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Polyvinylchloride (PVC) is the third most commonly produced plastic in the world and an ingredient in many sex toys, including dildos, vibrators, anal plugs and cock rings.
This versatile plastic can be used to make hard plastic sex toys or softer sex toys (often when combined with rubber or silicone). PVC is inexpensive, so sex toys made from this man-made material are some of the most affordable on the market. However, PVC has also been criticized for its high chemical content. Some of these chemicals, including phthalates, are thought to carry health risks to humans.
Hard PVC sex toys can be used with water, oil, or silicone-based lubricants. Many fans prefer vibrators made from hard PVC as they are stronger. This makes them excellent for internal use and for externally stimulating erogenous zones. Cheap PVC toys can be enticing, but consumers should look for sharp seams, which can damage the vagina or rectum. Hard PVC sex toys are easy to clean and non-porous, so they’re not likely to breed bacteria. However, they should still be cleaned thoroughly after every use with mild soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or a sex toy cleaner.
Other consumers prefer dildos and vibrators made from soft PVC or a PVC blend because they feel more life-like. Soft PVC also feels comfortable against the skin, so it’s a popular choice for anal plugs and cock rings. Softer PVCs are more porous and a little more difficult to clean, so thorough cleaning after every use is even more vital. A mild antibacterial soap and water or a sex toy cleaner is ideal for this job.
Health professionals are concerned about the use of phthalates in the manufacture of PVC. The addition of phthalates increases the plastic’s flexibility, so it’s a common ingredient in soft PVC sex toys. This chemical has been linked to reproductive and neurological issues, although no studies have linked these dangers to the use of PVC sex toys specifically. Some PVC sex toys claim to be phthalate-free, but as the sex toy industry has no formal safety regulations, it is difficult to verify these claims. To minimize the risks, you should always use PVC vibrators and dildos with a condom. Also look for changes in your toy’s color, texture, and smell which can indicate that the phthalates have leached out of the plastic.