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What You Need to Know About STD From Sex Toys

Discover the best ways to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Practicing safe sex represents one of the best ways to avoid STDs. But what about STDs contracted from sex toys? If you think you might have contracted an STD, you should immediately schedule a rapid STD test.

Bacterial and viral STDs can spread through sex toys. This does not mean you need to stay away from adult toys and accessories. However, you need to learn how to protect yourself and maintain good sexual health. Let’s examine how you catch an STD from sex toys and how to prevent it from happening to you.

What Are Considered Sex Toys?

Before we talk about STDs, let’s clarify which objects qualify as sex toys. Sex toys, also known as marital aids or adult toys, serve as devices that people use to increase their pleasure during masturbation or sex.

Many people use them for all sorts of purposes. Adult toys include dildos, vibrators, BDSM apparatus, slings, and more. You can find male and female sex toys in adult toy stores, online sex shops, pornography stores, department stores, or pharmacies.

Many people use sex toys to heighten their sexual pleasure. The idea of viewing sex toys as taboo has long since passed. Whether you choose to use one or not depends entirely on your personal preferences. However, you need to practice proper hygiene when using sex toys.

STDs Transmitted Through Sex Toys

Can an STD stay on toys? Yes. An individual can become infected with an STD by an adult toy previously used by another person. The sex toy acts as a non-living carrier of the disease. If you think you have an infection, book an appointment for a 10-panel STD test.

Let’s break down the STDs that may transmit through sex toys.


Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs among sexually active young adults and teenagers. This infection often goes undetected. Symptoms include:

  •     Unusual discharge from the penis, vagina, or anus
  •     Pain during urination
  •     Bleeding between periods, stomach pain, and bleeding after sex
  •     Swelling and pain in the testicles

You can contract chlamydia through:

  •     Unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex
  •     Sharing unwashed sex toys
  •     Contact between partners’ genitals
  •     Infected vaginal fluid or semen entering your eyes


Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually transmitted during sex. Syphilis can cause significant problems if left untreated. The symptoms include:

  •     Small, painless ulcers or sores in the vagina or mouth, on the penis, or near the anus
  •     Red rashes on the soles of feet or palms of hands
  •     Tiny skin growths around the anus or vulva
  •     White patches around the mouth
  •     Headaches, tiredness, high temperature, and joint pain
  •     Swollen glands in the groin, neck, or armpits

Syphilis mainly spreads through contact with an infected sore during anal, vaginal, or oral sex. It can also spread through shared sex toys. Drug addicts stand a higher chance of contracting syphilis due to infected needles.


Herpes is a recurring STD that can spread through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Can you catch this STD without having sex? Yes. In fact, you can get herpes from drink sharing. The symptoms of this disease include:

  •     Small blisters that leave open sores around the anus, genitals, or thighs
  •     Burning, itching, or tingling around the genitals
  •     Pain during urination
  •     Unusual vaginal discharge

You can contract genital herpes during:

  •     Skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex
  •     Manual stimulation of the genitals when someone carries the infection on their fingers
  •     Sharing sex toys


Hepatitis B spreads through bodily fluids, including blood. It infects the liver and may cause severe damage if left untreated. The symptoms include:

  •     Fever, aches, and tiredness
  •     Appetite loss
  •     Diarrhea
  •     Stomach pain
  •     Yellow eyes and skin

Hepatitis B can spread when individuals do not take proper safety measures when using sex toys.


The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) damages cells in the immune system. This process weakens your body’s ability to fend off diseases. The symptoms of HIV include a flu-like illness that occurs two to six weeks after the infection.

Once these symptoms disappear, the infected individual may not display any other symptoms. During this time, the virus continues to cause damage to the immune system.

HIV can spread through unprotected sex and shared needles. You can also catch this STD from sex toys.

Other Possible Diseases to Contract From Sex Toys

Can you get an STD from a sex toy? Yes. Various other diseases can also spread when you practice unsafe sex toy usage. These include bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, or urinary tract infections (UTIs). Using sex toys for anal play can cause other infections as well. Parasites like giardia lamblia, intestinal amoebas, and bacteria can spread through exposure to fecal matter.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis usually causes unusual vaginal discharge. It increases the risk of acquiring infections like chlamydia.

The common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:

  •     Strong, fishy, unusual vaginal discharge, usually after sex
  •     Changes in the consistency and color of the discharge

Bacterial vaginosis spreads due to:

  •     Active sex life
  •     Multiple sex partner changes
  •     Contraceptive devices and intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  •     Use of perfumed products around the vaginal region  

Different Infections

Can you get STIs from sex toys? Yes. You can contract different infections because of shared sex toys. Some of these infections include gonorrhea, shigella, non-specific urethritis, and Hepatitis A.


Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that makes you feel like you want to urinate even when you don’t need to pee. It also stings whenever you urinate and can spread from one person to another during oral, anal, or vaginal sex. You can also become infected when sharing sex toys with an infected person.


Shigella is a bacterial infection of the intestines. It causes stomach cramps and severe diarrhea in infected individuals. It transmits easily from one person to another, often during oral sex and anal-oral sex.

Non-specific Urethritis

Non-specific urethritis is a bacterial infection that inflames the urethra. This infection spreads much like gonorrhea and leads to similar symptoms. It usually occurs due to excessive sex or masturbation, which irritates the urethra. Non-specific urethritis can also happen as a result of excessive sex toy use during masturbation.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that affects the liver. Hepatitis A can spread through sex and oral-anal sex. You can also become infected if you use an unwashed sex toy previously used for anal sex that contains the Hepatitis A virus.

Can You Get STDs From Sex Toys Even If They Are Clean?

Can you get STDs from sex toys if properly cleaned? No. You do not need to worry about contracting or spreading STDs if you clean your adult toys and accessories thoroughly after use. Sex toys generally come with instructions on how to use, store, and clean them. We recommend reading the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions before you use them. 

Use hot water and soap to wash the toy after each use. Also, clean the toys before using them on yourself or your partner. STDs usually spread when you use them for oral, anal, or vaginal sex without properly cleaning them. If you use a shared sex toy, make sure you wash it well before use.

Some sex toys come with mechanical or electrical parts. Washing these may pose a problem. In such cases, remove the batteries and clean any part that comes into contact with your skin or bodily fluids.

A thorough cleaning should remove any viruses or bacteria. Ensure that every crack and crevice of your sex toy gets cleaned. If you use silicone-based sex toys, you can immerse them in boiling water to clean them.

You should also conduct frequent checks for breaks and scratches on the surface of the sex toy. Doing so can lower the risk of infection by a considerable margin. Penetrative sex toys that you insert inside the anus or vagina often carry a greater risk of transmitting infections. You can put a condom over the toy to reduce this risk and dispose of it later.  

Prevention of STD Transmission from Sex Toys

Can you get an STI from sex toys? Yes. However, cleaning your sex toys before use helps prevent STD transmission. Let’s discuss the different types of sex toys and how to clean them.

Porous vs. Non-porous

You can purchase two types of sex toys: porous and non-porous. We recommend non-porous sex toys because they reduce the risk of infection. However, both types remain popular among adult toy enthusiasts.


Porous sex toys contain many microscopic holes. Bacteria, soap, dust, and perfume can stay inside the holes even after a thorough cleaning.

Porous materials include:

  •         Latex
  •         Thermoplastic elastomer
  •         Thermoplastic rubber
  •         Polyvinyl chloride
  •         Jelly rubber


Toys made of non-porous materials lower the risk of infection once you clean them thoroughly with soap and water.

Non-porous materials include:

  •         Pyrex
  •         Silicone
  •         Glass
  •         ABS plastic
  •         Stainless steel

Non-porous sex toys are best, especially if you share them with your partner. If you own a porous shared sex toy, placing a condom over it reduces the chances of infection.

How to Clean Sex Toys

Properly cleaning your sex toys can prevent the transmission of STDs. The washing methods differ for porous and non-porous toys.

Washing Porous Sex Toys

You should wash porous sex toys made of elastomer, jelly rubber, or latex with a washcloth dipped in soapy, room-temperature water.

You can also use a water-based sex toy cleaner to prevent sexually transmitted infections. These cleaners often provide a gentler cleaning than hand soaps.

Washing Non-porous Sex Toys

Use warm water and soap for non-porous, motorized silicone toys. Use the same for those made of glass, stainless steel, Pyrex, or ABS plastic. For non-motorized toys, use boiling water.

Drying Sex Toys

Always remember to dry your sex toy thoroughly after you finish cleaning it. You can use an air blower or towel to dry it. You can also leave it outdoors to air dry.

Storing Sex Toys

Store your toys in a clean, dry place after you dry them. Many sex toys come in satin stowaway pouches. These pouches protect your toy from debris, dust, and animal fur. Make sure you store your toys in them, if available.

When to Clean Your Sex Toys

We recommend cleaning your toys before and after use. If you share the same sex toy with your partner, make sure you clean it between each use. Cleaning the toy before using it may seem excessive, but it allows you to wash off any collected dust and dirt particles. 

Did You Catch an STD From Sex Toys?

Do you think you might have caught an STD from sex toys? Take control of your reproductive health. Visit a Rapid STD Testing center near you for same-day STD testing!