What's the best way to sanitize a latex dildo? Plus more sexual quandaries.
Published: February 5, 2014
Q: What is the best way to sanitize a latex dildo? At least I think it’s a latex dildo. I actually don’t know. I had a yeast infection a few months ago, and before I knew what was up, I used my toy. Now I’m afraid to touch it until I know it won’t reinfect me! —Inserting This Chances Harm
A: “It sounds like ITCH isn’t 100-percent sure what her dildo is made of,” says Hannah Jorden, senior staff sex educator at Smitten Kitten (smittenkittenonline.com), a progressive sex toy and gear shop based in Minneapolis. Don’t feel bad, ITCH: Most people don’t know what their sex toys are made of.
“Sex toys aren’t regulated like food when it comes to packaging,” Jorden says. “There’s no list of ingredients on the back. It could be latex, some other porous rubbery substance, or even a nasty, rash-inducing, endocrine-disrupting, cancer-causing mixture of PVC and phthalates.”
For someone who works in a sex toy shop, Jorden sure makes sex toys sound scary — and phthalates, a chemical compound found in everything from cosmetics to shower curtains to sex toys to food packaging, are pretty fucking scary. Phthalates block male hormones, harm fetal genital development, interfere with adult brain function, and may put people at greater risk of breast cancer and testicular cancer. But the good news is that you don’t have to settle for shitty, dangerous, potentially toxic sex toys.
“The trick,” says Jorden, “is to buy only nonporous, nontoxic toys from trustworthy manufacturers and retailers.”
So maybe your best course of action, ITCH, would be to toss that old dildo and buy yourself a new one. So what should you look for when you go dildo shopping?
“The best option is medical-grade, platinum-cured silicone,” says Jorden. “Silicone dildos are popular because they come in lots of different textures and firmnesses, and you can quickly sterilize them by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes or running them through a hot dishwasher cycle. As long as they’re sterilized between uses, silicone dildos can be safely shared with different partners, and they can be used in different orifices without risk of bacterial contamination.”
Those platinum-cured silicone toys are going to be pricier, of course, but aren’t our orifices worth it? And our breasts and balls? And our children and their genitals? But if you can’t afford silicone, or if you have a sentimental attachment to older sex toys, you can put condoms over them and continue to use them.
“It’s not a foolproof approach,” Jorden warns, “and it supports companies that make low-quality toys. A silicone toy will last a lifetime, and when you buy one, you’re investing in a company that cares about quality and your sexual and reproductive health. Progressive sex shops, like those that are members of the Progressive Pleasure Club (progressivepleasureclub.com), can help ITCH figure out which toys are safe and which should be avoided.”
Jorden recommends a few trustworthy brands: Toys from Fun Factory, Tantus, and Vixen Creations are safe, nontoxic, and phthalate-free. And here’s a nonporous, nontoxic, non-silicone option for you, ITCH: the stainless steel toys made by NJoy (njoytoys.com). They’re pricey, it’s true, but they are as indestructible as they are beautiful.
Q: I’m a 30-year-old straight guy 18 months into a relationship with a 30-year-old bisexual woman. We get along wonderfully and fuck wonderfully. Have you ever tried to see who can out-rim whom? Fun stuff. We want a life together. The snag is that while she’s nontraditional in many respects, she also has a certain dedication to Catholicism and wants us to marry. I’m agnostic on God, but I don’t care at all for his earthly representatives; the idea of a priest giving me permission to kiss her is repellent. A secular courthouse wedding isn’t much more appealing to me. I know that a marriage license doesn’t automatically come with a dead bedroom and a dresser full of pleated jeans to put in it, but it seems utterly unnecessary. It’s also a binary sort of thing, and thus our go-to solution when we have a conflict — compromise — doesn’t work here. I suggested flipping a coin as a sort of probabilistic compromise. She wasn’t interested. Breaking up over the details of your future life together seems like a dumb thing for two smart people in love to do, but that’s the outcome we’re inexorably moving toward. —Running Into No Go
A: If you were my boyfriend, RING, and you told me — right after I had defeated you in a rimming contest — that you would marry me if you lost a coin toss, but not because marriage mattered to me, I would never rim your ass again. Because if my feelings, however contaminated they were by Catholicism, mattered less to you than a coin toss, well, then your ass would have to learn to eat itself.
Maybe it will help if you look at it this way: You’ve already lost the coin toss. You fell in love with a woman who wants to spend her life with you, and you want to spend the rest of yours with her. And the woman you want to spend the rest of your life rimming wants to marry the man she spends her life rimming. Since you would be willing to marry her if you lost a coin toss, RING, then clearly marriage isn’t something you couldn’t bring yourself to do. That means you’re the one who should compromise.
Q: I write to you on the behalf of a young employee of mine. I manage a restaurant and I’m perceived as pretty levelheaded, so employees feel comfortable confiding in me. The scenario: A 21-year-old Mexican employee came to me and blurted out, “I had sex with a woman. Then two months later, I met her husband at a bar. I did not know that she was married! She didn’t tell me! As it turns out, her husband is a good guy. Now I really feel bad and I don’t know what I should do.” Then he asked me what he should do. I told him I was not a good resource, but that I knew of one. This young man is a very spiritual guy and really does appear shaken. I asked him how many times he “dated” this woman. He said maybe five and that the sex happened only once. What should I tell him? —Employee Relations Resource
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