The big second-hand sex toy debate: Is it uncouth to buy a used dildo?

In a world where sustainability and conscious consumerism are gaining increasing attention, it is no surprise that the concept of second-hand goods has now extended its reach into even the most intimate corners of our lives. 

Cue the intriguing realm of second-hand sex toys – a niche market that has quietly emerged, challenging societal norms and sparking passionate conversations around pleasure practices, hygiene, and the ethics involved.

While the idea of purchasing a used sex toy may initially elicit mixed emotions, it is a topic that warrants deeper consideration. With the global adult toy market projected to exceed $50 billion by 2026, the demand for these pleasure products is soaring.

The allure of pre-owned toys has found its place among consumers looking for affordable and sustainable options without compromising quality or personal enjoyment.

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On paper, a pre-loved dong makes sense, sex toys often come with expensive price tags and deliver various outcomes and differ in functionality, not to mention are usually made from materials such as silicones, glass and leather, all of which impact the environment. 


With that in mind, Mamamia spoke to six women about their experiences and asked for their thoughts and feelings about buying and selling pre-used intimate toys.

Here's what they had to say:

“I was moving to a country that bans sex toys and I didn't want my expensive vibrator to end up in the bin. So I approached an open-minded friend and offered it to her. We both agreed it was an unconventional hand-me-down and had a good laugh about it, but she took it! Like, why not?”

“I knew a woman that become a sex worker and she decided to buy all my unwanted toys and said she would use them on her clients. I was going to get rid of them because I was moving interstate and wasn’t keen on bringing them. We traded, she was insistent and gave me $200.”

“I would be open 100 per cent be open to it! I mean if it’s been cleaned thoroughly, what’s the harm? I’m all about reusing and recycling!”

“I bought a sex toy from one of my good girlfriends, that she originally owned and used. She had tried it once and wasn’t a fan, so I thought, why wouldn’t I take it? She offered it to me for $50 (original price over $150) and I thought that was a bargain I couldn’t resist.”

"I used a sex toy that just didn't get me over the line (if you know what I mean), and so I gave the toy to a friend as a funny birthday gift. Now I give her toys that have been lightly used all the time after washing them thoroughly. I don't see the point in tucking them away in my drawer forever if there is someone else who would love and appreciate it! I've given so many away after using only once now, like the Lelo Sona 2, Baddie and CEO by Moments."


“Okay, so this is not technically a sex toy as such but I sold my ‘vagina stretcher’ on eBay. I bought it before having my baby, you're supposed to use it to get your cervix ready for birth and so many people recommended it. I used it a couple of times but felt stupid laying there trying to stretch my vagina, so I decided to sell it on eBay.”

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So what's the big deal then? It's clearly evident there is a market for the reselling of these kinds of products, so what's all the fuss about? 

Well, many raise serious concerns about hygiene which comes with sharing our toys. Proper cleaning and sterilisation are crucial to prevent the transmission of bacteria, viruses, and most importantly sexually transmitted diseases between users. 

Even with meticulous cleaning, some materials may not be fully sterilisable, increasing the risk of contamination, and raising the risk and spread of harmful diseases. Potential bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, or vaginal fluids, could potentially remain on the surface or within the crevices of second-hand toys, the basis of serious concerns around safety and regulations.


This brings us to our next point. The potential risk involved in spreading sexually transmitted diseases raises the ethical eyebrows of many, not to mention the array of other factors that come into play, such as consent to resell, the potential breach of privacy and consent to reselling a previous partner's sex toy could create space for harm. 

The previous use, ownership and lifespan of a second-hand sex toy is something buyers really should consider when purchasing pre-loved toys. As the second-hand dong market is largely self-regulated, it may be impossible to remove risk from the equation, opening a can of worms worth of reasons people may fail to provide authentic information. 

Although likely rare if you're selling ya old dong, it's important to highlight that many may feel uncomfortable sharing sensitive history details or could not have the correct information available. 

But whether you are a curious onlooker, a potential buyer, or simply seeking a fresh perspective on modern sexual norms, pre-owned pleasure products are a hot topic in the Mamamia world. And despite the apprehensions raised, people are committed to finding ways to better navigate the reselling of adult products, to ensure they are safe and ethical for all parties involved. 

Image: Getty/Mamamia.