It's a good thing they're still illegal

Look out! Your vibrator is going to mutilate your genitals! (and not in that good way) Remember how sex with yourself used to be considered safe? No more! If you’re using a soft, jelly sex toy, you are putting your liver, kidneys and your uh-ohs at risk because those naughty toys contain phthalates. So now, sex with a stranger in a bar is just as safe as sex alone!


Not much research has been done on the effects of phthalates on the places one puts a sex toy were one going to use it.

And more than a few studies have shown them to be pretty much safe… at least for NICU babies exposed to phthalates in medical equipment anyway.

But don’t let that scare you into not using a condom… you know, with yourself.*

If perhaps condom use is difficult due to hairy palms or blindness, you now have the option to not use them with that HIV positive hottie you’ve had your eye on!   Good times!

*Disclaimer: Condom use may prevent genital shriveling, but God will still kill the kitten.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Are there some vowels missing in "phthalates"?

    By the way, I don't know if masturbation is a Friday theme, but I like it. . . . As both a practice and as a theme.

  2. Looks like stainless steel or ceramic glass is still the way to go. For NICU, and you too! Bon Weekend, Skepchicks (and SkepSam!)

  3. "Hey, your cellphone is ringing."

    "No, that's actually my vibrator. I left it in the sun too long."

    "Well… if you're not going to answer it, can I?"

  4. I think friday should officially be declared skepsex friday. It might need some fine tuning to get a title that works.

  5. Hmm, does that mean it's short for "Fuck Right Indexfinger-day" or something?
    I think if any day is going to be skepti-sex-day, Friday is probably the day to go, as it means you can choose not to read those blog entries until you get home for the weekend.

  6. Hey- a serious question on this front. I just saw a news report this morning; another one of those alarmist "there's a study with completely inconclusive results but let's panic anyway" things about pthalates in baby shampoos, etc. Now, I don't use any of that gunk anyway because well, babies aren't really as dirty as Johnson and Johnson would have us believe, BUT it raises the question of does it really do any harm to avoid the stuff? I err on the side of caution, because it seems like there are some things pointing to the fact that our daily chemical soup isn't great for us or the environment, but WHY are there not any conclusive studies? I'd love to know if pthalates really do have the same effects on humans as they do on animals. Is anyone looking at this? Is it alarmist for the state of California to have banned them? I try to keep a skeptical eye but it seems like there are a few questions here to ask.

    Sorry to serious-up the whole masturbation discussion. But yeah, I'm with wackyvorlon and gotta say silicone is the way to go. Although there's all these rules about cleaning and lubricating (some things just don't mix…) babesintoyland is another great info source on that front (or back, depending on how you like it) :)

  7. I can't help shake the impression that this whole phthalates scare is something akin to drinking diet coke so as not to gain weight, while completely forgetting about the grease-dripping fries and fat-oozing cheeseburger ('cause them's good, wholesome, traditional American foods).

  8. I'm not talking about vibrators. I'm talking about all these cancer scares. Very often when I hear someone talk about how such-and-such is rumored to give you cancer, I see them do things like lighting up a cigarette, walk in the sun without lotion, eat another burger, pass on the free flue shots at work, etc…
    In other words, they care enough about their body and their health to immediately stop using anything that's probably but possibly not going to cause harm, while at the same time still indulging in some of the other things they know will cause harm or increase the risks to their health, because they like them and there's no viable alternative.

    Nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution, but what's the point really, if you're throwing caution to the wind in some of the more clear cut cases?

  9. The problem with jelly/rubber toys isn't so much the phthalates – they may cause cancer, but so does everything else. The problem I've seen with them is that they can't be sterilized, so bacteria and funguses can build up (promoting bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and UTIs), and they often contain scents and colors that can cause severe irritation in many women. Also, most of them melt when they touch each other and leave greasy stains on anything porous, which is pretty creepy.
    Most companies that manufacture jelly or rubber toys are also not very women-friendly, really – the toys are usually of very poor quality, because the company knows most consumers won't complain, and because good-quality toys (vibrators that don't break after just a few uses, and dildos made of silicone, glass, and metal) are expensive.

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