Is your personal lubricant causing your discomfort, thrush or internal irritation?
Confused about how to choose the best personal lubricant to keep your body safe?
Many personal lubricants are formulated from natural and synthetic ingredients that can cause internal irritation, tissue breakdown and/or infection.
Read on to know:
- Safety issues with personal lubricants
- Benefits of non-toxic lubricants
- How to choose the best personal lubricant
- Summary tips for choosing best personal lubricants
Safety Issues with Personal Lubricants
Some personal lubricants increase the risk of:
1. Internal tissue damage including abrasion, irritation and/or bleeding. Tissue damage increases the risk of infection including STD (sexually transmitted diseases)
2. Flora imbalance in naturally occurring bacteria increases susceptibility to fungal infections (Candida) and/or bacterial vaginosis.
3. Surface erosion of pelvic exercisers (e.g. silicone coated Kegel balls).
4. Condom breakage or sliding out of position.
Benefits of Non-Toxic Personal Lubricants
Choosing the best personal lubricant for internal health can:
- Decrease vaginal dryness and associated tissue damage (abrasion, tearing and irritation).
- Protect internal tissues from damage with exercisers or intercourse.
- Improve personal comfort for intimacy or therapy devices.
- Maintain balanced internal flora.
- Avoid damage and breakdown of exercise equipment or condoms.
How to Choose the Best Personal Lubricant Formulation?
There are 4 main factors to consider when choosing the best personal lubricant for your inner health.
1. Base Ingredients
2. Additives and preservatives
3. Concentration of ingredients
4. Acidity (pH)
If these features are listed they are usually found with lubricant ingredients
1. Base Ingredients (water, silicone, oil or petroleum-based lubricants)
To minimize the risk of internal irritation:
Water or silicone-based lubricants* – unlikely to irritate vaginal tissues, readily cleaned for bacterial removal, usually compatible with condoms and diaphragms
Oil or petroleum-based lubricants – can harbor bacteria increasing the risk of infection (yeast or bacterial), can irritate vaginal tissues, cannot be used with latex condoms or diaphragms
* Note silicone-based lubricants are not suitable for silicone coated pelvic exercisers
2. Additives and Preservatives
Additives are substances combined with the base ingredient designed to enhance the lubricant in some way. Lubricant additives may be synthetic or naturally occurring.
If you’re prone to tissue irritation it’s important to read the ingredients to exclude potential irritants for your body.
Potential additive irritants to avoid:
- Scents (natural or artificial)
- Warming agents e.g. menthol
- Tightening agents
- Spermicide e.g. Nonoxynol-9
- Some plant-derived additives
Preservatives are used in lubricants to prevent contamination and prolong shelf-life.
Dispute currently exists regarding the safety of some preservatives in particular parabens which may mimic oestrogen. Parabens can cause allergic reaction in some individuals.
Rather than use parabens, some lubricants contain small concentrations of alcohol preservative to prevent contamination. This is one reason why some personal lubricants can cause internal irritation or stinging sensation when applied.
Sliquid personal lubricants are all glycerine and paraben free
3. Concentration of Ingredients
Some personal lubricants contain highly concentrated ingredients. Highly concentrated lubricant ingredients can irritate and damage the cells lining the vagina causing them to shrivel up. This may expose these tissues to increased risk of infection.
Glycerol and propylene glycol are often used in high concentrations in water-based personal lubricants to prevent them from evaporating.
Sliquid personal lubricants are glycerine free.
To avoid irritation avoid: high concentrations of glycol or propylene glycol
4. Lubricant Acidity
The best personal lubricant for maintaining normal vaginal acidity has a pH close to 4.5 (the vagina has a pH of 3.8-4.5).
The World health Organisation states women should avoid personal lubricants with high acidity (high pH). High acidity increases the risk of bacterial infection resulting from an imbalance in the normal vaginal bacteria.
Unfortunately the acidity or pH of the lubricant is not always listed on the label.
To avoid irritation avoid: highly acidic personal lubricants
Summary Tips for Choosing the Best Personal Lubricant
Personal lubricants that reduce the risk of internal vaginal tissue irritation:
Water or silicone based (silicone adds longevity)
Contain minimal additives (read the ingredient list)
Paraben and/or glycerine free
Further reading: Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Lube for Comfort and Safety