The One Ingredient You Should Avoid When Choosing A Personal Lubricant

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The personal-care industry has come a long way with lubricants. There are now products for literally everything and everyone. That said, lubricants can be made quite differently and serve various purposes that extend past personal lubrication or vaginal pH. With so many options and brands available, how do you know which one is the right formula for you and your specific needs?

To start, it's important to note that lubricants can be used by everyone, regardless of whether the body lubricates itself naturally or not. “Your body may produce less lubricant as a result of hormonal changes, menopause, aging, or medication," explains Tracy Bennett, MD and SVP of Marketing at Ceek Women's Health. "That’s usually where artificial lubricant comes in." Bennett says there are four types of lubricants on the market: water-based with or without glycerin, which is most common and cost-effective, silicone-based which can be very long-lasting, oil-based which has two types, natural (coconut oil) and synthetic (mineral oil), and natural which pertains to organic or vegan lubricants made of botanicals or other eco-friendly ingredients. (Bennett does not suggest using oil-based lubricants when using condoms as it will deteriorate the condom material.)

Personal Lubricants & What To Avoid (Based On Your Body's Needs)

Bennett suggests consulting with your primary care doctor or gynecologist on what lube to use in regards to your personal health needs, as the wrong one can make for very uncomfortable results. “Lubes can impact the natural biome or the balance between good and bad bacteria in the vagina," says Bennett. "The vaginal flora imbalance can lead to issues like yeast infections or BV (bacterial vaginosis). They also can have agents that are drying or irritating."

In fact, the three most common mistakes Bennet sees in regards to choosing lubes involves women who are dry, trying to conceive, or prone to yeast infections. If you lack moisture, warming lubricants may not help, as they often contain glycerin and can dry quickly. Long-lasting silicone lubricants are your best bet here. If you’re prone to yeast infections; stay away from lubricants with glycerin. The compound can irritate your vagina and kill good bacteria, triggering an infection. Finally, if you’re trying to conceive, look for a lubricant that says “sperm-friendly” or “fertility-friendly” on its packaging,” suggests Bennet.

The Best Lubricants For Your Activity Of Choice

Sex coach Jocelyn Silva, breaks down what kind of lubricant to use based off of your plans of use. “When it comes to intercourse, silicone lubricant is great, but if you are prone to infections or have sensitive skin a water-based lubricant is the way to go,” says Silva. She shares that using water-based lubricant is also best for masturbation and, when using sex toys since, most toys are made out of silicone, the silicone lubricant will deteriorate them. “Unlike silicone lubricants, water lubricants can come back to life if you add a little water to your skin once if it’s dried up,” explains Silva.

If you want to explore lubricants for oral sex, Silva suggests finding one with a little flavor for added pleasure. However, when going the flavored route, it’s extremely important to read the labels. “Stay away from brands or lubes that have a lot of sugars in them," warns Dr. Emily Morse, Doctor of Human Sexuality and host of the podcast Sex With Emily. "These types can cause UTIs or other infections/discomfort, as the ingredients aren’t always a great match for our natural pH balance." Silva seconds this notion, offering, "Some flavored lubricants contain artificial sugars and glycerin which can cause those infections. Look for lubricants that are made with natural flavorings such as stevia or plant-based glycerin."

One of the most common misconceptions that Dr. Morse finds surrounding lubricant is that its purpose is to solve a problem instead of just make something better. “Lube has been proven to make sex more pleasurable and orgasms easier for women — and it doesn’t mean we aren’t aroused," explains Dr. Morse. "Wetness is not a direct indication of how turned on you are."

Ready to give some of the discussed personal lubricants a whirl? Ahead, five that'll spice up your sex life and keep your pH levels balanced.

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