What the Hell Is Dead Vagina Syndrome, and Do You Have to Worry About It?

As if sex headaches, vaginal tears, and penile fractures weren't bad enough, there's a new sex side effect we have to worry about: dead vagina syndrome. The term has been popping up on the Internet more and more lately, and it's... unpleasant sounding. The gist? Using a vibrator too often could cause your vagina to lose sensitivity or even become numb, making it harder or impossible to reach orgasm.

Luckily, though, we were assured that dead vagina panic is overblown (phew). "Using a vibrator can be the most efficient way to have an orgasm," says Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn in Santa Monica, California, and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health ($26; amazon.com). "You can't really 'overuse' [it]."

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That's not to say you can't develop down-there symptoms such as a temporary loss of sensitivity, however, after a long session with your vibe. If you do find yourself feeling numb, Dr. Ross recommends allowing your body some time to "reset" before using it again. But if the issue persists, something else is likely to blame.

"When our vagina is not working well or at all sexually—even with a trusted vibrator—it probably means something is happening subconsciously or consciously on a higher level," Dr. Ross explains. "Unlike men, women's sexual desire, excitement, and energy tend to begin in that great organ above the shoulders, rather than the one below the waist."

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Dr. Ross stresses the importance of understanding the real cause of a lack of sensitivity in order to fix the problem. Scheduling an appointment with your ob-gyn is a good first step to rule out any medical conditions that could be behind these symptoms. Other common culprits include stress, obesity, an untreated mood disorder, or alcohol, drug, or tobacco abuse, she says.

The bottom line? While your desire and sensation might be on slowdown, don't pin the blame on your buzzy buddy. "It's usually not your vibrator's fault if it's not hitting a home run in the bedroom," Dr. Ross says.