a penis pump, three dildos, two anal beads, and one butt plug displayed on a gray tableShare on Pinterest
Axel Bueckert/EyeEm/Getty Images

Sex toy injuries are as rare as a messy Virgo. Meaning: very!

Still, sex toy injuries can happen.

“The fact that sex toy injuries can happen isn’t a reason not to use sex toys,” says Cassandra Corrado, a trauma-informed sex educator. “But it is a reason to be an informed consumer and pleasure seeker.”

That’s exactly why we put together this guide.

Read on to learn common causes for sex toy injuries and how to avoid them. Plus, what to do if you get one.

If something is going into the butt, it needs to be designed specifically to go into the butt.

Although the vagina has an end zone (the cervix), the anal canal does not, explains Lisa Finn, sex educator at the sex toy emporium Babeland.

The anal canal keeps on going to the rectum, colon, and then all the way up to the digestive system, she says.

The toy needs a flared base to keep it from traveling higher up into the body than the butt.

That said, Finn notes that, in many cases, what’s stuck isn’t a sex toy at all: It’s typically a household item that isn’t meant for anal use.

Think: shampoo bottles, hairbrushes, and bananas.

This includes:

  • a stuck cock ring
  • allergic reactions to the ingredients in barriers, lubricants, arousal oils, or massage candles
  • bruises, rope burns, or slashes from impact or bondage toys
  • nicks and cuts from pinpointed stimulation toys
  • temporary numbness as a result of overstimulation
  • burst blood vessels due to overpumping with clit, vulva, nipple, or penis vaccuums

However, these are all VERY rare. To reiterate: Most reported sex-related injuries don’t involve sex toys at all.

They typically involve foreign objects being used in place of sex toys disappearing in the body or getting stuck in or on certain body parts.

Your plan of action will depend on where you’re experiencing discomfort, the quality of that discomfort, and the root cause.

If something is stuck in your butt

Don’t mess around when it comes to your butt. If something is in your butt and you can’t easily get it out, go (!) to (!) the (!) doctor (!).

“You really shouldn’t wait to get an object out of the butt, because it can travel and cause internal damage,” Finn explains.

If something is ‘stuck’ in the vagina

Thanks to the cervix, the vagina has a stopping point. So something might feel stuck, but it isn’t actually stuck.

If you or your boo thinks you can remove the object, lube up the area to reduce any friction and have at it!

And if for some reason you can’t get it out, head to the emergency room ASAP.

If you’re experiencing internal discomfort

Seek immediate medical attention anytime you experience intense internal pain, burning, or other discomfort, says Dr. Michael Ingber, a board certified urologist and female pelvic medicine specialist with The Center for Specialized Women’s Health in New Jersey.

If you’re experiencing external bleeding or pain

The skin on the penis and vulva is very delicate, so “blunt-tipped sex toys can injure those tissues if people aren’t careful,” Ingber says.

He adds that vulva owners may be more susceptible to this kind of injury.

That’s because vulvar tissue can become even more delicate when using hormonal birth control or during hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause.

The penis and vulva are also highly innervated, meaning they have a lot of nerve endings, says Ingber. So even minor scratches or pricks can cause noticeable discomfort.

In these cases, he recommends giving it a few hours to see if your discomfort subsides.

If the pain persists or is higher than a 6 out of 10 on the pain scale, it’s time to see a doctor.

Also see a doctor if you experience:

  • irregular anal or genital discharge
  • a drastic change in scent or taste
  • pain during bowel movements or urination

If you have an injury that’s uncomfy but not necessarily hospital-worthy, how you ease the discomfort will depend where and what the injury is.

“If you have an external vulvar or anal injury, you might sit in a sitz bath,” Corrado says. Another option is to hold a frozen washcloth to your bits.

“If the injury is a cut, there’s going to be a higher risk of infection,” she says. “You want to be sure to keep the area clean.”

Corrado also recommends going commando if possible.

Any injury to any erogenous zone can be scary. So, as the partner of someone with an injury, your job is to be as comforting, supportive, and sensitive as possible.

That means:

  • fishing for the toy inside the vagina, if asked
  • driving or accompanying them to the doctor or emergency care, if asked
  • offering to pay for or split the cost of the doctor visit
  • investigating whether there’s anything you could have done to reduce the chances of this happening, like used more lube, gone more slowly, or checked in more frequently

Corrado also recommends reporting the incident to the customer service line of the sex toy manufacturer (with your partner’s consent, of course).

“You might be able to get money back, and if enough people report a similar issue, the company can even recall the product and redesign it,” she says.

Remember: Sex toy injures aren’t common!

And most injuries from sex “toys” aren’t from the items you can pick up at your local sex shop.

They’re usually the result of household items being used as “sex toys” for the sake of sexperimentation.

“So long as you’re using a body-safe sex toy for its intended purposes and generally know your body’s signs of discomfort, there’s really nothing to worry about,” Finn says.

Feeling nervous? Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be fine.

Learn your body first

“Injuries are more likely to occur in folks who don’t know their body and push themselves too far,” Finn says.

So, if it’s accessible to you, Finn recommends exploring your body with your hand(s) before introducing a pleasure product to your play.

Only use toys made of body-safe materials

Please don’t turn your household objects into erotic aids! Instead, use sex toys made of body-safe materials.

“What materials count as ‘body safe’ depends on whether the toy is being used externally or internally,” Finn says.

But as a general rule, these materials are safest:

  • medical-grade silicone
  • stainless steel
  • borosilicate glass, like Pyrex
  • ABS plastic

Read the instructions and call your local sex shop if you have Q’s

Most pleasure products — especially luxury pleasure products — come with incredibly detailed instructions. Read them!

If not, call up the shop you got it from for tips, or check out the manufacturer’s website.

Only use a toy for its intended use

Can you use a sex toy marketed as a G-spot vibrator on your clit? Or a prostate stimulator on the head of your cock? Of course.

Exploring new ways to use your toys can be great… so long as it doesn’t involve putting things into your butt that aren’t designed to go into your butt. (Sensing a common theme?)

Avoid toys specifically designed to facilitate pain

Floggers, Wartenberg wheels, eletrostimulators, and canes, just to name a few, are all designed to allow you to experiment with pain in an erotic setting.

If you’re not interested in exploring pain, avoid toys designed to facilitate just that. (We know, we know, Captain Obvious alert.)

No doubt, a sex toy-induced injury sucks. But it shouldn’t be a reason to swear off that particular sex toy, let alone ALL sex toys.

“If you’ve used the sex toy before and have received pleasure from it in the past, you don’t need to rule out the toy,” Corrado says.

You do, however, want to figure out what was different this time compared to previous times.

Did you use less lube than usual, or use it under your panties when you typically use it over? If so, next time stick to the go-to method.

“If you want to be super-duper cautious, don’t use that specific pleasure product again,” Corrado says. “But you absolutely do not need to rule out pleasure products altogether.”

Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.