Review: Dr. Laura Berman’s Siena Slimline Massager

The Siena Slimline vibrator sitting in a dish of candy hearts. Beside it, a box of candy hearts is spilled out.

The Siena Slimline Massager is a deceptively sturdy-feeling vibrator. At 6.5 inches long with a 1.25 inch diameter, it’s the bulkiest non-wand vibe I’ve ever owned, since I generally only use vibrators for external stimulation.

I fell in love with the Siena the moment I pulled it out of its blessedly simple packaging (no wrap rage here!) and found that despite being a hard plastic toy, the Siena was uniquely smooth, its silky-feeling texture unlike anything I’ve ever touched before. It’s the kind of soft you want to rub on your face, which I did several times, much to my wife’s bemusement. This delightful feeling is due to its Rubber Cote™ exterior, which comes with a fancy TM and everything!

But even better than how the Siena felt, was how it felt. After popping two c-batteries (the source of its impressive power) into the cardboard-lined battery chamber, I turned it on and even at its lowest setting I was rewarded with distinctly rumbly vibrations in my hand. The toy got noisier the higher I turned the dial but the rumbles felt fairly consistent, though there was definitely some serious surface buzz going on too. The noise is likely exacerbated by the batteries clattering around inside, despite the (cheap) use of cardboard to muffle them.

I’d love to comment on if the surface buzz became distracting or numbing in addition to the rumbly vibrations when used on genitals, but I can’t.

Because I was only able to use it for ten seconds.

Because it broke.

And when I was sent a replacement (thanks, SheVibe!), that one broke too.

I knew reviewing sex toys wasn’t going to be a glamorous endeavor. That it would require a lot of time, effort, and patience. That my junk would inevitably cross paths with toys that are incontestable failures or painful and terrifying. I even knew and accepted that I would be trying things that would break on me.

But writing a review (my first review – though it won’t be the first published) on a toy that broke not once, but twice, in 10 seconds? Isn’t that kind of misfortune supposed to wait until at least your second month of blogging?


The Siena sitting among some scattered candy hearts.

The Siena is part of Dr Laura Berman’s Intimate Basics Collection (“designed by women, for women” cus only women use vibrators I guess – sorry not sorry I put my nonbinary bits all over your stuff?), and beyond its Rubber Cote surface and deeply rumbly vibrations, it is very basic: unscrew the cap, dump the batteries in, screw the cap back on, use the dial on the cap to increase or decrease vibration strength. No patterns, no extra appendages if you want dual stimulation, no surface ridges or textures.

I’ve had a dozen vibrators just like it, though they were all half its size and offered only buzzy vibrations. They were about the same price as the Siena, too: 20 USD. This familiarity and price point played a big part in my excitement for the Siena: different but not too different, and cheap enough not to hurt my feelings if it wasn’t up to snuff.

But I was wrong. Because it did hurt my feelings. The Siena had the audacity to feel blissfully powerful against my vulva, strong enough to satisfy my picky clit but not so buzzy that it made my outer labia itch – and then, right when I settled back not once but twice to enjoy the ride, finally experiencing the fabled “rumbly vibrations” my cheap Spencer’s vibes could never produce, the dial abruptly stopped working. The vibrations went away. Gone was my ability to gradually increase power to work myself into what was bound to be a great orgasm. Instead the dial moved fruitlessly, the vibe dead on my junk…

Until I had turned it all the way to max. Then, like some kind of vibrator zombie, the Siena buzzed back to life and attacked my crotch with a vengeance, battering me with too much stimulation and no way to warm up to it unless I utilized a different toy first. And I did not want to use a different toy and then swap out to this Purple People Disappointer – it already had its chance, damnit.

After the first time this happened, I contacted SheVibe for a replacement, and was sent one in just two business days. The superhero motif of their site tells no lies!

Unfortunately, though this vibe was tested by SheVibe before it was sent to me, I had the exact same experience with the replacement. Though trying the dial several times in my hand posed no issue, when I actually sprawled out in bed – nestling it between my outer labia by holding the shaft about half an inch beneath the cap for stability, and then using my other hand to turn it on – it lasted only ten seconds, just like its predecessor. As soon as I turned the dial up, the vibrations went away, never to return unless set to maximum. I’m not sure if my pussy has some kind of Siena-sabotaging magic barrier going on, but it hasn’t murdered any other toys straight out of the package like this.

The Siena in its packaging with candy hearts scattered around.

Alarmingly, my partner Buster noticed some tiny bursts of light during our replacement use, because we were in the dark this time. We sat up and peered at the semi-translucent cap, turning the dial back and forth, and saw it several more times: random sparks of white light inside the cap when set to its highest (and only working) setting. As far as I can tell (which, to be honest, isn’t very far – it’s not like I had much time to observe the Siena) it’s not supposed to have any light? I didn’t want to risk it melting or catching fire, so I turned it off.

I decided to look around the internet to see if anyone else was experiencing similar issues with their Purple People Disappointer (maybe I should throw a fancy TM on that shit), and to both my surprise and not-surprise, I found a review on Eden Fantasys from 2007.

Deciding that “medium” was a pleasant, powerful speed, I laid back to enjoy. Just as I felt myself building up to an orgasm, the vibrator shut off. I turned the dial to “off” and then back on. The “low” and “medium” speeds were gone, and only the highest speed would work. Thinking that the batteries were defective, I opened the vibrator to try and get them out. One battery slid out easily, but the second stayed put. I shook, twisted, and tried to pry the battery out, with no luck. I let the vibrator cool down, then put the second battery back in. To my consternation, the vibrator obstinately refused to operate at lower speeds.

Reviewer Ariane had the exact same issue with this vibrator an entire decade ago! What the actual fuck.

If the Siena worked properly, I would probably be singing its praises right now. Cheap, rumbly, an Easter-y shade of pastel purple, and supposedly waterproof*? The cardboard inserts and surface buzz on higher levels would be largely forgiven, I’m sure. But everything likable about the Siena is, at least for me, not worth the gamble of a defective unit, especially since I now have two defective units in my possession. On the other hand, this vibe has been around for over a decade and is still being sold, and SheVibe itself has a 5-star review from someone, so clearly not everyone has had my terrible luck.

*I would test if the Siena is waterproof, but several reviews I came across (including Ariane’s) said their battery compartment got water in it just from post-use rinsing… and honestly, if I put the Siena in water, it would be to try drowning it, not to test its waterproofing. Also, the sparking inside the cap makes me too nervous to turn the thing on again.

If you’re okay with the odds – or if you’re fine with a strong, rumble-with-some-buzz single-speed vibrator that may or may not spark menacingly – you can buy the Siena Slimline Massager from SheVibe**.

**This not an affiliate link.