Phthalates and Toxic Sex Toys

Posted by Anna Bergeron on

Sex toys can be made of many different materials. Each has its own unique selling points, and some are much more suitable for some kinds of sex toys than other. Sex toy materials are not without their negative points though. Be it the feeling of the material, how difficult it is to clean, or even the cost. One of the largest problem with sex toy materials though is toxicity. Certain materials are not only not amazing for the actual quality of the toy but using them could put your body in danger.

Which Sex Toy Materials are Toxic?

There’s no clear answer to how toxic a sex toy can be. Rather than just the material itself, you need to think about what the manufacturers are putting into the materials. In most cases, the biggest thing to watch out of will be phthalates.

What Are Phthalates?

Phthalates are a chemical commonly found in many different materials. They are usually added to different types of plastic to help soften them up. This makes them both easier to mould and shape, and make the material feel nicer overall.

Sounds pretty harmless right? Unfortunately, Phthalates carry some dangerous side effects for your body. There have been many different studies done to try and judge exactly what phthalates do to your body, and how dangerous they are. Studies on humans are very rare, but studies on rats have routinely proven that in high enough doses phthalates can kill them outright, and lower doses can cause cancer, infertility, and many other problems. The safest thing to do overall is to just avoid phthalates all together.

Other Toxic Materials

Throughout the sex toy industry there are always companies trying to produce cheaper versions of different sex toys. The main way to bring the cost down is through the materials they make the toys with. If you’ve spent much time on a sex toy store, you’ll have probably seen many different variants of jelly and rubber sex toys.

These aren’t great, and commonly react with themselves, the air, their packaging, pretty much anything. With a little time searching online you can find all kinds of stories from different stores or individuals where by the time the toys have been delivered they’ve already started to decompose. These release all kinds of horrible chemicals which you definitely don’t want to be putting into your body.

Porous VS Non-Porous Sex Toys

Another question when it comes to the toxicity of your sex toys is their porousness. This is quite a simple idea. More porous materials have larger pores, which allow more things to pass through their surface. When it comes to sex toys, a porous material is one which allows bacteria to pass through and into the material, and non-porous materials are those that don’t.

While a non-porous material isn’t explicitly toxic in itself, the fact that it can absorb bacteria does cause problems. Once the bacteria have got under the surface of the material, it can be impossible to ever get it fully out again. Non-porous toys can also never be truly sterilised.

Shouldn’t this be okay though? After all, the bacteria are coming from my body, so it shouldn’t cause any harm to my body, right?

If this were the case then yes, you’d most likely be fine and non-porous sex toys would never really be a problem. The issue though, is that bacteria doesn’t just come from your own body. There are many other places that a sex toy can pick up bacteria. Common examples include if someone else uses or even handles your sex toy, if you store it in a place where bacteria have access, or even if you simply drop it on the floor.

Any of these sources can harbour all kinds of bacteria which might not necessarily be toxic to your skin. The difference is that we aren’t just rubbing our sex toys on our bodies. These objects are actually inserted inside your body. The skin cells inside the body are much better at absorbing practically anything, so even the most innocuous bacteria which might not give you skin problems can do something entirely different if it manages to get into your body and inside your blood stream.

As an example, imagine if you step in dog poo on your way home and don’t notice. You then tread this bacteria around your house. You clean up all the parts which you can see, but you have no way of knowing if bacteria have managed to transfer from your shoe to your floor on the parts that didn’t have poo on them. You then drop your dildo on the same part of the floor, which lets it pick up the bacteria. Once you put it into your body, said bacteria is free to go wherever it wants to.

Now I’m pretty sure none of you would willingly put dog poo inside your own body, but this is the kind of risk you are running when you use porous sex toys.

How to Avoid Toxic Sex Toys

The easiest way to avoid all of these risks, is to simply avoid these kinds of toys. Thankfully the sex toy industry in general is always improving, and both toxic and porous sex toys are slowly on the decline.

This is thanks to immense pressure from almost every angle, with responsible stores, bloggers, reviewers and even some manufacturers increasing the awareness of consumers and pushing for safer sex toys. The battle is never really over though, and the sex toy industry is still woefully low on regulation and control, so some bad toys are still out there.

The safest materials to go for are those made from 100% silicone, glass and metal. Sometimes it can be tough to know if something claiming to be 100% silicone actually is. If you’re unsure contact the manufacturer and ask for clarification. If this still doesn’t satisfy your curiosity, there are a few tests you can do at home to check the quality of your own silicone products. With glass and metal though, you get what you get and there is very little room for any misdirection on the part of the manufacturer.

Another option for extra safety is to simply use a condom over all of your sex toys. This won’t have a 100% success rate, but in general the condom will protect you from at least some of the things that might be absorbed from your sex toy. If you aren’t sure if it’s the right thing to do, put a condom on your toy and leave it for a while. If you come back to find any weird juices coming out of either the condom or the toy, then these are probably not healthy things and you should ditch the toy.

We can only hope in the future that any sex toy you buy will be completely body safe. Although it may take a while, we will get there eventually. In the meantime, be careful what you put into your body, and only use the best quality sex toys you can afford.

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