Why your sex life may benefit from natural lube?
By: Madeleine Wisecup
Do you use lube? Have you ever wondered why your sex life may benefit from lube? Curious about whether or not “natural” brands actually work and/or if you can use coconut oil as lube? Trust me, you’re not alone. I can’t tell you how many times women have timidly asked me these questions.
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Do you use lube? Have you ever wondered why your sex life may benefit from using natural lube? Curious about whether or not “natural” brands actually work and/or if you can use coconut oil as lube? Trust me, you’re not alone. I can’t tell you how many times women have timidly asked me these questions. Questions, I had been asking myself to be honest.
So, I decided to dedicate an entire podcast episode to the topic of lubrication, lube for short. In today’s episode I explore, the benefits of using lube, the difference between oil, water, and silicone-based lubes, which ingredients you might consider avoiding and why, 3 of my favorite eco and natural lube brands, whether or not it’s OK to use coconut oil as lube and more!
Benefits of using natural lube
If you think only post-menopausal women should be using lube, well, I got news for you! Turns out using lube might actually make your sex life better, whether you’re post-menopausal or not. In a study conducted by Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, researchers asked 2,500 women to rate their lovemaking with and without a lubricant. The women declared, according to the study, that added lubrication made sex substantially more enjoyable. And, from what I’ve gathered, they may be on to something!
Did you know that depending on which phase of your menstrual cycle you’re in you may produce more or less vaginal lubrication? Generally speaking, women tend to be dryer during their follicular phase, the phase right after your period, and during the second week of their luteal phase, which is the week right before your period. This is in part due to the fact that our sex hormone levels decline during these phases, including, shares women’s hormone expert Alisa Vitti estrogen the hormone that keeps the vagina lubricated.
And, according to the International Society For Sexual Medicine, vaginal dryness can also “happen when estrogen levels drop during menopause, when a woman is breastfeeding (after pregnancy), undergoing chemotherapy, or when she has been treated for breast cancer and sometimes, women just prefer more lubrication than their bodies provide.”
Basically, throughout our lives we go through periods where we produce more or less vaginal lubrication. Unfortunately, if for whatever reason you don’t produce enough lubrication, things can get a bit dry “down there.” Unfortunately this dryness can result in uncomfortable and at times painful intercourse.
One very simple way to help reduce pain or discomfort during sex? Natural lubricant!
How to select natural lubricant
When it comes to selecting a natural lube you want to find a lube that supports your vagina’s pH. I explore this in more detail in this episode but, just as a quick refresher the pH scale runs from 0 (acidic) to 14 (basic) and you want your nether regions to fall somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5, which is moderately acidic. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using a lubricant with a pH of 4.5 (lubricants exceeding a pH of 7 are not recommended!). So when purchasing lube, you want to find a brand that won’t alter your pH balance too much.
Different types of lube
There are various different types of lube — most commonly you’ll come across water, silicone, and oil-based lubricants. Each, of course, has their own sets of pros and cons.
Water based lubricants: Easier to rinse off, don’t stain sheets or clothing, and are safe to use with latex condoms. The downside? You may need to reapply more frequently as it tends to dry out more quickly than silicone and/or oil based lubricants.
Silicone-based lubricants: Last longer than water-based lubricants but unfortunately do not rinse off as easily, tend to stain sheets, and, if not rinsed off immediately after sex, have been found to irritate some women. (source)
Oil-based lubricants: Oil-based lubes tend to be super moisturizing and don’t need to be reapplied as often as water and silicone based lubes. (source). But, similar to silicone-based lubes, oil-based lubes may also stain sheets. If you’re someone who likes to get frisky in the shower, then oil-based lube may be better suited for you as it makes sex easier in water. (friendly reminder: shower sex is not super eco-friendly as you do waste a lot of water!)
Note of caution: Do not use oil-based lube with latex condoms. Oil based lube has been found to weaken the latex, making the condom more likely to leak or break. In turn, reports the International Society for Sexual Medicine, this increases the risk of unplanned pregnancy or transmission of a sexually-transmitted infection (STI).
