Since we’re living in a day and age where our health, well being and that of the environment is of utmost importance, I thought this #EarthDay I’d do what I could to help raise awareness about the way we unknowingly pollute our bodies.
Who would have thought that little toy you keep hidden in a box could be so dangerous.
How Do You Know If Your Sex Toy is Safe?
With all of the different materials on the market it can be pretty hard to differentiate between what’s safe and what isn’t. Making things even more complicated is the fact that many manufacturers are labeling products as being made entirely of a material when they only contain a small percent (this is often the case with mass produced ‘silicone’ toys).
The best advice I can offer is to take your health into your own hands, literally; when shopping in a store see if you can touch or smell the product of interest; if it feels slimy, wet, oily, or greasy, and/or smells like chemicals (close to the smell from new plastic shower curtains), it usually contains toxic ingredients like phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) and should be avoided. Other than that, shopping at reputable stores and asking the staff for help to find a quality toy is usually a good idea.
Of course that isn’t an option for those that shop online, in that case I’d suggest looking for products that are made of non-porous materials listed as being ‘eco-friendly’, phthalate/Latex/PVC free, and a bit higher in price; low end products have low end prices because they’re made of low end materials, the opposite can be said for higher end products.
Finally, do your research and stick with products created by manufacturers that have a history of being trustworthy; Tantus, JimmyJane, Lelo, Fun Factory, We-Vibe, Crystal Delights, Nobessence and Penetralia (wood), Vixen Creations and Njoy are all highly reputable companies making products well worth the price.
For those of you that want to learn more about Phthalates, information can be found through these links:
About.com: Phthalates In Sex Toys – (CDC) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Fact Sheet Phthalates – NBC News: When Sex Toys Turn Green, For Health – KaraSutra Reviews: Dangers of Phthalates in Sex Toys – Dangerous Lilly: Yes, Jelly Sex Toys Can Be Dangerous – Tantus Inc: Healthy and Green –
Sadly, the majority of low priced toys are also made of low quality materials, making them break faster and in need of replacement sooner. What make it worse is the fact that they are designed this way, with the manufacturers fully knowing how shoddy they are. At the end of the day their bottom line is making money, even if it’s at your expense. Bad news for your wallet, health, and the environment. Thankfully most high end products have a much higher level of craftsmanship, and pride taken when creating them, granting a wide variety of benefits:
- 100% medical grade silicone, wood, glass, stainless steel, and ceramic toys have a much longer lifespan; lasting years, rather than months.
- Like skin, cheaper jelly products have pores which can absorb (and trap) bodily fluids, lube and bacteria during use, potentially becoming a breeding ground for bacteria in the process. Fortunately all of the above materials are non-porous and can be fully sterilized.
- Many come with limited warranties offering either free replacement or a percentage off future purchases, saving you money in the long run.
- Rather than needing batteries, an unexpected expense that quickly adds up and often goes unnoticed, most are now rechargeable or can be plugged into an outlet limiting the money you spend, not to mention the toxic effects disposed batteries have on landfills.
- They’ll be made of body-safe materials, allowing full use without worry or negative effects on the body or the environment.
I know spending a lot of money on one sex toy seems a bit unreasonable for most people, especially first time buyers, but considering the many benefits and money you’ll save over time, it just makes sense.
Because sex toys are illegal for sale in many places they’re often classified as ‘novelties’, rather than ‘medical devices’, a little tactic used to ensure they make it to market. Unfortunately this means that there are no regulations placed on them, allowing manufacturers to call a product what they want and label it as such. Considering most of the chemical compounds found in low-grade sex toys are the same ones banned from other products like pet and baby toys (due to the potential health risks), it seems like a ridiculous oversight, especially since they’re being placed in highly vulnerable and sensitive areas of the body.
Fortunately affecting a change is something that can be done a variety of ways that are all easy to employ:
- Write to sex toy manufacturers and let them know you’ll only purchase eco-friendly and body safe products that are properly labeled (everything retail is supply and demand, if you demand higher quality they’ll hopefully supply it).
- Keeping up to date on materials and being educated will help you avoid products that could be potentially dangerous.
