ISO 3533 – The New International Standard for Sex Toy Design and Safety

Two hands covered in latex gloves on a yellow background

For years, bloggers and influencers have written about the hazards of unsafe materials in sex toys. People like Lilly at have gone through extensive efforts to test, document, and prove the dangers of sex toys made from PVC, jellies, vinyl, and other creatively labelled materials. Products containing these materials are well documented to cause serious health consequences but, due to a lack of regulation, are still sold at most of the leading retailers.  

Several smaller retailers, like HappyBed, emerged in this education campaign giving consumers a focused shopping experience with a selection of body-safe only toys to provide a place to buy sex toys with confidence. Unfortunately, despite the widespread education campaigns most consumers are still unaware and internet forums like Reddit are flooded with requests from individuals seeking advice about products that shouldn’t even be sold. Educating consumers without supporting regulations is a big challenge. 

ISO 3533

All of that is about to change.  ISO 3533 is a newly published international standard titled “Sex toys — Design and safety requirements for products in direct contact with genitalia, the anus, or both”. It was published in September of 2021 with the support of large sex toy manufacturers, including We-Vibe.

ISO (the International Organization for Standards) is a nongovernmental organization that develops standards for a wide range of industries to ensure the quality, safety, and efficiency of products and services. Because they are not a government entity, there are no laws enforcing their standards or requirements that anyone follows them. However, it is a well-respected entity with a longstanding record for changing industries and educating consumers. Their standards are also often the basis by which government supported regulations are later formed.

What is in ISO 3533?

The newly drafted standard is scoped to cover “manufactured products that are intended to come in direct content with genitals and/or the anus”. Excluded from this standard are medical devices as well as cosmetics and lubricants.

The document goes into detail to describe information on product design, material standards, even labelling and packing information for consumers. Much of the information is copyrighted and I am awaiting approval on the level of detail I can publish from my purchased copy. But, what I see in the document is very thorough and entirely consistent with the recommendations HappyBed and others have provided on these subjects. I can say there are simple guidelines on product designs like avoiding sharp edges on insertable products and measurement details for flared bases of anal toys. There is also very detailed information on material use and labelling. I will update this article in the next few days with more details and quotes from the standard where I am allowed to.

What Happens Next?

ISO standards need to be voluntarily adopted. It’s a good sign that ISO 3533 already has support and sponsorship from We-Vibe but others need to follow suit. The only way that happens is with pressure from consumers and with education by those with influence. If you have a manufacturer you have purchased from in the past, please contact them and ask about their intentions to comply with and support ISO 3533. If you are purchasing something new in the near future, ask your retailer or the product manufacturer directly which products comply. The good news is that soon you will see the label “ISO 3533” directly on product packaging. 

Beyond that, look for government agencies to adopt that standard. This industry has long since been avoided by politicians and bureaucrats, but established standards and consumer sentiment can quickly change that.