- There are plenty of products out there designed to help enhance your sex life, from intimate beauty products and sex toys to flavored lubricants.
- But some of them are potentially unsafe or downright dangerous for your body.
- INSIDER spoke with an OB/GYN and a surgeon who told us all the things you should avoid putting in or near your body during sex, and some of them are surprising.
Exploring with props, tools, and toys is a perfectly normal part of a healthy sex life, and it’s totally natural to enhance your sexual experience with products designed to do so.
INSIDER spoke with an OB/GYN and a surgeon who told us all the things you should avoid putting in or near your body when you’re having sex, and some of them will definitely surprise you.
Bath bombs or glitter bombs can irritate both internal and external skin
Taking a bath, either solo or with your partner can be a fun way to relax and get in the mood for sex. There are even plenty of sexy bath bombs designed expressly for use during intercourse, but glitter bombs or bath bombs should not be inserted in your mouth or genitalia, and should probably be avoided altogether during sex.
“Nothing should be used in the bath which has any potential to create irritation or inflammation of the female genitalia,” said Felice Gersh, M.D. an OB/GYN. Dr. Gersh, the founder/director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, California and the author of “PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness,” told INSIDER that “bath bombs often contain artificial chemicals and scents and should not be in contact with the body.”
Even though glitter and sparkles might seem fun, Dr. Gersh explained why glitter bombs are a no-go. “Glitter has chemicals in it which can create irritation and all absorb through the skin, increasing risk for systemic toxic levels to rise. Toxic chemicals can create harm to hormonal pathways and impact the normal functioning of the body.”
Proceed with caution when it comes to rhinestones and jewellery near your genitalia
Vajazzling(decorating your genitals with temporary tattoos, crystals, glitter, rhinestones, and other sparkly adornments) briefly entered the cultural lexicon. But our experts agreed that this late-2000s trend should probably be avoided for several reasons.
“Costume jewellery often contains high levels of cadmium and other toxic heavy metals,” said Dr. Gersh, who added that it’s “best to avoid them as they absorb through the skin.” She added that the glue used to secure these decorations to your skin also contain solvents, which could potentially irritate the internal and external skin.
“While having a piercing can increase sensation for both the insertive and receptive partner, if not done correctly, it can also increase the chance of injury.” He recommends “using extra lube, starting slowly, paying close attention to the angle of penetration, and generally just listening to your partner and making sure they are comfortable,” and added, “these steps will all help ensure you’re maximizing pleasure and minimising the risk of injury.”
He added, “This may seem obvious, but please make sure there are no loose pieces – the last thing anyone wants is jewellery getting lost inside a vagina or an anus.”
Check the materials on your sex toys
Sex toys can be a fun way to spice things up in the bedroom, but even items specifically marketed to be safe for your body sometimes are anything but.
“Any toy is unsafe if not used correctly,” said Dr. Goldstein, adding that some people “may be allergic to all the different materials out there – latex, rubber, etc., so use with caution. I would only recommend toys that have been approved for sex play.”
Dr. Gersh agreed, recommending toys made of silastic (a type of silicone rubber) and natural latex, and avoiding “toys made from plastics as high levels can be absorbed” into the bloodstream.
As for how to use toys properly, Dr. Goldstein offered up some tips, telling INSIDER that “if you’re using a dildo, make sure it has a base – this will prevent it from going in so far that you lose it inside you. I’ve seen it before, and most times it requires a medical professional to remove it safely. If you’re using butt plugs, try to find ones where the base goes directly to the handle (there’s no neck in between) so that you can’t leave the dilator in fully for prolonged periods of time. This can cause swelling in the region, leading to hemorrhoids and/or tearing when trying to remove it.”
He added that he recommends staying “away from toys that have severe angles because they can poke you in places you don’t want to be poked, causing irritation, pain, and possibly injury.”
And Dr. Gersh further added that you shouldn’t share sex toys with a partner, but if you’re going to, use a condom and clean the toy thoroughly before using on your partner to prevent the risk of passing infectious bacteria.
