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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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Sex toys are objects or devices that are designed to give people sexual pleasure or enhance sex between people. 

Some types include vibrators, dildos, and anal toys (like anal plugs or anal beads) but there are many varieties. People might use them for masturbation or during sex with a partner to enhance their sexual experience and pleasure.

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?

People might use sex toys for masturbation, 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. 

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 do what you're comfortable with.

What kinds of sex toys are there?

There are a number of varieties of sex toys available. These are some of the more common types.

Anal Beads

Anal beads are specifically designed for anal pleasure and are placed inside the anus one bead at a time before being pulled out. If you're going to use anal beads it's important to use sex toys specially designed for that purpose. Inserting anything not specifically designed for that use is very dangerous and could become stuck inside the body. 

Butt Plugs

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 insert anally has this ‘stopper,’ and you should always use some form of lubricant.

Clitoral Stimulators

Clitoral stimulators are sex toys designed to pleasure the clitoris specifically. They are smaller vibrating toys that can be attached to the body or finger, or held to the clitoris to stimulate it.

Cock Rings

Cock Rings, or penis rings, are designed to keep a penis erect for as long as possible. They usually slide down to the base of the penis and keep the blood flow contained.


Dildos are sex toys made for penetration of the vagina and/or anus. They can also come in many shapes and sizes. Some are made to emulate the appearance of a penis, while others do not. You should be very careful to only use dildos with a flared base if you intend to use them for anal penetration.

Masturbation Sheaths

Masturbation Sheaths are primarily used as a masturbatory aid for penises, and are sometimes also referred to as a Fleshlight. They are tube shaped with a hole where the penis can be inserted. The inside could be made to resemble a mouth, anus or vagina.

Masturbation Sleeves

Masturbation Sleeves are rubber or silicone textured pads or tubes that you place on a penis. They are designed to increase the levels of stimulation when you masturbate.

Strap On

A strap on consists of an adjustable harness and separate dildo or vibrator which is slotted through it. Strap ons are used by couples of all sexual orientations and genders.


Vibrators are sex toys that vibrate to stimulate the genitals. They come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are designed for penetration while others are only used to stimulate the outside of the genitals such as clitoris and the vulva (outside of the vagina).

Vibrating Tongue Studs 

Vibrating tongue studs can be used to enhance oral sex. The studs are too small too small to be covered with a condom so it’s very important to clean them thoroughly with an alcohol based cleaning substance after every use. This should be a specific sex toy cleaner, not whatever you happen to have on hand.

How can sex toys be used safely?

If you are going to use sex toys it’s important to be safe. You can contract or spread sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from sharing sex toys. Here are some useful tips:

  • Sex toys can pass on STIs if they are not cleaned and used properly.
  • 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.
  • Be aware of what toys can and cannot come into contact with water such as in a shower, tub, or pool. Follow instructions of how to clean a toy safety.
  • Always try to use a condom or dental dam 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, as this might affect the quality and safety. Make sure you always buy from a reputable source.
  • If a toy has a particularly strong or chemical odor, this might be a sign it was poorly made and is unsafe to use.
  • Use a water-based lubricant with toys to ensure comfort during use.

Using sex toys should not cause you pain or discomfort. Genital abrasion, or small cuts to the genitals, is possible when using sex toys, which is why using a water-based lubricant made for sexual use is so important. If you have any medical concerns about your sex toy use, talk to your GP or another medical professional. 

Sex toys and consent

Remember that if you are using sex toys or doing any sexual activity with another person, consent is important and necessary. Consent to sex means that you and who you're having sex with both agree and are happy with the sex you are having, and that no one feels pressured to do something they don't really want to do. 

If your partner does not feel comfortable with using sex toys, that must be respected. Likewise, if you are not happy to use sex toys with a partner, they shouldn't pressure you to try them.

As with any sexual activity or relationship, it's best to talk to your partner about your sexual needs openly. 

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Published Octo­ber 21st2014
Tags sexual health sex toys sex
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