This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of AVN's Intimate magazine.
Dr. Ralph Zipper is the first to admit that vibrators have made major advancements in many ways in the past several years—including the materials used, the colors offered and even motor strength. But he believes he has created a device that will truly change the world of vibrators.
Zipper, a urogynecologist, is no stranger to creating devices for the medical field, specifically devices using lasers to treat a variety of conditions and ailments. It was during clinical trials for the FDA for his most recent laser that he stumbled upon the world of vibrators and sexual health.
Zipper and his team were utilizing low-level laser energy—lasers that deliver less energy than a lightbulb—to treat pelvic pain. Zipper said many women started reporting side effects from the treatments.
“Some of these women were telling us they thought they were having orgasms, but they weren’t sure because they had never had them before,” Zipper told AVN. “And other women were telling us not only were they having orgasms, but they were having more intense ones.”
With results like that, Zipper decided the low-level lasers could be used outside the medical world.
“So three years ago, we decided to put a $30,000 laser into a sex toy,” Zipper said. “Simple, right?”
Zipper said when he began researching vibrators and the sex toy industry, he found a “me too market,” with some manufacturers providing more bells and whistles but all producing vibrators that essentially performed the same function.
“We saw there was so much room for innovation,” Zipper said.
It took time and lots of trials from friends, neighbors, family members and more, but the result is the Afterglow, which can be used as a traditional vibrator or combined with the patented PulseWave light energy. PulseWave features light-emitting diodes that have been demonstrated to enhance physical arousal from the inside.
The Afterglow is a rabbit-style vibrator that combines powerful motors in the shaft and a clitoral stimulator with LEDs.
“The ways that the light affects the tissue is not a side effect that we thought of when we were using them for pelvic pain treatment,” Zipper said. “But it made complete sense to us.”
The lasers, he said, are designed to help increase blood flow to the tissues. The science behind it, he explained, is that the light causes the body to increase production of the cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) enzyme, which naturally causes blood vessels to open and smooth muscles to relax. The results for women using the Afterglow are similar to the effects on men who use Viagra, since Viagra keeps the body from breaking down that same enzyme, Zipper explained.
While Viagra passes through the entire blood stream and is not able to target the vagina and clitoris, the LEDs in the Afterglow do target those specific areas, he said. And increased blood flow leads to more sensitive nerve endings, which in turns leads to increased arousal.
Zipper noted that Afterglow can be used as a traditional vibrator, where users can rely on the vibrations alone. But when combined with the PulseWave technology it can be more of an experience.
There is a learning curve to using the Afterglow, Zipper said. Most women report that they use and experiment with the Afterglow three or four times before they find their “sweet spot” with the device. The key, he noted, is patience.
There are six diodes in the Afterglow, which offers up to 85 pleasure combinations with and without PulseWave. When using PulseWave, Zipper said, the longer the user can experiment with it, the better.
“We’ve found that most women experience increased arousal and many times orgasm between five and eight minutes,” he said.
In fact, after several test subjects reported the times and patterns that gave them the most satisfactory results, the designers created a pattern called PulseWave O. A special button on the Afterglow initiates the program, which lasts about seven minutes, Zipper explained.
“Afterglow is the first of our series of unique devices that use medical science matched with anatomy and physiology to help make sex and masturbation feel even better for women, and it’s the first important step in a huge direction,” Dr. Zipper said.
Afterglow is made of silicone with an ABS plastic handle that houses large “no-look” buttons with raised icons that can be operated by touch alone. Afterglow is rechargeable via a USB port and is packaged in a white leather box. Each unit comes with a one-year warranty and a limited lifetime warranty following product registration online.
For more information about Afterglow and Dr. Ralph Zipper, visit AfterglowScience.com.