When we googled the word “vagina”, we found more than 1000 euphemisms. Beaver, clam, ladygarden, cock-sock (really?) and muff are a few. Being the forward females that we are, we quite like pussy and the dreaded c-word too, but we realise those words aren’t for everyone so we’ll stick with vagina.
Keeping your vagina happy & healthy is essential – an itchy muffkin is no joking matter. Any woman who has ever had thrush knows what we’re talking about: thrush is a yeast infection, causing itching and soreness around the vaginal opening, alongside the dreaded cottage cheese-like discharge. It’s easily treatable, but it’s an absolute bugger if you are unfortunate enough to experience a bout.
A healthy vagina will produce around 700ml of mucus each month. The mucus will change throughout your cycle, and this is perfectly normal. Your mucus will be transparent and stringy during ovulation, which is a useful hint if you are trying for a baby.
The vagina has a slight odour, but it’s not unpleasant. Diet, sexual arousal or ovulation can change the smell slightly, but it should still smell fresh. A strong-smelling vagina could indicate an infection and should be investigated.
The vagina produces healthy bacteria called lactobaccili. Good bacteria inside the vagina should flourish and outweigh any bad bacteria. For this reason, you should not douche the vagina, or wash with strongly scented soaps. It may seem as if you’re giving yourself a “deeper clean” but in actual fact, you’re upsetting the natural pH and you’re likelier to end up with a vaginal infection.
The vagina is self-cleansing, which means you needn’t scrub it out. Washing the labia folds with gentle soap and water is enough – the inside takes care of itself. The vagina is clever like that.
Every so often we meet women who say they have developed an vaginal infection for no apparent reason. When we ask for more details, we can often help pin point what has caused the bout of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).
Very hot baths, or bubble baths, are lovely to sink into, but they don’t do vaginas any favours. The hot water and scented bubbles will dry out the delicate vaginal membranes, and too many of these lovely baths will cause an imbalance in vaginal pH, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself with a sour-smelling, watery discharge that needs seeing to. Strong washing powers may also cause BV, as can douching (flushing out the vagina with water). Showers are more vagina-friendly, plus that shower head is always fun…
If you suspect you have BV or any other vaginal infection, it’s time to book an appointment with your GP.
Sexual Health Week takes place from 14th September until 20th September and during this week we’ll make your vagina (or penis) our focus. We want your juicy bits to stay healthy.
We all know that we should go for regular check-ups, and that we should use condoms if we’re lucky enough to pull a hottie on a night out. But how many of us actually adhere to this, 100%? There are definitely occasional slip-ups, right? Too busy, too drunk, don’t like getting our kit off in front of nurse in case she laughs at our oddly-shaped labia lips… There are many excuses and you may even have used one of them yourselves. And by doing so, you’re doing your vagina (or penis) a massive disservice.
Sexually Transmitted Infections, or STI’s for short, can happen to anyone who is sexually active.
It doesn’t mean that you’re playing fast and lose, and it doesn’t mean that you’re in some way “dirty”. It’s a risk we all take if and when we aren’t practising safer sex.
Safer sex means using condoms, dental dams and latex gloves during all sexual encounters where a partner’s STI status is unknown – this is by far the best way of avoiding unpleasant itching or frothy discharges in delicate areas.
Sexually transmitted infections are passed from one person to another through genital and/or sexual contact.
The good news is that most infections can be cleared up quickly.
The bad news is that many aren’t aware of carrying an infection, as they show no symptoms.
Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK, and worryingly, most people don’t experience any symptoms. This means you may be infected for a very long time, and could unknowingly be passing it on to partners.
Women may experience a burning sensation when peeing, vaginal discharge and bleeding in between periods. For men, symptoms may show as burning when peeing, a cloudy discharge or pain in the testicles.
Untreated Chlamydia can lead to infertility, so it is important to get checked out regularly.
Genital Warts are small, fleshy growths around your genital area, including the anus. They are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus and the second most common STI in the UK. The warts are usually painless, but you may notice some redness or itching.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial STI easily passed on during sex. About 50% of women don’t experience any symptoms at all. For those who do experience symptoms, pain when peeing or a watery discharge is common. Other symptoms can be pain in the lower abdomen after sex, or bleeding in between periods.
Thricomoniasis is caused by a teeny-tiny parasite, and is passed on easily. Most people don’t know they’re infected.
Thric can cause a frothy, yellowish discharge in women, and men may experience burning after peeing or an inflamed foreskin. Thric can be difficult to diagnose, and your GP may advise you to go to specialist clinic for a swab test.
Pubic Lice crawl from hair to hair (but don’t jump from person to person) so up close contact is how they are passed on. They can live in all body hair, and it may take weeks before you realise you are infected.
