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Cory Silverberg

Sex Toy Use Linked to Drugs and Non Monogamy

By March 20, 2006

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In a recent study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, which is being touted as the first academic survey of sex toy use, 27% of participants report using sex toys. The study also suggests links between sex toy use, recreational drug use for sexual enrichment, and risky sexual behavior.

For more on the myriad of problems with both the research and the reporting on the study, I recommend a visit to the website of the ever thoughtful Dr. Petra Boynton who catalogues concerns with the methodology, data interpretation, and ethics of this study out of the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The study was conducted over the telephone in a “random-digit dial survey” with 18 to 39 year olds living in the Seattle area between 2003 and 2004.

The results indicate that during a typical 4-week period 27% of participants used a sex toy and 13% of participants used some sort of drug to enhance their sexual experience. Mind you, almost 84% of those that used a drug were drinking alcohol (whereas 8.2% used ecstasy).

They also found a correlation between sex toy use and being more likely to be in non-monogamous relationships and have multiple partners in the previous 12 months.

In the conclusion to the paper the researchers offer that:

“persons reporting use of sexual enrichment aids and drugs to enhance sexual experience were more likely to engage in sexual behaviors associated with a higher risk of acquiring and transmitting an STI, such as having non monogamous partnerships and multiple partners in the previous 12 months. Whether use of sexual enrichment aids and drugs to enhance sexual experience are causally associated with STI risk or merely additional markers of high-risk behavior or sensation seeking cannot be discerned from a single cross-sectional survey.

As Dr. Boynton points out in her analysis, there is no evidence that the kind of sexual behaviors participants were engaging in were in fact higher risk. Also, researchers were unable to determine the STD status of the people they were interviewing.

It is entirely likely that people who are comfortable using sex toys (and talking to a stranger on the phone about it) may also be comfortable and knowledgeable about STD risks in open relationships and better able to negotiate safer sex behaviors in their relationships.

Problems with this particular study aside, it is worth noting that the 27% usage statistic is surprisingly similar to statistics found in two earlier, completely non-academic, surveys of sex toy use. In 1975 Levin and Levin conducted a survey of Redbook readers and found that 1 out of 5 women (in a sample of 100,000 readers) had experiments with sex toys. In a 1981 Cosmo survey vibrators use was reported by 26% of women for solitary masturbation, and by 37% of all women over 30.

While I am encouraged to see that research beyond women’s magazines may start considering sex toy use as an important topic of study, I only wish the researchers would take a little bit of time to familiarize themselves with the populations they are studying.

Read more - Dr. Petra Boynton: First academic survey to report on sex toy use

Read more - Michigan Daily: Survey links drugs to sex toys

Related - All About Sex Toys

Comments
October 31, 2009 at 10:29 am
(1) Sexleksaker says:

Very intresting reading. While most of the numbers doesnt chock me at all. I welcome more research about sextoys.

December 21, 2009 at 9:03 am
(2) Kondomer says:

I agree. Very intresting reading. Most of the numbers doesnt chock me at all either.

August 17, 2010 at 7:28 am
(3) Sexleksaker says:

Very interesting article. I also welcome more research about sextoys.

July 2, 2011 at 6:59 am
(4) Lustfull says:

Very interesting article. We need more research about sextoys.

November 3, 2011 at 6:40 am
(5) Dildos says:

Good that proper academic studies are made on this subject.

February 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm
(6) seksikauppa says:

It`s a very interesting article, and I hope it will come much more research about sextoys and other subjects belong to our sexlife.

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