It used to be that diamonds were a girl’s best friend. But these days, it’s something much more stimulating. And it vibrates. Better yet, it’s battery-powered to last for hours. Plus, it never needs Viagra.

So given the fuss it has created among women in recent years, many men have found themselves wondering if they will eventually become replaced. Are they just suffering from bruised egos in the bedroom ... or could they actually be sexually substituted someday?

In sizing up today’s vibrator craze, many point to the "Sex and the City" episode that made "The Rabbit" vibrator famous. And while that show definitely piqued more than the public's interest, you can actually blame the medical community for getting us turned on to the original electronic gadgets more than 100 years ago. At the turn of the century, vibrators became all the rage for treating female "hysteria."

From the time of Hippocrates all the way to Freud, doctors stimulated orgasms in women and girls to relieve them of what was thought to be their "starved" or "misplaced" womb. Historically, people thought that hysteria ("hyster" is Greek, meaning "womb") was a condition where the uterus was revolting against sexual deprivation. Marriage or a medical massage was considered the best remedy.

Using a clinical procedure known as the "medical massage." physicians would induce "hysterical paroxysm" in their patients. This "fit" or sudden attack, also known as an orgasm, involved an increased breathing and pulse rate, a reddening of the skin, vaginal lubrication and abdominal contractions. Is it any wonder that many women of the puritanical Victorian era flocked to their doctors, claiming to be afflicted with hysteria?

Doctors’ hands were finally relieved of masturbating their patients to orgasm in the 1880s when electromechanical vibrators hit the scene. These "medical appliances." as they were known, were designed to improve the efficiency of medical massage and treat hysteria. Yet they weren’t around for long. Medical massagers disappeared from doctors’ offices in the 1930s, replaced by psychotherapy.

It is no wonder, then, that women have been working themselves into a frenzy over the vibrator’s comeback in recent years. In the meantime, some men have worried that they’ve finally met their match. And in some ways, they may be right when it comes to their lover’s orgasm.

Vibrators can help a woman not only to become orgasmic, but multi-orgasmic. They deliver orgasms consistently and easily. They enhance her sexual responsiveness and pleasure. Vibrator users also report higher levels of sexual desire, arousal, and interest.

In a 2004 Berman Center study titled "Health Benefits of Sexual Aids and Devices," nearly half of women ages 18 to 55 had used a vibrator. These women were found to be more interested in sex, reached orgasm more easily and were likelier to have a better quality of life.

On first take, such benefits and research findings can definitely feel threatening to a gal’s lover. How is he supposed to compete with that?

But men should stop looking at vibrators as the enemy; they should start seeing them as their friends. They make their job much easier. When used in a supporting role, a vibrator can help a man bring his lover to orgasm.

The Berman Center study further found that 30 percent of couples use vibrators. This is no surprise given that users of sex aids, in general, have sex more frequently and experience more satisfying sex with their partners. Vibrator use can lend itself to better sexual functioning, as well as:

— enhance your emotional and sexual intimacy;

— heighten your pleasuring;

— boost your eroticism quotient;

— promote mutual sexual and emotional satisfaction.

So in making friends, ask for a show and tell. Ask her to use it on you. Take a chance, and use it during sex, using it on her clitoris during intercourse to increase her chances of reaching the "Big O."

Finally, take comfort in knowing that the vibrator will never replace you. Unless you’re a lousy lover or your relationship is already in shambles, a woman will never opt for a mechanical device over you. She’ll always prefer the emotional support and sexual intimacy that only her lover can give her. After all, the best sex is that which provides overall pleasure.

Sexpert Q & A: How do I know if I've been slipped a date rape drug? Click here to read Yvonne's answer.

Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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