Sex toys should never be anything less than fun, and they should definitely not be toxic to your health.
Do you consider yourself environmentally aware and health conscious? Do you buy organic produce from the farmer’s market and avoid products for your kids that contain lead paint?
What about when you shop for sex toys?
Sex toy manufacturers get away with loading up products with toxic ingredients without consequence because they label their products as “novelties”. In other words, if a consumer takes a shoddy plastic phallus labeled as a ‘gag gift’ and sticks it where the sun don’t shine, it is their fault if they incur health problems.
So what’s a conscientious sex toy aficionado to do? Your best bet is to vote with your dollars on quality products from ethical retailers and adult toy brands.
Gone are the days when sex toys are only for sale at scuzzy adult bookstores with sticky floors. Fortunately these days, the market is saturated with reputable shops and websites, run by people who care about their customers’ sexual health and pleasure.
Toxic Dildos Stink
You’ll need to consider several key factors when buying a sex toy. Start with the smell. The first sign of a toxic toy is if there is an odor that attacks your nostrils when you open the box. For lack of a more polite descriptor, a toxic dildo smells like a chemical shit storm. The smell is comparable to a new car or plastic shower curtain, and when this scent is present it often indicates the presence of phthalates.
These chemicals give toys their flexibility. They were once legal in chewable baby toys such as pacifiers, until the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned them. But no such ban affected the sex toy industry. Shockingly, these chemical softeners are still allowed in sex toys, including those designed for penetration.
The latest research shows that exposure to phthalates may disrupt the endocrine system and its ability to regulate hormones. Phthalate exposure in adult men has been linked to obesity and insulin resistance, and damaged or lowered sperm quality.
In a study published in the Environmental International Journal, children born to pregnant women who showed high levels of phthalates in their urine experienced a higher instance of cognitive development problems. Toys made from phthalates are also hard to clean due to their porous texture and are more risky for your health because they can trap bacteria and cause yeast infections.
When shopping for a new adult toy, look for products made out of glass, pure silicone, hard plastic of the ABS variety, or stainless steel. All of these materials are non-porous and non-toxic, so you’ll be good to go without needless anxiety.
If you’re unsure about whether or not a certain product contains phthalates, consult the shop clerk. At reputable and knowledgeable shops like Goodvibes or Babeland, staff members are thrilled to help customers discover awesome, body-safe and environmentally friendly sex toys. If you aren’t located near an ethical sex boutique, or you just feel shy, there are several websites that feature comprehensive customer service.
For a quality body-safe vibrator, check out the Meany Waterproof Mini Silicone Vibrator from Fun Factory. This hypoallergenic vibrator is more compact, strong and quiet than previous-generation toys, and features 12 unique vibration patterns to excite and please. Fun Factory products tend to be more expensive than their toxic, cheap counterparts. So if you prefer to keep old toys you aren’t sure are safe, you can always wrap them in condoms to prevent exposure to phthalates.
Stainless steel toys are not only well-suited for penetration (even surgeons use instruments made from it), but they also provide a nice weight that intensifies sensation and helps strengthen pelvic muscles. Consider purchasing a toy from the elegant Njoy product line if you’re curious about stainless steel. For men, Njoy products are especially good at targeting the prostate for optimal pleasure.
Eco-friendly glass sex toys are safe to use with any type of lube and are also useful in experimenting with temperature play. Just submerge in hot water, or cool in the fridge before playtime. Love Honey is a good glass toy brand that designs and manufactures toys for men and women alike.
Body-Safe Lube 101
Lube optimizes most sex toys. As with sex toys, you need to use caution when shopping for them. The main culprits in personal lubricants are parabens, a preservative also used in cosmetics, and other hygiene products to deter microbial growth. Parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and may be connected to cancerous breast tumors, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Similar to phthalates, parabens are also linked to lowered sperm counts in men.
When looking for a body-safe lubricant, consider either a water-based or pure silicone product (unless you are using it with a silicone toy), and avoid lubes that are petroleum or oil-based. Petroleum or oil-based lubes can damage sex toys, and also cause bacterial or yeast infections given their resistance to water.
Oil-based lubricants should never be used in conjunction with latex condoms either, as they can weaken them. Novelty lubes that promise candy-like flavors, or heating and cooling effects, often irritate delicate skin. Such products carry more risks than benefits, and they mask the unique flavor and smells of your bedmate: one of the main draws of hot sex!
A good example of an organic and chemical-free personal lubricant is Curious. This sophisticated, exquisite formula that that prioritizes both wellness and pleasure. We’ve include a collection of potent medicinal plants specifically designed to rejuvenate, nourish, and support intimate tissues while improving sexual pleasure. Curious also promote a balanced pH.
Another option for healthy lubrication is the much-lauded superfood: coconut oil. Just make sure you aren’t allergic to it first. While antiviral and antibacterial coconut oil is useful for almost everything—from cooking oil to boosting immunity — test it on your skin before you take the plunge. And remember, never pair coconut oil with latex condoms as it weakens them, and always make sure you are using pure coconut oil with no added ingredients.
With a little knowledge, choosing superior sex toys and lube is quite simple. A good rule of thumb is to stick with recognized name brands, which are generally made of medical grade materials and favored by reputable sex toy shops. Ask plenty of questions. Until cultural attitudes about sex start to shift and become more permissive, don’t expect to see real regulations. In the meantime, stick to common sense, and make your sex life worry-free.