Sex is the most natural thing in the world -- but what about all those less-than-natural products you're using to have it?
Though it may seem quite minor, the condoms and sex toys being used and thrown out add to landfills, and many of the lubricants and products that we're using inside our bodies contain chemicals that, frankly, could hurt us down the road.
"The sex toy industry isn't regulated -- everything is sold as a 'novelty' product," explains Kim Sedgwick, co-owner of Toronto-based eco-friendly sexual and reproductive health shop Red Tent Sisters.
She notes that because of that, most sex toys are often made with phthalates, a class of plastics that has been banned from other products, thanks to its links to health concerns, including reproductive issues and cancer. It also means the toy is more porous, making it difficult to clean properly.
Sedgwick recommends sex toys made from silicone, a non-porous material that doesn't break down as easily, so that it's not necessary to throw them out after only a few months of use. Rechargeable batteries are also a greener option, and many companies have moved towards that model as of late.
SEE: Products that can make your sex life a bit more eco-friendly -- and possibly more fun too. Story continues below:
A favourite of Kim Sedgwick, who owns eco-friendly shop Red Tent Sisters, Blossom Organics is a water-based lubricant with the principle ingredient of aloe. The healing properties of aloe are particularly great for women who have sensitivity, and the organic ingredients mean no chemicals for the body.
A green approach to birth control doesn't include hormones, which covers every pill available. For the alternative, Sedwick's sister, Amy, is an educator in the Justisse Method for fertility, a practice that involves charting a woman's cycle using temperature and cervical mucous. Its rate of effectiveness has been
The silicone toys made by Fun Factory, a German company that manufactures its toys in adherence to the country's rigorous standards, are preferred by eco-sex lovers. Because silicone is non-porous, it makes them far easier to clean, and less likely to break down and discarded.
Hathor Aprhodisia lubricants are made by a company that originally specialized in skincare that was opposed to chemicals in the products going into our bodies. Using essential oils with a water-based formula, Hathor products are glycerin-free, which is especially important for women prone to yeast infections.
Lelo's toys for men and women are beloved for their sleek designs as much as their ability to recharge, meaning no batteries to use and throw out. They're also made of silicone for non-porous safety and come with a one-year warranty, just in case anything about the products are subpar.
We've all heard a lot about the benefits of Kegel exercises, but it can be difficult to figure out exactly how to do them. The Magic Banana is a tool that helps strengthen these muscles, stimulate the G-spot, and apparently, can even help with lower back pain. It was created in Canada, is manufactured in England and is composed of body-safe, durable, non-toxic materials.
Another option is Sliquid, a water-based lubricant that comes in a variety of options (tingling, flavoured and more) with silicone or water/silicone ingredients. It's touted as vegan friendly, as well as safe for use with condoms.
A sex toy -- a vibrator, specifically -- meant for couples, the We-Vibe 2 has a medical-grade silicone casing for durability, carbon-neutral manufacturing process and is rechargeable, with a one-year warranty.
While latex condoms help couples practice birth control and safe sex, they also have a serious environmental impact, as they don't biodegrade for a long time, if ever. There are only a few condom companies that manufacture eco-friendly options -- and none currently distributing in Canada. One option that can be ordered for delivery is Glyde, a U.K.-based condom company with products that are approved the Vegan Society for the complete lack of animal content in their products.
Another eco-friendly option for delivery is Sir Richard's Condom Company, a vegan-certified company that manufactures condoms made from latex, albeit with natural options without any extra ingredients -- and with a lubricant that contains no parabens, spermicide or glycerin. The company also donates a condom to a developing country for every one purchased, helping out the overpopulation and social of the eco-friendly question.
Lubricants, meanwhile, can contain a couple of potentially harmful ingredients, including parabens and glycerine. Parabens are used as preservatives in many cosmetics and products, and alarms have been raised over the past few years about their ability to mimic estrogen and consequent relation to diseases like breast cancer. While both Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have found reports inconclusive, large companies like Jamieson have gotten on board with paraben-free products -- exactly what you should be looking for in a personal lubricant, says Sedgwick. Glycerine can cause issues for women prone to yeast infections, as it's a form of sugar and can increase the bacteria.
Birth control is a bit trickier -- with overpopulation probably the planet's biggest issue, not getting pregnant could be the greenest behaviour possible. But contraception isn't particularly environmentally friendly: Though there are many options for the Pill, each is a form of hormone therapy, a decidedly unnatural option. There are vegan and biodegradable condoms available, but it takes a bit of research to find, and they often must be shipped.
One option, the intrauterine device (IUD), is advocated by environmentalists like Adria Vasil, who calls it "the greenest form of birth control next to abstinence." It is, however, somewhat invasive, and doesn't work as an option for everyone.
Sedgwick's suggestion is the Justisse Method, which is taught by her sister and co-owner Amy. It involves charting the menstrual cycle using temperature, cervical mucus and various other physical indicators for fertility, and having sex based on that. Rates of efficacy are as high as 99 per cent, but it requires some serious attention to detail -- though it's free and doesn't use any products, if it's not followed consistently, it could result in an unwanted pregnancy.
No matter which toy, lubricant or birth control you choose, Sedgwick stresses the importance of going into a store and trying it out in person, at least the first time. While the embarrassment factor may be higher than simply ordering online, people can have adverse reactions to ingredients and textures, and speaking with someone who knows everything that's out there can make a world of difference.