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Phthalates in Sex Toys: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

You may have noticed that many sex toys are advertised as “phthalate-free”. This isn’t just a meaningless marketing buzzword: phthalates are chemicals that disrupt human hormones and can cause health problems such as decreased sperm counts, infertility, and birth defects. Phthalates have even been classified by the FDA as a probable human carcinogen. Health concerns over phthalates have prompted the United States, Canada, and European Union to ban their use in children’s toys.

Despite these health concerns, however, many sex toy manufacturers continue to use phthalates in their products. Phthalates offer manufacturers a cheap and easy method for softening plastic and creating the flexible material used in dildos, vibrators, and buttplugs. Since there are no bans or regulations on phthalates in sex toys, consumers need to be careful and vigilant when purchasing sex toys to avoid unsafe products.

Does Your Sex Toy Contain Phthalates?

Phthalates are most commonly found in jelly-like and flexible toys. Sex toys that contain phthalates have a strong plastic smell, especially after immediate removal from the packaging. If you experience skin irritation or a burning sensation after using a sex toy, it could be caused by contact with phthalates.

How to Avoid Phthalates in Sex Toys

  • Look for phthalate-free labels in the product description, advertisement, or packaging.
  • Stick to sex toys made out of glass, metal, wood, or hard plastic. Avoid products made of soft vinyl or jelly-like plastic.
  • Buy your sex toys from known phthalate-free brands such as Tantus and Good Vibrations.
  • Avoid using sex toys with a strong plastic smell.
  • Place a condom over sex toys you suspect contain phthalates to avoid exposure.
  • Be careful of products made out of silicone. Sex toys that contain phthalates are sometimes labeled “silicone” to ease customer concerns and pass themselves off as safe. Always look for a phthalate-free label before purchasing a silicone toy! This isn’t to say that all silicone toys are unsafe, but you should be aware of what you’re buying.

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