The lovely Lindsey Doe of Sexplanations recently put out a couple of videos on the topic of sex toys. This is really exciting! Sex toys, even within the world of sex ed, are far too rarely discussed, especially in regards to their quality and safety. So seeing a prominent face in sex ed (particularly in my own YouTube community) discussing these important topics is super awesome!
However, one adage Dr. Doe promotes throughout both videos, and one I see given frequently by sex educators, is that you should be using condoms with your sex toys.
This isn’t necessarily bad advice! But there are some important caveats that need to be addressed before you start wrapping up your dildos. I’ve mentioned all of these points in various videos on my channel, but here are some things you should know about sex toy + condom safety in one place.
1. That porous toy you’ve got? It’s going to leach oils.
Porous sex toys (such as those made of TPR, jelly, PVC, Cyberskin, etc.), are often softened with mineral oils. This is what gives them their squishy or skin-like feel. Over time, these toys begin to break down and release these oils. This is why they often feel sticky or leave a greasy residue. Mineral oils are also known to deteriorate latex condoms in as little as 60 seconds. If you’re going to use a condom with a porous toy— and you absolutely should, as porous toys can easily harbor bacteria and fungi— it has to be polyurethane or nitrile.
(Update March 2016: DangerousLilly did a post on this topic and actually tried covering jelly and TPR dildos in latex condoms. The condoms broke, unsurprisingly.)
2. Most condoms are lubricated with silicone.
I talked about this when I posted my lube compatibility chart a couple weeks back. If you are using a condom on a silicone toy, be aware that the majority of condoms are lubricated with silicone lube. Certain silicone lubes can break down certain silicone toys depending on the types and qualities of silicone involved. Condom manufacturers rarely disclose what their products are lubricated with on the packaging, so it’s important that any condom you use on a silicone toy be either unlubricated or definitely lubricated with a water-based lube (though bear in mind that some water-based lubes come with their own set of issues). You wouldn’t want to lose an expensive silicone toy to some mystery silicone condom lube.
3. Condoms may not protect you from toxic toys.
People often get a false sense of security when it comes to using condoms on toys containing phthalates and other harmful chemicals. While condoms can protect you from STIs and pregnancy, there haven’t been any tests to indicate they’ll protect you from the toxic chemicals in certain sex toys. Save your condom and get yourself something body-safe.
Part of me wants to add that because truly non-porous materials can be completely sanitized, condoms for safety purposes are often unnecessary with them (unless you’re going anal to vaginal within the same session or sharing a toy between partners), but I think encouraging people to associate condoms with all aspects of their sex life has its benefits, so I’m definitely not going to try to dissuade anyone.
Be safe and have fun! Just make sure your condom and toy are compatible.