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Sex Toy Safety Guide

What are they and what do you need to know about them?


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Ever heard of a Rampant Rabbit? Or any other type of vibrator?

They’re sex toys, objects or devices that are designed to give people sexual pleasure or enhance sex play, and more and more people are using them.

So, what do we know about them and what should we be wary of if we choose to use them?

Why do people use sex toys?

Sex toys have been used since the 1800s, when doctors used them to treat what was then dubbed ‘female hysteria’. Nowadays, people might use them for masturbation, alternative sexual experiences, or to try out new sexual activities with their partner.

People who find it difficult to have an orgasm during sex might try using a sex toy instead, and some find it far easier to have one that way.

What kinds of sex toys are there?

There are a number of varieties of sex toys available:

  • Butt Plugs are designed for anal stimulation and usually have a flared base or ‘stopper’ to stop them from sliding in too far. It’s important to make sure that anything you might consider using anally has this ‘stopper’, and you should always use some form of lubricant.
  • Masturbation Sheaths are primarily aimed at men and shaped like a torch with a hole in the place where the bulb would usually be. The inside is made to resemble a vagina. They may be disposable or have openings at both ends to allow for easy cleaning.
  • Masturbation Sleeves are rubber or silicone textured pads that you place on your hand. They are designed to increase the levels of stimulation when you masturbate.
  • Vibrators are the most recognised of all the toys and they come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are designed for penetration while others are only used to stimulate the clitoris and outside of the vulva (lips of the vagina).
  • Dildos are shaped like a penis and are designed for vaginal stimulation. You should be very careful about using them for anal stimulation because they don’t tend to have the flared base and could become stuck.
  • Clit Stimulators are smaller vibrating toys that can be attached to the body or finger and used to stimulate the clitoris.
  • A strap-on consists of an adjustable harness and separate dildo or vibrator which is slotted through it. The toys are used by couples of all sexual orientations and genders.
  • Vibrating Tongue Studs can be used to enhance oral sex for a man or a woman. The studs are too small to be covered with a condom so it’s very important to clean them thoroughly with an alcohol based substance after every use. That's special cleaning alcohol by  the way, not just any old bottle you've got lying around.
  • Cock Rings are designed to help a man to keep his penis erect for as long as possible. They usually slide down to the base of the penis and keep the blood contained.
  • Anal Beads are specifically designed for anal pleasure and are placed inside one by one before being pulled out.
  • If you’re going to use beads its important to use the specially designed ones as normal ones can become stuck.

If you’re going to use sex toys remember to play safe

  • Follow any instructions down to a tee and make yourself aware of the risks associated with each different type of toy.
  • Wash all toys before and after use and follow cleaning instructions carefully. Some toys will require different cleaning methods so it’s best to keep the original instructions somewhere safe for future reference.
  • You can use antibacterial soap or liquid on some toys while others may require hot water. However, it’s important to note that soap alone is not effective for removing STI bacteria or viruses.
  • Remember to remove any batteries if you’re submerging at toy in water.
  • Always try to use a condom with the toy where possible. This will help to keep them clean and reduce the risk of transmitting STIs.
  • Bear in mind that some sex toys can be pretty expensive. Be careful with buying cheaper ones though, and make sure you always buy from a reputable source!

If sex toys cause you pain or you're not comfortable using them then don't. Different people enjoy different things and you should only ever do things that you're 100 per cent comfortable doing.

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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Published October 21st, 2014
Last updated June 12th, 2015
Tags sexual health sex toys sex
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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