HIV is most commonly passed on through unprotected sex, but can also be transmitted via infected blood. There are no cures for HIV, but there are treatments that allow the infected person to live a long and otherwise healthy life.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, we recommend you book yourself an appointment at your local GUM Clinic for further investigation. There is no shame in having an infection – but it is important it gets cleared up…
Today we’re going to share some important information on how to keep up the safer sex stuff when using sex toys. Keeping your toys clean is just as important as keeping your bits happy & healthy. No one would deliberately set out to catch an STI and attitude should be the same when it comes to toys.
You may have heard of phthalates? Phthalates are chemicals that are often mixed into cheaper materials in order to make them softer and more transparent. Whilst studies into the damaging effects of phthalates are limited, we do know that there is some evidence linking phthalates to interference with sperm production, for example.
Other safe materials are glass and stainless steel, but as these toys are super-firm and unyielding, they are not to everyone’s taste. Silicone is soft, strokeable and bendable, thus ensuring a very comfortable ride.
A word about silicone sex toys & lube…
We recently came across an article that had us furrowing our brows with disapproval. This article stated that silicone lube could and should be used when playing with silicone toys. If there had been an social media-style “dislike” button, we’d have hit it.
Silicone-based lube is great for a number of things, like when you want long a session in the bath or if skin-on-skin anal play is on the menu… But it’s not great for use with sex toys made out of silicone.
We argued this point with a well-known supplier of (very good) silicone-based lube a few years ago. They shipped us vats of the stuff and we dunked silicone toys into it, before leaving the lube to do it’s thing.
The silicone lube damaged the surface of the toys, shapes were distorted and dildos ended up resembling a colourful collection of Loch Ness Monsters. The supplier had to agree: it’s advisable to use water-based lube when playing with silicone toys.
Sharing Sex Toys Safely
You can absolutely share your favourite sex toy with one or several partners – as long as you either wash it, or cover it with a new condom between each partner.
Our trick is to cover the vibrator or dildo in several condoms, and then you can just whip ’em off one by one as your games progress. Easy!
Going From Back to Front
Make sure toys are washed thoroughly, or covered with a clean condom, before being dipped into a new orifice. This is especially important if you are planning on going from back to front, as you may otherwise end up with an unpleasant vaginal infection.
By “safe” we mean that the toy must have a handle or flared base.
The anal muscle is strong and if something gets sucked in, your only option is to head to nearest A&E…
Best avoided for so many reasons!
Cleaning Your Sex Toys
Using a sex toy cleaner is the easiest way to keep all your favourite toys squeaky clean. Simply spritz, wipe down, rinse under warm water and leave to air dry.
Another good way to clean your sex toys is to use anti-bacterial hand wash and hot water.
Our own-brand silicone dildos can be boiled in a pan of water for up to 5 minutes, or put through the top rack of a dishwasher. Again, there are sex toy companies out there who will tell you that the dildos will melt, but this isn’t true. At Sh! Towers, we regularly sterilize demo dildos by putting them through a hot cycle. (Just make sure to remove the small bullet vibe if you have a vibrating dildo).
Sexual Health Week is upon us, and as always, we’ll be doing our bit by separating facts from fiction. We’ll share information on how to choose sex toys wisely, how to keep your bits & bobs bacteria-free, and we’ll also squeeze in a shortie about sexually transmitted infections. Highlighting sexual health is important for so many reasons.
Did you know that sharing toys with a lover could mean ending up with an infection? Or that forgetting to wash your favourite vibrator could have dire effects on your vagina? It’s true.
Today we are focusing on how to use sex toys safely. It might sound self-explanatory, but ask any A&E nurse and you’ll find they have a long list of things gone wrong during play time.
We’ve all heard about the light bulb that disappeared up someone’s bum, or the vibrator that was sucked up…still vibrating. Most recently, a story about a toy dinosaur being removed from a lady’s cave made the rounds on social media.
These stories may elicit a giggle from most of us, but we guarantee the person who ended up in A&E didn’t think it much fun. Such trauma is enough to put anyone off toys for life!
First rule of safe sex toy play:
Use toys that have been designed for what you have in mind. Light bulbs may look enticing, but you’ll regret it. Likewise wine bottles (ouch!), coca cola cans (really?) or fish (borderline bestiality).
We have heard the most horrendous stories of things gone awol inside a person and we can’t stress this enough; it’s a lot less embarrassing to go to a sex shop to purchase a sexy toy than it is to go to A&E with a spatula up yer bum…
Use Anal Toys Safely
We’re going to start off with anal toys as this seems to be the most popular orifice for inserting a wide range of unsuitable things.
