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Apr 21 2014

Toy Cleaning & HPV: a PSA

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by Kate M.

toy cleaner

A new study from the Indiana University School of Medicine examined the possibility of spreading HPV through shared sex toys. The results are mostly unsurprising, but very worth reading. They had twelve women each provide vaginal samples and samples from two different vibrators – one made of thermoplastic elastomer and the second made of silicone – just after use, just after cleaning with soap, and after 24 hours. Here, we’ll break the results down for you. The percentages refer to the number of samples in which HPV was detected.

Vaginal samples: 75%

Vibrator 1 (thermoplastic elastomer)
After use: 89%
After cleaning: 56%
After 24 hours: 40%

Vibrator 2 (silicone)
After use: 67%
After cleaning: 44%
After 24 hours: None

Okay, let’s review what we’ve learned!

1) Elastomer toys (and, we can assume, other porous toys) should not be shared with a partner with whom you’re not fluid bonded (unless you’re using a barrier).

2) It looks like silicone toys are safe to share 24 hours after cleaning, but there’s still a risk of HPV transmission immediately after cleaning.

The second one surprised us, but we’re glad to know it. Now we just have more questions! Were they using hand soap or toy cleaner? Which brand? What would the numbers look like using different kinds of cleaners? Or with several more groups of women?

Isn’t science exciting? Find out more here.

Mar 27 2014

Fun Facts About Dental Dams

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by thepleasurechest

dental dams

Here’s some of what we learned about dental dams from The Verge’s very informative “Oral History: The Sexual Misadventures of the Dental Dam“:

Clive Woodworth of Glyde Health decided to develop a thinner, better dental dam for sexual use after three women approached him at a sexual health conference in 1993, complaining that there weren’t safer sex options for them to use with their female partners.

The resulting Sheer Glyde Dental Dams became available for purchase the next year, and are still sold today.

According to a 2010 study, only 9.7% of queer women use dental dams, and only 2.1% use them regularly.

Dentists use dental dams to cover the rest of the mouth while working on a specific tooth.

The FDA has never done anything like a comprehensive study of dental dams.

This isn’t a fact, but a couple of people interviewed speculated that, for many, dental dams are important symbolically, even if they’re not using them. Their existence shows that safer sex suppliers take queer women’s health seriously.

Feb 21 2014

Sex for the Polite

1

by thepleasurechest

manners

Ever wonder what Emily Post would say about your sexual exploits? Our readers have sexual etiquette suggestions (inspired by Sarah Sloane‘s excellent sexual etiquette article) that will make you the best-mannered partner you can be!

On Preparedness

“Practice basic hygiene: take a shower, brush your teeth and smell good before sex.”

“Abstain from eating beans and other flatulence-producing foods for 24 hours prior to sex. If caught off guard by gas, give your partner(s) fair warning.”

“Always have a few clean hand towels within reach for an easy clean up. Waiting until you’re in the moment/afterwards to find one makes for a good mood killer.”

“New relationship, new toys.”

“Always bring extra batteries.”

On Safety

“I like to bring more than one type of male condom, to let him choose his preference (although I’d prefer he already have his own condom of choice on-hand).”

“Be conscientious of your potential vegan lovers preference to animal testing/animal product free condoms, lube and leather alternative harnesses.”

“Always bring gloves (nitrile to accommodate latex sensitivity or allergy!) and ask about your partner’s/s’ comfort and preference with gloves.”

“Always ask your partner about condom material before it is time. Nothing like being told they react to latex when it is time to put it on.”

“Never ever re-use a condom!!!”

On Communication

“Don’t always expect your partner to be the one to initiate. Be proactive!”

“Ask first! Converse about what you each dig before going at it.”

“Be open to what your partner wants, and do not judge.”

“Always ask before doing anything new or potentially invasive.”

“Don’t mention someone’s ex or family members.”

“Discuss sleeping arrangements after threesomes prior to the actual threesome!”

On Doin’ It

“It’s okay to be a little selfish in the moment, but when the moment is over and you’ve gotten what you need, don’t forget there is another person to please.”

“No T.V.! (Unless it’s porn, that’s okay.)”

“After 5 spanks to the ass, switch cheeks.”

“Relax and enjoy the inherent hilarity of sex. Laugh about the squelching noise that can come from p-in-v sex. Take a breather and acknowledge the ridiculousness when someone’s limb hits the other in the face.

“Remember that the journey is the destination. Not all sex requires an orgasm, nor does an orgasm signal the end of play time.”

“Don’t overreact to a queef. They can’t be helped, damn!”