Don’t insert fruits and vegetables inside the genitals
Bringing food into the bedroom might be a common aphrodisiac, but Dr. Goldstein advised against doing anything with them besides using them as a pre- or post-sex snack.
Fruits and vegetables including grapes, cucumbers, bananas, carrots, and others should not be inserted inside your genitals. “All of these are fine for oral play, clearly, since ingestion is the intended purpose. However, many foods are either acidic or basic and can be quite caustic to body tissues. I recommend using with caution and limiting foods to external foreplay,” he said.
Be especially careful where you use toppings and sauces like whipped cream, peanut butter, jelly, honey, and others.
It might seem like a novelty to add whipped cream or chocolate sauce to your bedroom repertoire, but both experts advise against this. Internal use (and even external use on the skin) can cause vulvar and vaginal irritation or infection, said Dr. Gersh, with Dr. Goldstein noting that food items can alter natural bacteria growth in both the vagina and the anus, so avoidance is best.
And definitely avoid spicy foods like hot peppers at all costs
If you’ve ever sliced pepper with your bare hands and felt a painful sting on your fingers afterward, you know firsthand that those pepper oils are nothing to mess with. So definitely don’t try to use them during sex, because as Dr. Gersh said, there’s a huge risk for “severe skin irritation.” Spice things up metaphorically, not literally.
Avoid putting alcohol like wine or champagne near your body too
After a few drinks, it might seem like a good idea to bring your bubbly into the bedroom … but you really shouldn’t. As Dr. Gersh said, “sex and alcohol don’t mix,” because it can irritate internal and external skin as well as upping the risk for bacterial infection by messing with the body’s natural pH levels.
Makeup sponges should not be used to absorb blood during period sex
After a hack suggesting that people use a makeup sponge for “mess-free” period sex made the internet rounds, sexual health experts reminded us that it’s not safe to insert a spongy surface into your vagina to absorb blood during period sex, and you should not try it.
“Placing things like makeup sponges [into your vagina] can lead to increased risk of toxic shock syndrome,” said Dr. Gersh. “They can pull air up into the upper reaches of the vagina which are normally an anaerobic environment, meaning the area has no oxygen. By altering the environment and the microbial population, an overgrowth of the pathogenic bacteria staph aureus can occur, resulting in toxic shock syndrome.”
She added, “there is the potential for an increased risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection by changing the environment of the vagina and holding the sexually transmitted infectious agents up close to the cervix while mixing them with blood – the perfect environment for growth.”
Having sex on your period is a perfectly normal, natural thing, and is totally safe though, if you’re concerned about blood stains, using a dark towel beneath you is the safest and easiest option.
Don’t use scented intimate products, even those that are marketed for your genitalia
There is no shortage of products on the market designed to make your genitals smell a certain way, but most of them should actually be avoided at all costs, particularly during sexual activity, because they can compromise your vaginal health.
As Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine previously told INSIDER, “This is probably the most important issue for most women. The vulvar and vaginal tissue is just about the most sensitive in the body, so try to avoid scented products, such as bubble baths, and most strong soaps, which in general have a very high (basic) pH,” especially during sex, where the added movement and friction can just up the risk of irritation or infection.
Be mindful of lubricants as well
All lube is not created equal, according to our experts, so you’ll want to be mindful of the ones you choose. Dr. Gersh recommends avoiding oil-based lubricants altogether, saying, “do not use petroleum-based products anywhere on the body.”
Dr. Goldstein said, “Oil-based lubes definitely have their benefits – the glide feels incredible and they will outlast any other type of lube. In fact, they become more slippery as you add heat/friction. However, it’s important to note that oil-based lubes are not condom safe (sometimes not toy safe either – check the toy’s packaging). They will also stain sheets and surfaces, and technically are not supposed to be used for internal anal play.”
He added, “I also recommend avoiding warming or cooling lubes for anal sex, as they will irritate your anus, as well as desensitising/numbing lubes, as they can dull or remove pain entirely, which can prevent the user from noticing a potential injury.”
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