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What's the Best Natural Sexual Lubricant? You Might Be Surprised

Using the right lube is key.
 
 
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Photo Credit: George Allen Penton

 
 
 
 

If you eat organic food and use organic health and beauty products, why shouldn’t you continue to use organic and natural products in the bedroom?

Case in point, personal lubricants.

When you hear the term “personal lubricant,” your thoughts may immediately turn to K-Y Jelly, a charming combination of water, glycerin, hydroxyethylcellulose, chlorhexidine gluconate, gluconolactone, methylparaben, and sodium hydroxide used by many to “[prepare] you for intimacy and [ease] the discomfort of vaginal dryness during sex.”

If you’re not a chemist and you’re tripping up on that ingredient list, the best place to hone in might be “chlorhexidine gluconate,” an antibacterial. Ellen Barnard, co-founder and co-owner of A Woman’s Touch, a store providing products and information for sexual health and pleasure in Madison, WI, says, “No way, no way, because what it does is it kills all your healthy [vaginal] bacteria.”

Still want to put that up yourself?

Fortunately, alternatives abound—both ready-made branded products you buy at the store, and homemade solutions as simple as aloe.

First off, why use a lubricant at all? Barnard, a social worker who co-owns A Woman’s Touch with a physician, recommends one for “Any time [you] are using a condom, first of all, absolutely, no question” and “women with any dryness.”

She qualifies this with: “I'm not talking about dryness because their partner has not spent enough time to get them aroused. But assuming the woman and her partner have taken that time, some women do not produce enough moisture to provide their own lubrication.” Particularly, women who are breastfeeding, using oral contraceptives, or are post-menopausal.

Why? For those using a condom, it’s a matter of safety—and pleasure. “Condoms, even when lubricated,” notes Barnard, “do not have enough lubricant on them to prevent breakage and that is the biggest reason that condoms fail.” She adds that a bit of lube added to the tip of the condom on the inside plus more on the outside is “a way to make it more fun for him."

As for the three groups of women she mentioned who might need a little help in the lube department, Barnard explains how women get wet in the first place. When a woman is aroused, there is increased blood flow to the vaginal walls, which stimulates the production of discharge. “Estrogen is the primary hormone that allows blood flow,” and women who are breastfeeding, taking oral contraceptives, or post-menopausal have a paucity of estrogen.

So that’s why and when to use lube. But what should you use?

“There are certain things that you should never let touch your vagina,” says Barnard. Her list of “Do Not Use or Else” ingredients, as she calls it, consists only of chlorhexidine, the ingredient in K-Y Jelly noted above. But, she cautions, there are “other things I put very close to that list are anything that cause a warming or cooling sensation because they irritate the skin. That would include menthol, peppermint, cinnamon, capsaicin... If you use it repeatedly, it can lead to terrible skin reactions. And I've had a lot of women come in with really profound long-lasting skin irritations.”

Then there are other ingredients used in lubes that some people can be sensitive to. "I don't put these on my do not use list,” notes Barnard. “I put them on my ‘if you are sensitive, do not put them on your genitals first’ list.” To test a product before using it, place a little bit on the skin inside of your elbow. Then wait a few hours to see if you have a negative reaction. If your skin gets red or itchy, do not use the product.

 
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