Crystals to me had always been the preserve of hippie shops I visited as a teenager – tables piled high and the waft of patchouli incense.
But I became aware that crystals were undergoing a mainstream revival, when I saw a whopping rock of amethyst hanging off the neck of a friend who works in finance. She’s someone I’d have normally described as a sceptic.
Seeing me eye it, she enthusiastically told me that she’d started taking an interest in the healing properties of crystals. A few weeks after this conversation, I then started to notice crystals started popping up everywhere: podcasts, magazine articles, Instagram feeds.
The thinking behind crystals and why they have healing properties, says Tania Ahsan, former editor of Kindred Spirit magazine, and a practicing witch, is that everything vibrates at a frequency.
“Crystals have a vibration pattern that permits them to affect the vibration at which humans operate. For example, rose quartz enhances your ability to be loving, compassionate and nurturing.”
One of the areas that women look for healing around, for instance, is sex. And the interest in crystals and sex has grown rapidly.
Gwyneth Paltrow brought it into the mainstream last year when she started selling jade yoni eggs that you insert into the vagina for extended periods at a time (more on that later) and a few weeks ago, I saw an advert for ‘Chakrubs’ – crystal dildos – pop up on Instagram. Yoni eggs, among other things, promise more intense orgasms while the latter promises sacredness, healing, extracting ‘repressed emotions’ and healing from sexual trauma.
While they certainly looked pretty I wondered how/if they actually worked, and if it was just a fad.
Wanting to know more, I emailed Vanessa Cuccia, founder of Chakrubs, who used to work for a standard sex toy retailer. She created the dildos after realising that the current sex toys on the market were not quite giving her what she wanted.
“One of the reasons why crystal wands work so well as pleasure tools is because they require us to show up for ourselves. They ask us to take the time to truly explore our pleasure, to recognise and release the blocks that might be preventing us from feeling.
“We look at crystal healing from a holistic point of view, meaning that sex is just one aspect of the whole and that improving sexual health has a positive impact on our general health.”
Vanessa says she personally has received the more emotional benefits of using crystal sex toys, while her clients have actually said they’ve “overcome sexual trauma, become more receptive and open to love, and become more comfortable and confident in their bodies.” One customer describes hers as a ‘sacred love making tool’.
However, while not dismissing sex toys shaped from crystal from a purely functional point of view, Dr Leila Frodsham, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Institute of Psychosexual Medicine said emotional and psychological benefits would be “extremely difficult” to verify because it’s hard to quantify and study.
She does however say that crystal sex toys aren’t a new thing - they actually hark back to ancient China, when women used jade dildos and yoni eggs.
Vanessa says yoni eggs are “part of an ancient practice that builds strength within the vagina.” The idea of yoni egg practice is to insert them and use them to strengthen pelvic muscles in the vagina, alter your hormones, as well as enhance your ‘sexual pleasure.’
While in theory that all sounds great, the biggest question is whether it’s actually a load of guff. Dr Jen Gunter, a brilliant gynaecologist, and the most consistent critic of Gwyneth Paltrow, wrote a post about the eggs being sold on Goop, saying: “The claim that they can balance hormones is, quite simply, biologically impossible.
“Pelvic floor exercises can help with incontinence and even give stronger orgasms for some women, but they cannot change hormones. As for female energy... I’m a gynaecologist and I don’t know what that is.”
While there has been some concern that crystal sex toys aren’t as safe because crystal can be porous, Dr Frodsham says that “all sex toys are an increased risk of STIs if they aren’t kept properly or cleaned regularly and if there is group use. However, it is still a low risk compared to sex with genitals.”
Like Dr Gunter however, she does stress that there is an increased risk – for instance with yoni eggs – of toxic shock syndrome as there is with anything placed in the vagina for prolonged periods of time.
With all of that in mind, is it even worth dabbling in crystal sex toys?
“Crystals are powerful ways to clear your energy centres,” says Tania, “and bring healing and manifest what you need in your life.
“Since sex is a very important part of life for the majority of people, crystals can definitely help you unlock better orgasms, better body image and an overall better sex life. However, it isn’t a one size fits all and you have to regularly clean your crystals to ‘recharge’ them. That’s not just washing them, it could bathing them in salt water and drying in the sun or using sound to cleanse any energy that the crystal picks up.”
Rebecca Dakin, who is a sex and dating expert – and spent 20 years as an escort and glamour model – believes that there is no harm in it. “Crystals are prolific in Chinese medicine using ‘chi’ our life energy. Buddhists and Hindus strongly believe that our chakras can be stimulated and are extremely powerful when used with healing crystals for healing and wellbeing.
“While there is no scientific evidence to prove the healing powers of crystals many people believe and have experienced positive results, whether or not it’s a placebo.”
At £130 for a dildo, and £55 for a yoni egg, crystal sex toys aren’t cheap, but nor are they exorbitant. Perhaps it requires someone less cynical than me to embrace it - I'm yet to be convinced.
I told my friend about it and she burst out laughing. But then she went quiet and said: “So what’s the name of that website again?