Healthy Sex Toys

| 7/8/2011 5:03:00 PM

Tags: sex, sex toys, toxic chemicals, toxins, phthalates, plasticizers, infertility, hormones, dildo, vibrator, Smitten Kitten, Grist, Spiegel, Margret Aldrich,

Sex Shop 

Could your dildo be dangerous? Many sex toys contain toxic chemicals, including plasticizers that can lead to infertility, hormone imbalances, and other health problems. In Germany, the Green Party is making moves to clean up the country’s goodie drawers.

The party has reason for concern. “Phthalates and other plasticizers are highly regulated in children’s toys,” reports Jess Zimmerman for Grist, “but adult toys—which are, after all, designed to get all up in your mucus membranes—can have all the plasticizers they want.”

The German Greens demand that their government come up with a plan of action to protect its citizens—20 percent of whom report using sex toys—from the toxic plasticizers in dildos and vibrators, says Spiegel, and they have published a paper called “Sexual Health as a Consumer Protection Issue” to outline the issue. Thus far, the German Ministry for Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection has offered few concrete solutions. In fact, it refuses to even use concrete terms like “dildo” or vibrator,” referring only to “erotic items.”

There are a handful of non-toxic, green-focused sex-toy shops in the United States, with the Smitten Kitten—based in Minneapolis, but with a healthy online presence—at the forefront. Owner Jennifer Pritchett is working to make sex toys safe for all. She says:

The Smitten Kitten is proud to say that we pioneered the eco-friendly and non-toxic movement in the adult retail industry. In 2003 we were first ever non-toxic sex-toy shop. Likewise, we founded the first ever community advocacy organization and adult industry education organization, The Coalition Against Toxic Toys. [The Smitten Kitten is] a big part of my life and an ever growing positive influence on the sexual health and vitality of our community as a whole.

So, before you get up close and personal with a new “erotic item,” consider the manufacturing methods and materials used. Go green, then go wild.

10/18/2011 3:34:09 PM

This is a great post indeed. We also carry those eco-friendly sex toys in our store. They are really great and good for your health. Visit to see the complete list.

7/18/2011 11:34:44 PM

And no mention of GLASS or Metal... I absolutely love my glass toys! Glass and metal toys are safe! Another option is that you can use a "safe" condom on your toy. Condoms are part of the same issue. I went looking for a latex, lubricant, and spermicide free condom and found ONE that most stores don't even carry. And they are more than twice the price of the others.

David Kimball
7/18/2011 7:05:43 PM

This article is a waste. It captivates one's attention by discussing what many people do and have. Then it introduces the fear factor. But it gives no way of judging the amount of fear which one should have. So it is saying to everyone - "Be afraid. Be very afraid". How much toxicity is included in these toys? Why doesn't the article say? How likely is it that harm will come to someone? Why doesn't the article say? Fear is a great sensationalizer for journalists to grab the attention in an unwarrented fashion. Shame on Utne for including an article based on sensationalist fear like this.

Self Serve Molly
7/14/2011 2:06:48 PM

Thank you, Utne, for sharing this valuable info! Few people realize that about 80% of sex toys out there are made of toxis jelly rubber. Jane is correct that Tantus has done amazing work to create silicone, sterilizable, bodysafe toys. But Smitten Kitten is still among a radical new offering of retailers. Most adult stores across the country are not all phthalate-free yet, and there is still no regulation in the US. I co-own Self Serve Toys in Albuquerque, NM and and we are the only bodysafe, non-toxic, education-based store of our kind in our state. The more folks are educated and know what to look for in bodysafe choices, the more stores will in fact be all phthalate-free. The more you know... :)

Jane Fader
7/12/2011 2:43:59 PM

While Smitten Kitten may have been the first body-safe sex toy "shop" in the US, it is a stretch to say that in 2003, Smitten Kitten--a single-location store in MN with an uncompetative online name--pioneered what the owner calls a health or eco "movement" in the sex toy industry. Several years before the turn of the century, a company named Tantus initiated the "body safe" movement from behind the retail counter by inventing a pliable phthalate-free material (Tantus Silicone) and manufacturing a line of pliable, phthalate-free sex toys (Tantus Toys). Metis Black, the owner of Tantus, then piggybacked off a publicity scare regarding phalates in children's toys and launched a body-safe sex toy campaign that forever changed the adult novelty industry. Because these specially-developed "body safe" materials are so expensive, the products are expensive. Expensive products attract expensive design and marketing, and now if you want to feel good about what you're resting on your junk-drawer, you have to spend like $150 and match it to your "unique personality." Hard plastic vibrators have always been body-safe, and they cost as little as $7.99. And almost every retailer--online or not--deals exclusively in body safe toys. It's the only thing anyone will buy these days. A company I work for just purchased, which exclusively sells body safe's not even a standard part of the site's marketing. It's just assumed.