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First off, the term "safe sex" is misleading. Unfortunately, there is really no such thing as safe sex, unless you are not having sex at all. Since it's such a basic human drive, and abstinence has yet to catch on with the majority of us, we now have what we call "safe sex."

This involves making sure you don't swap body fluids that may be infected with an STD. It is really quite a simple concept. Keep all mucous membranes (that is, parts that secrete body fluid) away from each other, or protected by a barrier like a condom, glove or dental dam. This includes eyes, mouth, and cuticles as well as the penis, vagina and anus. When it comes to toys, just follow the concept above:

Don't swap fluids. Slip a clean condom over toys before you use them, and use a fresh condom when switching orifices or partners. Yes, sex can be dangerous and even deadly. But, it can also be a wonderful, life-affirming experience, if you follow a few common sense guidelines.

For most people, the peace of mind they experience from practicing safe sex is their motivation to continue doing so. Please remember: These are only very basic guidelines, and we are not doctors. We are not responsible for anything you do as a result of reading/viewing the information on this page.

For more safe sex information, you can always contact your physician or visit your local clinic.

1. Use a barrier. Usually, this is a condom. Condoms may protect both of you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well as unwanted pregnancy. If used correctly, they are very effective, around 97%. They must be used correctly, though! Other barriers include dental dams, gloves and even Saran Wrap.

2. Use lubricant. It will reduce friction, whether caused by a condom or "bareback." This reduces possible abrasions for the receiving partner. Abrasions can allow viruses and bacteria to enter the body more easily. Only water-based lubes are compatible with condoms. Oils will break down the latex from which condoms are made, so be careful.

3. Get tested. Often symptoms don't show up until the STD has done quite a bit of damage. An STD can become a major health problem, so don't put off getting tested. You can do so at your gynecologist, family planning clinic such as Planned Parenthood, or your regular physician. Clinics may offer anonymous or sliding-scale services.

Currently the most common STDs are: venereal/genital warts, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS. (You might have to go to a separate facility to get the blood HIV test.) Bacteria where it shouldn't be can cause certain types of vaginitis, so if you suspect that, speak up.

4 Use your head Don't put yourself in compromising situations. Do be responsible, and share your pleasure with consenting adults who are sober, safe and sane.

More On Methods Of Contraception

Contraception as a method of not only preventing pregnacy but preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is an essential responsibility of both partners in any sexual relationship.It is our belief that contraception should ALWAYS be used when having any sexual encounter EXCEPT in the case of a couple who is actually trying to get pregnant. Most common known forms of contraception are categorized below and discussed in detail. Use this information to learn which forms of contraception are right for you, most effective, and what kinds of combinations of these methods you can use to minimize your risk of pregnacy or contracting STDs. There can also be moral or religious implications of some of the contraception methods, however we choose to present all forms of contraception without moral or religious bias.

Please note that the failure rates of the contraception types listed below is given in a percentage, both for ideal (perfect usage) and typical (actual statistical usage) situations. This is your chance of becoming pregnant if you have regular intercourse over the course of one year's time. For example, if you have regular intercourse with someone every week for an entire year using condoms as your contraception, with ideal use your chance of pregnancy is 2.0% and with typical use it is 10.0%. Calculating failure rates for certain combinations of contraception such as using both the pill and condoms can be a little tricky, so we've not included those. However, combining certain forms of contraception to maximize effectiveness is always a good idea.

General Methods

No Protection
Rhythm Method

Medical Methods

The Pill (female)
Emergency Contraception (female)
Gels and Foams

Genital Devices

Condom (male)
Female Condom
Cervical Caps and Diaphragms (female)
IUD (Intrauterine Device) (female)
The Sponge (female)


Vasectomy (male)
Tubal Litigation (female)

General Methods

No Protection - Failure rate: 80-90%.