Ingredients to avoid
If you’re prone to yeast infections experts recommend avoiding lubricants containing glycerine. Glycerine, shares Dr. Mary Marnach, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic, is known to break down sugars and promotes yeast infections and possibly also bacterial vaginosis.
In addition, most of the research I’ve come across strongly suggests women avoid inserting oils such as petroleum jelly and baby oils vaginally as these are prone to increase infections as well. In fact, even Vaseline chimed in on this one telling Reuters Health by email: “Vaseline Petroleum Jelly is for external use only, and we state this on our packaging for consumers. We do not recommend Vaseline Petroleum Jelly be used as a vaginal lubricant and have not performed any testing to support this use.”
Also, best to avoid anything flavored or that causes warming and/or tingling sensations as these are generally packed with ingredients you most likely don’t want to be applying in those sensitive areas.
Trying to conceive?
Note of caution: Not all lubes are fertility friendly. One clinical study I came across (PMC3427535) reported that “over-the-counter lubricants including Astroglide, KY Jelly, and Replens have been shown in multiple studies to adversely affect sperm motility at a variety of concentrations. One study showed sperm to be immotile after 15 minutes of exposure to these lubricants. While a spectrum of lubricant concentrations have been studied, the in vivo concentration of lubricant in ejaculate deposited at the top of the vagina during intercourse is unknown.”
I list a few different FDA-approved fertility friendly brands below if this is something you’re interested in. But as always, please speak to your health care provider if you have any questions about lubes to use if you’re trying to conceive.
Can you use coconut oil as lube?
Good question. From the research I’ve come across there are mixed reports on this.
Dr. Jolene Brighten, ND naturopathic physician and women’s health expert shares the following:
“The caution around coconut oil as lube is because it has antimicrobial properties, and as such, it may disrupt the healthy vaginal flora. However, it’s important to note that we don’t have studies showing this is definitively true and some women report that they have experienced less yeast infections since using [coconut oil as lube]. Of course, this may be because of the type of lube they were using previously or other factors.”
Something important to note here is that there aren’t really any specific scientific studies that explore the risks or benefits of using coconut oil as a personal lubricant. It just hasn’t been vigorously clinically studied by scientists.
Dr. Kathleen Green, an OBGYN who focuses on sexual wellness at the University of Florida’s Health Women’s Center, shares on Lola.com that none of her patients have ever complained of getting a vaginal infection after using coconut oil. However, to err on the safe side, use a small amount to see how your body reacts.
Personally, I really like using coconut oil…but then again, I haven’t experienced any yeast infections or other side effects after use.
Also, similar to store-bought oil-based lubes don’t use coconut oil with latex condoms as the oil properties will degrade the latex. And, best to stick to virgin, unrefined food-grade coconut oil that’s free from any preservatives or additives.
Ok, there you have it, a sneak peek of what I explore in this episode and some of the benefits of using natural lube. If you want more information, fun facts on the history of lube, or want to know why I personally won’t be using olive oil as lube, tune in to today’s episode here.
My top 3 favorite natural lube brands?
Coconu: Ethically and sustainably manufactured using only plant-based, organic, and safe ingredients Coconu provides three different lubricant options: water-based, oil-based, and hemp-based lubricants. In addition, Coconu was one of the first personal lubricants to be certified USDA organic! Ingredients include organic coconut oil, organic coconut water, and other natural ingredients such as organic beeswax, organic cocoa butter, organic sunflower oil, and organic shea butter. Coconu also donates a portion of their proceeds to the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance. Use coupon code: THEWISECONSUMER
Lola: Lola’s lubricant is water-based, made with 100% organic aloe leaf juice, gynecologist-approved, and formulated to support your vagina’s ph balance.
And as a bonus it comes with a mess-free, one-click pump system, which makes it really easy to apply when you’re in the heat of the moment without fumbling all over the place while you figure out how to open your lube tube. Ask me how I know.
