Can an STD Live on a Vibrator? Sharing Sex Toys and Risk of STD Transmission

sex toys and stds

As we celebrate Men’s Health Week and #PrideMonth17 around the country (and especially in our hometown of Chicago) this June, we’ve talked a lot about how important it is to practice safe sex, get tested regularly, and talking to your partner about STDs.

But what about practicing safe sex…when you’re alone with your favorite items, ordered discreetly online, but maybe loaned to your roommate? Or what if a partner brings over some items to experiment with – are you safe from STDs?

Can STDs Live on a Vibrator?

Part of celebrating our sexual freedom involves the use of purchasing certain items to make our sex lives all that much better. However, while we are out celebrating our freedom and investing in the variety of toys and accessories that can spice up your sex life, there is one important thing we need to think about: when it comes to sharing sex toys, how do we go about practicing safe sex to avoid STDs?

Vibrators are a $1 billion dollar market in the U.S. alone, one in two women get their buzz on, and 81% of women have brought one into bed with their guy. If you or your partner brings a toy into the bedroom, it’s important to not only know your partner’s history – but also that toy’s history.

One study sought to test if the standard cleaning process of two common types of vibrators was enough to remove traces of the Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV). The study found that traces of the virus were less likely to appear on the vibrator 24 hours after washing the silicone vibrator than on the “rabbit” style vibrator, which is made of a different, jelly-like material.

Fun facts: the “rabbit” style vibrator has been called the “Rolls Royce of Sex Toys” by none other than Oprah herself, had an entire episode of “Sex and the City” devoted to it, and may be your next birthday gift if you’re lucky enough to be friends with Eva Longoria.

If the HPV virus can be found on a sex toy 24 hours after it has been cleaned, this means that people who share sex toys can transmit the virus, especially when shared during the same sexual encounter.

How you use these toys is also important – chlamydia and gonorrhea can infect the eyes, mouth, throat, penis, vagina, and rectum. Even if you aren’t having oral, anal, or vaginal sex, sharing toys among partners that are touching the vagina, mouth, eyes, or rectum of multiple partners could put you at risk.

So what does this mean for our sex lives and our use of toys? Best practice is to purchase new toys for each partner. Also, even in monogamous sexual relationships, it is important to wash and sanitize your toys, before and after use, for safe measure. Follow the instructions on the toy’s product packaging for proper cleaning, but using a toy cleaner, or soap with warm water, is best practice – depending on the material comprising the toy (check out these tips for cleaning your toy).

If you think you may have contracted an STD or STI whether from a toy or any other means, contact besafemeds for affordable and discreet treatment right from your own home.

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