No protection simply means having sexual intercourse or contact without any form of contraception. Obviously, choosing this option will result in your greatest chance of becoming pregnant. Only couples who are actively trying to get pregnant should have unprotected intercourse. There's simply no excuse otherwise. Guys, if you really think using a condom takes THAT much away from the feeling and insist on having raw sex, then go home and jack off. It's a lot cheaper and takes a lot less time than raising a child. Let's compare: Cost of raising child: Estimated $200,000 for 18 years. Cost of jacking off: Free. Time required to jack off: Anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour. Time required to raise a child: 18 years. Ladies, don't let any guy convince you to do something you are not planning to do or are not comfortable with. No man is worth compromising your values for. And vice versa.

Abstinence - Failure rate: 0%.

Abstinence is complete restraint from sexual intercourse. It is the only 100% effective form of contraception and STD prevention. While sex can be a lot of fun between two people who love each other, abstinence is the wisest choice and often the right one for couples who do not want to risk pregnancy.

Withdrawal - Failure rate: 20-30%.

Withdrawal, also known as coitus interruptus, is when a male withdraws his penis from the female's vagina before he ejaculates. This is the most common form of birth control used by younger people who are ignorant about how the human body works. One reason why this form of contraception is not very effective is because several thousands of sperm are often present in precum, the thin clear liquid which oozes out of a penis during high arousal and especially during the friction of intercourse. Another reason is because often the man won't pull out before some ejaculate is left in the vagina. Pulling out before ejaculation is not only ineffective in preventing pregnancy, but it can be very frustrating for both partners, especially the male. Ladies, never let a guy convince you to have unprotected intercourse because he says he will "pull out." First of all, it's not very effective, and second, he may not pull out in time or not at all anyway.

Rhythm Method - Ideal failure rate: 10%. Typical failure rate: 15-25%.

Also known as the safe period method, this is another less than effective contraception method. The idea is for the couple to have sex at a time during the woman's menstrual cycle when she is not ovulating and not likely to get pregnant. There are several ways to discover this "safe time" however they usually must be taught by a family planning professional and there are a lot of variables that must be considered and understood. Younger people and those less conscientious about contraception may use other forms of this method such as having sex right before or during the female's period. This is because most woman tend to ovulate in the middle of their cycles. This isn't always very reliable, however.

Medical Methods

The Pill (female) - Ideal failure rate: 0.5%. Typical failure rate: 2%.

The pill is a prescribed hormonal medicine that prevents pregnancy in most cases by preventing ovulation. It contains progestogen and estrogen. While this method is extremely effective, a decrease in this effectiveness can come from several things. For one, the woman might take the doses irregularly, forget doses, etc. Another problem might be taking other drugs that decrease the pill's effectiveness. Side effects that cause vomiting or diarrhea can also decrease effectiveness. For more information about taking contraceptive pills, please see your doctor.

Emergency Contraception (female) - Ideal failure rate: 1%. Typical failure rate: 3-5%.

This form of contraception is known commonly as the "morning after pill" and can be obtained by prescription up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. This pill is hormonal medication that prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Four pills are taken, two immediately and two more 12 hours later. This pill is basically the same as normal contraceptive medication, however the dosage is much higher so some adverse side effects like nausea and vomiting can occur. Like all medical forms of contraception, this pill does nothing to stop STDs. If you are interested in this option please see your doctor.

Gels and Foams - Ideal failure rate: 5%. Typical failure rate: 15%.

Gels, foams, jellies, and creams that contain spermicides work as contraceptives by killing sperm. They shouldn't be relied on to prevent pregnancy alone but should be used along with other methods such as condoms or diaphragms. They can also be used with the sponge method, although contraceptive sponges are not terribly effective and have been discontinued from widespread production. Most spermicides contain nonoxynol-9, which can offer limited protection against STDs as well. some people can have allergic reactions to nonoxynol-9 and thus should use other contraception methods or find spermicides with other active ingredients.

Genital Devices

Condom (male) - Ideal failure rate: 2%. Typical failure rate: 10%.

