Sexual Enrichment Aids: A Mixed Methods Study Evaluating Use, Hygiene, and Risk Perception among Women

J Sex Res. 2022 Nov-Dec;59(9):1153-1162. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2021.2015568. Epub 2021 Dec 17.


Sexual Enrichment Aids (SEAs), or "sex toys" like dildos or vibrators, are used to enrich sexual experiences, either alone or with sexual partners. Although SEA use has become increasingly prevalent in recent decades, there remain significant gaps in knowledge regarding sexual behaviors and hygiene surrounding their use. In this study, we use mixed methods approaches (cross-sectional survey of n = 800 women and qualitative semi-structured interviews of n = 24 women) to better understand sexual behavior, potential risks, and hygiene practices of women who self-identify as having sex with men, with women, or with women and men when using SEAs. We identified SEA use is common, with 79.9% of women using an SEA. Among these women, 31.8% of women indicated that they share SEAs with sexual partners. Further, condom use is rare while sharing SEAs, with only 14% of women utilizing condoms regularly. The majority (81.8%) of women wash their SEAs, primarily with soap and water. Yet, there is no consensus among women interviewed regarding the perceived risk associated with SEA use. Together, our findings support the need for increased evidence-based education for women to increase safety and hygiene of SEA use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Condoms
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Partners