Episode #153 - November 4, 2007

Hot Stuff Sex Toy

Safety of Sex Toys
from Cory Silverberg, About.com

Toy Montage Our head sex toy researcher, Cory Silverberg, joined Sue to address the current concern: Is that sex toy in your bedside table dangerous to your health?

Cory's notes:

One difficulty with sex toy safety is that it's a largely unregulated industry. So consumer protection only results from litigation (which is rare) or from grassroots movements, which can rely on statements that have no science behind them (statements like “sex toys can cause cancer”)

Where are sex toys made?

  • Almost all vibrators are made in China or in Japan, and even vibrators that are assembled or listed as manufactured in other countries like the U.S. or Germany, often have Chinese motors in them.
  • Japan tends to have better quality motors, but you can also get good quality from China (e.g. the Hitachi Magic Wand is made in China)
  • You can't always tell because sometimes they import component parts and assemble in another country.
  • Many more non-vibrating toys are made in the U.S., such as dildos

What are sex toys made of? Safety and sex toy materials

  • The safest are non-porous and inert materials that aren't going to melt or change or morph (hard plastic, wood, stone, glass, metal)
  • Silicone rubber when it's 100% silicone is the best next choice for soft rubber
  • Phthalates have become the major scapegoat in the sex toy world these days. They are a family of chemicals that have been banned in some countries and voluntarily removed in some industries. BUT there's still no proof of their harm in sex toys. I would say avoid them if you can.
  • Another BUT is that we still don't know much about what's in these sex toys so even if they are “phthalate free” there could be other stuff we just haven't heard of yet.
  • Remember the industry is almost entirely unregulated.
  • Again, condoms can resolve most worries

How do you protect yourself?

  • Stick with high end companies that disclose ingredients and/or chemical make up
  • Use condoms if you're really worried (condoms are a way to make any sex toy MUCH safer)
  • Consider that the risk is minimal (it's not like lead in children's toys)

Hot Stuff Extra!

Vulva Puppet We thought this was a great tool for sex education – the WONDROUS VULVA PUPPET. This simple idea offers a friendly way to explain basic female anatomy. Available in two sizes, the puppets are handmade by women at a Fair Trade Co-op in Peru. Cool idea.

Sue's Mini Review

I have reviewed this great book before but it is one of the very best on the subject - THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SEX AND DISABILITY by Kaufman, Silverberg and Odette. Yes, that's our Cory Silverberg, who is passionate about people with disabilities having good sex lives. If you know of someone who would benefit from his excellent knowledge, I am sure they would appreciate you recommending this book.

Sunday Night Poll Results

Should sex toy safety be regulated?

YES - 62%

NO - 23%

MAYBE - 15%

(Final tallies include West Coast votes.)



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