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How To Choose Lube

October 1, 2018
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Lubricant is a product designed and used to help mimic the body’s natural lubrication. It even provides lubrication to areas of the body that don’t naturally produce any. It’s important to pay attention to lubricant and its ingredients because there many types of lubricant, and the vaginal and anal surfaces are highly permeable. This means that anything that is applied to it, can be absorbed into the body.

Why consider lubricant?

  • Pleasure: Sometimes there is not enough lubricant externally, or internally

  • Body changes: This includes hormones, life changes (ie. menopause), stress, alcohol, cancer treatments, pain (and more!)

  • Safety: May lead to fewer internal tears, less condom breakage (based on which lube you choose), and potentially fewer infections

Ingredients to be aware of:

  • Parabens: Used to prevent bacterial overgrowth in products. Also found to be endocrine disruptors, as they have an estrogenic effect in the body – binding to the same cell receptors as our body’s estrogen and interfere with the hormonal process

  • Petroleum: coats the skin and does not allowing it to function properly, changes the pH which may contribute to infections

  • Glycerin: can convert to sugar in the vagina, which may contribute to more infections (ie. yeast); found in water-based lubricants

  • Propylene glycol: may be a skin irritant

  • Chlorhexidine gluconate: antimicrobial in nature and may kill healthy bacteria thereby altering the vaginal pH

  • Phenoxyethanol: may be a skin irritant

  • Fragrance: may conceal hundreds of toxic chemicals

How to choose lube

Water-based lubricant

Compatible with: all safe sex supplies and sex toys 
Usually contains
: glycerine, parabens, propylene glycol

This type of lubricant is safe with latex condoms and all types of sex toys. Water-based is easily absorbed by the skin, and may help to hydrate tissues. However, it may dry up quickly and thus might need to be reapplied often. Clean up is relatively easy, at the very minimum a simple rinse is all that is needed. In terms of ingredients, this type is likely to contain parabens and glycerin, so pay attention to the ingredients list when purchasing.

Water-based options:

Sliquid Organics Natural Personal Lubricant, Sliquid H2O Natural Intimate Lubricant, YES Water Based Organic Lubricant, Good Clean Love Restore Moisture Lubricant, Good Clean Love Almost Naked Organic Personal Lubricant 

Silicone-based lubricant

Compatible with: Almost everything (sex supplies and toys)
Not compatible with: Some silicone toys
Infection potential: Does NOT trap bacteria

This is a synthetic type of lubricant that is safe with latex condoms (in fact, most lubricated condoms are coated with this type of lubricant), but should not be used with silicone sex toys. Silicone stays on longer and does not come off in the water. Clean up is easy with soap and water. Because it is synthetic it may cause slight skin irritation, however it’s often less allergenic than water and does not contain many additives.

Silicone-based options:

Sliquid Silver, Pjur Eros, Pink

Oil-based lubricant

Compatible with: silicone, metal and glass
Not compatible with: Latex toys and latex condoms
Usually contains
: coconut oil. jojoba oil, castor oil
Infection potential: Traps bacteria! 

This type of lubricant can degrade latex condoms, thereby making them ineffective against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. In addition, they may not be compatible with certain sex toys. Formulations may be thick or thin, and may be made with natural plant oils (some of which may be nourishing to the skin).

Sometimes oil may be more difficult to clean off (and inside) the body, and so a fear is that the vaginal pH may be affected potentially giving rise to infections. Nevertheless, soap and water will do the trick for the external skin. Because coconut oil is a popular choice as a lubricant, it should be mentioned that it also has antimicrobial properties and therefore may impact the vaginal pH.

Oil-based options:

Sex Oil (Province Apothecary)

Cleaning up

Friendly reminder that the vaginal canal (NOT to be confused with the vulva) is self-cleaning. When you douche, use antibiotics or try to clean the area using soap it can disturb the natural balance of bacteria and cause pH changes. The change in pH may be the reason why you’re experiencing infections. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of lubricant and the ingredients to steer clear of, shopping should hopefully not be much of a problem! Keep in mid that you may need to try a few options to see which lube is best for you, and if you are someone who constantly gets UTIs or yeast infections (& used lube), it’s time to assess those ingredients!

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