When and why do we need lubes?
It can be extremely painful and unhealthy to penetrate a vagina or anal canal when it is not wet enough. It might cause discomfort, pain, infections and in some cases promote STIs.
Vaginal activity and vaginal dryness: when we are aroused we produce arousal fluid. Our genitals like to feel wet so they create the slippery smooth feeling of wetness. There are some conditions in which we won’t produce enough moisture to provide our own lubrication such as while breastfeeding, using oral contraceptives, medications or are post-menopausal.
Lubricating the clitoris can create more sexual pleasure and keeps the vaginal skin soft and helps maintain the elasticity of the vaginal walls.
Anal activities: the area must be very stimulated and very lubricated.
Use with sex toys: for the same reason mentioned above, when we insert objects we must make sure the area is wet to avoid friction and irritation.
Use with condoms: it’s a matter of safety and pleasure. Condoms, even when lubricated, do not have enough lubricant on them to prevent breakage and that is the biggest reason that condoms fail. A bit of lube should be added to the tip of the condom on the inside as well as more on the outside.
Use while self-pleasuring.
Types of lubes:
- Water-based with or without glycerin.
- Oils that are natural or not.
- Hybrid: a mix of water and silicone base.
Different uses need different lubes.
The water-based with glycerin lubes are easier to find, sweet in taste and do not stain fabric, but they aren’t great if one is prone to yeast infections. They also dry out quickly and are often sticky or tacky.
Water-based without glycerin lubes can have a bitter taste, don’t stain fabrics but dry quickly and they are safer. Also, if we talk about using lubes and cervical fluid checks while using FAM as a contraceptive, then I would definitely go with this option with some reservations that we will hear about soon.
Water-based lubes are recommended to use with vaginal penetration, sex toys for vaginas and condoms which are made of latex.
Silicone-based lubes don’t enter our tissues and are good for anal sex and their toys made from stainless steel. They last longer and stay in place. They are recommended for people with chronic vaginal dryness or genital pain. They are not considered dangerous and cannot penetrate the skin pores.
Silicone-based lubes are also safe with latex condoms, they stay on long but cannot be used with silicone sex toys and must be washed off with soap and water.
Oils: If you can eat it, you can use it on your vulva and inside your vagina. The body can clear out natural oils better than petroleum-based lubes. They are safe to eat and can be found easily but they stain fabric and cannot be used with latex condoms. These can be almond oil, coconut oil if it doesn’t cause irritations as I found it does to me, and olive oil.
Other oil-based lubes take longer to clear out of your body, although they might not be good for masturbation as they can irritate the skin, destroy latex condoms, stain fabric and in general, aren’t safe.
Hybrid lubes are a combination of water-based and silicone.
What is important to know when we are looking for a lube:
There are a few factors:
- Osmolality, especially in the water-based lubes.
The first factor is important to water-based and hybrid lubes since the silicone doesn’t enter the cells.
Osmolality refers to the substance’s ability to draw moisture out of tissues and cells.
We’ve got three situations; the best is if the lube is iso-osmotic, meaning your cells and the lube sit there next to each other, making each other happy.
If the osmolality is low, hypo-osmotic, then the lube is feeding the cells too much water and at some point, they will burst. When does this matter the most? If you’re trying to conceive, hypo-osmotic lubes would kill the sperm.
The most common situation is when the osmolality is high, called hyper-osmotic. The lube feels really slippery, which is great! But it’s slippery because it’s drinking the moisture from your cells and they might dry. The outer layer of cells will slough off and leave the mucus lining very vulnerable.
STI transmission can increase and at-risk people are at greater risk for infections, such as diabetics, those with a compromised immune system, those undergoing treatment for cancer, etc.
Unfortunately, we’re largely left to guess when it comes to osmolality because only a small handful of lubes have been tested.
PH: The pH of a lubricant represents how acidic or alkaline the product is. Different organs have different pH requirements.
The pH of the vagina can range from 3.8 – 7 depending on where you are in your cycle, if you have an infection or if you’re pre/post-menopausal. If you’re trying to conceive, you need a slightly higher pH as well to be friendly to sperm like the pre-seed that we will touch on later. For example, the pH of sperm is 7.2 – 8.
Lubes with a low pH can sting and burn. Lubes with a higher pH than the vagina can bring on yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis OR just feel itchy without any infection.
Anal lubes need a higher pH so a lube that is good for your lower pH vagina could really sting when used for anal sex.
The best lube for vaginal sex might not be the best lube for anal sex and might not be the best lube for masturbation.
