Smart vibrator helps scientists study female orgasms 

A new sex research platform makes orgasm data easily accessible — finally.

The female orgasm is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a vagina.

No one’s sure why people with vaginas evolved to have them in the first place — unlike male orgasms, they aren’t strictly necessary for reproduction, so that biological need is ruled out.

And why can some women orgasm easily while others can’t at all? Is some underlying health issue at play?

There’s no shortage of questions, but the main reason they remain unanswered is that female orgasms are just really hard to study.

Researchers can ask women questions about their orgasms, but their responses might not be entirely accurate — for example, a woman might say it takes her an average of three minutes to reach climax when it’s really closer to two-and-a-half.

Researchers can conduct studies to get reliable data on female orgasms, but those require hard-to-come-by funding and volunteers willing to be connected to machines while having sex or masturbating in a lab.

Now, sex tech company Lioness has launched a platform where users can submit data from their smart vibrators to help scientists study the female orgasm.

Charting Female Orgasms

At first glance, the Lioness looks like your standard sex toy, but it contains sensors that measure movement, temperature, and muscle contractions.

After use, a Lioness owner can sync the vibrator with its companion app and see a chart of all this data, including the points during which they exhibited the biological signs of orgasming.

Like other running and exercise apps, they can also include notes on each session (if they were alone or with a partner, trying out a new lubricant, or anything else that might be relevant).

The goal is to integrate sexual function into our overall understanding of health.

Liz Klinger

The idea behind the Lioness was that women could use this feedback to better understand — or even improve — their sex lives, but Lioness also saw its potential to help researchers studying female orgasms and their connection to both pleasure and health.

Now, the company has launched the Lioness Sex Research Platform.

Academic and medical researchers in need of data on female orgasms can submit study proposals to Lioness for approval. Lioness owners can then scroll through the list of approved studies in the app and choose which (if any) they want to anonymously opt into.

Some studies may request additional demographic information, which is up to the owner to provide, but all of the orgasm data is anonymized — the researcher will never know the identity of the person on the other side of the vibrator.

The Future of Sex Research

The platform is still new, and the goal of one of the first studies — conducted by researchers at  the non-profit Center on Genital Health and Education — is to validate the Lioness as a viable research tool.

Looking ahead, it’s hard to predict what researchers might learn from the platform, but as Lioness CEO Liz Klinger points out, it wasn’t until researchers started studying erectile dysfunction that they discovered a link between ED and cardiovascular problems.

There could be a similar link between health and female orgasms, but no one knows because it hasn’t been studied yet.

“Our goal with the Lioness Research Platform is to integrate sexual function as a missing puzzle piece to our overall understanding of health and wellbeing in both research and day-to-day life,” Klinger said. “I think we could have a key to understanding the health of women and people with vaginas.”

We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at [email protected].

Revolutionary weight-loss drugs like Wegovy come with a catch
People taking GLP-1 agonists are losing too much muscle, but these drugs designed to prevent muscle loss could solve the problem.
What hybrid mouse/rat brains are showing us about the mind
Modified mice with hybrid brains that include rat neurons could one day lead to new breakthroughs in neuroscience.
Last century, we extended our lives. This century, we need to shorten our deaths.
We are living longer lives, while also spending more years sick than ever before — but there are ways to close the lifespan-healthspan gap
AI can help predict whether a patient will respond to specific tuberculosis treatments
Instead of a one-size-fits-all treatment approach, AI could help personalize treatments for each patient to provide the best outcomes.
In a future with brain-computer interfaces like Elon Musk’s Neuralink, we may need to rethink freedom of thought
In a future with more “mind reading,” thanks to computer-brain interfaces, we may need to rethink freedom of thought.
Up Next
Data Visualization
Subscribe to Freethink for more great stories