Trimble: Sex toy safety guide

By Leah Trimble

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Environmental friendliness is in.

You can’t walk to class without bumping into a recycling… Environmental friendliness is in.

You can’t walk to class without bumping into a recycling bin, and Nalgene water bottles are as prominent as notepads in our backpacks. We’ve seen old paper become our annual planners and rubber tires become the floors of local playgrounds.

But what of our precious sex toys? Will today’s glass bottles become tomorrow’s glass wands? Apparently so, and these new efforts won’t only save our planet — they’ll save our health.

Online retailers such as Sinless Touch, Bondara, Babeland and LoveHoney now offer eco-friendly choices among their regular items. Earth Erotics and Karmasm, on the other hand, offer only products made with environmentally friendly materials.

Earth Erotics believes in “Doing It Green,” calling themselves the “natural food store of adult boutiques.” Good Clean Love Personal Lubricant, its number-one seller, offers users a choice of four different scents, made with real herbs and flowers. Here’s the kicker: It is 99.99 percent vegan, 95 percent organic and is neither made with, nor tested on animals.

As a frequent visitor to a pharmacy that sells Good Clean Love, my curiosity brought me to check out this product the last time I was there. The green cause behind it was appealing. The actual product? Not so much.

The scents really are enticing — no lies there. Its ugly brown color was not the sexiest thing I’ve seen, though. How many people want to have a poo-colored liquid near their nether-region? That might be one question for the company to ponder.

Another green company, Karmasm, is “dedicated to bringing only positive energy into our intimate moments,” adding that “eco-conscious, body friendly, vegan sex toys bring good karma.”

Good karma from buying and using sex toys? Like we didn’t have reason enough already! Another added advantage is that Karmasm’s products boast an encouraging 100 percent vegan status. Eat your heart out, PETA.

On a more serious note, several companies, especially the previous two, have started highlighting concerns about the United States’ policies on the manufacturing of sex toys.

Some products are labeled as “novelties,” meaning that they’re technically not intended for use. Why the heck would people spend $40 or more on a sex toy if they will not use it, unless it’s for a bachelorette party or some gag gift?

The main substance — phthalate, which is a plastic softener — raises concern because it can make sex toys have a jelly-like feel. That means you’re looking at a span of products anywhere from vibrators and dildos to anal beads and fake vaginas, just to name a few. Literally thousands of devices contain it.

The Coalition Against Toxic Toys, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization, says in its shopping guide that only toys branded “phthalate-free” or are made from 100 percent medical-grade silicone, glass, surgical steel, polished stone or hard plastics — like acrylic — are safe enough to use without a condom (and are even dishwasher friendly, if you’re willing to put the toy anywhere near your dishes).

“Higher-end sex toys made of natural materials like gold, silver and glass are safer to use on your body,” Cory Silverberg, co-owner of a sex toy co-operative called Toronto’s Come As You Are, said. “It makes good sense to invest in better-quality sex toys, if you can afford them.”

PVC — a plastic product — is mixed with phthalates during manufacturing, but they never fully bond with one another. Over time, the phthalates separate from the compound and are released.

The Environmental Protection Agency added more than one type of phthalate to its “toxic chemicals list,” reporting that they are “known to cause, or can be reasonably be anticipated to cause, in humans, cancer or teratogenic effects, serious of irreversible reproductive dysfunctions, neurological disorders, heritable genetic mutations or other health effects.”

One study found that some sex toys contained phthalate levels measuring 20 times the legal amount allowed in baby toys, EU Health and Consumer Protection reported. If children aren’t allowed to put it in their mouths, why do officials think it’s OK for adults to put them in areas of even higher sensitivity?

The effects of limited government regulation extend even further.

There are few, if any, official documents on which retailers and manufacturers are the biggest culprits in producing, selling and possibly marketing misleading labels. Companies are saved from public exposure and can make a nice profit by using the cheapest ingredients available.

Not to burst your bubble, but if you’re a frequent user, you need to know this information. I mean, this is your health. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I would rather not leave to chance.

Remember, just because a product isn’t eco-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for your health. Check out the brown lube that will lure you in with its amazing scent. I’ll keep tabs and let you know if they decide to go colorless.

E-mail Leah lmt45@pitt.edu.

Leave a comment.