Ingredients: there are many lubes that are not great on the market. We saw that KY is not really great in osmolality but there are so many terrible ingredients in use in lubes.
The list is long but there are a few we all should know to stay away from:
Parabens: some people are allergic to parabens. Parabens are xenoestrogen.
The other top two ingredients to avoid are glycerine(e) which can damage sperm so its not a great idea if one tries to conceive and propylene glycol. Both of these greatly increase the osmolality of the lube, making it a lube to avoid and both can cause sensitivities or yeast infections for some. Other lube ingredients like Nonoxynol 9 which some condoms are lubricated with can damage to the labia and vaginal tissues and also the rectal lining. Chlorhexidine Gluconate, Petroleum Oils, Polyquaternium-15, Sugars and Sugar Alcohols can cause irritation in addition to increased STI transmission, killing off of the good bacteria, an increase of bad bacteria and allergic reactions.
Benzocaine has a numbing effect. Some who experience painful sex or those wanting to make anal play less scary may use it, but I am not sure it is such a good idea because pain is the way our body signals us to stop. We can end up with injuries, microtears to the delicate tissue and major problems. Some people with chronic pain such as vaginismus sometimes use it as part of healing.
A note for Celiacs or those with extreme gluten-sensitivity: Avoid “Oat Beta Glucan”.
Avoid Vitamin E tocopherols unless the company can assure you they are not derived from a gluten-containing grain.
SENSITIZERS in the ingredients means that a person will react to these ingredients depending on how much they’ve used them. Sensitivity to it cumulates and increases with use. This means you can find yourself not reacting at first, but reacting after your 2nd or 3rd bottle or even 4th or 5th use of the first bottle.
Flavoured lubes that are completely safe, pH is good, osmolality good, are going to be hard to come by.
Vaginal Tightening/Shrink Creams and Gel. These aren’t a lube but they’re often sold with lubes. These can be dangerous or just won’t work. They often work by doing one of two things or both; drying you out on purpose or creating a mild allergic reaction; inflammation creates that feeling “tighter”. Yet as you can imagine, this does a real number to your mucous lining and overall vaginal health. It increases your risk for infections and the spread of STIs. It even increases your risk for microtears of the vaginal wall. In short, it’s never a good thing. A dry vagina is not a good thing. If you want to improve vaginal health overall, buy some kegel beads. I’ve also seen a herbal “teabag” you place up in the vagina like a tampon and frankly, anything like that, even if it’s natural, can have adverse effects you’re not expecting. It can throw off your pH, lead to infection, you can have an allergic reaction, etc. Herbal doesn’t mean safe.
For anyone with any food allergy, Sliquid Naturals is recommended.
Lube has expiring dates!
Pre-seed lube was invented by a woman sperm physiologist and it mimics fertile cervical mucus in its pH, ion concentration and consistency.
It allows sperm to swim freely and make their way to the egg. It comes with applicators that will help you place it near the cervix where it works best. Pre-seed supports and protects the sperm, providing the optimal sperm environment. Pre-seed also relieves vaginal dryness, delivering moisture at the same pH, osmolality and viscosity as fertile cervical fluids. Pre-seed does not harm sperm and is less irritating to women, and it can be used as a sexual lubricant even if you’re not actively trying to conceive!
There are other products on the market but that one was found to have great results.
Lubes and fertility awareness: Most lubricants and even saliva can damage sperm and dramatically reduce your odds of conceiving. When using a lubricant, you may find that identifying your cervical fluid type is more challenging as the lubricant may mask your cervical fluid. If you are in doubt about your cervical fluid type and it is a potentially fertile time, record “egg-white” or “watery” so that it is recognized as a potentially fertile day. It is also recommended to record your use of the lubricant in the notes section of your chart so that you will be able to identify a potential cause for any unusual observations.
They should only be used while trying to conceive if you cannot have sex comfortably without it. When using a lubricant, you may find that identifying your cervical fluid type is more challenging as the lubricant may mask your cervical fluid.
Sliquid H2O ingredients: These include purified water, plant cellulose from cotton, cyamopsis guar conditioners, potassium sorbate and citric acid.
Yes, ingredients are water-based. YES WB water-based personal lubricant is made from organic Aloe Vera which is a renowned skin food, organic flax extract which is particularly beneficial for the mucous membranes, three synergistic plant-based gums – guar, locust bean and xanthan, all of which contribute to the deep velvety texture, food-grade preservatives and citric acid to buffer the pH.