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Can You Catch STD From Sex Toys

Can You Catch STDs From Sex Toys?

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We all love some good ol’ fashioned sex toys, whether we’re using them alone or sharing them with a partner during a sexy night between the sheets. But can you catch an STD from them? Let’s explore.

Can STDs Be Passed from Sex Toys?

The short answer here is: “yes.” Sexually transmitted infections, both viral and bacterial, can be spread through sex toys. That said, we don’t want to discourage you from the wonderful world of adult toys. We simply want you to know the facts, and understand how to keep yourself safe and healthy. Because sharing or failing to clean toys can cause a number of infections, it’s good to know how to protect oneself. For instance, the chances of getting an STD are higher if the toy is inserted into your body rather than just having contact with it.[1] This is because bodily fluids will remain on the toy. These are the same fluids that typically spread infection through genital, anal or oral sex. Cleaning the toy may not be enough to protect yourself, as different materials require different cleaning methods and drying times. Some may not be able to be completely sanitized. Another way to protect yourself from infection is to cover the toy with a condom. Since it is possible to get STDs from sex toys, it’s always a good idea to get tested.  After all, most STDs do not show any symptoms for months, or even years.

How Long Can an STD Stay on a Toy?

A study published in The Journal of Sexually Transmitted Infections tested vibrators used by women who have HPV.  Some bacteria were still present after the vibrator was washed.  However, after 24 hours had passed, the percentage of bacteria dropped dramatically.  So, it is advisable that you at least wait a day before making good use of your toy again.

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Is It Safe to Share Your Sex Toys?

Your parents and teachers probably always told you that sharing is caring. That’s true… as long as you are being mindful and careful about how you share. It is best to only share your toys if you know your partner’s status or you are very cautious about sanitizing the toys between uses. When you pass a toy from one person to another without properly cleaning it, the bodily fluids we mentioned earlier will remain on the surface. An infection can be passed right along with it. Not a great example of “sharing is caring”! Of course in the heat of the moment, no one wants to clean the toy and wait the recommended 24 hours! In this case, the best way to ensure the safety of all involved is for each partner to have their own toy. In that case, the toys don’t need to be passed around. Everyone gets to play!

How Should You Clean Your Sex Toys?

The simple hygienic practice of cleaning your sex toy can lead to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Cleaning after each use and setting them aside for 24 hours will ensure that any remaining infections or bacteria die off.[2] Porous materials are the most difficult to clean. Bodily fluids will remain on this type of material longer. That’s true even after a thorough cleaning. Non-porous materials, such as silicone, glass, and metal are the easiest to clean and are therefore safest to use in terms of STD transmission. Toys made of silicone or glass can be disinfected by boiling them or running them through a dishwasher.[3] The best course of action is to pay close attention to the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the toy. This way you know that you are taking the proper precautions for your specific toy. In addition, it is best to clean your toy before use, too, unless you are careful to store it safely where it can’t pick up dust and dirt from the house.

Can You Get Re-Infected Using a Sex Toy?

Say you use a sex toy, then you find out that you have an STD. You can treat a person, but what about a toy? Can you use it again, or do you have to get rid of your reliable friend? Lucky for you, the answer is this: it is possible for your sex toys to re-infect you, but this is highly unlikely. This is mostly because bacteria can’t live outside of the body for very long. As long as you properly clean your sex toys after you use them, you should be okay to continue with your bedroom fun!

What About Clothes? How Long can STDs Live on Clothing?

Finally, since we are discussing STDs living in surprising places, let’s talk clothing. Just like sex toys, an STD can survive on clothes that haven’t been properly sterilized. As we mentioned above, most viruses and bacteria cannot survive for very long outside the body. Of course, you should never rely on time to eradicate any chance of infection. Clothes should be properly washed and stored in a clean, dry place.

Additionally, if you’re trying on brand new clothes, such a swimsuit, it may be a smart idea to wash it first. Far too many people simply try on a bathing suit, decide it’s not right for them and return it to the store. As you can imagine, this can lead to infection for whoever purchases the clothing next. After all, the material will be resting right up against your private areas. It’s the same principle as sharing sex toys!

If you’re returning a previously worn outfit, let the retailer know. This way, the store will be able to properly deal with the potentially contaminated clothing.

Should You Get Tested After Using a Sex Toy?

Generally, you don’t need to test for STDs after using sex toys. However, if you shared a toy with a partner without knowing that partner’s status, it is a good idea to get tested. Since there is the possibility of passing an infection to one another, testing helps you to be sure of your status. In fact, it is preferable to test after any new sexual encounter, and after every several months regardless of sex toy use. Luckily, at-home STD tests provide a convenient way to test in the comfort of your own home. The process is simple: first, order your test online. Screen yourself in just five minutes at any time and from any place. You will receive your lab-certified results online within days. Take the guesswork out of your sex life and just enjoy the adventure! Order Your Kit Now & Test AT Home! Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA

References

  1. [1] Study found that not always cleaning insertive sex toys between uses is significantly associated with BV.

    Jeanne M. Marrazzo, Laura A. Koutsky, David A. Eschenbach, et al. Characterization of Vaginal Flora and Bacterial Vaginosis in Women Who Have Sex with Women. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 2002.
  2. [2] HPV was found to be transmitted to 89% of thermoplastic vibrators and 67% of silicone vibrators. After cleaning and waiting 24 hours, only 22% of of thermoplastic vibrators and no silicone vibrators swabbed positive for HPV.

    Anderson TA, Schick V, Herbenick D, et al. A study of human papillomavirus on vaginally inserted sex toys, before and after cleaning, among women who have sex with women and men. Sexually Transmitted Infections 2014.
  3. [3] Cleaning instructions for various sex toys vary by material and the type of toy used.

    Sex Toy Cleaning Guide / Material Information Guide. Dangerous Lilly. 2010.