Anal play is a whole lot of fun – as long as you play safely. The anal muscle is stronger than you think, so ensure any toy used for anal teasing or insertion has a flared base or handle.
Our range of handmade silicone butt plugs are perfect for safe anal play. The plugs have all got wide bases, meaning there is no chance of them getting sucked into the rectum. Start off with small-size butt toys, and add a generous squirt of a thick anal lubricant for comfy, pain-free play. The anus isn’t self-lubricating so added lubrication to keep all moves sensual, smooth and pain-free is essential.
Some vibrators, like Sh! Easy Egg bullet vibrator, are designed for external use only. Play with the softly textured egg on your nipples, labia and clit, but avoid slipping it inside. The main reason for this is removal: you’ll have to pull on the cord to remove the egg and over time, this will weaken the connection. This will not only shorten the life of the vibe, but also put you at risk for internal scratches and difficult removal.
Tip: if you do want to play with a bullet style vibe vaginally, we recommend slipping it into a condom first. You can then pull on the condom for easy removal without damaging the cord – or more importantly – your delicate parts!
If you want a toy that can be used for safe insertion, we have a stunning selection of G-spot vibrators and Rabbit-style vibrators to choose from. These toys have been designed for internal play.
Waterproof Sex Toys
Some vibrators are 100% waterproof, some are shower-proof and others not safe for use in the water at all. If you like to splash around in the hot-tub full of bubbles (who doesn’t?), make sure your vibrator is waterproof. Always check the instructions before submerging.
Safety with Rechargeable Toys
Rechargeable sex toys are fabulous, but you need to pay attention when plugging them in for a boost. Use only the correct charger, and make sure to unplug when done.
Also pay attention to voltage – make sure your toy is compatible with national voltage. Espesh important when going abroad!
Batteries – power up your toys safely
Using the right kind of batteries for your toy is imperative. Protect and prolong the life of a cheaper-style vibe with low-power batteries like Panasonic. Or even better, stock up on Sexy Batteries, which are designed specifically for sex toys. Extra power but kinder on motors!
Don’t mix new and old batteries, and always remove batteries before storing your toy.
We know of one woman who chose to go against advice when it came to storage, preferring to carry her favourite vibe in her handbag at all times. She eventually ended up with an overheated vibrator and the batteries caught fire – on public transport!
Safe Sex Toy Materials
Whilst we don’t sell the, lots of sex toys are made from Jelly, which to a greater or lesser degree has been softened with Phthalates – a type of chemical which has raised heath concerns.
There has not been much research on Phthalates in sex toys but our advice choose body-friendly materials for your play things. Above all other materials, we recommend silicone.
Silicone is hypo-allergenic, non-porous and phthalate-free. It’s super easy to keep clean and you can even sterilize non-vibrating silicone toys for sharing and ultimate safety.
Vibrators made from Elastomer TPR/TPE are a great alternative to Jelly as they are Phthalate-free, but they are likely to be porous, so better to not share these toys or cover them with a condom if you do…
Other super-safe materials are solid glass and stainlesss steel, but these hard and inflexible toys are more of an acquired taste.
Cleaning Your Sex Toys
Yes, you do need to wash your sex toy. Regularly. Not cleaning your toys will ensure that bacteria grows, causing all sorts of itchiness in delicate areas.
Use a special sex toy cleaner, or wash with antibacterial hand wash and hot water.
Leave them to air dry ( drying them with a towel or tissue could leave tiny particles which you probably don’t want transferred to your muff) and store them in a clean, dark place, away from other toys ( direct heat, sunlight or proximity to other sex toy materials can cause strange melting/fusing to sex toy surfaces)
We don’t recommend storing any sex toys, including those made of leather, such as strap ons or bondage gear, in a sealed plastic bag, as this doesn’t protect them but actually creates a culture-growing environment. A cardboard storage box or fabric bag is better – let your sex toys breathe!
We always advocate for the use of lube, but it’s equally important to choose the right lube for both you and your toy.
Silicone-based lubes are great for when you need long-lasting glide, but the downside to these lubricants is that they’ll damage the surface of silicone toys. Silicone-based lubes are best left for skin-on-skin play.
Playing Safely with Temperature on Sex Toys
Putting toys in the microwave to “warm them up” before inserting isn’t a good idea. Neither is putting them in the freezer and then directly on to the delicate skin of your down-belows.
If you like to play with temperatures, there are much safer ways: warm toys by rubbing back and forth in your hands, run under warm water or cool by leaving in the fridge for an hour or two. Or, go super-safe by warming or cooling the lube instead of the toy…