Learning the hard way about Toxic Sex Toys

Toxic/porous sex toysWhen I first began collecting sex toys, I thought I was being smart by only purchasing the cheapest items on amazon. In less than a year I bought over 100 sex toys/accessories, and I hadn’t spent more than 20 dollars on each toy. This was great for my wallet at the time (it made up for itself in hospital bills,) but it did some terrible things to my health. As it turns out, over ninety percent of the toys I bought were made of jelly or another toxic material. I was uneducated, and I wasn’t aware of the dangers of toxic sex toys, porous materials, phthalates, or parabens.

That year, through early 2013, I developed extreme headaches, nausea, lower back pain, and severe discomfort when urinating. This was unbearable when experienced on top of my pre-existing PGAD and chronic pelvic pain. I spent most of my time (and money) at urgent care, where they dismissed me as just imagining the symptoms, and told me to check with my PCP if the pain persisted. My regular doctor was unavailable at the time, and the pain just kept getting worse. Eventually, it got to the point that I couldn’t walk or hold down food because of the pain.

I had to go to the hospital.

As it turns out, I had a urinary tract infection that had spread to my kidneys. I was also suffering from what seemed to be an extreme allergic reaction in my vaginal walls that the doctors mistakenly suspected to be from using latex condoms. I like to think of myself as an extremely hygienic person, I am not prone to UTIs either, and I am certainly not allergic to latex or any spermicides. It wasn’t until I started using jelly toys that I started getting infections on a regular basis. After doing some research, I also learned that my “allergic reaction” was actually chemical burn.

Nearly all of my sex toys were porous meaning they had microscopic holes all over that could trap bacteria, viruses, fungus, etc. Even though the outside of my jelly toys may have been clean, bacteria from using the toys beforehand (both vaginally and anally) was still active inside of the toy’s material. There is no way to properly sanitize a porous toy. You can’t boil them, they aren’t dishwasher safe, and bleach would actually absorb into something like jelly causing it to become more toxic. Even washing them really good with soap and water only removes the bacteria from the surface. The residual bacteria inside the pores are what caused my UTI(s) and cost me several trips to the doctors.

Another thing I learned during my studies is that there is little to no government regulation on what sex toys can be composed of. Many contain harmful chemicals called phthalates which are used to make jelly and PVC toys squishy. Unfortunately for me, phthalates are not body safe and can cause chemical burns. This was extremely distressing news to me, as I had spent hundreds of dollars on a collection of sex toys that were harmful to my body.  At first, I was not sure what to do. I started using condoms with my jelly toys, and I guess that was a little safer. However, I eventually realized the noxious odor of the toxic toys in my house was causing me to have migraines.

Just the smell made me sick.

I eventually gave up on my collection. I trashed half of my sex toys and sold the other half to a strange man in his mid thirties via Craigslist. It was a weird drug deal kind of scene, except the drugs were dildos and butt plugs. He didn’t seem to understand/care about the dangers of the jelly toys. All he knew was that I was STD free and that was good enough for him. At the time, I was not really concerned for his safety. He was willing to buy used sex toys from a stranger after all.

My mind was occupied with the loss of all 100+ sex toys I had come to know, love, and at the same time resent. It was one of the worst break-ups I have ever had. With only the We-vibe 2 and a couple of cheap plastic vibes to keep me company, my heart sank and I quickly became very depressed. I resorted to less-conventional methods of masturbation. If you haven’t guessed by now, sex is a huge part of my life. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it.

Then I joined twitter. The rest is, as they say, history. My life changed when I started following other sex bloggers. They each taught me something new and helped me along the way to creating my own blog and website. I now own several silicone sex toys as well as some very satisfying body-safe vibrators. Although my collection is nowhere near as large or inclusive as it used to be, it is definitely better than ever before. If nothing else comes out of this blog, my hope is that someone somewhere avoids making the same mistake. When it comes to sex toys quality really is better than quantity.

