The short answer is yes. It is possible to catch an STI from a vibrator and other sex toys. Most STIs cannot survive outside the body for long. However, you should never assume that if you leave it long enough, they will disappear. Infections such as Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Herpes and HPV can certainly be transferred by sharing sex toys. Do not share any sex toy that may draw blood from the skin, because this type of sex toy can pass on bloodborne infections.
If there are any cuts or sores around the vagina, anus or penis, and blood is present, there is an increased risk of passing on infections. Body fluids or blood on the toy can transfer HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is linked to an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. You are at a higher risk of developing BV if you are sexually active, and it can be transferred by sex toys. There is an increased risk of BV in women who have sex with women, have a history of sharing sex toys, or whose partners have BV.
If you clean your gadgets thoroughly after each use, you should not have to worry about giving or getting an infection. Sex toys should come with advice about how to clean and store them. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Washing the toy after every use with soap and hot water is usually all you need to do. Toys should also be washed before using them on different parts of the body, such as the mouth, vagina and anus, or between one person and another.
If the whole toy cannot be submerged in water, remove any batteries and clean all parts that come into contact with skin and particularly body fluids. Make sure to be thorough, so that no bacteria or particles are left in any of the cracks and crevices. Silicone can be immersed in boiling water.
Check sex toys regularly for any scratches or breaks in the surface material where germs could be present and spread, as this can increase the risk of infection. Penetrative sex toys that are inserted inside the vagina or anus carry the greatest risk for transferring infections, so it is a good idea to put a condom over the toy so that you can just dispose of it afterwards.
If you are worried you may have caught an STI, call our friendly booking team for advice and to find a speedy appointment at a sexual health clinic near you.