It’s understandable if some people find the subject of vibrator safety humorous. After all, the phrase makes it sound like you’re dealing with a chainsaw or some other instrument of potential mayhem. Go ahead and snicker if you must.
Done now? As funny as it is to compare vibrators to power tools, staying safe really is a serious matter. Masturbation is the safest sex around, but when you introduce a vibrator, there are certain risks to be aware of – particularly if you’re using the toy with a partner. Some of the dangers include:
- Physical injury
- Exposure to harmful chemicals
- Sexually transmitted diseases and other health problems
Don’t freak out! A little common sense is usually enough to protect you from these threats. However, common sense doesn’t always prevail in the heat of the moment. In addition, there are a few finer points that might not be obvious to everyone. Here are three major steps you can take to stay safe while getting off:
1. Choose a Safe Vibrator
First off, it’s important to note that just about any vibrator can be safe if you use a condom with it. However, if you plan to use the toy directly on your skin, some toys are simply safer than others based on the material they’re made of.
If you shop around, you’re likely to find some vibrators advertised as phthalate-free. This isn’t just a marketing line. Phthalates are chemicals that could be dangerous to your health. They’re found in many industrial products, but there’s a particular concern about sex toys because they come in direct contact with (very sensitive) skin. To keep things in perspective, it’s worth noting that the Food and Drug Administration has not found enough evidence to ban phthalates even in cosmetic products. Still, just about everyone agrees that it’s a good idea to avoid these chemicals whenever possible.
Hard vs. Soft
In general, harder materials like plastic and glass are safer than softer materials like jelly. The softer materials are porous, making them tougher to get completely clean. They may also break down over time, especially when used with certain kinds of lubricant. Now, plenty of women and men use toys made of softer material without any problems. Just be aware of these issues before you buy one of these vibes, and read the instructions before you flip the switch.
When you open up your vibrator for the first time, you should check it over to make sure it’s in perfect working condition. If the surface is torn/broken or emits a strong odor, send the vibrator back – it could leak dangerous chemicals. Also, be sure to wash the vibrator thoroughly before you use it for the first time.
2. Use the Vibrator in a Safe Way
How you use your vibrator is arguably even more important than which vibrator you choose. This is especially true if you’re using the toy with a partner.
A vibrator can transmit STDs, other viruses, and bacteria during sexual activity with another person. For that matter, it can transmit sperm. When using a vibrator with a partner – whether the configuration is male/female, female/female, or male/male – you should generally treat the vibrator like a real penis and exercise the same sorts of precautions you would take for intercourse. The best idea is to use a condom, but in any case, make sure the toy is cleaned before it switches orifices.
Yes, you can get injured using a vibrator, and yes, it’s not the easiest thing to explain to the doctor. Make sure to use the vibrator the way it’s designed to be used (in other words, read the instructions). But regardless of what the directions say, you should stop using the toy if something hurts.
3. Make Sure Your Vibrator Stays Safe Through Proper Maintenance
Vibes are generally low maintenance (especially when you compare it to having a relationship with an actual person). However, there are a couple of things you need to do to keep it safe and in good working order.
Vibrators need to be cleaned after each use. For most products, this means simply washing it with soap and water (or better yet, a cleaner designed specifically for sex toys). However, vibes made of harder materials may be able to stand up to more intensive cleaning. Check the manufacturer instructions to find out what is and isn’t allowed.
If you want to be extra sanitary, you can (say it with me) put a condom on your vibrator each time you use it.
Keep your vibe stashed away in an appropriate container, where it wont collect dust or lint, or come into contact with other items. In other words, don’t just toss it into the Big Sex Drawer and expect it to stay sanitary.
Vibrators have a limited lifespan, which kind of sucks considering it can take some searching to find the perfect one for you. While vibes made of harder materials can last for years, jelly vibes and the like should be replaced frequently (many cheaper vibrators die within 6-12 months anyway). We know how hard it can be to say goodbye, but it’s important to get rid of a porous (and possibly cheaply made) vibrator before it becomes a health hazard. With any luck, you’ll be able to find the same model still on the market – or something even better.