Vibrators are extremely popular – according to one well-known manufacturer, the 2011 market for vibrating toys surpassed $1 billion in the United States alone, and hundreds of thousands of new toys are produced and sold every year. Thanks to the breakthrough success of products like the Hitachi Magic Wand, vibrators are fairly well accepted; they’ve become less “kinky” over the past several decades, and a 2009 survey in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that around 50 percent of women aged 18-60 had used a vibrator alone or with a partner.

Several studies show the substantial benefits of vibrator use. Women who vibe are more likely to engage in regular gynecological examinations and PAP smears, and they typically report higher levels of sexual satisfaction overall. If you use a vibrator, there’s a decent chance that you’ll keep using one – and that you’ll be happier and healthier than your non-vibrating counterparts, since you’re more open to approaching your sexual health in a responsible way.

Even so, there’s a common misconception that vibrators can reduce clitoral sensitivity, and many women refuse to try vibrating toys due to this fallacy. Just to be clear: there is no convincing evidence that vibrators, when used properly, could damage the nerves in the clitoris or diminish sensitivity in any permanent way.

The myth is persistent for a few reasons. On average, the vibratory threshold of the clitoris – the intensity needed to prompt an orgasm – increases as women get older. When women age, they may notice that they need more powerful vibrators, and they may attribute this to a desensitizing effect; it’s actually a natural change in the way the body works, and it’s nothing to get worried about. Extra lubrication or added mental and emotional stimulation can make up for some of the biological changes.

Some women also experience a short-term effect. The clitoris is extremely sensitive (it has more than 7,000 nerve endings), and any constant stimulation can seem to numb the area. However, it’s important to note that this is not equivalent to nerve damage. Your brain and your nerve endings are temporarily overwhelmed, and if you don’t use your vibrator for a few days, you’ll likely notice your sensitivity returning to normal.

If you’re using a vibrator and you’re worried about desensitizing yourself, relax – there’s simply no science to back up the misconception. For the best possible results, here are a few tips to keep in mind when enjoying your vibe.

Start Slow – As we mentioned earlier, the clitoris is extremely sensitive, and low-speed vibrations provide plenty of stimulus for most women. Try a multi-speed vibrator and start with the lowest speed setting. Don’t apply much pressure; temporary desensitization usually occurs when women press too hard.

Use Lube – A little lubrication can diminish friction while improving your experience. Water-based lubricants are the safest choice, since they’re compatible with all types of toy materials.

Take Occasional Breaks – If you feel overwhelmed, stop using your vibrator for a few minutes. You can also target other areas while giving your clit some time to recover.

If you use a high-quality vibrator and pay attention to your body, you don’t need to worry about any sort of numbing effect. Vibrators are a fun and satisfying option, and if you enjoy using them, you don’t need to worry as long as you clean and store your toy properly.