Welcome to our month-long series on sex & sexuality! If you’d like to contribute content related to the field of sex & sexuality (academic, prose, poetry, art, etc.) please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org (This collaboration is brought to you by Chanelle Adams, Editor in Chief of Bluestockings and Web Development Intern at The CSPH).
The following is re-published content from thecsph.org with permission from the lovely, local 501c3 organization. We believe that our mission at Bluestockings aligns with the goals of The CSPH to reduce sexual shame, challenge misinformation and advance the field of sexology.
Yes, sex toys are dandy to play with, but what you may not know about them will prove to move you more than any vibrator will. There is no organization, board or coalition that regulates the safety of sexual aids in the United States, Japan, Canada and the European Union. None, zero, zilch.
Why does that matter? Because, with no regulations, they can (and do), make toys out of whatever material they want. Toxic? Hazardous? Cancer-Causing materials? What the consumer doesn’t know will make us more money! Keeping them made cheap? Now we’re talking sex toy production style. Regulating sex toys production would be admitting that people use them, and our government doesn’t want to do that-for goodness sakes, sex toys are illegal in 6 states! How could the government evaluate the safety of something that is illegal? Doing so would be admitting that people used them, and as a result, that the government condoned such behavior.
Yes, our country’s paranoia with masturbation/sex leads us down a road where the consumer doesn’t know jack. And, along with our lack of quality sex education in this country, well, basically the consumer is screwed (and not in a fun way). How do they get away with this injustice, you wonder? Simple.
Slap a “FOR NOVELTY USE ONLY” sticker on the product and you are legally free and clear.
You can’t help that the consumer didn’t follow your instructions; it was for novelty use only. And, it can take years for that reproductive failure to occur. So, what actually happens if you use these products? What’s the danger in them? Read on, dear reader. Most toys that are sold are made of a material called Jelly Latex. Jelly Latex is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for short. If you smell it, and it has a scent like a plastic shower curtain, it’s made of PVC. This is a type of plastic that is known to leak toxins out through extended shelf life (more than 6 months), agitation (pushing it in and out of your body) and heat (hello, things get hot when you get excited down there right?) The toxins leach into your fat and hang out there, causing kidney and liver cancer and damage to the reproductive organs.
PVC is also in Cyberskin, mystery rubber, softskin and Ultra skin. If a product says it’s scented or has a” touch me” area in the box for you to stick your finger into to feel the material, it’s most likely toxic. The reason that most of sex toys are made of these materials is because it’s cheap and easy to get a hold of. It’s hard to buy sex toys not made of Jelly Latex or other questionable materials. Most people don’t want to spend more than $35.00 on a single sex toy and those that are quality made cost more than that for the most part. However, don’t use the price of a toy to tell if it’s toxic or not, I’ve seen some toys that are over $95.00 and made of jelly latex.
There are toy materials that are completely safe to play with, no toxic leaching out into your fat, no slimy residue, no funky odor or gummy feeling. These safe materials are silicone, glass, Pyrex, or stainless steel. They all tend to be pricy, ranging in digits from $35.00-150.00 and they all have positives and negatives to them. For instance, silicone is amazing as it heats up to the body temperature, can be sterilized, can be soft or hard – but it can’t be used with silicone lube or it will be ruined. Stainless steel is wonderful if you are looking for a little extra weight inside of you. Glass rocks for it’s wonderful ability to be used in hot and cold play.
So, how can you avoid purchasing sex toys made of these materials? First and foremost, buy your products from organizations/companies that promote education and positive sexuality. Ask the salesperson if you are buying live and in person, what is this toy material made of? If they list any of the above, buyers beware. If the price is under $35.00 and it’s soft, chances are you have a jelly latex toy in your hands. If the salesperson doesn’t know the toy material, raise your antennae. Ask yourself at that point, why isn’t the salesperson aware of the type of products they are selling? Reputable sex toy salespeople know the material toys are made of, how to care for them, positives and negatives of the toys and what the best usage for the toy is. Most sex toy shops that advertise ADULT Videos sell novelty-use-only toys, the ones made of toxic materials. What about the internet?
The Internet can be a great way to purchase toys! Not only is it discrete, but also you have the option of picking from the crème of the crop of sex toy Shoppes. You can purchase your toys, videos, reading material, erotica from places that promote healthy sexuality/attitudes and education. They will inform you of the material your toy is made of, what the best usage is for it, how to care for it, and the positives and negatives of its construction. Most of these shops are feminist run and owned and they are spread throughout the country. Places such as The Smitten Kitten in MN (which doesn’t sell ANY toxic toys), Babeland in NYC, Pure Pleasure in CA, Good Vibrations in MA, Enigma in OR, A Woman’s Touch in WI, Oh My in MA, Early to Bed in IL are just a few reputable stores that provide as much education and empowerment as the enjoyment that they sell.
So, before you stock up, know what you are buying. Silicone, glass, Pyrex or stainless steel is the safest of the bunch. If you’ve had a toy sitting in the drawer next to your bed for over 6 months and it’s soft, throw it out and buy a new and improved one. Besides, you deserve a new way to get off every six months, don’t you?
How to shop for your first vibrator [via The CSPH]
The CSPH writes reviews of toys to help consumers make informed decisions.