The best lubricants can give your sex life a bigger boost than any other single product and bestow untold health benefits. This simple bedroom addition can literally transform your sexual landscape.
We call great lube “your first sex toy”.
The worst lubricants, on the other hand, may cause infertility, increase your risk of cancer and even make you more susceptible to HIV.
GREAT LUBE IS LIFE CHANGING
Studies have shown that quality water based lubricants have a positive difference in women’s lives. They add to the pleasure of sexual activity and give psychological support.
They can drastically reduce feelings of irritation, dryness and pain and positively impact relationships and health.
Silicone based lubes can transport sex from ordinary to extraordinary. Such a product should enjoy a booming market, and yet lubricant is still considered to be a medical ‘need’ associated with sexual dysfunction, which is ultimately shaming for those who feel they’re not able to become adequately aroused on their own.
Quality lubricant should be sold as a luxury product. At present, lubricant is only available in supermarkets, pharmacies and adult stores. As a retail category, lubricant is misunderstood and underrepresented. Although quality lube has far reaching effects on the lives of women and men who collectively represent an extremely powerful and wealthy consumer group, it is sexier to buy anti-wrinkle cream than it is to buy lube! It could be sold in department stores, boutiques and high end cosmetic stores.
MOST LUBES ARE HARMFUL
There are a plethora of lubricants on the market. Many add to the pleasure of sex but most aren’t body safe and are largely untested and unregulated. Many products do not even display the ingredients on the pack and the worst offenders are used widely within the medical community (see the diagram below).
The FDA do not regulate many female intimate products, including tampons, sex toys and lubricants. (Our pets enjoy higher regulatory practises on their chewable toys). These products are inserted directly into the vagina and rectum and their toxicity can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Supermarket and pharmacy lubes generally fall within the ‘worst lubricant’ category. Many contain the same ingredients that you find in hairsprays and mouthwash. Possibly the best known lubricant, KY Jelly, can damage or kill fragile vaginal cells, increase the risk of STI’s and the transmission of HIV, dehydrate the vagina, cause thrush and irritation, kill sperm cells and affect fertility.
Most contain parabens that may be carcinogenic and glycerin that can lead to a higher susceptibility to thrush as well as upsetting the delicate balance of the vaginal pH. Lubricant is a lifesaver for the many women who have undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment and yet many of the best known lubricants contain harmful and potentially carcinogenic ingredients.
Top tip: After your next pap smear, don’t have sex for three days because you are at a higher risk of getting an STI. Or, bring your own lube!
WHY MOST LUBES ARE HARMFUL
Vaginal and rectal cells form a basic but important function. They help keep the area moist and prevent dirt and bacteria from entering into the body. Poor quality lubricant can damage these cells allowing pathogens to enter the body more readily, increasing the likelihood of infection and disease. A January 2012 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, concluded that “lubricant products may increase vulnerability to STI’s” Additionally, “when the protective lining of the rectum or the vagina becomes damaged, one of the body’s normal defense mechanisms is weakened.”
OSMOLALITY IS A THING
‘Osmolality’ is the concentration of dissolved particles within cells. Vaginal cells are fluid and are constantly attempting to maintain an equilibrium of osmolality (kind of like water pressure)in order to function at optimum levels. The osmolality of vaginal secretions is measured at 260-290 and the body is always trying to maintain that harmony. When another fluid is introduced, their osmolalities combine and a balance is attempted. It is this attempt that can damage or kill the endothelial cells. The higher the osmolality of the introduced liquid, the harder the cells will try to maintain harmony and the higher the risk of cell damage. Most lubricants have an osmolality of between 1000 and 10,000.
Fun Fact: Human semen has an osmolality of between 350-380
When a lubricant has a higher osmolality than the body’s cells then it is ‘hyper-osmotic’.
Hyper-osmotic lube can cause irritation, make you more susceptible to STI’s, can remove some mucous membrane, rupture cell membranes and cause cell death.
