Men’s Health Women’s Health

Health and Adult Toy Use in Black Culture

The widespread use of adult toys globally has significantly contributed to sexual well-being. Yet within the Black community, concerns regarding its impact on public health have emerged. This article aims to explore the potential health issues associated with adult toy use within the Black community, encompassing both physical and psychological aspects. It’s crucial to approach this topic with sensitivity, recognizing the diversity within the Black community and understanding that experiences and perspectives may vary.

According to a study, the US sex toy industry was a $28.6-billion dollar industry in 2019; however, by 2026, the industry is expected to rise to $52.7 billion due to less stigma coupled with the privacy of online stores. As such, with many undereducated users of adult toys, the rates of public health issues inflicted upon self and/or partner is bound to rise.

Why People Use Adult Toys

Adult toys, commonly referred to as sex toys (or even marital aids), are defined as objects that assist in gaining more pleasure during sex or masturbation. Understanding the motivations behind adult toy use is key to addressing public health concerns. People may use adult toys for various reasons, including enhancing pleasure, exploring their bodies, improving intimacy within relationships, and compensating for natural aging disorders.

Individuals of all ages use adult toys. However, aging adults, especially those  facing erectile dysfunction (ED) or other natural aging-related challenges; those who struggle  to feel pleasure or achieve orgasm  may turn to adult toys as a means of maintaining sexual satisfaction and connection. According to the first study of Viagra in Black men, we learn that ED is a common problem for Black men with 24% of men reporting never able to keep a satisfactory erection. Addressing the unique needs of aging individuals within the Black community is crucial for promoting positive sexual health, well-being, and reduce stigma. While addressing these unique needs, we must also understand the health risks that may come along with it.

Physical Health Risks

While adult toys can enhance sexual experiences, the risk of physical health issues arises with improper use and neglect of hygiene. Infections, irritation, and allergies are potential consequences when cleanliness and proper maintenance are overlooked, particularly in the sensitive genital area.

Infections and Hygiene

The risk of bacterial or fungal infections increases when adult toys are not cleaned regularly and adequately. This can lead to urinary tract infections, yeast infections, or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Likewise, there is a higher chance of passing HIV when adult toys are shared between people. Proper education on cleaning methods, using recommended disinfectants, and adhering to manufacturer guidelines can lessen these risks.

Allergies and Irritation

Before using adult toys, understand your allergies and what may cause irritation. Materials used in manufacturing adult toys can vary. Be sure to read the label of any item you plan to purchase and use.  Allergic reactions may include redness, itching, or swelling. To be safe, use hypoallergenic products to reduce these risks

Psychological Health Implications

The impact of adult toy use on psychological health within the Black community involves complex factors influenced by cultural and societal norms. Within our community, we tend to shame one another if someone discovers you may be using an adult toy, creating a sense of anxiety, guilt, and inadequacy as a Black man or woman—when you may just want to spice things up or have a medical condition. Remember, your private life is your private life. You shouldn’t feel ashamed and should be willing to be open to discussion in relationships.

Relationship Dynamics

Adult toy use can impact relationship dynamics, particularly when there is a lack of communication or understanding between partners. Historically, those of us within the Black community face unique challenges with honest communication with our partners. Open conversations about desires, boundaries, and preferences are crucial for maintaining healthy relationships, preventing misunderstandings, strain, or even breakups.

Stigma and Shame

Cultural and societal norms significantly shape attitudes towards sexuality within the Black community, potentially leading to stigmatization of adult toy use and feelings of shame or guilt. This stigma can hinder open communication about sexual health, preventing individuals from seeking necessary information or support.

Addressing public health concerns related to adult toy use within the Black community requires a comprehensive and culturally sensitive approach. By promoting awareness about hygiene, materials, and safe practices, individuals can mitigate physical health risks. Additionally, challenging stigmas surrounding sexuality, fostering open communication within relationships, understanding the motivations behind adult toy use, and acknowledging the needs of aging adults can contribute to improved psychological well-being.

For more reading:

Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(S5), 255-265.

Gerressu, M., Mercer, C. H., Graham, C. A., Wellings, K., & Johnson, A. M. (2008). Prevalence of masturbation and associated factors in a British national probability survey. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37(2), 266-278.

Reece, M., Herbenick, D., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Sexual behaviors, relationships, and perceived health among adult men in the United States: results from a national probability sample. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(S5), 291-304.

Higgins, J. A., Mullinax, M., Trussell, J., Davidson, J. K., & Moore, N. B. (2011). Sexual satisfaction and sexual health among university students in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 101(9), 1643-1654.—

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About the author

Stephen Earley Jordan II

Stephen Earley Jordan is the lead writer, editor and founder of Elevate Black Health. He has 25+ years in the public health and pharmaceutical marketing industry. He has worked on various public health campaigns for various organizations, including New York City Department of Health. Campaigns include: smoking cessation, healthy children, trans fat, HIV/AIDS, Flu Vaccines, Safe homes, and more. Jordan has worked with multicultural divisions to ensure all literature was translated into six additional languages for the specific targeted demographics. Jordan has also spent time in the pharmaceutical marketing industry, and worked on various marketing campaigns for oncology, rheumatoid arthritis, probiotics, medical devices, facial fillers, thyroid- and dry-eye diseases, and numerous rare diseases. He has assisted in the production of print and digital pieces alike.

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