Forget all those rules you learned in kindergarten. Sometimes, sharing isn’t the best option.
Toys are awesome, and often, we want to share that awesomeness with our partners (check out our Spiciest Toys For Couples!) But there’s potentially some danger in sharing toys. A basic rule of thumb is this:
If you wouldn’t have unprotected sex with this person, don’t share a toy unprotected with them.
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? “Well,” you’re probably asking, “how do you protect a toy?” You’re going to be shocked at how easy it is. In fact, it’s almost exactly like using protection on your real genitalia.
The most important thing to look at when deciding if a toy is safe to share is the materials that it’s made from. We’ve put together this primer about how to tell what your toy is made from and whether or not it could be toxic. Now, we’ll talk about the dangers of sharing toys made of certain materials. This recent study totally backs us up.
Basically, women were given two vibrators to masturbate with, and then instructed to clean them. One was thermoplastic, the other was 100% silicone. The women were then tested for HPV, a very common STD among American women. About 75% of them had it– not an alarming statistic since an estimated 50% of American adults have some form of HPV (often asymptomatic).
Directly after using the toys, they were tested and nearly all had HPV DNA on them. This doesn’t mean that the disease had been transmitted exactly. But it does mean that if someone else had used it, there was potential that it could be. Each toy was then washed using soap and water, or a toy cleaner, and tested again.All but one of the thermoplastic vibrators returned positive; none of the silicone ones did. Even worse, after 24 hours, some of the thermoplastic vibrators STILL have HPV DNA on them. STILL.
What’s the takeaway from this study for you? No matter if you’re sharing your toys with men or women, you need to take precaution so that you aren’t swapping viruses or potentially harmful bacteria back and forth. Even if you’re clean of STDs/STIs, bacteria can still present a problem. Having a plethora of bacteria is the cause of bacteria vaginosis, yeast infections, and other types of infections. If your body reacts poorly to your swapping partner’s bacteria (even more prevalent if this toy is used for anal play), you could be putting yourself at risk for infection.
It’s important to know that even though these toys are safe to share, it doesn’t mean you should jump right into sharing them. For the maximum safety potential, use them with a condom or wash them using toy cleaner first, like Pjur’s Med Clean. Not only can you still spread STIs and STDs this way, but you can also spread harmful bacteria. If toys are labeled as porous, it means that they can have microscopic pores in them where bacteria and viruses can sometimes get stuck in the material and be impossible to remove.
- 100% Silicone. This is a tricky, tricky category. Like we mentioned in here, it’s hard to tell if a toy is 100% silicone– the market is unregulated. Until such loose restrictions get tightened, you’ll have to stick with online reviews. Again, a great way to tell the chance of your toy being 100% silicone is to tell by price– an eight-inch silicone dildo won’t be $19.99. It may have some silicone in it, but it’ll probably be mixed with other materials. You can also tell by doing a small spot test on the handle, or somewhere unobtrusive.
- Metal and glass. Because these toys aren’t porous, they’re totally safe to share with your partner– provided you have either covered them with a condom (and subsequently changed that condom after use) or cleaned the toys with your favorite toy cleaner, or boiled them.
- Thermoplastic Rubber. TPR is porous. If you intend to use them with a partner, a condom is a MUST. In fact, the vibrator that still had the HPV on it after a day in the study listed above? It was made of TPR. Just washing a TPR toy isn’t enough.
- Jelly. Many would recommend not even using a jelly toy on yourself without a condom– the materials are often toxic and porous, so they’re impossible to be clean. The other problem is that sometimes, you don’t even know what they’re made from.
- Latex and elastomers. Both of these toys are non-toxic, but they can still be porous. If you intend to use them with a partner, use protection. Many pocket pussies are made of latex, and they can be especially difficult to clean on their own. So, even if you aren’t intending to share them with a partner, you may want to use a condom just to ensure the longevity of your toy. The FC2 Female Condom is a great option for pocket pussies.