Sex toys are increasingly popular and available, but not much research has been done on sex toy materials and their impacts on STI transmission. Some sex toys (often called “jelly”) are made of porous materials that can trap and hold dirt and viruses. This can lead to transmission of an STI from one person to another, or reinfection if you’re using the toy yourself (for example, reoccurring yeast infections might be due to a porous toy).

In a new study, published in Sexually Transmitted Infections, researchers from the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Indiana University School of Medicine show that HPV can be passed when sex toys are shared. Some materials like quality silicon, metal, and glass can be sterilized by boiling them if they have no vibrating parts, or by cleaning them with a solution of diluted bleach. Sharing your sex toys? Do research about the best way to clean the material, and take measures to reduce the risk of STI transmission. If your toy is made of a porous material, put a condom on it when you share.

Have questions about sex toys or STIs? Feel free to get in touch with the Sexual Health Centre, we can help answer any questions or concerns.

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