• The History of Sex: Why the vibrator was invented

    TC10

    The humble vibrator was invented by doctors who were sick of giving their patients orgasms with their fingers. I'm not kidding - this was the standard treatment for 'hysteria'.

    In the 1800s, 'hysteria' was the most common health complaint among women of the day. It was a term used to describe any emotional distress: Got a headache? You obviously had hysteria. Problems sleeping? Same thing. A sore foot? Hysteria again. Pulled your back doing the hoovering? Ahh, a classic case of hysteria.


    Now, although hysteria was exposed as a load of bollocks by the American Psychiatric Association in 1952, medical experts from the time of Hippocrates up to the 20th century honestly believed hysteria was the result of the womb being sexually deprived. So the standard cure for hysteria by the doctor was genital massage. Yes, back in those days, your local GP would manually masturbate you (ie give you a hand-job) with the objective of inducing 'hysterical paroxysm' (ie an orgasm).

    Now, as any good lover knows, if you're just using your fingers, giving a woman an orgasm - let alone one you don't even know - demands both skill and patience. And if you're a busy GP with a packed waiting room - and let's face it, they would be packed if an orgasm is what the doctor ordered - time becomes a problem for the doctor - let alone the patient.

    Finally, an American doctor, sick of facing a waiting room full of women looking pointedly at their watches and flicking moodily through magazines, invented the vibrator in 1869 so he could get the job done faster.

    The first vibrator was steam-powered and, as I said, designed as a medical tool for treating 'female disorders'. In 1883, a British doctor followed up with a more portable, battery operated model and by the 1900s dozens of styles of electric vibrators were available to the medical world.

    By the 1920s, most doctors had switched from giving orgasms to giving pills (and comparatively chaste reassuring pats on the knee) to treat 'female problems' - which is why we all can't trot along to the local clinic and clock up a few orgasms on the NHS today.

    The good old vibrator, though, refused to die. It was then marketed as a home appliance promoting 'health, vigor and beauty' - but also as a cure-all for everything from headaches to asthma and tuberculosis.

    The advertisements were ambigious but I think everyone got the message. Things like 'Be a glow getter!' or 'Who wouldn't be tempted to experience that health-restoring sensation called vibration?' and 'It makes you tingle with the joy of living!'. Noone ever came out and said, 'It's great for masturbating' but they might as well have.

    It was only when vibrators started appearing in porn movies that it became difficult to ignore their true purpose and ads for vibrators started to disappear from reputable publications.

    Boots started selling vibrators in the 1940s but to this day, no-one really talks about their real use and in lots of places they're still marketed solely as 'body massagers'.

    High street sex shops market them as sexual toys or aids but they're still 'neck massagers' in a hell of a lot of places.

    Which means we have a serious problem with neck tension in the UK since one in three women in England currently owns a vibrator...

    Fix your love life fast

    Add a comment
    1. Yes, please! Email me when there are more comments after mine
    2. We need to ask you a question to prove you're a human because evil spam computers keep abusing our form!