Also, this is one of the only brands on this list that, to my knowledge, is FDA 510(k) cleared. This doesn’t mean that it’s FDA approved — it just means that it’s been, as the name implies, cleared by the FDA. (I explore this in more detail in the episode!)
Almost Naked: Almost Naked lube was the first personal lubrication brand to become carbon neutral! For every bottle purchased, they donate to a project that reduces greenhouse gases by an amount equivalent to that bottle’s carbon footprint. In addition, they’re Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, which is one of the most highly regarded organic certifications. They offer a few different types of water-based lubricant options — the almost naked personal lubricant, the bio nude, which is great if you have sensitive skin, and the BioGenesis™ Fertility Lubricant.
More eco and natural lube brands
1. Sliquid Sea Natural Lubricant: This US made water-based lubricant is infused with seaweed extracts Carrageenan, Nori and Wakami. It’s free of DEA, glycerin, glycol, parabens, PEG, propylene glycol, sorbitol, and sulfates. Sliquid offers a variety of various lubricants ranging from lube cubes to silicone-based lube.
Foria: Made using USDA certified organic hemp (grown regeneratively on a family farm), Foria is sustainably sourced and packaged and free of synthetics. All products are formulated using only plant-based and organic ingredients! From intimacy suppositories to natural CBD organic coconut lube, to CDB wellness bath salts you’re sure to find something to meet your needs.
Sutillube: SUTIL is a luxury line of water-based personal lubricants/body glides made with natural and organic plant sourced and eco-certified ingredients.
Maude: Made in the US, Maude provides both an aloe-based (water-based) and silicone-based lubricant. According to their website, both lubricants are gluten-free, sugar-free, hormone-free, glycerin-free, paraben-free, and contain non-GMO and vegan-friendly ingredients.
Province Apothecary Sex Oil: Made from certified-organic plant ingredients, without the addition of synthetic fragrance or toxic ingredients this oil-based sex oil not only keeps you lubricated bu moisturized as well.
Necessaire: This personal skincare care brand is made using clean, effective and non-toxic ingredients. Products range from deodorant to body wash to lube. Their water-based lube is FDA-cleared and made with distilled deionized water and organic aloe vera. Free of synthetic ingredients, fragrances, and dyes and 100% recyclable packaging.
Sustain: Sustain’s water-based personal lubricant is made of 96% organic ingredients, including aloe vera and flax seed extract and free of harmful petrochemicals or parabens and contains no glycerin. You can purchase Sustain via Grove Collaborative, auto-replenishment service that delivers all-natural home, beauty, and personal care products directly to your door!
AH! YES products are made with natural, pure and certified organic ingredients and free of hormones, parabens, glycerine, perfumes or petrochemicals. Products range from water-based lubricants to their water-based vaginal moisturizer which helps to rehydrate and lubricate the vaginal vault and restore the naturally acidic pH balance of the vagina.
Dr. Bronner’s Regenerative Coconut Oil:
Dr. Bronner’s Regenerative Coconut Oil, is the first Regenerative Organic Certified Virgin Coconut Oil. While coconut oil has many uses — cooking, removing make-up, moisturizing skin, etc. — many women also enjoy using coconut oil as lube. If you’re going to use coconut oil as lube experts recommend using a food-grade, unrefined, preservative-free, organic coconut oil. Remember, do not use oil-based lubricant with latex condoms and use sparingly.
FDA-approved fertility friendly Lubes
Recommendations from American Pregnancy.org (paraben-free)
- Effect of Vaginal Lubricants on Natural Fertility
- International Society for Sexual Medicine: What is Lubricant
- University of Michigan Health System (UMHS)
- FDA: Premarket Notification 510(k)
- FDA Approved vs FDA Cleared
- The History of Animals by Aristotle
- Medicinal Uses of Seaweed by Ryan Drum, PhD
- Is it safe to use coconut oil as lube? by Dr. Sherry Healthline Well and Good