Using lubricant is incredibly beneficial to both your sexual health and pleasure. Needing to use a lubricant does not make you a sexual failure: women typically take longer to become aroused than men do and cannot simply switch it off and on.
Contrary to what the media and porn implies, not all women become instantly wet as soon as sex play is instigated. Even if we are mentally ready for sex, our bodies sometimes need a little help catching up.
There are also many external factors that can impact upon a woman’s level of natural vaginal lubrication, including stress, hormones or medication. Attempting penetrative sex when the vagina isn’t lubricated enough can cause pain for both partners, and using a lubricant helps to make the vagina wet enough for pain-free penetration.
It’s really important to be aware of the ingredients of your lubricant as some commonly found in many lubricants such as glycerin, glycols and parabens can and do cause vaginal and anal irritation and even thrush, and also ensure that you’re using a product that is designed for sexual use.
Be aware that some well known lubricant brands do not always put the ingredients on the label so choose a product that you know what the ingredients are. When using a lubricant always do a skin test before putting it all over your vulva, inside your vagina or anus. If you experience any irritation, wash it off immediately. If you notice itching or soreness after sexual use, it will probably be the lubricant so choose a skin safe product.
Many people also assume they are allergic to latex condoms when it is often the lubricant on the condom or friction during sex when the lubricant dries out so choose a condom with a silicone lubricnat suhc as Skins and use your own lubricant. Avoid any oil based product as this will destroy the condom.
It is so frustrating when we hear that GPs and other healthcare professionals are recommending vaseline and KY jelly to their patients.
What to avoid when using lubricant
When we recommend using lubricants to our customers, often they ask, “Can’t I just use Vaseline?”, which is a big no no! Vaseline is designed for healing, as it creates a barrier over the skin to lock in moisture to encourage the skin’s healing process. This means that it does not get reabsorbed into the body, and it stays on the vulval tissue and on the walls of the vagina. What’s more, petroleum jelly is insoluble in water, making it hard to clean off.
Vaseline is also unsafe to use with latex condoms due to the mineral oils it contains. These oils will react with the latex and make the condom burst. Vaseline can also degrade the silicone commonly used to coat sex toys, so it is not recommended to be used as a lubricant with silicone vibrators or dildos either.
People commonly and wrongly assume that Baby Oil is safe to use as a sexual lubricant. Baby Oil is made from mineral oil, a highly refined by-product of the petrochemical industry. It is used in many beauty products because it is cheap.
Mineral oil creates a waterproof barrier on the skin rather than being absorbed into the skin. This can lead to blocked pores and decrease the body’s ability to eliminate toxins through sweating. It is not suitable for vaginal use as it stays inside the vagina rather than being absorbed into the walls of the vagina.
As it stays inside the vagina it can upset the vagina flora causing an imbalance in pH which can lead to an infection such as thrush or bacterial vaginosis. It may also cause anal infection after anal intercourse or sex play. It will also damage condoms and degrade the silicone coating of sex toys.
Often recommended by GPs and HCPs, KY Jelly is a fairly well known brand of lubricant. However, it contains both parabens and glycerine, which can cause thrush. It also has a higher osmolarity than the cells in the body, drawing moisture out of the walls of the vagina rather than hydrating them, exacerbating vaginal dryness, not helping it. This can leave the body vulnerable to infection, so could actually increase your risk of catching an STI.
“Tingling” or “cooling” lubricants
Some people find warming and cooling lubricants can enhance their sexual pleasure, but it’s important to be cautious about the ingredients. Often the tingling effect is caused by menthol or chilli, which can be extremely damaging to the delicate tissue of the genitals. These lubricants can also contain all sorts of chemicals that could be detrimental to your sexual health.
Coconut oil is a bit of a magical ingredient as it can be used in cooking as well as for cosmetic purposes. However, in a similar way that Vaseline is designed for healing purposes, coconut oil has antiviral and antibacterial qualities that could upset the vaginal flora. It can also clog the pores, which could cause skin irritation for some people.
If, however, you do want to use it as a lubricant, ensure that it is 100% coconut oil and be aware that it is not compatible with latex condoms. You can read more about coconut oil as a lubricant here.
Body lotions and hand creams
Some people might assume that because a product is moisturising it can be used as a lubricant, but these products are not designed for internal use. They could affect the vagina’s pH and cause irritation, especially if they are perfumed products.
Liquid soap or hand sanitizer
If you think that products are safe to put near your genitals because it has cleansing qualities, think again. Douching is incredibly harmful to the vagina’s pH balance, and soaps and sanitizers can cause burning sensations to the delicate skin of the penis and vulval area.
Just because something has a creamy texture does not mean that it can be used as a lubricant! Sudocrem creates a barrier on the skin to promote the skin’s healing process, and is specifically designed for cuts, burns and nappy rash. It does not get absorbed into the skin, and so would linger in the vagina and on the penis and vulval area. It also contains liquid paraffin and citric acid, which can upset the delicate flora of the vagina.
Bio oil is a specialist skincare oil that aims to improve the appearance of the skin, from fading scars and stretch marks to alleviating dryness. While it can hydrate the skin, it is not suitable as a lubricant as it is only designed for external use. It is also a perfumed product that could affect the pH of the vagina.
While incorporating food into your foreplay can be extremely erotic, be careful if attempting to use food as a lubricant. Sugary foods could cause thrush, and food substances will not likely be absorbed by the body so could linger unless cleaned. Douching the vagina can be harmful as it disrupts the vaginal flora and could lead to infections.
Olive oil has many health benefits, but there is no scientific research to indicate whether it is completely safe to use it as a lubricant. What’s more, it is unhygienic to be using the same bottle of oil that you cook with as a sexual lubricant as the oil could become contaminated.
Some people choose to forgo using a lubricant and choose to use saliva instead as grabbing a bottle of lube from your bedside table or drawer can seem like a mood killer for some men and women. However, while saliva from oral sex can seem more sensual, your spittle can leave the skin feeling dry. It also only provides a thin barrier, so could lead to painful sex as there is inadequate lubrication.
Lubricants that you can use safely during sex
Water based lubricant
Water based lubricants are the most versatile lubricant available and are safe to use with latex condoms and diaphragms. YES Water Based Organic Lubricant feels more like a woman’s natural vaginal lubrication, and can also be absorbed into the tissues of the vagina, helping to nourish the sensitive skin. Water based lubricants are also easy to wash off after use, leaving your skin clean, smooth and free of residue. If they do dry out, you can add a little more or reactivate them with water.
Yes But Organic Lubricant is designed specifically to provide long lasting slipperiness during anal play. Made without the chemicals or skin damaging ingredients typically found in anal lubricants, Yes But is 100% skin safe, pH balanced to that of the anus, free from preservatives, parabens and Glycerin and is condom compatible. Also easy to wash off too.
Oil based lubricant
Oil based lubricants give a great long-lasting, silky smooth experience. They are thick and creamy, and last longer during sex, but be aware that they are not safe to use with latex contraceptives. YES Oil Based Organic Lubricant is extremely skin nourishing as it is made with plant extracts, and using it with water based lubricant during sex play creates a luscious Double Glide affect.
Silicone based lubricant
Silicone based lubricants last a very long time, are great for fun in the water and are safe for use with latex condoms. However, they are not suitable to use on silicone sex toys because they will damage the surface. ID Velvet Silicone lubricant does not contain preservatives and is dermatologically safe, skin-conditioning and intensely moisturising.