that if the traditional model doesn’t work to achieve orgasm, there is something in us that lacks, or in our partner, or relationship as a whole.

Nonsense. Let’s redefine sex. It is about the ‘journey’, not the ‘destination’, i.e. every touch, and activity can be sexual, not just penetration. Great sex starts in the mind. We have to turn on our brain, be creative and prime ourselves for sex, hours, sometimes days before sexual activity.

Think about it this way. Having sex can be like going to do a workout. Your mind and body resist it, but once it’s done, you feel terrific. Past literature suggests that a woman’s sexual cycle moves from desire to arousal to orgasm. But experts know that for many women, desire often comes after arousal. So instead of listening to the little voice that whispers “not tonight, too tired”, try to be receptive to the touch of your lover.

Couples who can redefine what constitutes ‘sex’ are the ones having the best of it. More specifically, open-minded couples who introduce personal massagers into the bedroom report higher satisfaction, and higher rates of orgasm (6).

Believe it or not, vibrators are one of the best options that couples can use to improve their sex life and have a good time together. Sex is meant to be fun, so let’s make it enjoyable for all involved!


But couples may be hesitant to introduce vibrators. Firstly, many women, particularly those who aren’t being satisfied in bed through penetrative sex, might be ashamed to admit to their partners that they privately masturbate with a vibrator to achieve pleasure. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


These misconceptions led to the neglect of the clitoris in research, literature and public media. Many women were confused that they were able to orgasm through clitoral stimulation, and not penetration. In reality, personal massagers with clitoral stimulators are one of the best ways for women to reach orgasm. After all, the clitoris is the only organ that exists purely for pleasure.

So it makes sense that a personal massager, which focuses on clitoral and genital stimulation, for example, is delightful. And there’s nothing wrong with it! Lots of women around the world embrace vibrators as a natural and fun way to pleasure themselves, more so than men; in 2013 it was found that 21% of Australian women used a vibrator in the previous year, as opposed to 15% of men (2).


Using a personal massager with your partner can not only help with pleasure but can also help improve communication and comfort. It also adds a new, fresh, playful dimension to your sex life that will keep things from feeling stale and repetitive.


Experimenting with the various uses of a personal massager together as a couple has proven to improve overall orgasm and enjoyment. Research has shown how couples who were forced to navigate alternative sexual practices due to sickness and health reasons all reported improvement in their sex life after a vibrator was introduced in the bedroom. (5)


How to Introduce a Personal Massager in the Bedroom

Learn about your body:

The first thing you can need to do is think about what gets you aroused, and what makes you happy. It’s important to consider your comfort and desires, but also to know how your body works. Most women, for example, don’t know where their clitoris is, or that orgasm most commonly isn’t reached without clitoral stimulation.


You can research the various personal massagers on the market and find one that you think will work for you. They’re not all the same. Check out the Smilemakers Collection. These are some of my favourites as they are designed beautifully, are versatile, non-threatening, body safe and easy to clean. And have you seen the names? I suggest you find your fantasy and choose your Smilemaker. Cheeky grins are a definite.



Once you have figured out how your body works, and what vibrator works for you, the next big step is to ensure that you don’t have any internalised feelings of shame or embarrassment. Speaking to a qualified sexologist can help you improve your confidence and navigate any hesitations you might have.


Once you feel ready, respectfully communicate your desires to your partner without reservation. an excellent way to start is to lay it out plainly: saying “I think this vibrator would be great to use in the bedroom”, or “what do you think about using this together?”


Try not to take your partner by surprise by mentioning it during intercourse. A casual discussion over coffee or during chill time is a good way to ease them into the idea if they’re a bit conflicted about it.


Men, in particular, may feel threatened by their partner’s use of a vibrator, as it leads to feelings of inadequacy. It’s important to reassure your partner that it is not a substitute for them, but rather a tool for them to make you feel good. Explaining how your body functions and achieves pleasure is an excellent way to objectively clarify that it is not /about them/ or what they are doing wrong.


Good communication shouldn’t be thought of as a cute optional extra: whether a personal massager improves your relationship or leads to conflict is wholly dependent on how open you are with each other, and how well and often you communicate your concerns and desires with one another.


Re-define ‘Sex’:

It’s also necessary to redefine intimacy and to overthrow the idea that only penetration counts as real sex. There are several ways to have fun and safe sex, and you decide what works for you. Having an orgasm through a vibrator is not secondary or lesser to orgasm through penetration, and both you and your partner should not feel inadequate for integrating it into your sex life.


Vibrators also don’t have to be limited to foreplay. They can be used in the beginning, the end, or used the entire time. The important thing is for neither you or your partner to feel alienated, and to make sure that the pleasure isn’t feeling one-sided. Good communication is key to keeping this in check.


Talking to your partner about how you define sex, and what it means to you both, is a nice way to reach a mutual understanding of how you can improve your sex life.

Have fun with it!


Once you and your partner are ready to use a couples massager, there are some products on the market for you to use. The Smile Makers collection is one of the first sets of massagers that were tailored specifically with women in mind, and are a good option for couples looking to integrate a personal massager into their play time.


Their massagers range from clitoral stimulators to vibrators that work on the clitoris as well as the genital region surrounding it.


Not everyone gets off in the same way, so experimenting doesn’t hurt!

Words by Chantelle Otten 
image under license via

Chantelle Otten is Priceline Pharmacy's Sexual Health and Relationship Expert. 


The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your doctor or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and wellbeing or on any opinions expressed within this article. The information and opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and may not necessarily be the views of API or Priceline.  API or Priceline will not be responsible for any actions taken by a reader as a result of this article.





(1)   Wallen, K., & Lloyd, E. A. (2011). Female Sexual Arousal: Genital Anatomy and Orgasm in Intercourse. Hormones and Behavior, 59(5), 780–792.

(2)   Richters J1, de Visser RO2, Badcock PB3, Smith AM3, Rissel C4, Simpson JM5, Grulich AE6. Masturbation, paying for sex, and other sexual activities: the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships. Sex Health. 2014 Nov;11(5):461-71.doi: 10.1071/SH14116.

(3)   Margaret R. H. Nusbaum, DO, MPH  George Gamble, PhD Bron Skinner, PhD  Julia Heiman, PhD. The High Prevalence of Sexual Concerns among Women Seeking Routine Gynecological Care. J Fam Pract. 2000 March;49(3):229-232

(4)   Ackard, D. M., Kearney-Cooke, A. and Peterson, C. B. (2000), Effect of body image and self-image on women's sexual behaviours. Int. J. Eat. Disord., 28: 422–429.doi:10.1002/1098-108X(200012)28:4<422::AID-EAT10>3.0.CO;2-1

(5)   Gilbert, E., Ussher, JM., & Perz J. (2010). Renegotiating sexuality and intimacy in the context of cancer: the experiences of carers. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39(4), 998-1009

(6)   Gilbert, E., Ussher, JM., & Perz J. (2010). Renegotiating sexuality and intimacy in the context of cancer: the experiences of carers. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39(4), 998-1009.