Monday, April 20, 2009

Vibrator + Condom?

Is it necessary to put a condom on a vibrator if you're going to use it for penetration? Do you have any other tips for the first time using a vibrator?

Great question! The material, maintenance and use of sex toys varies so much that it's hard to say exactly if or when a condom should be used with your vibrator (which, again, is why this is such a good question).
Here is some general advice that applies widely:

*Condoms should be used if the vibrator is being used by more than one person, as in all practices of safer sex with a partner(s).

*Condoms should be used if a lubricant -other than water-based lubricant- is being used. The integrity of silicone based toys is jeopardized with the use of silicone based lubricant, and latex based toys, just like latex condoms, break down with oil based lubricants. Therefore, applying non-water based lubes after a condom is placed on your vibrator can help protect your toy; however, in these cases, water based lubricant may be a safer bet. (For more on lubes, see below!)

*Condoms are recommended with toys that contain phthalates. You may recognize the word "phthalate" from concerns regarding reusable water containers (i.e. nalgenes). Phthalates are often used in sex toys, too, especially with "jelly rubber" toys. Because the negative health effects of phthalates are open for debate, protecting yourself with condoms to create a barrier between yourself and the tissue exposed to phthalates might be a good idea.

*Finally, condoms are good to use if the toy hasn't been cleaned. It is good practice to wash your toy (again cleaning agents depend on the material, but when in doubt go mild!) with very gentle soap after each use. A lot of materials are porous and serve as an excellent home for bacteria.

As for the first time use of a vibrator, it's an great idea to take your time and explore. Set the mood: create a comfortable space for yourself that doesn't have the risk of interruption. Feel the strength of the vibrator and different levels of pressure on other parts of your body first (your inner thigh, your chest), then try bringing it down to your genital area. Babeland (a site Sexperts really likes!) has an excellent guide for vibrator use:

Good luck. Thanks for the question :)


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Are silicone based lubes dangerous to use with latex products?

Silicone and water-based lubes are really great for all latex products!

~Silicone-based lube is newer to the market. It lasts longer than water-based lube and can be used in the water without being washed away (a pro or a con). The only time when someone can run into trouble with silicone based lubes is with sex toys made out of silicone; this will cause it to break down and jeopardize the integrity of the product!
~Water-based lube is tried and tested. It very infrequently causes irritation and it is easy to clean up (without lots of soap which is required for silicone) - but it might dry up quickly (solved with easy reapplication! or with some saliva!). The water based lubes that contain glycerin (usually those snazzy flavored ones) can cause yeast infections.

-->Oil-based lubes (usually like Vaseline or lotion) *do* break down latex. They can also "coat" the inside of the vagina or anus, leading to infections. This sort of lubrication is safely used by people with male genitalia masturbating alone or for people with female genitalia who stick to external stimulation.

Can a STI be transmitted via oral sex?

Great question!
There is a risk of transmission during unprotected oral sex. The San Fransisco City Clinic has put together a really nice STI (aka STD) Risk Chart and it's online:
This site breaks down different sexual acts, along the lines of biological, sexual organs, into categories of STI known risks, possible risks, and unknown risks.
It also notes that:
  • Kissing, mutual masturbation, and frottage or dry humping are considered safer sex activities, with little to no risk of STD transmission.
  • Using latex condoms (male or female) significantly reduces the risk of contracting STDs during anal, vaginal and oral sex.
  • Washing hands and the genital area thoroughly before and after oral-anal sex reduces the risk of transmission of most of the listed STDs and conditions. Condom use reduces transmission risk even further.
Another great resource, specifically regarding HIV transmission during oral sex, can be found on the CDC webpage:
This was a really wonderful question that continues to have a rather vague answer! HIV can definitely be passed on to either the person performing or receiving oral sex; however, it is only speculated that the risk of transmission is less than through unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse.

Thanks for asking,