Is Your Vibrator Giving You Cancer?

Some sex toys are made with chemicals that can seep into your bloodstream and, over time, make you sick.

So, yesterday, after I posted about vibrators, someone wrote me to more or less say, "Uh, all vibrators made with jelly-like plastic — like that Rabbit one — are gonna give you cancer."

I did a quick Google search and found ... my correspondent seemed to be correct. The problem, it seems, is that sex toys with jelly-like plastic sheaths are made with phthalates — those nasty chemicals that some water bottles are made with, that can eventually seep into your system, depending on how much you use them. (There was a big eco-campaign against phthalates not long ago.)

And my favorite masturbatory device was covered with a very-jelly-like plastic. (Actually, closer to gumdrop-like, but eh, who's counting?) Plus, I'd had the thing forever.

I could just hear the parish priest of my childhood saying, "God has done this to you, child, for being a naughty, deviant, horny girl."

Meanwhile, I was thinking, "Holy Zeus, I have to be worried about safe sex ... with my vibrator?"

I wondered if I was being, as I am wont to be, neurotic. So I e-mailed my BFF, the very levelheaded and no-nonsense Daisy Milliner — who doesn't even eat organic stuff because she thinks it's a bunch of nonsense — to see what all the hysteria was about. And even she was like, "Oh yeah, phthalates are TERRIBLE."

seriously freaked out, went into my bathroom medicine cabinet, wrapped my great vibe up in a grocery bag, marched it down to the garbage, and said: "I'm done with you! I suppose I'll use a cucumber from now on!"

I also sent an alarmed e-mail over to the nice folks at Good Vibes (who helped name the top five most popular vibrators), "What the hell is safe to put inside one's body?"

I heard back from Carol Queen, Good Vibes' sexpert, late last night. She reassured me, saying that the Good Vibes people have known about the phthalate problem for years — and all the toys they sell are nontoxic. (Which meant I'd thrown out a perfectly good sex toy, because I'd gotten mine from Good Vibes. Great.)

She notes that in recent years, states such as California — where Good Vibes is located — outlawed phthalates in kids' toys, and since then, many makers of adult toys have improved their standards.

How can you tell if your toy is safe? Products made from nonporous materials such as silicone, glass, and metal are just fine, as far as the experts know. (The slight caveat is that not every single artificial material has been carefully studied or tested — so there may be some ingredients out there that are bad for us, but nobody has figured it out yet.) Anything made from organic materials is fine, too. Good Vibes only sells the safest products on the market, so you can feel confident if you're buying from them.

They also gave me this list of the sex-toy companies that are making the safest items around:

The message of today is: Please practice safe sex, even when you're home alone.