53 comments

  1. I have had a bad experience with toxic toys too sore for a week a few times and didn’t know why but I’m glad I found this I just purchased a silicone dildo off Bad-Dragon.com I heard that their toys are good and safe and its pretty expensive but it will be worth it when I’m not sore anymore

  2. Have been suffering with headaches, nausea and lower back pain for over a month now, with recurring thrush. Drs perplexed as am I, im usually such a healthy person no issues! Until I realised that I was getting thrush symptoms every time I used my vibrators (one made of TPE one jelly rubber) and googled it to see if its possible to be allergic to them. Had NO idea that these things would be allowed to be produced out of toxic and porus materials!!!! If my symtoms are down to these sex toys am I supposed to see a doctor or just discontinue using and treat at home , have thrown them away and will be a LOT more careful in future!!!

  3. I used a jelly toy just once for most likely no longer than a minute, deep down I knew something about it was off and so I checked the internet and found out about all this and immediately disposed of it, my question then is should I be concerned after one use of such a short duration? Don’t know if it helps but I’m male.

  4. I am so happy I found your website! I have been dealing with the same sort of nightmares that most people viewing your website have been dealing with. I went to 3 different doctors and they all diagnosed me and my boyfriend with different things. The first doctor diagnosed me with herpes and him with HPV warts, which makes no sense because we had the same things. The second one diagnosed me with scabies which scared me pretty bad also. The third doctor diagnosed me with herpes again. All herpes results came back negative and its not scabies because I had more of a burning than itching sensation, and it hurt pretty bad when I urinated. I’m starting to believe that it was actually a chemical burn from the cheap jelly vibrating penis ring that my boyfriend used. If it wasn’t for your website I could have still believed I had either scabies or herpes. So Thank YOU!!!!

  5. I bought a “silicone” vibrator (the Posh 4 Teaser) from a local shop which says it offer “quality” “non toxic” toys. Yesterday I used it three times, including once anally with a Trojan latex condom.

    Now, I before I had thought I was the problem. I messed up the last time I had one of these by using a lubed condom that I assumed melted the silicone. I thought if I could wash the lube out before hand it would be ok. Nope. Lol. I had to toss that vibrator because it stank like death, it made me stink (thankfully I did not get a (UTI) and it gave me boils. But I loved the motor functionality so I bought another and vowed to be more careful.

    Well, turns out it’s not just me. It’s also an issue of porosity I guess. Suddenly after using the latex condom the Posh Teaser smells like death again. The non-lubricated latex condom shouldn’t have melted or dirtied up a pure silicone toy.

    Today my low back and hips have been bothering me with sort of an achy fullness. It doesn’t feel like I have a UTI but I don’t feel right either. Damn. I’m pretty pissed off. I got burned twice. So much for trusting manufacturers’ labels and “non-toxic” stores. I was trying to be careful!

    Is California Exotic Novelties not a reputable manufacturer?

    1. California Exotics is a huge manufacturer. Within the hundreds of sex toys they produce there are bound to be at least a couple things that aren’t terrible. For example, their hard plastic vibrators are mediocre, but are not likely to cause chemical burns. Much like Pipedream and Doc Johnson, not all of their products are toxic. However, I personally do not consider them to be a very trustworthy company. If you are an inexperienced user and can not judge the quality of a product immediately just by looking at it then I would recommend sticking to shops that refuse to sell toxic products altogether like the Smitten Kitten.

    2. I will never put anything made by California Exotics near my genitals ever again. If their cheap ass toys don’t give me a rash they break after the first use. They’re so low quality that they sell under multiple names just to keep selling things.

  6. DO NOT purchase a Bree Olsen jelly dildo!! I’ve only used it once after purchasing it, and the smell did seem unusual, but as I had not ever owned one before, I didn’t realize this was unusual. I used it, and now my itching and sensitive vagina has brought me here, searching for answers on what my issue could be. Thank you for the helpful information.

  7. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this. I recently purchased my first toys, one of which turns out to be made of vinyl. When I opened it I noticed a very strong smell that has stayed even after washing a few times. I used it once, not for very long, and have been feeling some itchiness/burning since. I wonder if it could be from that? It’s been a few days and seemed to get a little worse over time. This is definitely something to consider. Thank you!

