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Are sex toys normal? - (2/9/2021)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro 

Pete asked the pharmacist where the condoms were. "I keep them behind the counter," the pharmacist replied, "Otherwise, they grow legs and disappear." "OK, and do you have strawberry lube?" Pete asked. "Yes, I do." Pete then motioned to the pharmacist to ask if he carried another item. The pharmacist looked amused at what Pete whispered into his ear. "You can find that online. I don't carry those." 

Pete asked the pharmacist if he sold a specific sex toy. Having been asked everything under the sun in his career, the pharmacist was neither surprised nor judgmental. In fact, he has an open mind when it comes to sex. After all, God created us for fellowship and for recreation with others (Psalm 37:4). Even if you do not believe, sex has a biological purpose. The orgasm was not designed for nothing. 

But sex toys? Any "normal" relationship should be able to stick to warm flesh instead of things that require an electrical outlet or are made of medical-grade glass, right? Yet, psychologists and sexologists concur that a sex toy is not an appraisal of one's inadequate sexual performance if both parties agree. Instead, it is an enhancement of the pleasure they desire. A study published in the Journal of Sex Research revealed that both genders who felt satisfied by their relationship and the passion they shared were more likely to report using sex toys together as well as engaging in other activities, such as trying new positions in bed or taking a shower together. 

People have been using sex toys since antiquity. Phallic symbols have been in existence since 500 BCE. Writings from many civilizations mention the use of phallic-shaped objects for sexual pleasure, including things you find in the produce section at the market. The Italians even had a word for such devices. They call these objects "diletto," which means "to delight." From this word, the term "dildo" was coined, and a $10 billion industry was launched. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has pushed people to quarantine at home and to practice self-pleasure. This has led to an increase in sex toy sales. In 2021, sales of products like massagers, vibrators, blindfolds, handcuffs, and bondage items are forecast to surpass the skyrocketing sales seen in 2019 and 2020.  

There are some points to keep in mind if you decide to buy a sex toy. First, if you own a toy, store it as you would your guns – locked up. You don't want to find it mixed in with your child's Legos. Second, pull down the blinds when you play. In today's social media world, your playtime will be posted on XTube before the final climax. Third, sanitizing your (non-electric, non-porous) toys in the dishwasher ensures they will be kissing sweet. However, do not let your mother-in-law empty that last load. You do not want to be confronted with questions such as whether that device is for whisking eggs or juicing lemons. 

Adult playthings are not only sold at seedy bookstores where the sales-dude has a lazy eye and a withered limb (not that there's anything wrong with that!). High-end establishments such as Sharper Image, Brookstone, and b3ta also offer similar items and in more tasteful packaging. Whatever your kink, you should steer clear of sex toys if you have a history of pornography use, sex addiction, or sexual abuse. Using them will reinforce an impulse to depersonalize sexual intimacy, which can inadvertently sabotage an otherwise loving relationship. Meanwhile, inspired by his talk with Pete, the pharmacist phoned his wife to ask if there was anything "special" she wanted him to bring home that night.  

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a recovering pharmacist and writer-in-residence at Rx-Press. 

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