Choosing the Best Lubricant

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Sing with us now: “Sex-ual heee-ling …” Loveologist and Natural Solutions‘ guest expert, Wendy Strgar, dishes on all things related to natural intimacy. Don’t forget to read her blog on toxins in personal lubricants. Click here to send her your questions

Lubrication is a fact of life. Anything with a lot of working parts, whether it be an engine, a dinner party, or an evening of love, works better when it is “well oiled.” When natural lubrication is working, it’s a non-issue–a thought we don’t have. When it isn’t working, we know it immediately. An engine without oil locks up in minutes; awkward silence at a party is immediately recognizable. And during sex? Well …

Choosing the Best Lubricant

A lack of lubrication during intimacy can occur for myriad reasons. Age, childbearing and nursing, and some medications often cause vaginal dryness and the associated pain during sex. Sometimes, this physiological issue is accompanied by a lack of sexual drive–natural lubrication is also a sign that we are aroused. I remember in my teens and 20s when arousal happened sometimes without me even noticing it. Those body memories are stored deep in our psyches, and the good news is that triggering them can be as easy as finding the right lubrication. (I’ll tell you how to trigger those, ahem, happy thoughts in my next post!)

I started my own love-product company because so many products I used after the birth of my third and fourth children only served to further irritate the situation. Soaking in late-night baths, I often wondered what was wrong with me and why none of these products were helping me enjoy sex. Being exhausted with burning genitals, instead of feeling satisfied, made it easy to believe that the problem was with me, not the products. I have been researching lubrication product chemistry for years and believe that many intimacy products suffer from a serious lack of imagination. In my own quest to manufacture the perfect lubricant, I have experimented with many formulations. I am both proud and relieved that my efforts paid off, not only for the health of my marriage, but also for so many other women who suffered with the same allergies as I did.

Good lubricant should mimic the body’s natural mucus secretions and respond to your own internal moisture, increasing glide and comfort. The many brands on the market largely break down into three main categories: water based, silicone based, and oil based. Each category has its benefits and weaknesses, and it is increasingly important to be informed about the choices and consequences associated with different product ingredients.

Water-based lubricants are by far the most popular category because they are latex compatible and most often recommended by physicians. However, the petrochemical ingredient base creates sensitivities and allergies which many women experience as irritation, burning, and itching. Many of the base ingredients include propylene glycol, a primary derivative used in antifreeze and brake fluid; polyethylene glycol, a potentially carcinogenic thickener; and methyl- and propyl-parabens used as preservatives. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a research-advocate partner of the Breast Cancer Fund, has recently identified parabens as potentially carcinogenic and is working to stop their use in all personal care products. Vegetable glycerin is another popular ingredient in water-based lubricants. There is some debate about glycerin: On the plus side, it is a great antibacterial agent and does provide a certain glide. The minuses are that it has a tendency to inflame yeast problems and may also contribute to formulations turning sticky and overly sweet.

Silicone-based lubricants provide longer-lasting glide, but one of silicone’s major drawbacks is that it does not wash off sensitive tissue with soap and water.

Love oils and pleasure butters provided me with my first painless and healing sexual experience and helped me launch my business in natural love products. The use of natural olive and coconut oils as lubricants is ages old. They offered in a wide range of sensuous and aromatic options but are generally not recommended by doctors for internal use because they may cause vaginal infections. Like silicone, these are more difficult to wash off and are not compatible with latex condoms.

Whichever lubricant you chose, realize that the body can teach the mind, and arousal and sexual enhancement may be as close as a bottle of good lubricant on your nightstand. As usual, feel free to email me–I’ll answer your questions here.