On Ending the Evening

“In the event that he has come on someone’s face, a true gentleman will assist in washing it off once the tryst has been concluded.”

“Offer your guest(s) a nice hot bath or shower after all of the action.”

“A dirty toy makes for a dirty user… clean up after yourself!”

“Always say thank you for the nice time, even if it wasn’t as nice as you wanted it to be.”

Nov 25 2013

The Future of Condoms

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by thepleasurechest

condom with tabs

It’s an exciting time to be a condom user.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded eleven $100,000 grants to scientists who designed condoms that people might be more likely to want to wear. The grants will fund research into the condoms’ safety, efficacy, and manufacturability. After eighteen months, the winners can apply for a million dollar grant to go toward production and clinical trials.

The winners sound amazing and/or bewildering. One team made a more skin-like condom out of collagen from beef tendons and fish scraps. Another designed a condom out of a material that clings to the skin, so that the condom doesn’t have to fit so tightly in order to stay on. Others are creating new, more effective applicators. You can read the full list here.

h/t NPR

Nov 22 2013

Detecting Toxic Toys

5

by thepleasurechest

Dildo sex toys are pictured during the 14th "Venus" erotic fair in Berlin

Yesterday, Bitch Media ran a piece about the lack of government regulation in the sex toy industry and how this leads to the sale of sex toys made with potentially toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, this is a real problem – one that’s old news for us. Sex toys are not regulated by the FDA, and many of them are made with phthalates: plastic-softening chemicals that have been linked to all kinds of icky health problems.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid toys with phthalates. The article mentions using a flame test – lighting a match and holding it against your toy – to determine whether a toy is 100% silicone or not. Silicone toys are non-porous, hypoallergenic, and phthalate free, which makes them totally awesome, and most silicones won’t melt when you hold a match up to them. Still, this isn’t the best solution, since a) not all phthalate free toys are silicone and b) you’d probably rather find out whether your toy is safe *before* you buy it, take it home, and set it on fire.

Instead, here are a few of our tips for buying a body-safe toy.

1) Read up on materials before you buy. This is a good place to start, but it isn’t foolproof, since manufacturers aren’t required to list exactly what’s in each toy. (So, you could buy a toy that’s labeled “silicone” and which is, in fact, only 10% silicone and 90% pure evil.)

2) Do a smell test. The best way to tell if a toy has harmful chemicals is to sniff it. Toys with phthalates will smell kind of cough syrupy, like your plastic toys used to when you were a kid. (Phthalates are now illegal to use in children’s toys, which tells you something.) Even a faint, baby powdery smell tells you that there’s something to be wary of. The most body-friendly toys won’t smell like anything.

3) Ask one of us! The Pleasure Chest staff are a bunch of toy safety nerds, and we can point you toward several brands who make durable, totally safe, high quality products.

Nov 11 2013

Getting Sexy With A Latex Allergy

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by thepleasurechest

condoms on a line

Latex allergies are growing more and more common as latex appears in greater numbers of consumer products. Unfortunately, this means that more people have to avoid most condoms, many toys, and a lot of fetish wear. Luckily, there are alternatives! Educator, fetish model, and healthcare professional Maggie Mayhem has facts about different kinds of latex allergies, lists of products to avoid, and work-arounds for folks who are both kinky and latex allergic. Educate yourself here.

Sep 13 2013

A Less Awful Sex Ed

1

by thepleasurechest

condom banana

Did you get sex ed in school? If so, you’re very lucky if was better than the usual scripts:

Fourth or fifth grade:

“Soon, you will start to grow hair in places. Your body will change in some ways. Do not be afraid. Here are some artfully-depicted naked grown-ups with no genitals. Also, here is some deodorant and/or enormous pads. Never, ever show them to anyone.”

Sixth or seventh grade:

“Here are some diagrams of fetal development.”

High School:

“This is a condom. You should use one if you have sex, except you should not be having sex. If you have sex, you will get lots of deadly infections. Here are some close-up photographs of all of the terrible, horrible, confusing things that will definitely happen to your genitals. Also, do you really think you’re ready to be a parent? Think of your future.

If you’re cringing with the memory of your own sex ed horror story, we suggest washing it down with The Frisky’s list of “10 Things Everyone Should Learn in Sex Ed.” We would love if schools implemented safer sex curricula that focused on empowering students to make informed choices about barriers, partners, and what they actually want to do. Still, even if your main source of sex ed was that one friend who told you that the hymen grows back every time, it’s never too late to learn.

How about you? What do you wish you’d learned? What would you add to a sex ed curriculum?