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I own several sex toys, and I’ve engaged in shared play with other partners. I’m concerned about the possibility of catching an STD from my toys. Can I get an STD from a sex toy?

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Answer

STDs are transmitted from one body to another through the sharing of fluids. That said, if you share a dildo, a vibrator, an anal plug, or any other type of insertable toy directly with another partner, you risk contracting a sexually transmitted infection or disease (STI or STD).

However, the risk of catching an STD from a sex toy is slim but still present, as the bacteria that transmit STD die off quickly after exposure to air. The general rule is that most common bacteria and viruses can live on various surfaces for two to 48 hours. It is why you should NEVER share your sex toys, but if you do, it is critical to use adequate protection when sharing sex toys with other people and improve hygiene.

You can use condoms on your sex toys, the same as when having sex with someone. Another excellent way to protect yourself is to clean the sex toy between users, ensuring there is no residue on the sex toy.

The sex toy manufacturers generally recommend using sex toy cleaners or washing the sex toys before and immediately after use to prevent spreading diseases, as other bacteria and fungi can grow on the sex toy, which can threaten your health. A common possibility is Candida (yeast) infection which can result from using insufficiently clean sex toys.

You must note the material your sex toy is made from. Cheaper materials like jelly and some plastics can be porous and difficult to clean and sterilize. The pores on these materials can be breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi (molds), as these love to grow in dark, moist places.

Quality materials like silicone, metal, or glass are non-porous and easier to clean and sterilize. You can clean them in boiling water if they don’t have internal motors or use a mild bleach solution if they have internal motors and can’t be boiled. Also, sex toys made from glass and metal (without internal battery-powered mechanisms) can be washed in a dishwasher for detailed sterilization.

We have covered this in a detailed article on sex toy materials and health and a guide on cleaning sex toys which can be helpful for anyone looking for more knowledge on sex toys and STDs.

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