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‘Fifty Shades’ phenomenon may have led to more sex-toy injuries

Keep it sexy—but keep it safe.


Dylan Love


Posted on Feb 11, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 1:48 pm CDT

More and more people are getting stuff stuck in their stuff.

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System tracks all the gory details about people who get injured by consumer electronics and need hospital treatment. Every category of device has a numerical code, and data show that 1610, the code for “massage devices or vibrators,” spiked in 2012 and 2013.

It certainly bears mentioning that the blockbuster BDSM novel by E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, was released in 2011.

A whopping 83% of these injuries required “foreign body removal,” which is to say, the removal of an object that shouldn’t be in the human body. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tracks these and other consumer-electronics–related injuries. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find over there:

Just a small sampling of the 69 documented sex toy injuries in 2013.

Just a small sampling of the 69 documented sex toy injuries in 2013.


Men accounted for 58% of these injuries, compared to 42% for women, according to a breakdown by the Washington Post. The median woman is in her 20s, the median male in his 40s. These are predominantly minor injuries, with 71% of patients being released after treatment and 25% requiring a longer-term hospital stay or transfer to another facility.

There is, of course, no hard link between E.L. James’ hugely popular book and the upswing in sexy injuries, but the novel has been read by many millions of people and the sex-toy industry has boomed as a result. One can even buy movie tie-in products at Target. The book and film may be having a normalizing effect on societal attitudes toward sex toys; at the very least, the whole phenomenon is encouraging people to be more adventurous.

Have fun, people—but be careful, lest you become another nameless statistic in the 1610 category.

H/T The Washington Post | Screengrab via Fifty Shades of Grey/YouTube

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*First Published: Feb 11, 2015, 1:54 pm CST