Ob-Gyns Do Not Recommend Using An Electric Toothbrush As a Vibrator, Here's Why

Masturbating with your electric toothbrush could cause injury and infections. Here's why ob-gyns don't recommend using toothbrushes for pleasure.

woman holding toothbrush
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Just because your electric toothbrush vibrates, doesn't mean it doubles as a sex toy. Using your electric toothbrush as a vibrator could potentially injure delicate vaginal tissue and increase your risk of infections.

"All in all, I wouldn't recommend using your electric toothbrush as a sex toy," says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine. "In any case, there are plenty of vibrators available with good vibratory activity for everyone."

Still, the internet is full of people raving about using their electric toothbrushes to masturbate-– with both the brush end and the handle. Before you try to bring your toothbrush into the bedroom, you may want to learn why it's best to avoid using an electric toothbrush as a sex toy altogether.

It Can Cause Irritation and Tearing

Unlike vibrators, electric toothbrushes are not designed to rub on sensitive skin. "Using the brush part would be fairly irritating and potentially traumatic, due to the risk of scratching the delicate vaginal and vulvar tissue," Dr. Minkin tells Health.

It may seem obvious that using the bristles of a toothbrush could cause injury. But, even the base or non-bristled side of the brush head can lead to tears or cuts on your delicate skin, and especially the clitoris. These injuries can be painful, and open cuts can increase your risk of vaginal infections and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (Rubin, 2019).

If your masturbation session ventures beyond the vagina, using a vibrating toothbrush to stimulate the rectum can also cause irritation and injury.

It Harbors Bacteria

An electric toothbrush's vibrating power makes it effective at getting rid of food bits and plaque. But toothbrushes can often hold onto bacteria after you brush, and moist environments like closed containers help bacteria thrive on your toothbrush (Frazelle, 2012). Storing your toothbrush near the toilet likely doesn't help either.

If you use your toothbrush both as intended and as a vibrator, you could introduce some additional bacteria to your vagina. This could disrupt the natural bacteria balance in your vagina and increase your risk of infections like bacterial vaginosis (Kairys, 2022).

Using your electric toothbrush for anal play is also going to trap bacteria in the bristles that are difficult to clean. This means you can increase your risk of infection if you later use it vaginally.

It Can Transfer STIs

Dr. Minkin says she's less concerned about sanitary issues than the possibility fo transferring STIs. However, she notes that if you have an STI like herpes or chlamydia, there's a chance you could transfer the infection to your mouth.

This is only possible if you still use your toothbrush to brush your teeth after using it for sexual pleasure. Genital fluids can spread genital herpes virus (HSV-2), oral herpes virus (HSV-1), chlamydia, and syphilis to your mouth (CDC, 2021).

Genital fluids left on sex toys that are not thoroughly cleaned or shared can also pass STIs through body fluids, so it's not a stretch that your toothbrush could do the same (Rubin, 2019).

Bottom Line: Stick With a Vibrator

Masturbating with your electric toothbrush can be unsafe because it increases your risk of infections and can damage delicate vaginal tissue. That said, your toothbrush is best kept in the bathroom, not in the drawer of your nightstand.

If you're looking for a new sex toy, you may consider investing in a vibrator instead. Many vibrator models don't cost more than your average electric toothbrush and are designed to stimulate your vagina and clitoris safely.

When choosing a quality vibrator, look for models made from non-porous materials, such as silicone. These won't hold on to bacteria and are easy to clean with soap and water (Rubin, 2019).

If you use sex toys with a partner, covering the device with a condom or other barrier method can help reduce your risk of infections (Rubin, 2019). Plus, it's easier to clean.

If you are worried about transferring STIs through sex toys, you can try to get rid of harmful bacteria by disinfecting them with chemical solutions, ultraviolet light, or boiling water (Rubin, 2019). Just make sure you check which disinfecting method is most safe for your choice of sex toy.

Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial Vaginosis – CDC Basic Fact Sheet.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STD Risk and Oral Sex – CDC Fact Sheet.
  3. Frazelle MR, Munro CL. Toothbrush Contamination: A Review of the Literature. Nursing Research and Practice. 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/420630
  4. Kairys N, Garg M. Bacterial Vaginosis. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; July 4, 2022.
  5. Rubin ES, Deshpande NA, Vasquez PJ, Kellogg Spadt S. A Clinical Reference Guide on Sexual Devices for Obstetrician-Gynecologists [published correction appears in Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Aug;134(2):425]. Obstet Gynecol. 2019;133(6):1259-1268. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003262
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