s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

The Walgreens store on Highway 12 and Mission Boulevard in Santa Rosa offers aspirin, heel inserts and a number of other elixirs and devices that make a person feel better.

Add vibrators to that list.

Walgreens and other major retailers are now stocking vibrators on their shelves, signaling a major change in attitude about a device that used to be the exclusive domain of adult stores.

The devices are euphemistically labeled "intimate" or "personal" massagers and packaged discreetly so as not to offend some sensibilities.

But make no mistake, the Trojan Tri-Phoria, A:Muse Personal Pleasure Massager by LifeStyles and the Allure, by Durex, are exactly what people suspect them to be. And the fact they are being sold at the corner pharmacy is being touted as a milestone in the nation's collective approach to sex.

"I think it's great news," said Diane Gleim, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Santa Rosa whose practice includes treatment for sexual dysfunction. "It means more everyday people have access to such things if they are curious about them."

Like most sexual aids, vibrators have a controversial history in America, viewed alternately as objects of pleasure or smut. Seven states, mostly along the nation's Bible Belt, still ban sales of the devices.

But a 2008 study that was the first to survey a nationally representative sample of Americans on the subject found that over half of adult women had used vibrators, and nearly half of men.

The study was funded by Church & Dwight Co., which owns the Trojan brand, in conjunction with the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University.

Michael Reece, the center director, said the study confirmed what researchers had long suspected: that a vast number of Americans either had used vibrators or approved of their use.

Reece credits the Baby Boom generation for bringing the vibrator out into the open. "For decades, there have been lots of underground groups promoting these products and teaching women how to use them," he said.

Reece said the selling of these devices in mainstream stores "is a major shift in the role retailers are playing in promoting healthy sex."

Vivika Vergara, a Walgreens spokeswoman, said the Tri-Phoria became available in nearly 6,000 Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in March. The A:Muse hit the market in January and the Allure, in 2008.

"Many consumers may feel more secure purchasing this type of product from a trusted, health-focused retailer," Vergara said.

Bruce Tetreault, group product manager for Trojan's sexual health products, said the company's evolution into what he called the "vibration" market began five years ago.

Tetreault said the company strives to package these products in an understated way that still grabs attention. "We recognize that this might be a challenge for some retailers," he said.

The vibrators at the Highway 12 Walgreens are behind a locked glass partition. A sign instructs customers to ask for help if they want to purchase one.

Vergara said store managers decided to put the items under lock and key because people had been stealing them. Not all stores take that measure, she said.

Experts say the manner in which vibrators are marketed and sold also reflects continuing unease about the products and their intended use.

"There's still a &‘tee-hee' factor when these types of items are in front of people's faces," Gleim said.

Gleim, who has prescribed vibrators as part of her psychology practice, predicted that people will become more comfortable with the devices being sold at their corner pharmacy.

"In my work, you'd be surprised how many people have vibrators in their goodie drawers," she said. "It's not something that's talked about. People don't say, &‘I bought a vibrator today.'"

"But there was a similar thing with condoms years ago," she said.

Show Comment