Are Sex Toys Necessarily Safe Toys?

I just ran across a great article about sex toys from our colleagues at Brown Univeristy.  Now I know this is an embarassing topic for a lot of people to talk about, but I wanted to share it with you for a couple of reasons:

1. The whole point of this blog is to talk about embarassing stuff that you want to know, and

2. It brings up an important point about not making assumptions about “safe” sex.

Just like sex that doesn’t include men isn’t automatically safe, the use of sex toys doesn’t guarantee a risk free experience either.

If you’re using a sex toy with a partner, you can catch a sexually-transmitted infection from it.  While bacteria and viruses prefer living at body temperature, they can survive in blood and bodily fluids for a time outside of the body and therefore can be on the surface of sex toys passed from one partner to another.

Now, if you’re flying solo you obviously don’t need to worry about getting a sexually-transmitted infection from a sex toy, but they can result in bacteria passing from the anus to the vagina or mouth, which can cause a vaginal or intestinal infection.  So if you plan to use them in multiple areas, cover them with a condom or wash them before moving from the anus to the vagina or mouth.  

The article by the folks at Brown covers a lot of this stuff in more detail and provides some really good tips for cleaning and maintaining sex toys.  If you are worried that you may have or have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection, come in and see us – we’re always glad to help.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

5 thoughts on “Are Sex Toys Necessarily Safe Toys?

  1. How is this even a question? Sex Toys are wonderful. You can find the right sex toy with this handy guide: is always discreet!

  2. Even if you are flying solo, it is critical to wash your toys. It is documented that bacteria can live for longer than we realize; and if they find a good hiding place, like the “crease” on a bullet vibrator for example, it can be passed back to you. Plus, toys that are not stored properly and wiped before use can store dust which should not be introduced into the body. Although we sell anti-bacterial sex toys cleaners, we actually suggest that basic handsoap will work just fine for MOST toys; is cheaper, and already in the home. Cleaning the toys with any soap-based product is better than nothing — but it should be gentle; a soap that you would use to wash a babies hands, for example.

    We also inform guys that are “dating” and may have multiple partners to remember to clean their “shared” toys very well. Our first suggestion is always the use of a condom on the toy when being shared, but we know that is rarely done. The alternative is to make sure they understand the need for cleaning the toy after use.

    With all of that said, there is no way to document the number of problems that have been caused by adult toys not being cleaned properly. It comes down to a matter of “whats right” — just like our mothers taught us always wear clean underwear!

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