The first ever global standard for design and safety requirements of sex toys is published

The Swedish Institute for Standards (SIS) has together with several stakeholders developed the first ever global standard for design and safety requirements of sex toys, which is now published and available worldwide. 

Sex toys are produced, sold, and used all over the world. It is a billion-dollar industry but until now there has been no international standard specific for this type of products. Without the guidance of a clear standards with requirements specific for these products it is difficult for manufacturers, retailer, and consumers to know when a product is safe and when it goes wrong it creates difficult cases for the health care to handle.

The initial idea to create an international standard for sex toys came from a surgeon in Sweden who in a study showed that there is an increase in incidents of sex toys used in ways that create problems needing medical attention. Sex toys are in touch with physically sensitive parts of the body and are also a type of product that is very sensitive for users to report problems with. This means that the actual number of incidents is probably much higher than the number of reported incidents.

The new standard ISO 3533 Sex toys – Design and safety requirements for products in direct contact with genitalia, the anus, or both aims to contribute to a decrease in these incidents by globally agreeing on design considerations, user information requirements, and material safety standards for sex toys. The standard is limited to products intended to be in direct contact with genitalia, the anus, or both.

After almost two years work the first ISO-standard specific to sex toys is now finished. It has been an efficient collaborative work with 75 registered experts from 19 countries, representing different perspectives including manufactures, retailers, distributors, consumer representatives, and medical professionals. Standardization is driven by the industries themselves and standards are always voluntary. This means the industry itself can take the lead by agreeing on standards for their specific industry, which will benefit the development of the industry itself as they can focus on innovation and users who can be sure to get safe products. The work was managed by SIS and the We-Vibe & Lovehoney Group funded the secretariate. During the standard development process a public consultation was arranged giving stakeholders outside the ISO-group ISO/PC 325 the possibility to provide input which has then been integrated into the finished document.

Prior to this standard being published manufacturers and retailers of sex toys could only use self-developed standards or use requirements from other standards with similar material and design perspectives. We now hope that manufacturers and other interested parties adopt this standard, making it a useful tool for quality and safety all around the world.

It is not possible to stop people from using whatever object they want in search for sexual pleasure, and a standard will not stop injuries caused by sexual creativity. But at least we now have a global agreement outlining requirements on what shall be considered when designing, producing, and selling sex toys. Hopefully this can prevent unnecessary problems for users and provide manufacturers and retailers with a tool to compete in a competitive global market.