Sil-a-gel Seems to be Causing Chemical Burns. Dear Doc: STOP IT.
On the days that I wonder if I’m still relevant, if I’ve done enough of worth1 to make this blog helpful, I have to remember situations like this email. My heart absolutely sunk as I read it. I was grateful that I wrote about Doc Johnson sil-a-gel additive and all of its problems so that this reader could get the truth on what could be happening to her, but I am so angry that this is happening. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, DOC JOHNSON??? Why do you insist on trying to polish the turd that is heavily-softened PVC by boasting about some mysterious “anti-bacterial” chemical that you add to your porous materials? A chemical that is clearly NOT rainbows and puppies judging by the number of people who have told me that their Doc Johnson sil-a-gel containing sex toy caused rashes, redness, small blisters and extreme pain.
Because I am not a doctor, and some parts of this email concern me even more, I’m sharing this with you, dear readers, to see if anybody can chime in. I’m also sharing this story because I want to know how many complaints like this will it take for Doc Johnson to ditch the sil-a-gel?
Although I have been very sexually active from a very young age I have always had an aversion to sex toys and never tried them. An accidental pregnancy put my libido into extreme overdrive while at the same time isolating me from my husband due to stress and tension, so I emotionally braced myself and decided to join ranks with all of the other women I know by masturbating with a Doc Johnson double ended dildo I received at my roller derby team’s white elephant christmas party.
I have been suffering from repeat bouts of what I first thought was a yeast infection or BV, because of extreme itching and burning on my inner labia, but I haven’t had any discharge or foul odors. It literally feels like a chemical burn and often causes my clitoris to swell and the skin to peel.
My list of drug allergies is like a mile long, including benzocaine, lidocaine, and micronazole and I get contact dermatitis from most soaps and anything that contains fragrances so I have always been very careful about what I put on my skin. My midwife suggested that it must be an allergic reaction to my husband’s body soap, the pH of his semen, or just my sensitivity to the pH and hormonal changes caused by my pregnancy. The only thing that seems to “calm” it is an ice pack followed by a thick layer of vaseline.
As weeks went by, I realized my husband was intentionally avoiding sex with me and I suspected he might be having an affair, so then I worried that all of it could be an STD. I accused/confronted him but all my tests came back normal and he explained that he too had experienced a rash on his penis after having sex with me and didn’t want to get it again. We tried condoms (non latex) but it happened again AND I have also been suffering from an irritable uterus which means I get pre-labor contractions that force me to lie down and relax, so he pretty much decided we should just abstain from intercourse while I’m pregnant.
So out of sexual frustration I began using that dildo even more regularly, but really I am tired of it and it doesn’t provide the intimacy that I am craving. Desperate to figure out how to end this vaginal irritation, it dawned on me that the combination of petroleum and the rubber dildo might be a problem since I know you aren’t supposed to use vaseline as a lube with condoms so I began researching it and stumbled across your piece about Doc Johnson Sil-a-Gel.
So now I feel like “Eureka!” that’s got to be the root of my problems, but what are the full consequences? Obviously I am ditching that dildo and being such an awful first experience I doubt I will ever try a different sex toy, but how long will it take for me to heal? And more importantly are there any documents or studies concerning phthalate toxicity during pregnancy??? I know this is a super long email and that you are not a doctor, but I am pretty freaked out and would appreciate any guidance, information, or direction you can give me.
So let’s delve into a few things first. Dear reader, please don’t let Doc Johnson sil-a-gel ruin you for sex toys. There are thousands of true, body-safe sex toys out there that won’t cause reaction – silicone, aluminum, stainless steel, glass, wood, and hard plastic to start with. Because I can’t recommend a dildo without knowing much more information, I’m reserving that for future conversations with the reader. Secondly, I’m not a fan of Vaseline in the vagina or on the vulva, so let me suggest some organic, non-refined coconut oil to help protect and moisturize the irritated skin without affecting your pH – only if you know you aren’t allergic to that. A small percentage of people are.
For those willing to make educated guesses and suggestions here, I do want to note I’ve already discussed lube with the reader, and know that it isn’t the cause of her problems.
As I researched the Doc Johnson “Ask The Doc” archives for some more info on their sil-a-gel products, I briefly pondered submitting my question about why people are experiencing chemical burns from using a Doc Johnson sil-a-gel containing sex toy. But then I came across so many flippant AND WRONG answers from whomever is in charge of this page that I am just absolutely stunned. Completely gobsmacked. I can only assume that Doc Johnson is never going to admit that there’s a chance that something about sil-a-gel is caustic and stop using it in their sex toys. They repeatedly advise their customers that it’s safe to use oil/oil-based lubes on their PVC dildos. Um, no, no it’s not. How about we look at this jar, which began with one large chunk of PVC as part of the dry mix and quickly degraded from the oils put out by other sex toys in the jar? Then they tell their customers that it’s safe to put their dildos in the dishwasher. Subjected to heat. A: this won’t do any goddamn good for getting it “clean”, because it’s porous and 2: ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? I don’t believe for a minute that softened PVC will withstand the heat of a dishwasher.
*facepalm* Yes, actually, there are trace amounts of platinum left behind and they can be detected in lab tests. It’s called platinum silicone because platinum, the mineral, is used as a curing agent. Not because it’s like a “platinum credit card”. For fucks sake, really?
Um….can you show me what “health grade” is, by definition? Can you tell me it’s even a thing? Because I can’t find that.
So here we have one of many answers that the person/people behind this section of the website should really just answer with a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE:
Here they kinda get vague, by not really answering the question directly. And yes, every other website DOES say PVC degrades from oil, because it’s true. So while they won’t outright admit they’re giving wrong info, they vaguely say that it can be used with “water based, silicone or hybrid lubes” and they don’t say “Hey sure! It should be fine with oil!” like they do in all these other answers. “Should” be! SMH.
Oh and yeah. Dishwasher safe. They never tell you to turn off the heat drying. I’ve always been under the assumption that heat is bad for these unstable materials. Given that the rep(s) don’t even acknowledge that oil is bad for their non-silicone materials, I don’t trust these recommendations, either, and neither should anyone else.
You know, I really liked the Truskyn line. I’ve assured others that Doc Johnson silicone IS silicone. I’ve said that while I don’t love their immense offerings of porous sex toys and I fucking hate their sil-a-gel bullshit, that they weren’t as bad as some of the other big companies. I don’t know, now. I just don’t know. Their responses when someone questions them are really fucking lovely:
“Sil-a-gel isn’t a material and doesn’t smell”
BULLFUCKINGSHIT IT DOESN’T SMELL!!
Please, don’t buy sil-a-gel-added products. Just don’t do it. This may mean you have to avoid Doc Johnson as a brand if you do not want to spend the money on silicone sex toys.
- and yes, after 8 years I still have those days ↩