Can Sex Toys & Kissing Give You HPV?

The latest in HPV: Good news for folks who kiss someone with oral HPV, not so much for those who share sex toys.

We’ve said it before: human papillomavirus (HPV) is incredibly common. But scientists are still working out some of the details when it comes to how the virus is transmitted and how it can affect people who get it. What we do know is that HPV is sexually transmitted and that most people’s bodies clear an infection on their own. We’ve also known for a long time that a couple types of the virus (out of more than 40 different strains) can cause cervical cancer.

Good news for people who love kissing (a.k.a. all of us)
More recently we’ve learned that HPV in the mouth can cause mouth and throat cancers. Men are more likely than women to get mouth or throat cancer, though even for men these cancers are rare. Researchers wondered whether folks whose partners had HPV-related mouth or throat cancer would be more likely to have oral HPV infections or cancers too. A new study on the subject found some good news: it showed that partners of people with HPV-related mouth or throat cancer were no more likely than people in the general public to test positive for HPV in the mouth and no more likely to have cancer of the mouth or throat. The findings suggest that kissing someone with an oral HPV infection doesn’t increase your chances of developing mouth or throat cancer down the line.

Sex toys: A new frontier in HPV research
Researchers are just beginning to learn how HPV interacts with sex toys. One very small study showed that about half of vibrators still had detectable levels of the virus on them after being cleaned. The study tested vibrators made of thermoplastic elastomer and silicone. About 20% of the thermoplastic elastomer vibrators still had detectable HPV after 24 hours, but none of the silicone ones did.

Researchers have their work cut out for them: we need to learn much more about HPV and sex toys before being able to recommend best practices for safely sharing and cleaning them. That said, you don’t need to wait for more research to decide to keep your toys all to yourself, or to use condoms (one for each partner) if you share them.

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Lone W.
Lone W.1 years ago

I hope they get the final answers soon.

JL A.1 years ago

people should know

Vicky P.
Vicky P.1 years ago


Carol P.
Carol P.1 years ago


Manuela C.
Manuela C.1 years ago

Bottom line, don't share sex toys!

Natasha Salgado
natasha salgado1 years ago


Nimue P.

Noted, thanks.

Sue H.
Sue H.1 years ago

Thanks for sharing this information.

Michele B.
Michele B.1 years ago

Though my son is only 11, I am a realist and know that someday he will no longer be my baby and my little boy. So I took him in last week for his first of three doses of the HPV shot. I realize Mother Nature will soon take over my lead and I want him to be protected and safe. The one problem I have with these 3 shots is the cost...almost $900!!! Luckily our insurance will cover these, but the people out there that do not have insurance or whose insurance do not cover these...the cost is riduculous!! They want to try and get the rate of HPVs down, why not make the vaccine more affordable for goodness sakes??!! They say that the optimal ages for the kids to get these shots is between 11-13. But they also don't really do a lot to advertise this either...I just happen to work in a medical setting, so I happen to know this. They need to hit this a lot harder with some advertising and getting the word out there so that the people that do indeed have the luck of having the insurance can take advantage of it and get their kids vaccinated and try and get HPV's under control for our kid's generation!! If it can be prevented...why would you not give your kids the best possible coverage?!!

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants1 years ago

good point, Anne