We took a decision at Sex Toys Buzz that we would not test any toy that we know to contain phthalates. The reasons for this are outlined below, plus some information that you might find useful when you make decisions about choosing sex toys and other consumer products.
What Are Phthalates?
Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid, used in the production of plastics – In simple terms phthalates are chemicals that are added to plastics, like PVC, to make it more flexible. Generically they are called plasticizers. Since the 1930s Phthalates have been used extensively to turn relatively hard PVC into a softer forms, like those in the “jelly” plastics used in consumer products including sex toys.
What Are The Risks?
This Wiki article explains phthalates in depth and some of the studies that have been carried out around them.
All the surveys have to be read with some detachment and bearing in mind the sample size and what they were actually trying to study. However although none of them entirely agree there is some evidence to suggest that phthalates may:
· Disrupt steroidogenesis – The process by which hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen (estrogen) and progesterone are synthesised by the body
· Possibly disrupt the endocrine system
· Damage testes and liver
Further independent studies are needed, so for us the jury is still out on phthalates, but significant doubts have been raised about the safety of phthalates. Hence our decision not to review toys which we know to contain the chemicals
Pthalates are already banned from children’s toys in the EU (if a child can put it into their mouth). If the rationale for this was that putting something into the mouth of a child was potentially dangerous if it contains phthalates, then putting something inside the most intimate areas of your anatomy can’t be a good idea either.
Are There Alternatives To Phthalates?
Yes there are alternatives to phthalates, but due to cost and practical issues about how they affect thee properties of the plastics some manufacturers are reluctant to take them up.
The fact is that consumer and legislative pressure will eventually make the use phthalates in sex toys untenable, in the same way that a century of adding lead to petrol (because it was easier and cheaper than non-toxic alternatives) was eventually stopped.
How Do I know If A Toy Contains Phthalates?
Just being made of a soft jelly-like substances does not mean a toy contains phthalates, though it is often an indicator. Because there are alternatives your soft plastic sex toy may be free from phthalates. Sadly, because there is no mandatory labelling requirement at this time consumers can not be certain of a toy’s composition.
If you buy a toy from a well-known manufacturer, they may state it’s phthalate free, many are doing so to address public fears about phthalates.
Should a universal labelling system, voluntary or mandatory, come into being we’ll let you know.
Should I be Worried If I’ve Used A Sex Toy Containing Phthalates?
It’s difficult to say if you should be worried or not. There are many organisations, Greenpeace and the European Union included, who believe that phthalates are potentially harmful. However we are not healthcare professionals and can only tell you what the general feeling about phthalates is at this time.
If you have specific concerns speak to your family doctor who will be far better equipped to interpret the current research and advise you of the risks (if any) to your well-being.
Sex Toys Buzz 17 May 2009