The condom is perhaps the most common form of contraception. It can also be fairly effective against both STDs and pregnancy, if used properly. Most condoms are made of thin latex rubber, but polyurethane condoms are also available for those who have allergic reactions to latex. It is unrolled on the man's erect penis to contain ejaculate during intercourse. Using one carefully and properly is extremely effective to maintain their effectiveness. The man should hold the condom at the base and withdraw immediately after ejaculation in order to keep semen from spilling into the vagina. Condoms should never be reused. Only water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms because oil based lubricants break down the composition of latex.

Female Condom - Ideal failure rate: 3%. Typical failure rate: 10-15%.

First introduced in 1992 as "Reality." This is a loose polyurethane condom designed for the female to insert into her vagina before intercourse. It has a wide open ring at the bottom and a smaller, closed ring at the top that is designed to fit over the cervix. It is effective against pregnancy and STDs but because some women may not learn how to insert them correctly before they have intercourse with them, they can fail.

Cervical Caps and Diaphragms (female) - Ideal failure rate: 2%. Typical failure rate: 10-15%.

Unlike condoms, cervical caps and diaphragms (pronounced "diafram") allow semen to enter the vagina, but they prevent it from entering the cervix, traveling up the uterus, and fertilizing an egg in the fallopian tube. They are made of small round pieces of latex rubber that fit securely over the cervix. Caps merely fit over the cervix, while diaphragms cover the cervix and are held in place by bracing against the pubic bone. They come in a few different varieties. They must be fitted by a doctor or nurse and take some knowledge and practice in order to be used effectively. They are also usually used with spermicides to increase effectiveness. The caps and diaphragms must be inserted prior to sexual activity or intercourse and must remain in place for at least 6 hours afterwards. They're relatively durable can last years if properly cared for. While they have some drawbacks, this is a suitable contraceptive option for women who are unable to use pills for whatever reason. Once again these need to be purchased and fitted by a doctor, so if you are interested in this method please see yours.

IUD (Intrauterine Device) - Ideal failure rate: 1-2%. Typical failure rate: 4%.

IUD's are small, t-shaped, plastic devices that are inserted into the uterus by a doctor. There are 2 types, those containing a thin coil wrap of copper, and those containing progestogen. They generally prevent pregnancy by creating a hostile environment in the uterus for fertilized eggs and in the case of the copper variety, sperm as well. While they are regarded as highly effective, they have some possible side effects such as infection, spotting, cramps, acne, and tenderness. They can last up to 5 years. See your doctor if you are interested in this method of contraception.

The Sponge (female) - Ideal failure rate: 5%. Typical failure rate: 15-20%.

The sponge is a small spongy ball with a string attached that is meant to be inserted deep in the vagina before intercourse and prevent semen from reaching the cervix and uterus. It is often soaked in spermicides to increase effectiveness. While widespread production of contraceptive sponges has been discontinued, it is still available in some areas and some women still swear by its use. It is not highly effective but does provide much more protection against pregnancy than using no protection at all.

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Vasectomy (male) - Failure rate: 0.15%.

A vasectomy involves a simple outpatient surgical procedure in which the male's vas deferens are clipped. The vas deferens are the small tubes that carry sperm up from the testicles to the prostate. After this procedure, the man can still ejaculate and orgasm, however no sperm is present in his semen. The only possibility for failure exists if the man has unprotected intercourse within a few weeks after having the procedure, as some sperm can remain in his semen until then before it is all "flushed out." There is some discomfort shortly following the procedure, however this is by far the simplest and most effective form of permanent contraception available for the male.

Tubal Litigation (female) - Failure rate: 0.04%.

This involves a surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes of the female are cut and cauterized. This prevents sperm from reaching an ovum, and prevents an ovum from traveling into the uterus. The woman will still continue to menstruate, and after healing has occurred little decrease in sexual enjoyment is felt. Conception can still occur if an ovum has passed the point of litigation before surgery and intercourse takes place, so women who have had this operation are advised to use other protection if they have intercourse before their next menstrual cycle after the operation.

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