  8. Hi there! Thank you for this post. Can you recommend some reputable sex toy manufacturers? If they lie, then I am confused as to how I can with confidence buy ones that are made of body-safe materials. Thanks in advance!

    1. Tantus is a great place to look if you’re interested in silicone insertable toys (plugs, dildos, etc.). Solid quality and not too expensive, especially if you’re not picky about color and get a Grab Bag. I have a lot of their stuff and it’s all been well-made and I never had any bad reactions.

  9. Hi there,

    So glad I found this. I think I am having a very similar reaction to you, and have traced it back to by jelly “butterfly kiss.” I used it for a long session and have been sick as hell for two weeks. This was only the second time I used it. Intense back pain, nausea, headache, weird ‘out of it feeling,’ and horrible fatigue. I started taking doxycycline and am on day three, and it is getting better, so definitely bacterial. But jesus, started out like a UTI, then progressed very quickly to something much more intense. i am not sure it is a regular ecoli bacteria either. I have gotten these a lot, and nothing like this. I am going to be on the doxy for two weeks. Can I ask how you cleared your infection, and how long it took? I am pretty sure that this thing ran to my kidneys, and want to make sure I take the doxy for long enough. Thanks for educating on this oh so very sensitive subject.

    1. I was prescribed Doxycycline for the infection and I took extra strength ibuprofen for the pain. I noticed relief after the first three days and felt completely better after two full weeks. Sounds like you are getting good medical care. Antibiotics can support the growth of even worse infections if they are not used properly, so make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, drink plenty of water, and finish all of your medication. I am so sorry that you also had to experience this. Nobody should have to go through this. Adult products should not be making people sick. Our only hope for getting these products off the shelf permanently is getting the word out there and making it clear to consumers that this is a public health issue.

  10. I’ve been using a silver bullet. I was cleaning with a sex toy cleaner that I was told was hypoallergenic but it irritated me now I need to go to the Dr bc I am experiencing itchiness, ramps & bumps. It’s not a jelly toy buy silver and I only use it vaginally. I cleanse with hot water only, But I feel like I have a std it is so uncomfortable. Does this sound like a chemical burn? Is this silver bullet in the family of toxic toys.

    1. Bullet vibrators like the one you are describing are typically made from ABS plastic and/or some time of metal. If the bullet you are using is made of metal and is nickel-plated then you may be experiencing an allergic reaction. I bring this up because I have personally experienced these same symptoms and even broke out in hives because I was allergic to the nickel in a sex toy.

      Another possibility is that the sex toy cleaner you used may contain an ingredient that is either toxic or that you have a personal sensitivity to. Living with allergies myself, I have learned that labeling a product “hypoallergenic” does not always make it safe to use internally or even topically. It also does not mean that it is impossible for you to be allergic to any of the ingredients used to make the cleaner. I would encourage you to do your own research, become familiar with the ingredients on the label of your sex toy cleaner, and then decide for yourself whether or not to discontinue use of the product(s).

      I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing so much discomfort. I hope you feel better soon.

  11. My boyfriend decided to buy a “dong” that was made of silicone. Turns out I’m allergic! I would rather go through child birth again than deal with that again. My boyfriend had been drinking so didn’t really pay attention to my lady bits quadrupling in size and turning purple. Didn’t even use it for a minute and I was crying. I jumped in the shower which did nothing so he ran me a bath and I literally had to get him to clean every millimetre it touched. After about 15 mins of awkwardness, the pain went slowly went away then everything went back to normal. We later tested it on my arm and it ballooned. any suggestions on alternatives to silicone?

    1. Please keep in mind that many companies falsely advertise TPR, TPE, PVC, and jelly dildos as silicone when in fact they are not. 100% pure silicone is a non-porous, hypoallergenic, chemically stable material. While it is not impossible to be allergic to silicone it is far more likely that your partner was duped by yet another company who was blatantly lying about the composition of their product. I would do your research regarding the brands of the sex toys you are buying before making any further purchases. Hint: it’s usually a safe bet to avoid buying from companies who frequently use the word “dong.”

