Ladies, listen up! It is time to take your sexual health into your own hands, starting with a simple and easy swap for safer, healthier sex. You may not know it, but many lubricants found at the drugstore are usually silicone- or glycerin-based and can cause yeast infections, UTIs and even an increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
The World Health Organization released an advisory note in 2012, calling attention to concerns over the pH and osmolality (or a substance’s ability to draw moisture out of tissues and cells) of lubes. Many lubes contain a much higher pH than a vagina, which can cause bacterial vaginosis. Plus, lubes with a higher osmolality can shrivel up the vaginal tissue due to the cell’s moisture being pulled out. Essentially, the lube breaks down the protective walls of the vagina, making you more susceptible to irritation, infection and STIs.
Natural lubricants are a safer option, but what makes a lubricant “natural?” “The best natural lubricant is a good lover,” jokes Carolyn DeLucia, M.D., FACOG, a gynecologist at VSPOT Medispa in New York City. “Barring that, natural is referring to not synthetic, with ingredients found in nature and may even be organic.” For example, many natural lubricants may contain aloes or naturally occurring oils, like olus oil or even probiotics.
While natural lubes are usually a safer option, DeLucia warns against them when condoms are involved. “When you are relying on condoms for birth control, you must make sure the lubricant you are using is safe and won’t destroy the condom,” she says. Using ingredients like baby oil, mineral oil and petroleum jelly will damage the latex of the condom, causing it to break. “Also, you must always be aware of any sensitivity you may have to one of the ingredients,” says DeLucia. Just because it is natural, does not mean it will not irritate your skin — always do a patch test on the inside of your wrist before sliding it into your vagina.
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