• Scientific Examinations of Sex Toys

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    fairehlights [sign in to see picture]
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    Talia wrote:

    Have any reliable ones be done?

    The two points I'm mainly wondering about are:

    Porous materials and germs: I've read countless times that only glass, silicone, metal and possibly ABS plastic are non-porous and able to be cleaned perfectly. Everything else can harbour mold and bacteria in its pores and should be thrown out after x uses.

    But nowwhere have I read what happens when one soaks one of those porous toys in alcohol for half an hour (the vet tells me that alcolhol does disinfect skin if left on long enough - a quick wipe just before the injection is basically useless). Or how about boiling the whole toy for half an hour (or longer)? Microwaving it?

    Secondly, the disintegration/decomposition of non-silicone soft toys: It's been reported often enough that "plastic" toys (not true silicone ones) melt together when they are in contact with each other. People have drawn the conclusion that these toys are therefore not body-safe. But I know for sure that my clit/vagina/rectum are not made from plastic! Just because two chemicals react with each other does not mean that either of them reacts with a a third substance... So what does actually happen to a rubber toy in/on my body?

    There's apparantly a great number of students among the forum members - anybody in biology or chemistry who'd like to do a few tests? I'm sure there's quite a few subjects for end-of-term papers, master's thesis or even dissertations...

    Science tiiiiime!

    Right, I think everyone else has got the 'novelty' thing down, but it basically comes down to that the maufacturer will take no liability for you getting it stuck somewhere, or burning yourself on a hot vibrator, or whatever.

    If you soak a porous toy in alcohol for half an hour, all sorts of things could happen.
    First off, it has to be 100% ethanol, or close enough. Other alcohols (eg methanol) can be toxic to the body if they cross a mucous membrane or are absorbed via soft tissue- aka rectum or vagina. Getting this is both tricky and costly, and you'd have to get rid of the alcohol after each use, so it's all round cheaper to buy high quality, safe toys.
    Secondly, it depends on the material used. Some may melt...

    The thing when talking about porous toys isn't just that they can harbour bacteria, but also that they're generally more reactive as a material, and this is what people are on about when they say they can melt together- it's a reaction to other materials.
    Now no, your vagina isn't made of plastic, but you could have other contaminants in there from underwear, tampons, loo roll, other toys... And if they react? You could have melty plastic sticking in there. This could be an exothermic reaction- meaning it gets hot, or release unpleasant or toxic gasses.

    You have to think about it not just in the big scale of 'will it hurt me?' but on the level that anal and vagina flora- the bacteria that live there- are highly sensitive, and if upset can cause a lot of problems and susceptability to illness, infection and disease.
    Using non safe and porous toys runs a higher risk of this, and isn't one many people are willing to take. This is particularly relevant to people who suffer from thrush, vaginisimus, use tampons regularly, have open wounds due to play or surgeries, etc.

    So yes, sticking it in alcohol, if you leave it long enough, will technically kill all the bacteria, but it's not ideal, it won't kill viruses (y'know, STDs), it's not the best plan of action.

    Microwaving sex toys is possible with some, but it's really hard to know when. Ambiguous materials could contain metalloids- and this includes glass- which could fuck up your microwave, and your toy.
    Also it's unknown the effects of low level microwave radiation on all the pathogens that may be present on a used sex toy. And, do you really want to put them in your microwave? I wouldn't.

    Dishwashing is a good idea if you use a high setting and an antibacterial wash. This can only be used for toys that will not melt at a high temperature, or have no metal parts.
    You can boil toys, but again this is temperature safety dependant. Many non-silicone toys have relatively low melting points, so you run the risk of smooshing a toy.
    Even if there is no visible melting, there may be alterations to the composition of the toy, such as oxidization or reduction of some of the compounds. This can be very harmful.

    ---

    I've already talked about the melting toys, vagina not made of plastic thing, but here's a little more:
    Vaginas get hot. Friction makes heat. Whilst a rubber/plastic/etc toy may not melt at 40ish centigrade, it may begin to, releasing harmful chemicals and such like.

    Also, vaginas are a little bit acidic.
    Acid+ most other things = something you do not want.

    --

    I am a biochemistry student, and I am looking at doing a research project this year, and I was hoping to look into the issues people have been having with glass dildos, especially ones from Pipedream.
    I can't use the facilities.

