Buying a sex toy isn’t just about making the choice between a vibrator and a wand (obviously, there are many other options but you get the picture!). Safety and health considerations matter even more than that. To choose the right sex toy, you need to have some idea about the quality of the material that it’s made of.
Unfortunately, there are very few regulations when it comes to the safety of sex toys. Manufacturers are free to make all kinds of claims without being fined for misleading customers. This is why you often see adult toys being labelled as “bodysafe” when such claims cannot be verified.
So, what does it take to choose the right sex toy material? Luckily, most options have been studied carefully. We have enough information today to make rational choices that are best in terms of personal safety.
Is It Porous? Don’t Go for It!
The first distinction when it comes to sex toy materials is between porous and non-porous options.
As the name suggests, porous materials have micro holes on the surface. These provide perfect conditions for the breeding of bacteria and the accumulation of dust. No matter how hard you scrub, a porous sex toy will never be 100 percent free from contaminants or potential pathogens.
Porous materials are usually a lot cheaper, which is why many affordable sex toys are made of such. Such items, however, are dangerous. Also, the porous nature of the material makes it less long-lived than the years of use you’ll get out of a better and safer choice.
Jelly, PVC and rubber are several very common examples of porous materials. These feel super flexible, which makes them great for the creation of items like dildos and butt plugs, for example. The very porous nature of these materials, however, increases the risk of infections with continuous use.
On the other hand, materials like medical-grade silicone and other non-plastics are completely non-porous. Non-plastics include options like metal, glass and even stone toys (yes, such options do exist!).
There’s one more product category and these toys are made of the so-called cyberskin or ultraskyn. This is a malleable, skin-like choice that replicates the feel of human flesh.
Cyberskin dildos are crafted out of a special material that’s treated to be flexible and very pliable.
Cyberskin is a term that refers to various different concoctions. In that case, the reputation of the manufacturer would matter a lot. Some cyberskin toys are really amazing, safe and long-lived. To come across such items, however, you’ll need to do your research and compare options side by side.
The Phthalates Issue.
Porous vs. non-porous isn’t the only consideration when you’re looking at materials and their qualities.
A second danger lurks behind some of the pretty packaging. That danger is called phthalates.
Phthalates are chemicals often found in plastic products. They are used to increase the softness and flexibility of the material. The problem stems from the fact that phthalates can be dangerous when the human body is exposed to them.
For a start, phthalates are considered endocrine disruptors. There are multiple studies that suggest endocrine disruptors can cause reproductive issues in both men and women, as well as problems during pregnancy.
Some other preliminary studies establish a link between phthalate exposure and liver, kidney or lung problems. Obviously, more research will be required to understand the specifics of the link. Also, phthalates is a term that refers to a very big range of chemicals. The effects of some of those will obviously be much less pronounced than the effects of others.
To be on the safe side, however, you should avoid phthalate-containing materials as much as possible.
Sex toy makers will usually label their items as phthalate-free but again – you cannot verify such claims unless you get your dildo tested in a lab.
Studies, however, have found certain materials to be much more prone to containing phthalates than others. PVC sex toys, and some kinds of thermoplastics do feature harmful phthalates. Silicone, metal, glass and ABS plastic are generally considered safe choices.
Take care of your toys!
Making sure your toys are non-porous and free from harmful chemicals is just the first step.
The things that you do with your toys and the way you take care of them will also determine if they’re going to be safe.
Medical-grade silicone, for example, can harbour bacteria if you don’t clean your toy immediately after use. Leaving any kind of residue on the surface of the item makes it much more difficult to scrub clean later on. This is why you need to be meticulous with sanitisation.
Proper storage is also important.
Some materials can become degraded if they’re not stored properly or if they come in contact with other toys. Manufacturers provide thorough instructions and storage recommendations that you should acquaint yourself with before buying anything.
Also, there are a few things you can do to make cheap sex toys a bit safer.
If you get an item made from a porous material, for example, you can still give it a try. The best choice in such situations, however, would be to use the toy with a condom on top. Adding a condom prevents the risk of bacterial contamination and increases the longevity of the item.
When it comes to porous or pliable toys, always pay attention to their appearance before use. Tearing, discolouration and a change in the texture of the item can all be indicative of damage. If you notice such issues, you’ll have to throw the sex toy out.
The adult toy market is so diversified and exciting right now! New choices and designs are being explored all the time and the same applies to materials. With so many options out there, you simply have no reason to go for inferior products. Take some time to acquaint yourself with different materials, their properties and cost. And remember that it’s definitely a good idea to spend a bit more on an item that will give you safe use year after year.