Condom Conundrum by Metis Black Sex Ed Header Image

For the twenty years I’ve been making dildos, one message I’ve consistently heard was that condoms on a questionable sex toy can protect you from rashes, burning, etc. It is not true. Condoms on sex toys are the canary in the coal mine.

Condoms are made to inhibit sperm from passing through its cell structure. The pores are small enough in latex or urethane condoms so that STIs are also impaired. But with sex toys, what you are trying to inhibit are chemicals.

Chemicals release gasses and their molecules are much smaller than the pores in the condom.

Mystery materials have plagued the sex toy industry from the time companies began. Until Tantus began attending trade events, no one spoke of any of the harmful materials that were used to make dildos, vibrators and butt plugs and the fact that people were putting them into their bodies- it was the dirty secret that everyone ignored.

For manufacturers, store buyers, storeowners, store employees, and even consumers— irritations, stinging, rashes were always hush-hush… Buyers beware!

All this time, the chemistry of sex toys- items designed to come in contact with your delicate bodily tissue- was being put to a test; test whether you could endure exposure to phthalates that altered hormones, to pigments high in carcinogens, to toluene and acetone. I recall mentioning these issues to a well-known store owner back in 2001, who quickly told me she didn’t have problems with them. There was a pride in her mannerism and the nuance of her voice that made it evident that she was proud she could expose herself to whatever chemicals came her way without complaint. “And, anyhow you can just put a condom on” I can still hear her say; but thousands suffered because of that silence, because of that faulty logic.

How can you tell what is safe from what isn’t? Buy a brand that has proven to only make body safe toys and buy it from reliable stores.

If you have products in your toy collection that you’re questioning: do the taste test. Put your tongue to the toy just for a moment. If your tongue goes numb or starts tingling throw the toy away- you don’t want it anywhere near your genitals.

Condoms can make sex toy clean up fast and easy but they don’t do a damned thing in terms of protecting you from leaching chemicals. A toy that gives you a chemical burn just isn’t fun.

The condom won’t keel over like the canary; it’ll just let the chemicals pass on through.

Footnote: Sex toys rarely get attention or funding for scientific studies. This is a Latex Glove Chemical Resistance chart that the CDC has referenced in a large document on Personal Protective Equipment.

© Tantus, Inc. 2018. All Rights Reserved. 

Metis Black is a Pleasure Revolutionary: the Founder and President of Tantus, Inc. The realization of her sex toy manufacturing company in 1997 helped to change the profile of sexuality products by mainstreaming silicone products and educating the industry on material safety and sexuality.

Metis' success has brought her accolades inside and outside of her industry. Her articles on material safety standards in sexual products and the chemistry of personal products such as lubricants have been widely published. Some of her publishing credits include American Journal of Sexuality Education, Good Vibrations Online Magazine, On Our Backs, Adult Novelty Business, XBiz, and The Free Speech Coalition. 

Over the last decade and a half, Metis has proven to be a champion for sex educators and a mentor to other small business owners. 


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