MOST WIDELY AVAILABLE LUBES ARE HYPER OSMOTIC!
If lube osmolality is lower than the body’s, the fluid from the lube saturates the cells (is radically absorbed) causing the potential for the cells to rupture
If lube has a higher osmolality than the body, mucous cells push out their water to dilute the lube (it squeezes the cells dry)!
Suggested osmolality is between 380 and 1200
Over 1500 causes cell death
when cells within the mucous membrane are compromised, infection rate is higher
DON’T BUY LUBE IF:
the first three ingredients are water, glycerin and propylene glycol
the osmolality is too high or too low
it doesn’t have an osmolality of between 150 and 1200
It contains harmful ingredients
AVOID THESE INGREDIENTS
GLYCERIN (sugar alcohol) as it leads to yeast infection and increases osmolality
PROPYLENE GLYCOL (a petrochemical that increases osmolality)
NONOXYNOL 9 (a spermicide). It makes cell membranes more permeable allowing pathogens to enter, kills good bacteria and causes irritation. In addition to being a powerful spermicide, it also damages the cell lining of the vagina and rectum, thus increasing the risk of HIV infection in the people tested. And yet, nonoxynol-9 is still used on condoms today.
CHLORHEXIDINE GLUCONATE - found in KY, mouthwash and the stuff they use for pap smears. It kills viruses and bacterias but kills all the good stuff too. After a pap smear you are more susceptible to pathogen transmission for 2-4 days. (Bring your own lube)
PETROLEUM OIL - can lead to bacteria overgrowth
POLYQUATERNIUM-15 - causes increase transmission of HIV
BENZOCAINE - (a numbing agent). Can cause irritation and potential injury
PARABENS - (preservatives) Possibly carcinogenic. Can be allergenic
PHENOXYETHANOL - (used as an alternative to parabens) Can irritate eyes and skin and depress nervous system.
THE IDEAL LUBE
Is iso-osmotic (meaning it has the same hydration levels as the body) and keeps the cells in perfect harmony. A woman’s vaginal secretions (her natural lubrication) have an osmolality of 260-290. Human semen is 250-380. Most lubricants are 1000 to over 10,000
Has the same pH as the vagina (3.5-7). An imbalance of vaginal pH can lead to bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection (pH is the line of defense against sperm and bacterial infection. The pH of the lube affects the pH of the vagina directly
Contains no parabens or glycerins
Has few ingredients
Another Fun Fact: Organic coconut oil has an osmolality of 180-340, in total harmony with the body. However, the jury is still out on whether or not it is completely safe to use as a lubricant due to how difficult it is for the body to naturally eject it. When it hangs around for too long, bacteria can form and infection result.
Great lube maximises sexual pleasure. It heightens sensation, reduces irritation and creates so much slippery slidey fun. It’s the sexiest product you can buy and should enjoy a huge market. For women who are menopausal, are naturally ‘dry’ - a potentially shaming description (we prefer dehydrated), using some medications or have had chemo or radiation, lubricant can change their life.
When buying lubricant, be aware that it is an unregulated product. Check ingredients and do your research. Avoid the cheap, nasty varieties and invest in quality. Water based is great all-round lube and can be used safely for every desire and situation. It’s best when used with sex toys. Oil based lube is perfect for women who suffer pain and irritation or who just like the feel of it. Silicone based lube is amazing for sex and perfect for masturbation. Always use lubricant for anal sex as their is no natural lubrication there at all and damage to the fragile tissue can result. Experiment with lubes and find one that you absolutely love. It WILL change your life.
PERSONAL LUBRICANT OSMOLALITY
High-osmolality lubricants can dry out your tissue and make it more susceptible to infection and disease. Of these brands reviewed, only Aloe Cadabra falls within the safest level (measured in mOsm/kg).
Sources: The World Health Organization, Pacific Bio Labs, and U.S. National Institutes of Health
Presented by Sarah E. Mueller