pelvic health, Sex, women's health

Lube 101

We went out of town for a wedding last weekend and I thought, what better segue to start the convo on SEXY TIME?! 💃💋

You can call it coitus (if you’re a Big Bang Theory nerd like my hubs), intercourse, baby making, Netflix and chillin’, or just plain sex. No matter your word choice, it is what it is and I bet all of you have had questions about it at some point in your life. Whether it’s about orgasms, positions, foreplay (or not to play) – you might have even experienced pain with sex.

Yeah. PAIN WITH SEX. What the what, right?!

I am here to tell you that you are NOT alone and are more than likely in the realm of, “you’re experiencing something very common, but not normal and THERE IS A SOLUTION.”

So, let’s start this sexy conversation with one of the many questions I ask my patients who come see me with symptoms of painful intercourse. Do you use lubricant? Some do, some don’t. Rarely is it the fix for pain, but it can certainly be a factor. It’s important to know if you need to use it, the ingredients/make-up in your choice of motion lotion and how they may affect your lady flower, as well as, how to apply it to be most beneficial. There are countless lubricants out there and I won’t be able to cover them all, but I will try to give you what you need to know to make the right lube choices!

So, let’s start with the infamous K.Y.


Ingredients in this particular genre of K.Y.:

eephoto.lacey.pelvichealth-21• water 
• glycerin 
• sorbitol 
• propylene glyco
• hydroxyethylcellulos
• benzoic acid
• methylparaben 
• sodium hydroxide

The ingredients start off well with water, then go downhill from there.

Glycerin. Bush may have written a song about it, but that doesn’t give it a green light for your vaginal tissues… It is a sugar alcohol and excellent solvent derived from animal (FYI if you’re vegan!) or plant sources. One of the main reasons it is used in lubricant is to increase slipperiness. It is used in many other products, such as soap to help hydrate the skin, food as an alternative sweetener and preservative, in liqueurs to help thicken the liquid, medication, and as a laxative. This guy doesn’t seem too harmful, but due to its sugary properties, it can create a breeding ground for yeast.

Sorbitol. Much like glycerin, minus the shout out from Bush (I know it is glycerINE, but humor me here), is also a sugar alcohol. In lubricant, its purpose it to thicken and condition skin. It is also used as a sugar substitute and laxative. Again, this one doesn’t seem too awful, but being a sugar alcohol may lead to a pesky yeast infection, especially as it’s paired with glycerin.

Propylene glycol. This is a chemical derived from petroleum. In lubricant, it’s purpose is to prevent it from drying up and to promote a warming/burning sensation in some types of lube. You’ll also find this chemical in anti-freeze (as it can lower the freezing point of water), and in certain types of ingestible liquids, like coffee-based drinks and sodas. It has been associated with skin irritation, contact dermatitis and hives. Needless to say, this ingredient is no bueno!

Hydroxyethylcellulose. This is derived from cellulose and is used in lubricant to thicken. It can also be used to create soap bubbles as it can dissolve in water, but also give enough strength to produce a bubble. So, not a serious threat to your lady tissues.

Benzoic acid. This is found naturally (in plants and animals) and can be synthetically produced. It is used as a preservative in foods and cosmetics, and an ingredient in products like an antiseptics. Overall, not considered toxic.

Methylparaben. It is a chemical preservative in foods, and is used in many personal care products to increase the shelf life through it’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. There is strong evidence that it is an endocrine disruptor as it has an estrogenic affect, which won’t be good for you or your partner! It’s connection to cancer is that it has been found in tumors of those with breast cancer, therefore, researchers suggest that it may increase the risk of breast cancer and/or speed up the growth of such tumors. — NOPE, no thank you.

Sodium hydroxide. Is an organic base (alkaline), also known as lye. It is mostly likely used in lubricant to help balance acidity, but there is a chance it can cause skin irritation due to its ability to disintegrate protein. (YIKES!) Heavy caution should be used against this ingredient.

Long story long, you might owe your ladylove an apology if you are a KY user. Our vaginal tissues are incredibly absorbent so we need to choose wisely with what we chose to expose her to!

