Sex Toy Materials at a Glance

November 24th, 2008

I am a little concerned about sex toy materials. Being, that I would prefer to use safer and higher quality toys but I would likely not completely rule out certain materials because they are not as quality. It really depends on the toy in question.

However, keeping track of sex toy materials – of which there are many – can be difficult even if you make an effort to be aware. So, I thought I’d provide a fact sheet detailing some of the common materials used for sex toys in descending order of quality. (I’m excluding things like wood, glass and metal which are much less confusing.)

Elastomed
Elastomed is a medical grade elastomer derivative which is nonporous, phthlalate free, hypoallergenic, odorless and completely safe. These toys are safe to use with either silicone or water based lubricants. Sex toys made of Elastomed tend to be less pliable. Although Elastomed shares many of the same great characteristics as silicone, it should not be boiled or wiped with an alcohol or bleach solution.
Silicone
100% silicone is nonporous, therefore it can be sterilized by boiling for 3 minutes or washing them in your dishwasher (top shelf, no mechanical toys, remove bullets) which makes them safe for sharing. It also does not contain potentially harmful chemical softeners known as phthalates. Silicone is rather pliable, comes in many colours and densities and also retains heat (try warming before use) which makes it very popular.

There is some debate about whether silicone toys can be used with silicone lubricants. Pure silicone toys can be used with silicone toys. However, toys need only contain 10% silicone to be labeled as such so your toy and lube (or if you store several silicone toys touching) may appear to “react” with eachother. This is actually the melting of chemical softeners in your toy which indicates that it is not pure silicone. However, you should spot test your toys to check. It is always safe to use a water based lube with silicone toys.
VixSkin Silicone
VixSkin Silicone is a 100% premium silicone product from Vixen Creations and is safer than other skinlike materials without losing its realistic feel. The material in VixSkin Silicone is nonporous and can be sterilized by boiling for 3 minutes, wiping down with a 10% bleach solution or washing in the dishwasher. Like silicone toys, it is best not to use silicone based lubricants with VixSkin Silicone because it may cause a reaction. Spot test your toy in an inconspicuous place if you would like to use silicone based lube.
TPR Silicone
TPR Silicone is a mix of Silicone and ThermoPlastic Rubber (see below). This phthalate free composite is 10% silicone or more and generally has no taste or smell. Hardness varies in TPR silicone which can be very pliable. It is less porous than jelly but cannot be sterilized so sharing should only be done with condoms. TPR Silicone can be cleaned with a toy cleaner of soap and water and, to ensure a long life of your TPR silicone toy, it should only be used with water based lubricants.
TPR
TPR, or Thermo Plastic Rubber, Silicone is a blend of silicone and rubber. Although it is less porous than rubber it is still slightly porous, thus it cannot be sterilized like pure silicone but can easily be cleaned with warm water and soap or a toy cleaner. TPR toys should not be boiled. If you plan to share TPR toys, use them with a condom. TPR Silicone is pliable, easy to wash and phthalate-free. TPR toys can be used with water or silicone based lubricants.
TPE
Thermoplastic Elastomers (Elastormer, TPE Plastic) are not nonporous and is essentially the same as TPR. However, they are less porous than materials such as Cyberskin. Like TPR toys, TPE sex toys should not be boiled and cannot be disinfected. These toys can be cleaned with warm water and soap or an antibacterial toy cleaner. If shared, use condoms with Elastomer sex toys. TPE is often used in toys which have several textures. Like TPR, TPE can be used with water or silicone based lubricants.
Jelly
Jelly is a common sex toy material and may be cheaper than silicone alternatives. However, it is also more inferior in quality. Jelly toys are made of PVC which is chemically softened with phthalates, a potentially harmful ingredient which causes jelly toys to have an unpleasant and sometimes stubborn “rubber” smell. Jelly toys are soft and pliable and come in many colours. Jelly toys are porous and cannot be sterilized so they should only be shared if condoms are used. Condoms may also prolong the life of jelly sex toys. Jelly toys can be used with both water and silicone based lubes, should be cleaned with warm water and mild soap and store in a cool environment.

