Posted On Nov 30, 2016
What you don’t know about sex toys and lubricants can hurt you. Education about body-friendly sex enhancers open many doors of opportunity.
By Echo Garrett
When Stacy Rybchin and her husband went for a walk after a date night in New York City, they stumbled upon a sex shop. A sense of adventure was in the air, so they went in on a lark. “We walked right out,” says Rybchin. “The walls were lined with cheap sex toys, most of them phallic.” She found the experience intimidating and confusing.
“I figured there had to be other couples out there who wanted to explore and spice up their sex lives, but not in such a gross and cheesy environment,” says Rybchin, 40, founder of Mysecretluxury.com, a website offering high-quality sex toys, lubricants, and similar items.The sex toy industry remains unregulated. Many of these products are made by the same sort of Chinese manufacturers that make children’s toys—namely those that have come under fire for being unsafe.
Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., a Manhattan-based sex therapist, warns that many sex enhancement products are potentially dangerous. “Many of them are made from plastics with BPA, which are hormone disruptors that cause more stimulation of estrogen,” she says. “Jellies can have dangerous chemicals. If you pick up a product and it smells like plastic, put it back.”
Vibrators are an important part of sexual health. As women’s bodies age, less blood flows to the clitoris and vagina, says Castellanos. Vibrators enhance sensitivity by increasing blood flow to the genitals quickly and powerfully by directly stimulating the clitoris. But because vaginal tissues are so thin and grow more so with age, anything that enters or touches the vagina will be absorbed. Once a product touches the skin, it takes 45 seconds to hit the liver.
This makes the chemicals, toxins, and carcinogens in products being sold to women for insertion—or are intended to touch delicate areas—so dangerous. “We care so much about the food we eat, but when it comes to sex, we really don’t think about what we are putting in or near our bodies,” says Rybchin. She points out that most of the popular lubricants sold contain chemicals like glycerin, and other ingredients that damage the cell lining.
These can make delicate tissues more prone to infectious diseases and yeast infections. She sells organic lubricants on her site. “Most people are shocked when they learn that drug store lubricants such as KY-Jelly contain these sorts of chemicals.”
Joan Price, author of Naked at Our Age and named one of the top 100 sex bloggers of 2013 by Betweenmysheets.com, frequently posts about sex toys at BetterthanIeverexpected.blogspot.com. “Women are often shocked at the prices of vibrators that I recommend,” she says. “But they are safe products made of medical-grade materials, and designed for us. If something says ‘novelty’ on the package, run.”
She recommends vibrators and toys made with medicalgrade silicone or stainless steel. Price, who has written three books about the joys of sex as you age, has had readers write in to complain of suffering burns and other mishaps with sex toys.
Her latest pick for favorite vibrator: the Palm Power Massager, a lightweight, ergonomically-designed, siliconetopped vibrator with an easy-to-clean, removable head and attachments designed for clitoris, vaginal, and G-spot stimulation. She also suggests shopping in women-friendly sex shops—whether online or brick-and-mortar—so that you can get questions answered.
Since 75 percent of women require clitoral stimulation to orgasm, Castellanos recommends Intensity (available at Pourmoi.com), a new device with a gentle, rhythmic current that causes automatic coordinated contraction of pelvic floor muscles. “It also provides gentle electrical stimulation of the clitoris and can help women orgasm and workout those pelvic muscles,” she says.
“It’s ideal for weakened pelvic floors and those who have difficulty achieving orgasms. It looks like a large vibrator, is noninvasive, and you can take it in and out.” Another fan of the device is Lauren Streicher, M.D., associate clinical professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the author of Love Sex Again. “Many women need greater stimulation and a vibrator gives them permission to explore their selves sexually,”
Streicher says, and that the Intensity is stronger than kegel exercises. Rybchin educates women through parties, where different toys are discussed. “Women over 40 aren’t usually talking to anyone about sex— not their doctors or even their girlfriends,” she says. “Women don’t understand their own bodies, and they don’t know a lot about sexual health, because pleasure and health were never discussed during sex education classes. At these home parties, I answer a lot of questions. A vibrator is another way to help them learn about themselves and how to orgasm.”