Astroglide

Ingredients:fullsizeoutput_a9f

• purified water
• glycerin (see K.Y. breakdown)
• hydroxyethylcellulose (see K.Y. breakdown)
chlorhexidine gluconate
• methylparaben (see K.Y. breakdown)
glucono delta lactone
• sodium hydroxide (see K.Y. breakdown)

Here are the details on the ingredients that weren’t included in the K.Y. talk.

Chlorhexidine gluconate. This is an antiseptic and disinfecting agent, so much so that it is used in surgical sterilization processes. There is strong evidence that it is toxic to human skin, as well as, an allergen. I know sex can be complicated, but we aren’t performing surgery here…Therefore, AVOID!

Glucono delta lactone. This is a Spanish sounding food additive used to increase acidity. I’m not sure it is used in Astroglide in an amount high enough that could alter your tissue pH, but you can never be too careful!

Needless to say, this lube is not vagina friendly! Too many chemicals trying to alter the natural, amazing flora of our womanhood causing a complicated party in our pants.

Popeye’s girl, Olive Oil.

Ingredient:

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First cold pressed organic olive oil.

Is it safe to use? Yes. Convenient? Sure (if at home when the mood strikes 😉). Ideal? Maybe.

It is not water soluble, so it may stick around for longer than you’d like. But on the other hand, that may work for you if you need the constant lubrication in order to avoid pain with sex.
You want to make sure your choice of EVOO (shoutout to Rachael Ray) has no additional ingredients that may affect your vaginal tissues negatively. AND, you may want to steer clear of latex condoms/toys if you use olive oil because it will weaken the integrity of the latex and degrade it… a.k.a. you’re pregnant. (JKJKJK)

Aloecadabraeephoto.lacey.pelvichealth-28

Ingredients

• 95% organic aloe vera
• vitamin E oil 
• xanthan 
• citric acid
• potassium sorbate 
• sodium benzoate 

Aloe vera. Need I say more? What could be more soothing to your ladyflower? It is found in many products for it’s healing properties of burns and minor skin irritation. So a great addition to lubricant for the most sensitive part of our bods!

Vitamin E oil. Good for the skin and may even have some ability to strengthen the vaginal tissue.

Xanthan. This is a common food additive used to thicken.

Citric acid. It is found in citrus fruits (imagine that) and in this case is used to help balance the pH of this lube to match the body’s.

Potassium sorbate. This is a salt and used as a food preservative. It can be a skin irritant in high concentrations, but is only used in trace amounts here.

Sodium benzoate. Another food preservative, but there is no evidence of any adverse affects on us humans.

Even though there are quite a few ingredients that aren’t completely natural, overall, this is a healthy option for personal lubricant. What I also love about them is their honesty regarding what is in their products – If you go to their website, they straight up tell you what is in their lubes and why. Honesty is always the best policy, y’all!

Coconut oil

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Ingredient:

• Organic coconut oil.

We all know coconut oil can be used for a ridiculous number of things, including canine dermatitis and wood polish.. so why not add to the list, personal lubricant?

It carries antifungal and antibacterial properties naturally which can be helpful in fighting yeast infections and other microorganisms. However, due to these properties, it could actually alter the pH of the vagina and actually increase the risk of a yeast infection. So, if you are prone to them, you may want to choose another lube without those pH altering properties. The other downside to coconut oil use is that since it is oil-based, it can affect the integrity of latex products (condoms), but that can be resolved with a latex-free condom.

Overall, this is a vagina-friendly natural lubricant (make sure there are no additives in your brand of choice)! AND you can avoid the red face at checkout line. 😳

 

Vaseline

fullsizeoutput_ac5Ingredient:

• White petroleum

Let’s be honest, did your mom suggest you use Vaseline for a personal lubricant? Probably. Moms are usually right, but in this case, not so much…as you may have found after you had to take 27 showers to get it all off of your body.

Vaseline is classified as a drug and is purposed for topical treatment of the skin. It reacts with latex by causing it to swell and decreases its durability. Because it is so thick and difficult to remove it can harbor bacteria leading to bacterial vaginosis and increase the risk for yeast infections. NO THANKS.


SO, there you have it! A small little lesson in lube do’s and don’ts. Hopefully this will give you a quick reference if you are in the market for new lubricant and need to check the safety of some ingredients.

Do you guys have any lubrication questions, comments, recommendations, funny stories? Let’s hear it!

 

**All photos taken by the sweetest photog around, Erin Woolsey at EEphotography**

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