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The Buzz on Toy Safety

Adult novelties are products that everyone wants, but no one is really willing to talk about. A report in 2001 by CBC suggested that the market for vibrating toys in North America alone is worth $400 to $500 million. These estimates are probably conservative in an industry that is hardly tracked because all the companies are privately held and even pornography revenue is generally significantly underestimated.

While there has been some press on the negative effects of vibrators and the dependence on them that some women develop for being able to find orgasm, they have also been profoundly instrumental in allowing women to find orgasm in the first place. In fact, a little bit of recently uncovered history has linked the invention of vibrators to Victorian physicians who were treating women for “hysteria” by bringing them to orgasm. These physicians were looking for a way to speedup the process so that they could see more patients per day and the vibrator answered the call. For years, these items were sold as medical devices, no stigma attached.

One can find vibrators and like products in every color, size, and material from soft and squishy to titanium. The range of options available is dizzying. Just the categories of vibrators and dildos can fill a page- every thing from clitoral, missile, waterproof, vibrating erection rings, the lists go on. With more than 12 percent of the internet devoted to adult themes, it’s hard to know where to begin to find the answers to even the most basic questions.

The material of the toy in question is an important consideration when you become a consumer. Sadly, the lack of regulation and oversight in this industry has created a glut of products which have been found to be extremely dangerous, with both low quality ingredients and bad plastics which off-gas and leak nasty chemicals. The majority, more than 70 percent of sex toys, are made in China and sold all over the world with a remarkable lack of oversight.

European studies of adult toys have shown extremely high levels of off-gassing of dangerous chemicals like phthalates in very high concentrations and that even in small levels have been linked to cancer and damage of the reproductive system. Being an intelligent and conscious consumer of adult products is an absolute necessity in this unregulated market. Consider this a health warning: the ingredients and the coating on the soft jelly and ‘cyber skin’ items are often made with cheap PVC. As bad as these ingredients may be for the environment, they are even worse for sensitive tissue.

All of that said, there are some really great eco-friendly and safe toys to use that can add excitement and novelty to the bedroom. As in any industry, you get what you pay for, and when I first brought home some cheap phallic shaped vibrators, my husband was uninspired to say the least. So be prepared to invest in toys that are responsibly made, luxuriously beautiful, functional and durable. Moving up in price point transforms the experience from shopping for a vibrator to selecting a pleasure object- a distinction definitely worth the investment.

A couple of my favorite companies in the mid- and upper-price ranges include two European manufacturers- Fun Factory, a German company, and the Swedish toy manufacturer, Lelo. Both of these companies offer a wide range of styles and shapes to engage most any couple. These more upscale vibrators use plug-in chargers instead of batteries and offer much quieter motors with up to 16 different speed variations. There are always new designs coming out and I’m really excited to add a couple of the new designs to our offerings- especially the new Gigi 2 which promises almost certain success for any woman trying to find and understand the g-spot.

Accessories can get your imagination rolling, and as Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Certainly when it comes to physical intimacy, allowing our imaginations a bit of free reign can only help to unleash some undiscovered passion. I have become a vibrator aficionado, always ready to expand my repertoire to include new and different sensations, and my beautiful Lelos provide inspiration and some new ideas to explore what had been uncharted territory. Which is the point of all the millions of dollars of adult novelties: to find more and better ways to share deep personal pleasure. That is the glue for holding all of the messy parts of loving relationships together.

Shopping and wondering about toys together can be a great appetizer to the main course… Check out our safe, non-phthalate pleasure objects here.