For external use only - what does this mean, precisely?

I was listening to Dan Savage’s podcast - a caller was asking about sex toys that have “for external use only” stamped on them, even though they are clearly meant to be inserted into an orifice. Dan had a guest on that said the label was probably a lazy way for sex toy companies to cover their asses in case you inserted it into your butt and then it exploded or something.

I had always assumed that “external use” simply meant “don’t try to eat this.” I found this on the FDA website: ““For external use only” [in bold type] for topical drug products not intended for ingestion” - but that seems to apply only to drugs.

I am curious. Can anyone help me find a cite for this?

I would assume “External Use” also means “Don’t get it in your eyes”.

Well, it’d be pretty impressive if you could get a dildo in your eye.

I saw what you did there.

I know nothing about sexual toys…

But as for medicine, “External Use Only” Means it needs to be on the outer skin… No eyes, ears, nose, mouth, broken skin, or genitals.

As for the OP, I think the sexual toy message was more a CYA then anything else.

Was it stamped on one of those toys that pretend to be “personal massagers” and have pictures of people using them on their neck and shoulders? The warning might be another way for them to insist on their innocence.

No, these were stamped on straight up sex toys.

Mucous membranes are more sensitive to chemical exposure. Plastic and rubber thingumajigs of every kind all contain plastizisers or other chemicals that will (or at least can) contaminate what they touch. So either there exists laws regulating the acceptable levels of such contaminants for instruments used on the skin vs. mucous membranes, or it’s a CYA in case someone sues them because they believe their toy gave them asscancer.

ETA: I believe there’s a lot of talk about soft rubber toys not being recommended due to the very high ftalate content. Unlike toys for children, toys for adults appear not to be regulated. Whether the exposure actually is harmful is a different question, but it points to the CYA being the reason and offers a motivation for the producers to be concerned.

It’s not the opposite of “indoor use only”?

Was the sex toy a vibrator? Something like this (mostly SFW) is supposedly for stimulating the clitoris and nipples. It might not be designed to be inserted inside a vagina or anus.

I heard this podcast, too. Lots of the toys explicitly mention prostate stimulation or G-spot stimulation or whatever on the front of the package. They’re clearly meant for insertion. They may also say phthalate-free on the front of the package, but on the back in small print they say “for external use only.” So if it’s not about the materials used to make the toy, and the toy’s packaging says on the front that you’ll be inserting it… what’s up?

Probably just legal boiler plate then.

I was at work and we had a bottle that had a label full of various warnings in fine print and one was “avoid skin contact”.

The content of the bottle was fingerprinting ink.

Technically, the lumen of the vagina or anus are still “external”. The boundary between internal and external is the skin, so if you haven’t drawn blood, you’re still “external”. That’s from a topological perspective, in which the human body is essentially identical to a donut. Legal, ethical, and other perspectives may differ.

Do not eat.

I’m not sure about that. The connection between your nostrils and various ducts nearby make a few more topological holes (I think) :dubious:

This was discussed in a thread back in May.

[/topology hijack]

it means you should tie a string on it in case it gets away (more correctly ‘into’) you.