When you’re hot and heavy and suddenly find yourself in need of lubrication, it may seem tempting to grab the closest smooth substance available. It’s best to be prepared, though. A recent study out of UCLA warns us about the negative impacts of certain lubricants. Some of them can lead to vaginal infections.
Research gathered from a two year study shows that women who used petroleum jelly intravaginally were at a greater risk (by 22 percent) for bacteria vaginosis. And, those who used oils intravaginally increased their risk for a yeast infection by 32 percent. This study involved 141 women, between the ages of 18 and 65, who were sexually active.
Joelle Brown, PhD, believes that the products may change the vaginal flora and acidity balance that are important for a healthy vagina. This is a delicate balance, and any changes in the balance can trigger infections. Brown states that there’s increasing evidence that shows that some products designed to clean the vagina (many are unnecessary) and certain kinds of lubricants can actually cause damage to vaginal tissues and cause a woman to be more susceptible for major infections, HIV included. Additional infections and fertility issues may result from any untreated infections.
Petroleum jelly is one of the worst choices for a lubricant because it has staying power. This is not helpful, as it attracts and collects bacteria while it stays, lowering the effects of a latex condom. Kitchen and health and beauty oils are no-gos as well. They don’t not rinse off easily, hold bacteria and may deteriorate latex condoms.
At this point you might be thinking that there’s no hope for lubrication. Aren’t all lubricants oily? Fortunately, you don’t have to pass on lubricants. You can have amazing, lubricated sex and not have to worry about getting a prescription from your gynecologist for an infection the next day. Dr. Lauren Streicher, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University has a few recommendations of what to avoid and what to go for, as far as lubricants are concerned.
What to avoid:
- Glycerin – It’s similar to sugar, which creates a place for yeast growth.
- Propylene glycol – This is often used as a preservative in lubricants and can cause major irritation.
- Acetate – Ingredients that end in “acetate” mean they’re an alcohol. They’re drying, can make you itch, and lead to infection if you scratch that delicate skin.
What to go for:
- Silicone (dimethicone) – If you’re in a monogamous relationship and/or you’re not worried about using a condom, they last longer than water-based lubricants.
- Paraben-free – Try to stay away from parabens, in general. They hide in many cosmetics and feminine hygiene products as preservatives.
- Aloe vera – This is excellent because it can help soften the skin and is naturally soothing, without changing the vaginal walls.