When spit isn’t enough: Natural lube safety tips
By Meghan Rogers
Even though everyone knows that toxic chemicals are bad for your body, there is often an ignorance-is-bliss mentality when it comes to sex products. People who would rather avoid the risks often turn to products such as coconut oil, largely because they are inexpensive and have an appeal of being healthier than packaged or storebought lubricant. However, is slathering something on or in your genitalia that you would normally eat the best thing for your body?
There are many ingredients in store bought lubricants that have negative effects on the vagina in particular. Most store bought lubricants contain parabens. Parabens are used in cosmetics to prevent bacteria growth within the product. Because the vagina is full of good and healthy bacteria called vaginal flora, having parabens in lubricant can prevent this bacteria from growing and can lead to yeast infections. According to the American Cancer Society, Parabens are also endocrine disruptors, meaning they have similar effects to the body as estrogen does, but they are interfering on the natural hormonal process. Exposure to parabens have been linked to infertility and cancer.
Other chemicals in non-natural lube like sugar (often called glycerine in ingredient lists) can alter the very delicate pH balance of the vagina as well. Make sure to check the label of whatever you’re using to make sure there are no additives that make you uncomfortable. And, very importantly, make sure you or your partner(s) aren’t allergic to any products in the lube (homemade or store-bought) before introducing it into your routine. If you want to test a product out before partner sex, swatch it somewhere sensitive and visible, or try it out during masturbation.
Celebrity lifestyle blog Goop’s article on toxic lubricants suggests a strong rule of thumb on this front – if it is safe to eat and is organic, it is generally safe to try out. That being said, it is crucial to remember that if the lubricant is oil-based, it will break down latex, so it cannot be used with a condom. If condoms are being used with lubricant, use a water-based lubricant. However, be aware that just because natural lubes are edible and natural, it does not mean that they are 100 percent great for everyone.
Coconut oil has gained widespread popularity in the world of natural lube. Many people are able to use this as lubricant with positive effects – as it feels, smells, and tastes good – but it is also an antibacterial and and antifungal. This means that it can easily prevent vaginal flora from growing and disturb the pH levels of the vagina as well as invite yeast infections. Just because something is safe for your mouth doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe for your genitals. That being said, many people are able to use it regularly.
“Coconut oil is better than lube because it doesn’t feel like there’s a foreign substance being introduced into your sex life,” said Fiona (‘19). “It makes you feel closer to your partner.” Plus, it’s become common enough that you might be able to swipe some from your medicine cabinet or pantry, instead of having to go all the way to the grocery store.
There are many other natural lubes to be tried besides coconut oil as well. Gwyneth Paltrow also swears by pure aloe vera gel and olive oil as lubricants on her blog. Marijuana infused lube, almond oil, flaxseed oil and essential oils (a personal favorite of motherhood bloggers on The Healthy Honeys, but if the thought of peppermint in your lube makes your cheeks clench, it may not be for you) can also be used, unless you are also using a condom, as the oil will destroy the latex. There are many online blogs that feature different ways to make your own natural lube, and most of them consist of some combination of what has been listed above. In the Netflix television show Grace and Frankie, Frankie is even shown making a yam-based lube. We’re not so sure about the benefits of that one, but take notes from Frankie – it can be fun to get creative and make your own (but make sure to do some research first)!
Essentially, if you experience any type of negative reaction to using any type of lube, stop immediately. Simultaneously, just because a lubricant is natural, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. Everyone’s bodies are different and will have reactions to different lubes, regardless of a product’s natural makeup. But if it doesn’t bother you or your sweet, sensitive bod, then have some good, clean (or not-so-clean) lube-y fun!