- Take your health, that of your friends, and the environment seriously and spread the word whenever you can. I know it may seem silly, but talking openly about sex toys helps to not only bring the misinformation and shady practices to light, it helps to keep others safe from making potentially harmful purchases.
- This will probably seem like a long shot, but it’s worth the effort, you never know who might be listening – write to local congress and urge them to consider the safety and well being of the public when contemplating political stances.
- Save up and only buy sex toys worthy of your cash; if the products constantly being sold are body safe and eco-friendly ones, retailers will take notice and be more likely to keep them in stock, not to mention hopefully shifting their focus from the cheap crap to higher end goods. You’ll also help keep reputable companies in business, something that’s far too often overlooked.
- This probably doesn’t fit here, but I feel it’s worth mentioning since it’s Earth Day and all; rather than adding to the tonnes of garbage created every year, consider recycling your dead and unused sex toys instead of throwing them in the trash. It’s a little thing that can positively affect the bigger picture: the health and well being of our planet.
For the most part, personal lubricants are fantastic and work wonders in the bedroom for making the moment much more enjoyable, but like sex toys, contain ingredients you should look out for;
Oil Based: Oil based lubricants are great when it comes to keeping things slick however they often trap bacteria, which for some, may cause a vaginal infection or urinary tract infection (using oil for jerking off shouldn’t be too much of an issue since it’s all external, just make sure to wash up after). They also break down condoms and tend to stain surfaces (say goodbye to your favorite sheets). Finally, they aren’t suggested for use with sex toys since they can cause damage and often can’t fully be removed from porous materials (like jelly sex toys), instead remaining trapped within the body of the toy.
If you opt for something oil based during masturbation sessions try going all natural by using pure coconut or almond oil, they’ll keep things slippery without containing additives or being heavily processed.
Lubes with glycerin listed as one of the first 3 ingredients: If a female is prone to yeast infections steering clear of lubes that contain glycerin (a sugar-alcohol humectant that feeds on yeast) would be a good idea as it could just exacerbate the problem. Aside from that, if you find your lube becomes sticky or tacky during use it’s likely due to the glycerin content; friction caused during sex makes the glycerin oxidize quickly and require frequent reapplication. Because of this you’ll probably find you run through a bottle rather fast, save yourself some money and invest in something that will last.
Lubes with Parabens: Parabens, a synthetic preservative used in many intimate lubricants, are added to extend the shelf life by preventing growth of bacteria and fungi. For decades they’ve been considered safe for application (and consumption), with relatively low toxicity. However, more recent scientific studies found Parabens have been linked to cancers affecting women. In short, Parabens mimic estrogen (the female hormone), and when absorbed by the body, disrupt normal hormone production, potentially contributing to the growth of tumors and cancer. Making things even more scary, studies on breast cancer tumors revealed that tumors themselves consisted of high levels of Parabens which were believed to have been absorbed by the skin, ultimately stimulating tumor growth. Of course you likely won’t find yourself rubbing lube on your breasts that often, unless you’re giving boob jobs that is, but for those using nipple stimulating or breast enhancement creams, checking to see if they contain Parabens might be a good idea.
That isn’t to say good quality lubes are hard to find, with the increase in awareness natural and organic personal lubes containing purely natural preservatives are becoming more readily available at affordable prices. My personal suggestions: Sliquid, Vie Lube, Blossom Organics, Good Clean Love, or Intimate Organics.
*for those reading the ingredients in their lubes/body care, don’t be alarmed if you see the following listed – they’re natural preservatives and haven’t been found to be harmful: grapefruit seed extract, tocopherol (vitamin E), retinyl (Vitamin A), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), potassium sorbate, and various essential oils. Better yet, many of the listed natural ingredients have moisturizing properties.
Green Is Sexy
Whether it’s tossing that old battery operated jelly vibe and replacing it with something body safe and rechargeable, opting to only use Paraben and Glycerin free lubes, or spreading the word about the potential dangers of icky sex toys, any changes you make today can have long lasting positive affects on your health, sex life, and the environment. All that’s required is giving yourself permission. Trust me, it’s a change you’ll thank yourself for later.