Talking about lubes is almost a taboo, isn’t it? If you're planning to run away from this page, don't. You're here because you're curious about the taboo named vaginal lubricant, and there's nothing wrong with that curiosity. It's a widely used product all over the world for pleasurable intercourse. There's a lot to know about this product, including how to use it safely. Thankfully, you're at the right place to know all about lubes!

All About Lubes

Don't worry, we are here to help you find your answers about lubes so that you can make an informed decision about buying. It's never a bad time to learn!

What is vaginal lubricant?

As you may or may not know, lubricants or lubes, are a fluid substance to counter vaginal dryness and replace naturally secreted lubricant. This is a common condition among women who are a) in their menopausal years, b) in the drier months of the menstrual cycle, c) breastfeeding, d) suffering from certain medical conditions or, e) under certain medication leading to this condition. Lubes can ease discomfort due to dryness.

Are there side effects of using lubricants?

Research says that not all lubricants are designed keeping in mind the health of women. There may be toxic side effects of using lubricants. During use, the vagina is directly exposed to these products. Recent studies suggest that most lubricants need to be reformulated to make them safer for women. They can disturb the pH level inside the vagina, causing overgrowth of bacteria or fungus. The osmolality or concentration of the lube is also important. The problems of lubes can be categorised by:

a) pH level - The lube must have a pH level that suits the vaginal pH range of 3.8-4.5. If it's too acidic or alkaline, it can cause irritation and infection.

b) Osmolality – If the lube is hypo-osmotic, it will draw too much moisture from the internal tissues and cells, leading to their dehydration. If it's hyper-osmotic, it can cause the cells to die. These can lead to risks of sexually transmitted diseases.

c) Toxicity - The lubes may contain harsh chemicals which can harm the vaginal microbiome that have helpful microorganisms. This can cause irritation, higher risk of infections, and even lead to chronic effects like reproductive problems, or cancer. Some of the chemicals commonly found in lubes are

-> Chlorhexidine gluconate, a disinfectant chemical that can kill lactobacillus, a 'good bacteria’ ;

-> Parabens , i.e. methylparaben and/or propylparaben, a preservative that can irritate the mucous membranes, cause rashes, or even lead to fertility issues or endocrine disruption;

-> Cyclomethicone/cyclopentasiloxane/cyclotetrasiloxane in silicone-based lubes, which can cause harm to reproductive system and even uterine cancer;

-> Undisclosed aromatic agents that can be carcinogens, allergens, etc.

Safer lubricants

Before buying, go through the list of product details. Look for a product with a pH level below 4.5 and osmolality less than 1200 mOsm/kg. Avoid products with chemicals that we mentioned above. Also, avoid products with colours and flavours, or those offering unique sensations like heating or cooling. There are many types of lubricants available, like water-based, oil-based, and silicone based ones. A simple water-based one is your safest option.

Remember to pick a humble product without too many features, and monitor how your body reacts to the new lubricant. It’s better to switch brands than to stick with something that’s causing you irritation. So take charge of your own comfort, and pick the right lube!