Clear guidelines for manufacturers, more safety for you
More than $34 billion is involved in the sex toy industry worldwide. And this is expected to grow to as much as $52 billion by 2028. Many people have one or more sex toys in their homes. These often come into direct contact with your most intimate parts. And yet, until recently, there was no standard or guideline for manufacturers, to make these types of toys safe and minimize the risk of, for example, allergic reactions. Moreover, manufacturers are not required to specify the materials and chemicals used on, for example, the packaging. Meanwhile, consumers get lost in the vast array of different toys and materials and no longer know where they stand.
Dr. Martin Dahlberg is a Swedish surgeon from Stockholm. In 2018, he started the initiative for setting up a standard. He came up with the idea because he had to remove sex toys from patients’ rectums with some regularity. With his idea, he turned to the Swedish Institute for Standards (SIS). This is a non-profit association – similar to the Dutch NEN or British BSI – that makes standards for various sectors. Dahlberg was the first to propose making standards for sex toys.
“In our hospital, sex toys account for about 40% of the cases of foreign objects left behind. I contacted the Consumer Protection Bureau in early 2018 to ask if there were any regulations in the sex toy market, but there were none. Still, several potential injuries can result from misuse of sex toys. I am pleased with the result of the cooperation between representatives of producers, manufacturers and retailers in the SIS,” explains Dr. Martin Dahlberg.
Clear guidelines for manufacturers, more safety for consumers
More than 70 organizations from 19 countries joined forces to create an international standard. These included the Lovehoney Group, the parent organization of the WOW Tech Group (the company behind We-Vibe). This led to the ISO 3533 standard for ‘Design and safety requirements for products that come into direct contact with genitals, the anus or both’.
This international standard aims to:
- That body-safe materials are used that can safely n contact with genitals and the anus.
- That the design minimizes the risk of injury during normal and predictable use.
- That the information provided by the manufacturer to the user is sufficient and correct.
The ISO 3533 standard contains many requirements for different types of sex toys and the development and design process. Because many products come into contact with the most sensitive parts of the body, all materials used must be biocompatible. The ISO standard also lists materials that should be avoided during the design and manufacturing process, such as phthalates, alkylphenols or cadmium. Despite consumers assuming that the silicones or plastics used were body-safe, there was no guarantee of that until now. With the new ISO standards, manufacturers have clear guidelines on material safety and what to include in user information. In addition, the standard provides tips on product design. For example, sex toys for anal use must have a specific design and mechanism so that they cannot be inserted further into the rectum than originally intended. For those that are designed with removable parts and may pose a risk if not properly secured, they should have a locking mechanism to ensure that the parts remain in place during use. For sex toys that can be remotely operated by someone else, the user who comes into contact with the toy should be able to easily turn it off.
A sex toy that complies with ISO 3533 is a sign of confidence for consumers and other stakeholders, but is not mandatory for manufacturers. An ISO standard only provides guidelines to ensure better consumer protection and experience. It is now up to the country’s regulators to use international standards as the basis for a law to make the application of these standards mandatory. According to Eyal Bar-Or, Quality & Compliance Manager at Lovehoney Group, this is an important step for the entire industry. “Most of We-Vibe’s products have already been tested and are ISO 3533 compliant, including the bestsellers Chorus, Melt, Nova 2 and We-Vibe Bond. Given the intimate nature of our products and their use, their safety and quality has always been a priority for us. We hope that from now on the whole industry will take into account this new standard when designing their products. We are ready to lead by example and shape the future of our industry”.
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