      If you are looking for other body safe materials I would recommend stainless steel, ABS plastic, aluminum, glass, acrylic, and even sealed wood or ceramic from a reputable manufacturer.

  12. Thank you for sharing this! Men also need to be aware of these dangers as well. I used to moonlight as a cam model/performer and as a newby I soon learned that I’m going to need me some sex toys in order to satisfy my customers. I’d never used nor owned a sex toy before so I ran down to the local sex shop and bought several jellies, dildos, and some kind of clear squishy thing called a “super sucker” one inserts his penis into this thing and it’s supposed to be “Bliss” or “Just like the real thing” What a crock! The first thing I noticed was that every toy had a strong sickening sweet, yet chemical odour. The smell alone turned me of tremendously! No lube was good enough either with any of these toys! I was constantly applying lube every few minutes only for the toy to adsorb it up like a sponge! When using the jellies in my anus it would slide in but then it would painfully stick and pull upon exiting out. It didn’t matter what brand, type, or amount of lube I used either. It was actually tearing the mucus membranes of my rectum! I was sore for a week. The same thing with the “super sucker” I got a painful rash on my penis. Oh and it gets even better! This next experience truly scared me and made me a believer to NEVER use these toys again! The very last time I used my purple jelly dildo I placed it inside a black plastic bag and it made the bag melt and actually adsorbed it! My purple jelly now has a swirl of black inside it! When I pulled it from the plastic bag the bag had turned to a sticky goo! The jelly melted and adsorbed the black plastic bag. How is it legal to sell such toys? This is just awful since there will be many more young people exploring their sexuality with toys only to become really sick and even hospitalized.

  13. Hi, you seem pretty knowledgeable and was wondering if you could help me. I too purchased a jelly dildo for my first time and used it twice, I started having abnormal bleeding and then about a week later I started getting itching/irritation and now 2 weeks later my vaginal and anal area are burning. It feels like it’s in fire. It scares me because I went to my dr and they looked, said all looks fine but that it’s red and inflamed. Do these sound like symptoms from a chemical burn? And does it go away? Please help me, I’m very stressed out and scared.

    1. Hello, it sounds like the jelly product you used contains toxic chemicals (likely including phthalates.) These are known endocrine disruptors which may affect your regular menstrual cycle and cause unusual uterine bleeding. Alternatively, the porous toy may have given you a vaginal infection and the bleeding may be a side effect of that. Make sure to check with your healthcare provider to rule out the possibility of bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.

      From the symptoms you are describing it does sound like you have received a chemical burn. My advice would be to discontinue use of the toy and any other products you may believe to be toxic. The rash and pain from a chemical burn should fade with time. If your symptoms persist I would see another doctor, tell them that you suspect a chemical burn from a sex toy that contained phthalates, and go from there.

      Best of luck.

      1. Thank you so much for getting back to me. I have seen 3 Drs because my symptoms had gotten worse. By this time I couldn’t sleep or eat and was extremely stressed. I didn’t know what I had gotten from this toy I purchased. All 3 said I didn’t have infection and said if it was an allergic reaction it should have been gone by now. (Not too sure if they are too aware of side effects of jellies). Symptoms he cleared up after using hydrocortisone but then came back a week later. ( could be because I was scared) saw dr again and prescribed a stronger steroid. I’m thinking it’s because of the toxins. It’s the worse experience ever. Very frightening. Should have done more research prior to using it. It’s been about a month and a week and symptoms are still there, they have gone down a lot but nonetheless they are still present. I’m wondering, when you say time… Are we talking like weeks or possibly a month to two or three?

      2. Thank you for responding. You’d be surprised that I’m still dealing with symptoms. Dr had prescribed hydrocortisone cream which seemed to help and at one point I thought it was all coming to an end. Then about 5 days after not using it symptoms came back. (Keep in mind I used the toy a few times and never used it again after I started getting my first symptoms) for some reason the Drs keep trying to prescribe hydrocortisone or Claritin. IT doesn’t seem like they know about chemical burns or toxins from jellies. I was having irritation inside my vagina and again around my anus( I never used the dildo anally.) this has been the worst experience and the most stress I have ever been through. My nerves are shot. The more I think about it the more the sensations are in my private parts. When I sleep is the only time I don’t feel anything. They prescribed me a fungal pill because maybe I was developing a yeast infection and the hydrocortisone just made it worst. At this point I don’t know what to do, I can’t even find anything online to treat chemical burns. Would you happen to know what can help?

