Today’s choices of sexual toys are as diverse as the playfully curious public using them. Unfortunately, there’s more to electro penile proxies and strings of anal beads than meets the (brown) eye. Many of these goodtime gadgets get their comfortable pliability by mixing specialized plastics or rubber components into the manufacturing mold. The downside to these insertables is that the materials can break down, causing toys to separate and leak while in use.
As if having man-made products free-ranging through your circulatory system wasn’t bad enough, many of these dildos, ben wa balls and other sexual supplements are composed of phthalates, which cause liver, kidney and testicular damage in rats.
In a test of numerous adult entertainment devices, German chemist Ulrich Krieg discovered that many had dangerously high concentrations of phthalates. But in the U.S., sex toys are marketed as ‘novelty items,’ which are not really meant to be used. Therefore, government agencies are not required to regulate their materials.
Politicians haven’t been much help, either. There aren’t many interest groups or legislators who want to be identified as sex toy proponents. Thus, with no ‘watchdog’ groups to oversee production, companies are free to pop out boxcars of tainted ticklers and fake phalluses.
So what’s a safety-minded kinky consumer to do? Well, you can start by inspecting the bedside companions you already own. If they have a jelly-like consistency or if they smell like your newly purchased shower curtain, it’s a pretty good guess they contain phthalates.
Also, be a smart shopper—you probably wouldn’t buy some questionable food product without reading the label, so apply this same scrutiny on your next adult shopping trip. If a company is shy about divulging all components of its products, it’s likely those items (and the companies producing them) can’t be trusted.
In an effort to take the guesswork out of sensual shopping, one company, San Francisco-based Good Vibrations, now carries only phthalate-free products.
“Phthalates were banned from children’s toys both in the United States and Europe for toxicity,” says Nicole Evje, Good Vibrations Sex Educator. “If they shouldn’t be in children’s toys, they shouldn’t be in toys for grown-ups either.”
If you’re still not sure what your anal intruders are made of, treat them like you would any one-night stand. It is highly unlikely that prophylactics are injected with phthalates, so build a barricade of security by wrapping your faux phallus in the safety of a rubber.
Also, don’t forget that what goes in must come out, so follow the golden rule of big boy toys: “Never insert anything anally unless it has a flange,” says Evje.