Toxins in sexual health products

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 by: Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D.
Tags: sexual health, products, toxins

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(NaturalNews) With most couples using personal lubricants and over 80% of women using sexual products, chances are that you and/or your partner(s) have encountered toxins in them. Most consumers are shocked to learn that because most sexual products are labeled as novelty items there are no regulations that would require them to be safe for internal use. Some of the health issues that can occur from the toxins found in these products are: cancer, reduced sperm count, ADHD, liver damage, insulin resistance and birth defects just to name a few.

Many sexual products on the market today contain toxins such as phthalates, lead, mercury, sulfides, chromates and more. With over 70% of being manufactured in China and little documentation of what is in them; there are many unanswered questions about what consumers are using on and inside their body. When chemicals are absorbed internally and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream which makes using safe sexual products even more important.

Toxins are also in personal lubricants with most consumers being completely unaware of their presence or the negative impact to their health. Whether you get them at your local grocery store or even from your physician, most of them have parabens in them.

Parabens are controversial toxins that have been shown to alter estrogen in females, increase allergies, decrease sperm count in men, contribute to skin cancer and disrupt normal fetal development in pregnant women. Because personal lubricants are used internally they too are absorbed directly into the bloodstream making the absorption of toxins quite easy. To make matters even more complicated, certain lubricants can chemically melt these products causing those chemicals to leach into your body.

What You Should Know

The good news is that there is a new movement by concerned sexual health professionals which motivates manufacturers to create safe and nontoxic products. Some of the more ethical retailers and manufacturers are now taking the time to point out and market the safety of certain products.

However, being an empowered consumer means having at least basic information that will help you to make educated choices. The following information will provide you with insights into the industry so that you may better understand the core problems regarding toxins and why most resellers of them are not well informed about their own products.

Many Sellers Are Uneducated

Unfortunately, many shops, sites and party consultants are giving consumers inadequate and incorrect information about toxins in sexual products. In some cases they have been blatantly lying to consumers. In a disturbing trend, the National Association for the Advancement of Science and Art in Sexuality ( found in many cases that stores and party consultants were telling consumers their products were phthalate and paraben free when they were not.

However, in most cases it is a matter of just being uneducated as it is difficult for resellers to give you correct information about the products they are selling. The three main reasons for this are:

1) Employees of stores are typically not educated about the products they are selling and were found to have been given poor training and in some cases incorrect information by their employers.

2) Manufacturers often do not provide material and ingredient information on product packaging as they are not required to by law.

3) Often a sexual product is made for multiple companies and is private labeled so in many instances it is nearly impossible to find out who really manufactured the product let alone what is in it. This is a very common practice, especially with party companies and large chain retailers.

How does such private labeling work?

A manufacturer that makes a product for one company will re-box it and sell it to another company under a private label using a different product name (not letting you know they made it). Most retailers and party companies do this so that they can have their own company brand on the sexual product and so that they can charge whatever they want without having to compete with the name brand version. This keeps consumers from comparing prices and in the dark about who really makes it and the materials or ingredients within it.

Beyond Confusion

In many cases, employees and representatives of sexual product companies do not even know about private labeling practices let alone the materials in the products they sell. In addition, it was determined that many web sites and stores who did claim to educate the public about toxins in products had over generalized and/or made incorrect claims.

In one case a party representative proudly told her customers that the products she was selling were all paraben free. However, the representative was shocked to later learn that not only did the labels on her products show parabens, they showed that there were multiple types: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.

This is an example of two disturbing trends: 1) The company that this woman represented had specifically told her that all the products she was selling for them were paraben free and to emphasize that selling point when communicating to her customers. 2) She was not educated enough about these toxins as the information was readily available on the labels and something she should have been able to see.

On the other side of the spectrum, a common example of misinformation is the claim that all jelly style products are toxic and full of phthalates (toxic plasticizers used to soften PVC vinyls). However, that is not correct; some jelly style products are not made with phthalates and are nontoxic.
Another myth is the smell factor.

Generally, it has been said that you can smell toxins through what is commonly referred to as that 'new shower curtain smell'. What some professionals claim is that it is through the smell of poisonous chemicals (particularly phthalates) off-gassing from the PVC that will indicate whether something is toxic. However, that is not true as phthalates for example, do not have a smell but are considered toxic.

Phthalates are molecules that are not chemically bound to the plastics they soften and can break free from plastic fairly easily which causes rubber and jelly products to deteriorate over time. Studies have shown that phthalates can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea and damage to the liver, kidney and the central nervous system. Some are also suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

An example of something having a smell that is not toxic are those made from a polymer that is safe; however, the products initially have a scent until it is completely dry. This is considered off-gassing and is not an indicator of toxicity. With products such as these, it is the Amine within them (a digestible and safe food grade ingredient used in condoms) that makes it smell initially until it is done off-gassing.

With so much information that is incorrect, confused and in some cases deceptive, it is important for consumers to understand basic information when purchasing and using sexual products. It is also a good idea to only purchase them from a company that can not only answer your questions about the issues but also refer you to independent research.

Helpful resources are provided for you through the links below-

Consumer Education & Resources

To learn more about toxins in sexual products and personal lubricants see related articles here-

To make things easier for consumers, only sells phthalate free and paraben free sexual products-

For Aspiring or Established Professionals in the Field of Sexuality

Learn more about how you can become better educated about sexual health products and provide helpful information and resources to your clients-

About the author:
Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist who has dedicated over 20 years to therapeutic practice in the mental health field with a specialization in
sexual health. She is the C.E.O. and founder of Holistic Wisdom, Inc., which provides empowering education, products and resources to promote
sexual wellness.

In addition, Dr. Lawless is the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Science & Art in Sexuality (, which is an
educational organization for professionals in the field of sexuality. In addition to classes and networking, it is through this academic organization
that Dr. Lawless has teamed with the leaders in the field to create a coalition for safe and nontoxic sexual products.

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