    I live in one of the UKs top research cities for the sciences and while this means we have the best equipment, it means everyone else is using it for funded research, phD's, other post grads, and degree work.
    The cost of hiring the labs out to do tests like these are astronomical, and noone will ever do it with the pure focus of 'what if...sex toy?'.
    If you want more hard evidence, look into results from material testing for specific materials themselves. This will have been carried out for the food, medical and automotive industry, and there is a wealth of information out there, you just have to find it and then apply it to the situation.

    In terms of doing something like this for a thesis or end paper, you'd be pushing your luck. There is a lot of potential as a whole study, but it's basically just materials testing and there's minimal actual science. It could just as easily be done as an editorial combining other peoples research from materials testing from highly funded and rigorous studies.
    You also have to contribute the the field you study when you do something like this, right from A Level onwards, and again, you're not really contributing anything, you're just looking at stuff and drawing basic conclusions. It's not enough.

    ---

    In reference to Stuburns comment about novelties and exemption from testing, he's right. That does fly in Europe for imported toys as long as they are sold as novelties.
    EU made toys have slightly stricter regulations, but not as much.
    There is no legal area for sex toys, you either have novelties or medical equipment. It's not viable for them to be medical, so....

    I think it may be ideal for a new set of regulations to be brought in, but by and large it's not a priority.

    --

    boop be doop, what else...
    Oh yeah.
    Not all glass toys are fit for purpose. By and large you will be fine, but it's been discovered (by myself and a couple of bloggers who I'm not naming because they might not want to be named) that some toys have nickle and cadmium compunds used for colour. Generally okay, but not if you're allergic. And they don't declare this.

    K. I think I'm done.
    *takes off lab coat*

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    pegguin [sign in to see picture]
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    fairehlights wrote:

    *takes off lab coat*

    She wins. /thread.

    For sure though, its difficult to get funding/lab time for this sort of thing because its really not very interesting. You're only showing things that have already been shown in the past. That porous materials can collect bacteria in awkward places. That removing that bacteria is possible and that some of those materials which are porous cant survive the removal.

    Even in the case of internal leaking of chemicals, its know that at temperature that can happen and internal body temperature+friction can get you there. Basically, theres no interest in researching it because what do you want to discover?

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    Stuburns [sign in to see picture]
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    Are you my dad Pegguin?

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    popk1n [sign in to see picture]
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    I have a question:
    If you bought eg a dildo made of porous material and used a condom everytime with it and stored it properly, would it last any longer/be any more safe?
    Has anyone experienced/know of any horror stories from using porous toys? :o

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    Foxxy [sign in to see picture]
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    It will help, but if your toy is leeching gases (can happen eek) then a condom isn't proven to offer full protection from it. If you use condoms on porous toys, always use latex free, because if the toy has been softened with oils in the manufacturing process, latex and oil don't mix

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    OUCH! Thank you ;) [sign in to see picture]
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    popk1n wrote:

    I have a question:
    If you bought eg a dildo made of porous material and used a condom everytime with it and stored it properly, would it last any longer/be any more safe?
    Has anyone experienced/know of any horror stories from using porous toys? :o

    I just used a porous dildo two days ago. I used a condom for vaginal use, but I'd had it in my mouth for a good 10 minutes beforehand, and I'm now taking antihistamines. I looked like I'd been stung by nettles literally all over me, it itched, stung and burned like hell. I was chatting to friends and we narrowed it down to being the dildo, as it flared up right after using it, and I've not changed my cosmetic products or cleaning products.

    It's not a truly horrific tale in terms of reaction, but for it to have covered most of my body after just 10 minutes in my mouth... that's some pretty scary stuff, especially if you consider that I've only had one other allergic reaction in my life, and that was to a face scrub that aggravated an existing condition.

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    Talia [sign in to see picture]
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    The big problem with applying existing research to sex toys is that the retailers web page don't properly list the material: "skin safe rubber" - what does mean, exactly? I'm pretty sure that there's several different chemical formulas for "skin-safe rubber", some of which are probably safer than others.

    Which is why the Dildology project was based on a good idea, it just doesn't seem to have gone very far...

    Out of curiosity I just wasted half an hour of electricity to boil a vibrator sleeve made of "phtalate-free PVC" (according to the packaging) (I decided during the first trial that it was useless, but not having bought it from LH I couldn't return it). It did not melt or change its shape in any way, it did however change from translucent to opaque and it is tackier than before. So boiling is probably a last resort before throwing something away...