Jelly may be a term given to any soft sex toy when the material is actually higher quality of traditional PVC jelly.
Rubber
Rubber sex toys generally contain latex, an ingredient to which many people are allergy. Latex toys are also lower quality than other sex toy materials and have a shorter life, even when looked after carefully. Rubber toys usually have a strong smell that may never be completely eliminated. Rubber toys are nonporous, thus they cannot be sterilized and you should use condoms with rubber toys you plan to share. Rubber toys can be cleaned with warm water and soap but should never be boiled. Rubber toys come in over 260 different colours, are cheap to make (and buy) and are soft which make rubber one of the most popular sex toy materials. Rubber toys can be used with silicone or water based lubricants.
Cyberskin
Cyberskin and other skin-like materials (Pure skin, SoftTouch, SoftSkins, PassionSkin, Futurotic) tend to be the least safe materials in the sex toy market because they are so porous. However, what they lack in safety may be counteracted by their flesh-like appeal to some folks. Cyberskin and similar toys can be cleaned with soap and water but never can be disinfected so use with a condom is a must if sharing toys. Using a condom may also be beneficial even if you do not share Cyberskin toys because these materials may contain potentially harmful chemical softeners known as phthalates which can also cause reactions between toys so store your Cyberskin toys away from eachother and silicone toys as well. Use only water based lubes with these toys and store them in a cool, dark place. Many of these toys arrived dusted in cornstarch and should be stored as such when you are finished with them (but not talc!) Condoms may prolong the life of these toys but do not expect Cyberskin and similar toys to last a lifetime.

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Toy Intimidation

November 9th, 2008

A good friend recently came to me with concerns about his girlfriend and her sex toys. He was feeling a little bit intimated and wanted to know this:

Am I, as a guy, good enough to make my girl have a better orgasm than she can get with using a toy? Is it weird or wrong to feel bad about something like that?

No, it’s not wrong to worry about something like this.

Because you’re only human. I think feeling intimidated is fairly common and understandable. However, taking a look at what makes up the intimidation can help to greatly reduce or even eliminate it. While I advocate sex toys, I understand that some people simply do not like this. This is not about not liking sex toys; rather, it is about feeling replaceable in relation to them. Furthermore, although my examples focus on a heterosexual relationship, these feelings are universal.

Yes, sex toys may be bigger than you are.

Vibrators and dildos may be bigger or longer or thicker. They are often even made to look realistic and next to your natural manhood, you may feel small. But keep this in mind. Bigger is not always better. The vagina is not a neverending canal and there comes a point when size is painful rather than pleasurable.

Yes, vibrators may have more bells and whistles than you do.

Let’s face it: vibrators do a lot of stuff. For starters, they vibrate. They pulsate. They rotate. They bend and wiggle and wave and have beads and even thrust like a penis. Furthermore, vibrators run on batteries or are rechargeable so they may last longer than you.

Yes, sex toys may sometimes feel better.

With all the technological advancements, no one is surprised how far sex toys have come. Sometimes sex toys do just the trick but sometimes a guy just wants to masturbate for a (relatively) quick and easy orgasmic release, too.

Yes, toy induced orgasms may be better.

But orgasms vary in intensity for many other reasons. I’ve had both awesome orgasms and really disappointing orgasms with a partner and with sex toys.

No, sex is not all about physical sensations (or even orgasm).

I don’t want to generalize but for many men, sex ends with orgasm and ejaculation. It’s easy to understand how this can lead to the assumption that the goal of sex is orgasm through pleasure. However, females are different creatures. For them, sex more often focuses on the emotional aspect. Pleasure is also important and, luckily, we’re becoming a society which stresses pleasure for both genders. However, the female orgasm is still one which can often be difficult to achieve. So if you think that sex is all about physical sensation, then sex toys may just give you a run for your money. However..

Yes, all that “other stuff” is important to her, too.

As I said, there is often a stronger emphasis on the emotional aspect of sex for women. The bond you share, the vulnerability you’re willing to show when stripped to the skin and intimate moments during sex are all important factors when it comes to enjoying sex. When these factors are high, the physical pleasure may not be as necessary or may be a secondary reward.

No, sex toys are not human.

I think this is what it all comes down to. It’s easy to feel intimidated when only consider the factor of pleasure but sex is made up of much than that for all people. Being comfortable with your significant other using sex toys is easier once you realize you are not replacable because of the human aspect. The emotional bond, your desire to please your lover, your ability to observe her reactions to please her better, small talk and even awkward moments make sex with another human unique and irreplacable and are why not heteosexual woman is likely to put her boyfriend in the nightstand instead of her vibrator.

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Stockroom

Premature Ejaculation: What does it mean?

October 21st, 2008

It might be pretty cut and dry to some what it means but I think the assumption that there is a time when a man can ejaculate too early shows a lot about our expectations and perhaps misunderstandings about sex.

