10% Of New Dildos Are Actually USED (And Other Gross Facts About Cheap Sex Toys)

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dangerous sex toys

Your average person buys sex toys without thinking whether they are made with toxic materials (i.e. phthalates, BPA, lead, etc.) that could cause health issues (i.e. hormone disruption, type 2 diabetes, cancer, etc.) let alone worrying whether they are counterfeit sex toys or were previously sold, returned and used.

Most of the time, consumers just want something that looks like it will achieve their sexual pleasure goals at a good price.

The problem today is that most consumers are blind to some of the dark secrets that are going on within the sex toy industry, and that is leaving consumers dealing with using sex toys that could harm them.

Safety issues such as burns or cuts to the genitals, chemical melting and even risks of house fires are serious concerns that consumers need to be aware of and avoid.

Many consumers don’t really know who is selling them their sex toys. 

Most consumers know not to buy from online retailers that look like a shell company by doing things such as providing no way of contacting a real person or one that makes unrealistic and grandiose product claims and guarantees.

But what about sex toys sold by big online stores that most people trust? Many big online retailers these days like Amazon, eBay and Wal-Mart are allowing third-party sellers to sell on their websites, which means that consumers have no idea who they are really buying from ... and that can be a potential problem.

Third-party sellers can opt to ship the products themselves, and in some cases, they can ship the products to a warehouse of the main store and have them ship it for them.

Some of the sex toy sellers are manufacturers that are from countries outside the USA that produce cheap knock-offs and potentially toxic or unsafe sex toys. Trying to find out who is actually selling the sex toys (even when the big online store is shipping it) is nearly impossible, and leaves consumers vulnerable in not really knowing who is selling the sex toy, if it is a reputable brand or a knock-off, let alone if it is safe.

Used sex toys: more than icky … your health may be at stake.

The National Association for the Advancement of Science & Art in Sexuality (NAASAS) did an investigation in 2014 that found over 10% of sex toys being sold through companies with no checks and balances with regard to returned sex toys were, in fact, used and then resold.

Indicators such pubic hair, vaginal and anal secretions, saliva, fingerprints, lubricant residue and other icky things were found on sex toys that were purchased for the study.

This is alarming, considering that STDs and other health issues may compromise consumers' health by purchasing a sex toy that had previously been used.

Because sex toys are classified as adult “novelties” by the FDA and not actually for sexual use, there are no health regulations that need to be adhered to. As a result, selling sex toys with toxins and without safety checks is perfectly legal right now.

Unfortunately for consumers, this means that one should use caution.  

Counterfeit sex toys: the new & very popular scam.

Beyond the concerns of buying a used sex toy, a more common trend are counterfeit sex toys being sold on sites like Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba with consumers initially feeling like they got a hell of a deal when they spend a mere fraction of the price of what reputable sex toy retailers are selling them.

However, the old adage of “too good to be true,” can certainly come into play as many customers are shocked when their sex toy bargain breaks down after only one or two uses.

They contact the seller for help only be ignored or find them no longer listed. If a consumer then tries to contact the manufacturer, they may find out that it is a knock-off and not really the name-brand sex toy they thought it was.

When it is determined to be a knock-off, consumers find that they cannot get the warranty honored because they were scammed.

This has gone on in the fashion industry for a very long time, and now the sex toy industry is experiencing the same thing. This may be even more of a problem through sites that allow third-party sellers.

The days of knockoff designer products such as Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc. are now matched with sex toy name-brands such as LELO, Njoy, Fun Factory, We-Vibe, Fleshlight, and even the Hitachi Magic Wand.

What If I find A Really Great Price?

If you find a product that is less than a quarter to half of what others are selling it for, then you may be dealing with someone violating a MAP or selling a used or counterfeit sex toy.

Ask yourself how someone can sell you a quality sex toy at an extremely low price if it is a true brand name sex toy that is not made with cheap parts, toxic materials or is counterfeit?

If you find something super discounted, then chances are high that you are not getting a deal — you are gambling with your health and even throwing your money away on something that will not last or be backed by a warranty.

Are there other risks in buying sex toys from a shady sex toy retailers?

Unfortunately yes, there are. Here is a list of things that you will need to watch out for-

  • Selling and sharing of your information.
  • Receiving relentless & pornographic advertising.
  • Buying counterfeit, stolen or used merchandise.
  • Getting products that are labeled as "nontoxic" when they actually contain toxins that are harmful to your health.
  • Using products that should not be used together (i.e. chemical melting from lubricants that are not compatible with certain sex toy materials).

How you can avoid toxic sex toys, used sex toys & counterfeits.

The first thing you need to understand is that a reputable sex toy company will typically only replace a defective product with a working one, and they will either have you dispose of the defective product or pay to have you return it to the manufacturer to determine what the technical issue was.

The second thing you should understand is that an ethical sex toy retailer will always abide by the manufacturer's rules and regulations so they can keep receiving the products they offer you along with all of the manufacturer's warranties.

This means they have to sell these products at the manufacturer’s MSRP/MAP (a minimum amount that resellers agree with the manufacturer not to advertise below) or risk not being able to sell them at all.

Finally, the best thing you can do when looking for a reputable sex toy company is to do some homework when choosing whom you want to buy sex toys from. Here are things you can look into before you buy:

  • Verify who they are and how easy it is to contact someone directly.
  • Look at how long they have been in business.
  • Verify their rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Verify that they are an authorized dealer and are abiding by MAP policies.

Should a reputable sex toy retailer offer a return policy?

They should allow for defective product replacements to ensure that you are covered, in case you buy something that does not work. But they should not allow for returns. 

The reason you cannot trust a company that takes returns is because even if they claim to only accept something that is unused and unopened, most sex toy manufacturers do not shrink wrap or safety seal their products, so it is very easy for someone to send something back claiming they never used it, when in fact they did.

Are all sex toys bad?

There are many sex toys that are not only safe, authentic and pleasurable but also provide health benefits as well.

For example, sex toys made with pure silicone are nonporous, nontoxic and easy to disinfect.

Other products that help strengthen pelvic floor muscles or release prostate fluid are actually things that may improve your health and make sex feel even better.

The key is doing business with reputable and ethical sex toy retailers that provide consumer education and empowerment — so choose wisely!

Author Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D. is the founder and C.E.O. of Holistic Wisdom, Inc. which provides sexual health and wellness education, resources and products. To learn more about what are the latest developments in nontoxic sex toys visit –