    Thanks, fairehlights, for the glimpse into the life of a science student (I guess I'm spoiled, when I studied translation I was pretty free in the subjects of my papers. None of which required lab time, obviously...) One question, though: You write "First off, it has to be 100% ethanol, or close enough." I seem to remember that 100% alcohol is not as good for disinfecting as lower concentrations (60 - 70 %) and indeed my vet sold me 70 % alcohol for disinfecting needles between rabbits. Incidentally, I'm not worried about viruses - I'm talking about disinfecting my own toys, used only by me - but about mold and bacteria.

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    fairehlights [sign in to see picture]
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    You can effectively use alcohol from about 70% up with comparable degrees of efficy, but what I was more trying to stress is to use ethanol, not, say, vodka or absinthe. I'm aware you and most people here wouldn't do that, but there will be some that will think it okay :')
    Its also the fact that the dilution must be with sterile or deionised water, which can be readily bought, but is a further inconvenience.
    While a vet may have okayed it, from a microbial point of view, using alcohol is not an efficient or sterile method to sterilize needles. You should probably buy a box of singles and just dispose of them, as its much safer.

    Having boiled a sleeve and noted a change in colour and texture, that denotes a change in chemical composition of unknown identity. That could have released, and could continue to release, anything. I wouldn't put that in your bod.
    In terms of viruses, its always better to be safe than sorry. A virus you carry may become symptomatic if retransmitted even to yourself, so I'd always be cautious :)

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    Talia [sign in to see picture]
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    I should have done a search in German from the beginning! The German magazine Ökotest (maybe not quite as reputed as Stiftung Warentest but good enough) did a test on sex toy materials. With frankly frightening results: Traces of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in nearly all tested toys (including silicone ones!), even luxury (silicone) products fail their text criteria (= text result "ungenügend" - in German schools that's the worst mark) because of too high levels of PAHs and dibutyltin/tributyltin.

    The article starts here: http://www.oekotest.de/cgi/index.cgi?artnr=99747&bernr=06 but you'll have to pay for the actual test results. And of course it's all in German...

    Given what they found in expensive and reputable silicone toys (like the JeJoue Mimi, Lelo Tiani, WeVibe 3) I would say there's plenty of need for practical lab work - unless one managed to get hold of the manufarcturers' actual recipes...

    (Repeating the call to professors and students of chemistry, biology, materials testing and related subjects...)

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    Gyrator53 [sign in to see picture]
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    Interesting - looks as if some at least are using a tin cured silicone and not platinum cure medical grade silicone. I wonder if that applies to some that are specifically claiming they use medical grade silicone.

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    Talia [sign in to see picture]
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    I don't know what We Vibe claimed about their 3 in 2011, but regardless of what Lelo is saying, its test results are the ones that really shock me because I would have implicitly trusted a (any) Swedish company in everything to do with safety.... Shows that I'm still too naïve.

    In the meantime I've found another test, this time by Greenpeace searching for phtalates in 2006 - lab results are in English: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/MultimediaFiles/Live/FullReport/7938.pdf

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    Lovebirds_x [sign in to see picture]
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    Talia wrote:

    I don't know what We Vibe claimed about their 3 in 2011, but regardless of what Lelo is saying, its test results are the ones that really shock me because I would have implicitly trusted a (any) Swedish company in everything to do with safety.... Shows that I'm still too naïve.

    In the meantime I've found another test, this time by Greenpeace searching for phtalates in 2006 - lab results are in English: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/MultimediaFiles/Live/FullReport/7938.pdf

    We-vibe have certainly changed their silicone since then. I daresay Lelo will have too if they were 'caught' using less than medical grade silicone, though I don't own any old Lelo toys to compare their current ones to.

    Are there any current studies? As in the last year, two years max? Because body safety awareness is a super recent thing. It doesn't surprise me they weren't all the way back in 2011 or 2006. It's a known thing that many companies lied about how pure their silicone (or 'silicone blend') was.

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    Talia [sign in to see picture]
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    I'm already happy that I found anything at all ;) I've sent a mail to Ökotest, asking about both the companies' reactions and whether they want to run new tests. If they answer, I'll let you know.

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