In my mind, assuming there there is a time which is “too early” for a man to orgasm, means that there must be a “correct” time for him to orgasm. To imply cut-and-paste directions to sex is not only futile but potentially harmful. How many problems from people only wanting to be viewed as normal? I think I am fairly educated when I come to sex and reasonable as well. I figure if I want to do it, if he agrees and if we’re not hurting anyone (or at least taking care not to cause irreparable harm) or breaking any laws, then it’s a go even if it’s not  seen as normal.

With that said, I don’t think that any averages are accurate when it comes to judging sex. Who is to take that a the average penis size is 5.3 inches or black men have bigger cocks or sex lasts and average of 15 minutes The fact is sex shouldn’t even be looked at in the terms of average but in the terms of what’s right for you. Why are we so busy obsessing over a model of typical behaviour when, in actuality, that model itself is skewed because people are too afraid to admit how it actually is.

So what is the model in this context? I think the model is that a guy must last a certain time in order to please his partner. Often, this includes helping the partner achieve orgasm as well. While I am all for satisfaction, attentiveness and orgasm, I think it’s impossible to apply a blanket statement over sex. The only person who can set a standard is your partner and, even then, the standard may vary drastically from time to time.

When it comes down to, “holding out” as long as you can or until your partner cums maye actually be less pleasant than you might think. In fact, putting pressure on your partner to orgasm may prevent him or her from being able to do so.

So when is the right time to orgasm? Do you need to last X amount of minutes or provide X amount of orgasms? Ask your partner! Know what it takes to satisfy your partner and be attentive to those needs first, if you feel you might not last as long as you would like. Remember, however, that sex can be completely satisfying without an orgasm for your partner. We don’t know if your partner prefers to orgasm once or twice before you do but she or he does!

Stop listening to everyone else and listen to the one person who matters most in your sex life, the person with whom you are having sex!

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Silicone in Your Sex Life

October 6th, 2008

Silicone is a common ingredient in many things like sex toys and lubricants. In lubricants, it’s preferred because it feels slicker, can last longer and does not get as tacky. Silicone lubricants are condom compatible. However, silicone lubricants should not be used with silicone sex toys because it can cause a reaction like melting.

Silicone is a high quality ingredient for sex toys. Silicone toys are soft like jelly, come in many colours and retain body heat. Unlike jelly, silicone does not contain the potentially harmful chemicals known as phthalates which is what causes the rubbery smell.

Pure silicone is also nonporous so toys can be thoroughly disinfected by boiling or running through the dishwasher (top shelf, no soap) – only if they are waterproof and not mechanical, of course. Disinfecting is important when sharing with partners.

Because silicone toys are higher in quality, they may also be higher in price.

However, a toy need only contain 10% silicone to be labeled as silicone. Be wary if the toy is labeled as TPR silicone as it is slightly porous.

One last warning, silicone toys should not be store closely together (touching) because it may cause a reaction (melting). (This point is slightly debatable but better safe than sorry)

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Stockroom

Homophobia

August 3rd, 2008

I am not homophobic and never have been although I certainly have been exposed to it at an early age. Of course, during my lifetime it seems as though many great strides have been made in an effort to scientifically determine the cause of homosexuality – that is, the great question of “Is it a choice or genetics?” I am a member of the crowd which supports the latter suggestion and science seems to agree with me so I’m fine with that.

But many others are not fine with that suggestion or even with the suggestion that homosexuals (rightly) exist. I find this curious because it doesn’t seem like any gays are bashing straight people for their sexuality and you generally don’t see gay men and women fearing for the safety of their virginity and orifices when a straight person is around so why should it be any different if the roles were reversed?

I do think there are several trends among those who tend to be homophobic and I think that these trends are probably indicative to the nature of the issue and may shed some light on the thought process and behaviour.

  1. Most homophobes appear to be straight men
  2. Men associated with the military tend to be most homophobic
  3. Homophobic people seem to believe that gay people will force themselves upon another person more than a straight person would

Now all of this is based on my personal experiences with those who are outwardly homophobic and my experiences may not be the norm in these situations; although I do believe they support the statistics.

So what do these trends indicate? They seem to indicated that straight men have a higher fear of gay men than their female counterparts do and also that while some females are homophobic, they are less likely to be vocal about it.

Why should gender matter when it comes to the extremity of dislike of homosexuals? As not a male or homophobe, it’s difficult to say but I have read that homophobia in men seems to be related to the fact that they worry they could become homosexuals themselves, a completely ludicrous thought that wouldn’t hold up against any argument if looked upon rationally.

