Personal lubricants are a fun, inexpensive way to enhance sexual pleasure. It is a myth that being aroused and wanting sex makes women wet enough for easy penetration.
The amount of natural lubrication a woman produces varies throughout the month depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle, how old she is and other factors including stress, tiredness, dehydration, medication and contraception.
Oestrogen levels naturally fall as we age and if a woman doesn’t replace it with HRT or a bio-identical alternative then vaginal dryness can be a problem. Sex can cause small tears in the tissues and she may find it uncomfortable. This can have a massive impact on body confidence and libido.
Lubricants can help prevent vaginal and bladder infections because they make things more slippy. The friction that builds during quickies or rough sex encourages heat and bacterial growth. Inadequate lubrication can also make condoms split, so being wetter makes sex safer. You can also use lubes for body massage to encourage a little slip and slide and it makes getting into kinky clothing much easier.
The only natural lubrication a man produces is pre-cum on the tip of the penis, which may not be enough to make penetration comfortable and it won’t help if you are using condoms for safer sex. The anus doesn’t self-lubricate so using lube is essential to prevent tearing and soreness.
Aside from the health benefits lube feels great. A study* carried out at Indiana University involving 2,453 women aged 18-68 found that lube used for solo sex or with a partner made sex more pleasurable and satisfying. There were fewer side effects associated with sex such as genital pain and vaginal tears, which can increase the risk of STIs and HIV transmission.
Research published in The Ecologist** shows that some brands can affect fertility by slowing down sperm motility and affecting their quality. This is bad news for couples that are planning a pregnancy. In a 2005 study, Replens was found to slow sperm down in 89% of cases and Astroglide by 60%. The viscosity of KY jelly has also been found to slow sperm down by affecting their motility. If you are concerned about this, check out brands such as Pre-Seed and YES Baby, which are sperm-safe.
A couple of drops warmed in the palm of your hand can be sensually massaged over the vulva and inside the vagina.
Cool it down in the fridge or run the bottle under hot water to change the sensation. Explore fruity flavours for oral sex. Keep some ice cubes handy to refresh water-based lube. Add a drop of water-based lube to the inside tip of a condom as well as the outside to increase sensation. Less is more to begin with – too much will make it difficult to generate enough friction.
Spread a little silicone-based lube designed for anal play before experimenting with beads or butt plugs. Used on toys it can enhance solo and couples’ play and make penetration easier if you’re in the bath or shower.
We always recommend you use lubricants that are pH balanced to maintain optimum vagina health. Petroleum jelly, hand cream, Bio Oil, low fat spread, lard and butter are not sexual lubricants. However some people do not experience sexual health issues when using these products or products that contain glycerin or parabens.
If you are one of the many women who do find their vagina health is impaired by using sexual lubricants or substances that are not balanced to the pH of the vagina, it is advisable to stop using it.
Be aware that many well known sexual lubricants contain glycerine or glycol. Avoid lubes containing glycerine (a natural sugar) if you suffer from vaginal or bladder infections as it can irritate the skin. Parabens and propylene glycol aren’t recommended ingredients as they can be oestrogenic. We don’t know the long-term effects of accumulative use of parabens in sex toys and lubes as not enough research has been conducted at present.
Some products available on prescription contain parabens or glycerol, or are not pH balanced to that of the vagina flora so always ask what they contain before being prescribed by your doctor. You can always ask to change to another product if you find the prescribed lubricant is affecting your vagina health.
Many lubricants contain perfumes, dyes and flavourings that can be absorbed by the skin, causing allergic reactions and irritation. Some lubricants contain chemicals to create a tingling feeling in the genital area to enhance your sexual pleasure. It is advisable to avoid any lubricants containing perfume, dyes, flavouring or skin tingling chemicals if you suffer from allergies or skin sensitivities. If you do experience any burning, stinging or itching, it should be washed off immediately.
Many sexual lubricants are not pH balanced to the pH of the vagina 3.8-4.5 which can upset the delicate balanced of the vagina flora. Some water based products, such as KY jelly have a high osmolarity which can irritate the vagina walls.
It is recommended that you do not use silicone lubricants with silicone sex toys as they can damage the material of the product.
Keep things simple with a natural, organic lube from YES, which is gentle on the skin, scientifically tested and won’t affect vaginal pH.
Lubricant can speed up sex but it isn’t a substitute for sexual arousal – most women need more foreplay than the average 10 minutes. If you are using lube but sex is still uncomfortable and tight, see a GP and get your hormone levels tested.
Hormone replacement therapy comes in many forms, including vaginal rings that release a low dose of oestrogen into the vaginal area only. Regular exercise and staying hydrated will also help your body produce more natural lubrication during arousal – in addition to making you look and feel more beautiful!
At Jo Divine we are passionate about sexual health and pleasure and only recommend skin safe sex toys and pH balanced sexual lubricants. We only recommend YES organic lubricants in our health brochure that is given out by HCPs across the UK.
*Study conducted by Debby Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at IU’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
***http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13697137.2015.1124259- D.Edwards and N.Panay (2016) Treating vulvovaginal/genitourinary syndrome of menopause:how important is vaginal lubricant and moisturiser composition? – Climacteric, 19:2 151-161
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