Some sex toys are shoddily made and contain dangerous chemicals. But by sharing this with you we hope it helps you keep a check on things that are within your control to lessen illness, injury and even fertility.
“Contrary to what people think, there are no specific sex toy regulations in the UK” says consumer safety expert Dr Gordon Hayward and “Sex toys are largely unregulated in the USA too.”
Cheap sex toys like single-use cock rings and single-use bullet vibrators are often marketed as novelty items, with the majority being made from so-called jelly rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is impossible to know the exact make-up of these toys, and just how harmful they really are, because most retailers do not break down individual ingredients or how they are manufactured.
Studies have found some jelly and PVC toys contain added toxic chemicals called phthalates, which are added to rubber to make it flexible. Phthalates suck because they can leak out of toys, affecting the hormone balance of your body and your reproductive functions. They’ve been linked to breast cancer by breast cancer charities, and to asthma by a Norwegian research team. The fact some variants are banned in the US for use in children’s toys by Environmental Protection Agencies as a toxic chemical, so why are they permitted in the toy you are putting in your body?
“Cheap toys made of materials with unknown composition often saturate the marketplace because of their affordability” states S.Panayiotou – body-safe and ethical retailer. “There are many horror stories of toys that have literally melted, sweated oils, or given off foul odours. This phenomenonis alarming.”
KNOW THY DILDO
To ensure your sex toys are safe, the first thing to look at is what they’re made from.
“Check whether it’s a porous material—something which bacteria, viruses and fungus can penetrate and thrive within it” advises activist Francesca Cross.
“These materials are impossible to sanitise fully” she added “even if you wash the toy, anything living in the material can re-grow, potentially causing yeast infections and even transmitting STDs if shared by partners. Jelly toys are particularly difficult to sanitise because they are so porous”.
British healthcare authorities also warn that any un-sanitized sex toys can pass on STDs like syphilis, herpes, hepatitis, and HIV.
Ethical retailers recommend buying toys that are deemed body-safe but “If it’s unclear what material a toy is made out of, stay away,” adds Fransesca Cross.
LOST IN SPACE
Toys made from unsafe materials often tend to lack basic safety features. Muscles in the butt naturally clench, so anything you pop up there can get sucked inside if it isn’t specifically designed with safety in mind. Respect your butt muscles, unless of course you want to have to sit around for a long time at A&E – a particularly challenging and embarrassing trip – assuming you can still sit down for starters.
Just so you know “Any anal toy should have a wide handle or flared base which will prevent it from becoming lost” Cross says. “Toys marketed as beginners butt plugs that have no base and only a ring or string, which would do absolutely nothing to stop them getting lost! These rings are often no wider than the toy itself, meaning it could be sucked up inside you along with the plug”. You might find yourselves putting a new spin on the saying: Gone Fishing. You heard it here first !
PLASTIC FANTASTIC ?
Buying cheap vibrators off the internet can end up leaving you with a bunch of sexual health issues – from infections to messing with your hormones, as well as hindering conception. A recent release from consumer watchdog Choice found that plastics containing damaging compounds such as Bisphenol A, phthalates, PVC, and BPA can disrupt endocrine, causing issues including infertility, breast cancer, and heart disease. Which isn’t great. So, here’s how to make sure your sex toy and/or dilator is as safe as possible– not only in terms of plastics, but in all other regards, too.
1. Check out the details before purchase. Look into the product description and find out what it’s made of, if ingredients for manufacture are missing ask yourself – why. Is this because they could be declining to disclose phthalates and BPA, which as you now know are not a good thing to put in your vagina or anus.
2. Pay close attention to the price as in – cheap, chances are it is cheap because it’s made with super cheap plastic.
3. Choose non-porous materials such as hard plastic (rather than the jelly-like stuff if you must go for plastic), silicone, or metal. These don’t tend to let bacteria or dirt get lodged in the surface, so they’re easier to clean and are less likely to swirl nasty stuff around your bits but are obviously rigid.
4. Only use toys designed for anal play for anal play. Sex toys designed for anal play should always be designed with a flared base or stopper, so you don’t end up losing a toy inside yourself.
5. And don’t use any toys for both anal and vagina fun. Bacteria in your bum doesn’t belong in the vagina – full stop. Keep toys separate. Some are for anal, some are for vaginas. Never shall the two shall meet. Consider this also, with fancy two-pronged models, no matter how careful you are the chances are one if not both of the ends will unintentionally touch places they should be avoiding, and as germs are invisible they are unlikely to leave tell-tale signs until you start to feel ill days later.
6. Clean your sex toys after each use, not tomorrow, but straight away, and before they are thoroughly clean, keep them off surfaces where any germs can be transferred to. Most good companies provide you with cleaning instructions so again consider this with your purchase rather than being sucked in by fancy packaging and marketing.
In general, a rough idea would be:
Silicone, Glass, or Pyrex toys should be washed with soap and water. Glass can’t be put in the dishwasher, but Silicone and Pyrex usually can (but check if that applies to what you want to own or already own).
Steel toys need to be boiled for 10 minutes to kill bacteria, then washed, thoroughly rinsed and dried making sure what you are using to dry them is also totally clean.
Plastic and Rubber can’t deal with high temperatures, so hand-wash them with a gentle scent free soap and dry well making sure that what you use to dry them with is just as clean.
7.Make sure you don’t submerge any toys that are battery operated, and always dry them off before storing.
8. Have a place to store your sex toys. A clean, tidy drawer or box will do brilliantly, as will special soft pouches for each toy so they don’t rub against each other. Never store in plastic containers such as Tupperware etc , as their plastics can transfer unseen matter.
9. Look out for strong smells. A strong plasticky smell from a vibrator tends to indicate phthalates are becoming noticeable, which can cause health issues. Any other strong smell is likely to be hinting cleaning may’ve been compromised and it might be time to replace it.
10. Be careful with lubes. If your toy is silicone, don’t use a silicone or oil-based lube as this will break down the material plus, you are more than often going to have to vigorously clean it from time to time, which comes with the chance of scratches that are not visible to the eye but perfect for ‘things’ to set up shop in. Water-based lube is best..
Be mindful of ‘traditional vaginal dilators’ – as evidenced on wikipedia below.
A vaginal dilator is an instrument used to gently stretch the vagina as therapy for vaginismus.
There is mixed evidence for their use, and studies have reported psychological damage from dilator treatment. Rectoral-fistulae have also been linked to dilator use ( causing faecal incontinence).
In addition, as documented by NHS Bath Trust ( Tracie Miles & Nick Johnson), when using traditional various sized dilators compared to alternatives stated : ” Dilation is intrusive , psychologically distressing and has also caused (rare but very serious) damage to the rectum.