  14. I’m pretty glad I found this too. I’ve had some “jelly” (honestly I don’t know what the hell they were made out of, I never cared to look because I didn’t think it was a problem!!) dongs and other toys and if they were in me for an extended amount of time it would start to get very uncomfortable. I didn’t really know this was a thing tho. I just stopped using it and then didn’t need one for a little bit…but now that I’m back to wanting one, I’ll be sure to find the right one!! Thank you!!

  15. Pingback: The Horrifying Tale Of: The Jelly Dong
  16. I wish that there was more information out there concerning the safety (or rather lack thereof) of jelly toys. A couple years ago I purchased a cheap jelly dildo from Amazon, used it without problem for about a year, then ended up getting a horrendous kidney infection that required hospitalization. By the time I made it to the hospital I was shaking uncontrollably, vomiting, had a high fever, and was literally getting worse by the minute. Now, nothing other than 100% silicone goes near my body, the higher price does directly relate to the quality, and it is worth it! Sex is also much more enjoyable without having to worry about putting my life at risk over a cheap sex toy.

  17. I am so glad I found this article. I am sitting here on the toilet crying my eyes out because what I thought to be yet another “UTI” that just wouldn’t make sense, is actually because of burns or a bad reaction from my favorite dildo that I had bought last month. I am 18 years old and I, unknowingly and excitingly purchased a pink, see-through “jelly dong” from amazon for about 16 dollars, thinking it was quite the deal. At first all was fine, it became my best friend, kept me from going on slutty rampages and safe from getting pregnant, then one day after using it (about 3 weeks ago), my vaginal area burned and when I urinated it burned so bad I would scream and cry, I couldn’t walk, and there was blood in my urine. I thought it was a UTI so I went to the doctor and he didn’t really see any trace of an infection, but gave me medication anyways. It went away and I didn’t touch my dildo at all, then I got my period, and then today I thought my period was over (turns out it wasn’t), so I happily used my dildo this morning thinking all was great, and now I am here crying with my vagina on fire and unsure of what to do other than google what it could possibly be. And now that I am aware, I am going to toss my best buddy into the trash and probably cry and eat ice cream because I will never find something like it again unless I have sex with someone.

    1. There are some squishy body-safe silicone dildos out there (anything made with Vixen Vixskin and Tantus O2), although they’re not cheap.

  18. I’ve been searching the internet and can’t seem to find any remedies for a chemical burn caused by a jelly toy. I have a jelly vibrator (the rabbit) that I bought years ago, and didn’t experience issues with until recently. I’ve always kept it in good condition, but figured it was probably time to get a new one.. I mean how long can a jelly toy really last before the material starts to break down on a molecular level?? I used it again after a long period of non-use, and holy WOW the pain! I had no idea what the problem was. A few week later I used it again and the burning was so bad that I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. I googled it and found out about phthalates. Now I know what to avoid, but I have no idea how to treat this problem. It’s been almost three weeks and I’m still burning. Any suggestions?

    1. Well, I am not a medical doctor so my first piece of advice to you is to seek out somebody who is. Find someone trustworthy who is going to take you seriously when you tell them that you got a chemical burn from a toxic sex toy and treat you for it. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a sex positive doctor. Even doctors that work with genitals all day are often lacking in their education when it comes to human sexuality. Find somebody who makes you feel comfortable and allows you the freedom to ask as many questions as you need.

      Secondly, this may sound like a no-brainer, but you should discontinue use of all porous/toxic toys forever. Make an oath to yourself that you are only going to buy non-porous, body safe materials from now; such as 100% silicone, stainless steel, glass, ABS plastic, aluminum, acrylic, or even sealed wood or ceramic. This will ensure that you never have to experience chemical burn again or get an infection from a porous toy.

