Toxic Sex Toys: Another Side to Safer Sex

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Toys don't have to look dirty to be toxic. Photo by poolie on Flickr. Toys don't have to look dirty to be toxic. Photo by poolie on Flickr.
By Sophia St. James, PQ Monthly
How do you know which sex toys are safe?   You may be surprised to know this, but there are currently no regulations about the items used to make pleasure inducing products.  In addition to this, companies aren't required to label their products.  Most manufacturers do not take the time to list the materials used since it is not a requirement.   This also means that manufacturers are not obligated to report the chemicals and materials used in a product to any national regulatory body. They may even report them inaccurately on their packaging since the possibility of consequence is extremely low. Consumers who wish to protect their health and remain informed will need to perform outside research to learn the true material composition of many toys on the market today.  I wanted to discuss a few common materials that are found in many intimate products that are not body safe and how to detect if your products contain these items. Phthalates (pronounced: THAL-ates) are found in many well known items, including ones you can purchase at your local neighborhood store such as margarine containers, soup cups, and other food products. Phthalates are plasticizers.  Plasticizers are used to increase flexibility, transparency, and durability. We all use products every single day that contain a certain level of phthalates. Phthalates are also found in "jelly plastic" or "jelly rubber" sex toys.  We all have seen them, the toys that are semi transparent or completely transparent, the sex toys that appear to have a film on this inside of the packaging. When you open a package, if there is a plastic-like odor this is a sign that phthalates are present.  This odor is indicitive of pthalate leeching out of the pores of the item.   Another sign that phthalates were used in a plastic product is that there may be an oily or greasy appearance on the surface, even if nothing has been applied to it.  This occurs because the phthalate is trying to separate out and return to its original state. Studies have shown that phthalates may cause a variety of negative effects. Low sperm count, birth defects, and increase ones risk of cancer are some of the possible effects.  The EPA has designated phthalates "possible human carcinogens."  One of the traits of phthalate containing items is having a porous make-up.  The more porous a material is, the more holes and cracks there are for bacteria and the like to hide in—like a sponge.  Because they cannot be sterilized, porous toys should always be used with a condom. Washing the toys with an antibacterial soap may help with the odor for a little while. Unfortunately products that contain phthalate are also very affordable to many consumers.  Because of this, they sell pretty fast.  Always be sure to wash your "jelly" toys with warm water and soap and always use a condom.  Be sure to examine the package.  When examining a toy that contains phthalates, you’ll often find “weeping,†or sweat-like beads of oily discharge on the surface of the material. This is caused by chemical degradation of the toy material, which occurs naturally over time as a toy sits on a shelf or in your bedroom. Read more here and here. If you don't take care of your naughty bits, no one else will!
Sophia St. James has been an erotic entertainer since 1996. She has traveled performing and educating the public on self confidence, self worth, and the art of sensuality no matter their outer appearance. Working as a sex and sensuality educator, sex toy/product reviewer, adult film director/producer, model, and erotic visual performer.