Sex toys are remarkable tools that offer much more than just pleasure; they empower individuals to explore their bodies and embrace their sexuality. In a world that struggles with contradictory attitudes towards sex, these intimate accessories can be essential for understanding one's body and its potential for pleasure, regardless of gender identity.
However, the intersection of society's fascination with and discomfort around sexual topics has led to an alarming gap in comprehensive sexual education. While the internet freely provides explicit content, crucial information about safe sexual practices, especially when it comes to using sex toys, often remains elusive. we recognize the need to address this gap and provide guidance on using sex toys while avoiding the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
A Holistic Approach to Sexual Wellness
Sex toys offer a myriad of ways to explore pleasure, whether individually or with partners. However, it's important to remember that these tools are not a free pass to bypass safer-sex practices. Assumptions that sex toys are inherently safe due to their inanimate nature are inaccurate. STI transmission is a real concern if proper sanitation, material considerations, and barrier methods are neglected. Educating ourselves and others is paramount for taking control of our sexual health.
Five Steps to Preventing STI Transmission Through Sex Toys
Step 1: Know Your Materials
The materials of sex toys play a critical role in determining their safety and cleanliness. Porous materials, such as rubber or thermoplastic elastomer/rubber (TPE/TPR), can harbor bacteria and prove challenging to fully sanitize. It's crucial to opt for toys made from non-porous, body-safe materials like silicone, ABS plastic, glass, stainless steel, or wood. Unfortunately, some toys, like masturbation sleeves made from TPE/TPR, are exceptions due to their realistic feel. In such cases, exercise caution and limit their use to known partners with confirmed STI statuses.
Step 2: Sanitize After Every Use
Thoroughly sanitizing your sex toys after each use is a fundamental practice. The cleaning process varies based on the toy's material. Carefully read the manufacturer's instructions for proper cleaning techniques. In most cases, warm water and mild soap suffice. Glass and metal toys can often be safely sanitized on the top rack of a dishwasher. Opt for specialized sex toy cleaning sprays containing natural antibacterial ingredients for quick and efficient cleaning. While these sprays are beneficial, they should complement, not replace, regular washing.
Step 3: Mindful Placement on the Body
Maintaining clear boundaries between different bodily orifices is crucial. Avoid moving toys between anal, vaginal, and oral areas without proper cleaning. This applies regardless of whether you're using a penis, hand, or sex toy. Prevent the transfer of bacteria from one area to another to prevent potential infections. Never move a toy from the anus to the vagina, as this could lead to infections.
Step 4: Use Condoms as Barriers
To minimize the risk of STI transmission, utilize condoms as barriers for your sex toys. Applying condoms to toys like anal plugs or vibrators is straightforward and doesn't diminish the toy's functionality. If you're engaging in activities with multiple partners, the same principles that apply to barrier methods during sexual intercourse also extend to sex toys. Change condoms every time a toy switches bodies to ensure effective protection.
Step 5: Regular STI Testing
The cornerstone of responsible sexual health is regular STI testing. Consistently getting tested is crucial for your well-being and the well-being of your partners. If you're unsure of your partner's STI status, employ barrier methods to ensure protection. Taking charge of our sexual wellness involves embracing our responsibility to prioritize our health and the health of those we engage with intimately.
Empowerment Through Knowledge
Embracing safe practices with sex toys contributes to an empowered approach to sexual wellness. By following these five steps, we not only minimize the risk of STI transmission but also empower ourselves with knowledge. When we prioritize our health and the well-being of our partners, we embody the essence of sexual empowerment. As advocates for comprehensive sexual education and informed choices, we can redefine society's perspective on sexual health, ensuring a safer and more satisfying journey of exploration.