      Usually when dealing with a chemical burn, the best thing you can do is wait it out. However, if you are still experiencing symptoms for more than a week then you may need to assess whether something else may be causing the burning that you may not be aware of. Are there any other questionable toys that have been in contact with your genitals since using the jelly rabbit? Since you were using a porous sex toy it is also possible that you now have an infection and require to be treated for that as well before your pain fully subsides.

      As for actual immediate treatment of chemical burn I have a few suggestions from both personal experience and browsing the internet.
      1. I would grab a pair of clean, comfortable, cotton underwear and put them on. Allowing air to reach your sensitive parts will help with the healing process and preventing infection.
      2. Try using aloe vera gel straight from the leaves. This can be soothing both internally or externally, but make sure you are using the actual plant rather than a store bought gel because you want to avoid any added fragrances, dyes, or other harmful chemicals.
      3. An ice pack always helps me with genital pain and burning. Ice for no longer than 20 minutes at a time and be sure to use a soft barrier between the ice and your skin such as a towel.
      4. Try taking over-the-counter medicine. Good old ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help reduce your pain level.
      5. If using a body-safe vibrator externally helps ease the pain then by all means use one. When I am experiencing vaginal pain (which I do on a regular basis) using a clitoral vibe like the We-Vibe Tango helps with the pain dramatically.

      I hope this advice helps. I wish dangerous sex toy materials would be taken off the market permanently. Too many good people suffer because of this. Good luck to you.

  19. Do you know anything about the SexFlesh products that are sold on amazon? I have a few that were bought for me, They feel exactly like a real penis, they don’t have a chemical smell or taste to them either, but I am curious if they have anything in them that is toxic to my body.

    1. Sexflesh toys have a bad reputation for off-gassing, producing a slimey or oily substance, and breaking down over time which are all signs that the toys are probably toxic and contains phthalates. I did some research online, and my educated guess is that your toys are made of either TPR or (more likely) PVC. Either way, this means that your toys are porous. There are microscopic holes all over the toy’s surface that can trap bacteria, fungus, viruses, and other gross stuff. There is no way to properly sanitize a porous toy, so every time you use a Sexflesh toy you are introducing harmful bacteria to your body that may cause infection.

      My advice would either be to A. Throw those toys out and invest in a toy made of 100% silicone like the Mustang by Vixen Creations (which is the most realistic feeling dildo I have ever tried.) or B. At the very least use a condom with your toys every single time (be aware that the chemicals in your toy can break down the condoms) and discontinue use immediately if you feel any itching, burning, or other painful sensations when you use those toys.

      I wish you the best of luck. Please stay safe.

  20. I am so glad I read this.

    I am entirely knew to the sex toy/sex blogging scene, and since I’m a (broke) college student, I was going to start purchasing toys from Amazon. Jellys, vibes, I’m guessing you know the sort since you went through this terrible experience.

    Before coming to the community, I didn’t know there was even such thing as porous and such. I just used whatever I got. (I actually have a hairbrush handle horror story.). I’m so glad I’m learning about non-safe ways and things to masturbate with.

    Thank you!

  21. Quality is definitely important. I understand your desire to educate others better given your history-who would wish this on others?
    I’m one of the lucky ones that found bloggers and reputable sellers before I bought anything. I’m thankful for that every time I hear a story like yours, but I worry about those that still don’t know.
    You’re doing a very good thing!

  22. Good read. I myself am considering purchasing my first sex toy and wasn’t thinking of those health risks you mentioned. You opened my eyes to not only purchasing cheap pleasure toys, but also safe toys I can enjoy at the same time. Great start on the blog! Looking forward to reading more!

    1. Awesome! I would hate for someone to walk away from this post and think “Eh, who cares if it’s highly toxic or might put me in the hospital. I’m going to get me a jelly toy anyway.”

      Thank you for your feedback.
      It’s nice to know I’ve already reached someone.

  23. Pingback: The havoc toxic toys can wreak on the body » She Bop's Blog

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