Sexual Wellness Resource Center
For Adults over 50.

Phthalates and sexual products

By Michael Bates, M.D.

Are sex toys with phthalates safe? Any discussion of sexual products needs to address the safety of use from a compositional viewpoint. That is, is there the possibility to be adversely affected by potentially harmful materials used in manufacturing? The answer is, extremely unlikely. However, extreme headlines generated by the media can easily push these reasonable concerns into the realm of unnecessary anxiety and fear. Let’s take a look at one substance in particular- phthalates.

The EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, has placed the substance phthalates on the list of chemicals that “may present a risk” to the environment or human health.

Phthalates are chemicals found in soft plastic products we use every day. Plastic bottles do not contain phthalates, at least not at measurable levels, but they are found in soft and flexible plastic products including floor covering, wallpaper, catheters, IV bags, infant care products and toys, and packaging, to name a few. They have been banned from use in children’s toys in Europe and discouraged from use in the U.S.. Some have noted the more that a product smells like rubber, the more phthalates could contain. Phthalates can be found in some sex toys, but many products are phthalate-free.

All humans have phthalates in their bodies. There is no credible science regarding levels of toxicity and negative effects. If one is concerned about the level of phthalates in their sexual products, use them with a latex condom. (Although there are no studies of this practice on the extent of protection!) You can learn more about phthalates on the FDA website and assess the risks for yourself.