Can I Really Get An Infection From My Sex Toy? 0 5420

Can I get an Infection? | Ella Paradis

(A more indepth look at infections and sex toys)

Sex toys are incredible (not to mention extremely helpful) inventions, but many people have questions about whether or not they are safe to use. Can sex toys cause infections? How safe are they to use, and what is your risk of getting an infection? 

Some sex-positive doctors now recommend sex toys for various sexual dysfunctions to their patients. But as popular as sex toys are, talking about proper care for them is rarely as widely discussed. Because sex toys are used in intimate ways and intimate areas, it’s wise to get the tea on safety. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to reduce your risk. 

Can Sex Toys Transmit STIs?

It’s important to remember that most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) do not stay alive outside of the body for a very long time. However, sex toys can transmit STIs and other infections, especially if they are not cleaned properly between uses or shared without cleaning in between partners. 

So the short answer is yes, you can, unfortunately, get an infection from a sex toy. The good news is that STIs from sex toys are largely preventable, and proper cleaning of sex toys can reduce your risk of contracting an infection from a toy. 

Let’s go over how you get an infection from a toy. First off, remember that you can only get an STI from bodily fluids or skin-to-skin contact. This means that for a sex toy to transmit an STI, it needs to come in contact with another person’s skin (like a lesion) or bodily fluids. You can’t get an STI or infection immediately after opening the box of a new toy. 

You can transmit chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, HPV, bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV through sex toys. 
In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Sexually Transmitted Infection, research sought to identify HPV transmission from sex toys and whether or not certain cleaning practices were more effective than others. The study found that HPV, the most common STI in the US, was detected on a vibrator immediately after use in a woman with vaginal HPV. HPV was either non-detectable or slightly detectable 24 hours after cleaning.

What can increase susceptibility to catching an infection?

How likely a sex toy is to transmit an infection depends largely on how well you clean it. And some sexy toy materials are more likely to trap bacteria than others. To increase safety, you’ll want to look for sex toys made from nonporous materials. Porous sex toys can have tiny holes, making them the perfect home for bacteria. Always check the materials your sex toy is made of before using and sharing with partners. 

Porous sex toy materials are thermoplastic rubber, thermoplastic elastomer, latex, polyvinyl chloride, and jelly rubber. 

Nonporous sex toy materials are made from silicone, pyrex, ABS plastic, glass, and stainless steel. Because it may be hard to get porous sex toys 100% clean, these toys might increase susceptibility to STIs. If you are using a porous toy with a partner, use a condom with it. 

It doesn’t matter if you have multiple partners or just one—people are more likely to spread STIs under certain circumstances, such as having an open lesion or blister. Micro tears or cuts on the skin or genitals can also increase susceptibility to STIs. Specific sex practices such as fisting or penetrative sex without lubrication can increase the chance of microtears. Always air on the side of using preventative measures against anything that could increase susceptibility to microtears, like using latex barriers and plenty of lube.

How To Properly Clean Your Sex Toy

If you’re using a sex toy for multiple sex acts and going from one body part to the next, make sure to properly clean your sex toy in between uses or change the condom each time you switch body parts. 

Wash your sex toys with hot water and mild unscented soap. You’ll want to be thorough with your wash, and make sure to properly clean your toy for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to carefully clean any cracks, curvatures, or crevices that can trap bacteria and remove any debris. When you’re finished cleaning your sex toy, let them air dry! You don’t want a towel’s fibers to get caught on a sex toy or for a sex toy to potentially pick up any bacteria from a dirty towel. 

You can also put sex toys on the tap rack of the dishwasher, so long as your toys are waterproof and don’t require batteries. You can always check with the manufacturer on their recommendations for how to clean your sex toy. If you’ve lost your information packet, you should easily be able to access this information from a quick Google search. 

Ways To Have Safer Sex With Sex Toys

In a 2017 study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, research uncovered that out of 1435 participants, 21.7% reported sharing their sex toys with partners. Participants were also likely to engage in additional partnered sex activities such as anal and oral sex. The likelihood of sharing toys calls for thorough safety practices. Penetrative toys carry the greatest risk for transmitting STIs, so make sure to wash them properly after each use and use a condom with them. 

If you are monogamous, it’s wise for you and a partner to get tested for STIs before sharing toys. If you’re having sex and using toys with a new partner and don’t know their status, always opt for using a condom with toys. 

It’s easy to increase your safety with sex toy usage and decrease your infection risk. While you can get an STI from a sex toy, this largely depends on the proper cleanliness of toys and other risk factors such as microtears. Using condoms with toys, sticking to one body part at a time, and adequately cleaning your toys can help you worry less about transmission all while reaping the benefits of sex toys.

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