Q&A: Can I Share A Sex Toy With My Partner?

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QUESTION: I've read there’s a risk of STIs when sharing toys during lesbian sex. But what if neither partner has an STI—can we share toys? If both partners are in a truly monogamous relationship, and both have tested negative for all STIs, then is there still risk? If fluids have been exchanged through oral sex and genital-to-genital touching, would there then be any additional risk to sharing a toy without using condoms or washing in between?

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box of sex toys

Photo: violet.blue (Flickr)

The concern about sharing sex toys has to do with the toy being a mode of transmission.

If two women are already sharing their vaginal fluids through oral sex and genital-genital touching, or sex play such as scissoring, then no there is likely no additional risk to sharing a sex toy.

Transmission Risk

The toy itself isn’t typically the issue (except for those individuals who are concerned about certain sex toys being made of toxic materials).

Rather, the concern about sharing sex toys has to do with the toy being a mode of transmission, in the sense that bacteria or viruses from one person could be carried on a toy and then when the second person shares the toy, those bacteria or viruses could be transmitted to that second person.

Sexually transmissible infections – also called STIs – such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV are only some of the concerns about sharing sex toys or otherwise coming into contact with a partner’s genitals.

Among women who have sex with other women, there’s also the possibility of developing various vaginal infections or bacterial imbalances, such as bacterial vaginosis, which is also called BV.

Educate Yourself

You can learn more about vaginal infections and BV on the CDC’s website. and also on the website of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Finally, you can learn more about vaginal and vulvar health—as well as sex toy play—in Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva. And you can read more specifically about vulvar and vaginal health conditions in The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Vulvovaginal Health.

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Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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