Sex Advice

‘I’m a Gynecologist, and I’m Begging You Not To Masturbate With an Electric Toothbrush’

Mary Grace Garis

Photo: Getty Images/ferrantraite
Masturbation with a toothbrush is one of pop-culture's most bizarre tropes, usually attached to teenagers and the early throes of their sexual experimentation. Between Beanie Feldstein's Molly in Booksmart ("I got a horrible UTI. Like, horrible.") and Antonia Gentry's Ginny of Ginny and Georgia (hardly the wildest part of the show, TBH), to cite two recent examples, the convention clearly continues to endure. And based on a simple cost analysis, it makes sense why, too: Vibrators can come with a triple-digit price tag while simple electric toothbrushes can be $10 at CVS (if you don't already have one in your bathroom). But still, electric toothbrush masturbation is just not something that doctors advise or condone for health and safety reasons.

"Essentially, there are absolutely no good reasons for someone to insert an electric toothbrush in their vagina," says gynecologist Felice Gersh, MD, author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness. "Just because it can be done certainly doesn’t make it okay."

There are specific health-oriented explanations as to why getting off with an electric toothbrush can lead to vulva and vaginal trauma, too. "A toothbrush running in the vagina could damage the vaginal lining, even causing significant abrasions and ulcerations," says Dr. Gersh. "There’s even the remote possibility that the toothbrush could be damaged, exposing the inner workings of the device to the vagina."

"A toothbrush running in the vagina could damage the vaginal lining, even causing significant abrasions and ulcerations." —Felice Gersh, MD

While we're on the topic of mechanics, consider that gynecologist Alyssa Dweck, MD, previously told Well+Good that using an electric toothbrush as a penetrative sex toy opens you up to risk of exposure to battery-acid leakage, contamination with bacteria from the oral cavity, and breakage. "In contrast to battery-operated toys specifically meant for sexual play, toothbrushes aren’t sealed, watertight, or made of appropriate materials for insertion," Dr. Dweck said.

Okay, so that puts the kibosh on penetrative electric toothbrush masturbation, but what about other uses? For example, you may ask yourself into the void: "What if I only use the toothbrush for clitoral stimulation? What if I just buy an electric toothbrush, and use it solely as a sex toy, and only for external use?" Well. Dr. Gersh says that's probably also not a great idea. "The toothbrush base was not designed for such a purpose, and though it’s unlikely to create harm, it could damage delicate tissues," she says. "[Likewise], it actually is unlikely to achieve the goal of sexual gratification. The size, shape, and vibration it creates are not well suited for sexual use."

And if I may play the role of a slightly concerned but sex-positive big sister, there are definitely pleasure products on the market that have a similar design to an electric toothbrush, if you're into that. Zumio S ($115) uses rotational pleasure, but has a very familiar toothbrush silhouette. And I really love my Bess Clitoral Massager ($99), a regal vibrator that has changeable heads and a Cleopatra-esque aesthetic. Lord knows they're not as wallet-friendly as the Hello Kitty toothbrush that takes AA batteries, but... I mean, if you can swing it, it's very much time to upgrade.

If not, that's okay, too. There are plenty of household items that can double as a sex toy, and also a number of lower-cost vibrators available on the market to suit your pleasure needs without compromising your health.

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