And I think a lack of rational judgement is what homophobia all comes down to. If a man is gay does that make him any more likely to coerce or force a straight man sexually? Is that gay man more likely to do those things than, say, a straight woman to that straight man? I think it’s highly unlikely.

In fact, I don’t see why there needs to be any significance put on sexual orientation. All people, both straight or gay (and everything in between) are likely targets for those who might have a sexual or romantic interest in them. Most people will be faced with admirers who might be pushy (hopefully no more than that) with their sexual advances which are unwanted by the recipient. Does the offender’s sexuality really make a difference? Is a gay man hitting on a straight man really any more likely or offensive than a straight man hitting on a straight woman, if the intentions are unwanted? Does the fact that one involves a homosexual have to be any more of a “big deal” or is it something that simply might happen, will not leave either party any the worse and should be treated in an adult manner?

Not according to homophobes because, often in their view, gays are more likely to be coercive or forceful in their advances. Logical or not – and I’m going to say “not,” here – this attitude is far more prevalent than it should be.

The fact is, looked upon logically, this is really a non-issue. Any person can be on either end of a sexual advance and while, sadly, sometimes the advances involve violence and molestation rather than harmless banter, I bet many sexual advances are really just miscommunication and a lack of taste than anything else.

While I understand that a straight person who works in very close quarters with a gay person, like in the military, might be uncomfortable, I don’t think it’s feasible that a gay man is going to abuse the situation just because he is a gay man. Honestly, how many members of the country’s armed forces are gay but “in the closet” and obviously not putting their straight comrades into uncomfortable situations because of their sexual orientation? More than you and I know of, certainly.

Sadly, homophobia is still widely accepted in our society, especially in certain groups. No wonder you can stumble upon a soldier or sailor playing off his homophobia as a joke to which his buddies will laugh. But when you take a good hard look at reasons for homophobia, are they solid or are they due to a lack of rationale when it comes to understanding homophobia? I certainly think the latter.

Aren’t they bigger issues we, as a society, need to tackle? Time wasted being homophobic can certainly be better spent on other pursuits.

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Sex Toy Parties: Fun but Not Financially Feasible?

July 22nd, 2008

Now, I’ve only been to one sex toy party and it was a lot of fun. I love the idea of sex toy parties, they’re great avenues to loosen up and enjoy yourself, bond with friends, get answers to questions you were afraid to ask and explore sexuality.

The party I went to was pretty fun with some people I knew and some people I didn’t. The consultant knew more than I expected her to know about the products. For instance, she mentioned not storing jelly toys together because they could melt together and had an example of a toy which had been stored close to another one. While this was really helpful to sex toy beginners and she even mentioned some things I didn’t know, more definitely could have been said about materials in terms of health and safety. Of course, how educational the party will be depends full on how educated the consultant is. Your party experience will definitely vary.

We played a lot of silly games and ate penis shaped cupcakes (both chocolate and vanilla) and drank from penis shaped straws and munched on mac-a-weenie and cheese. We had to pass a giant dildo between eachother by using only out knees and think of ways to describe our sex life. Basically, we were able to enjoy ourselves and be somewhat comfortable because the consultant set the atmosphere and kept us busy with activities both informational and entertaining.

Of course, these parties are not all about fun and games. They’re about money and you will constantly feel the pressure to buy in the back of your mind. The more money you spend, the better prize your friend the hostess will earn and the more the consultant will pocket, like any at-home party sales scheme.

Also like many of those companies, the prices supported by sex toy parties are simply outrageous. The markup is anywhere from 10% – 90% compared to the exact same products which can be purchased online or in stores that also have a larger variety.

Variety is also something I find trouble in these catalogs. Many of the toys are low end, from no-name manufacturers. I’m not a die hard brand lover by any means but I do appreciate being able to see some of the brands with which I am familiar and also brands that I know are high quality.

You won’t likely see some of the newer, quality toys in the catalogs pushed on you at sex toy parties. Fun Factory toys and VixSkin dildos won’t be found at a sex toy party. Rechargeable toys won’t have their own page and BDSM toys won’t be the kind that can stand the test of time. More parties are starting to realize the worth of high quality materials like premium silicone, metal or glass but I don’t recall seeing any toy made of those items at the party I attended.

Even when parties do carry more high quality items, the prices for inferior products are not good for your wallet. An investment of that measure and you want to make sure you’re getting quality products, a good value. Sex toy parties, more often than not, do not provide this value.

But should we boycott the parties? Not at all. They’re a lot of fun and offer opportunities that may not be found elsewhere. But before signing a check, it’s advisable to surf around online to see if you’re really getting a bargain or if you’re being taken.

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