By now, you might have picked up on the fact that I am sex positive. If you don't know, being "sex positive" means you do not judge people for their sexual acts and preferences, or talking about their sexual acts and preferences, as long as they aren't coercing or hurting anyone. People who are sex positive think joyful, curious, and educated exploration of all the fun things you can do with yourself and another person (or more than one person) is awesome, when done consensually and respectfully.
If talking about sex makes you uncomfortable, I totally understand, because we live in America and that's the way we've been taught. But this discomfort leads to misinformation being propagated, with can lead to so many serious problems – health problems, sexual assault problems, relationship problems, mental problems – that I personally will not shy away from talking about sex within the context of sustainability on this blog.
So, having put in that explanation/disclaimer, let's move on to the topic of lubricant. I stopped by ABC Home this morning to learn about lubricant from Sustain Condoms. Here are some things that I didn't know about lube, that I wish I had known before!
1. Traditional lubricants have not been thoroughly tested for safety.
The World Health Organization and other global health organizations such as Family Health International has recently raised concerns about the safety of some traditional brands of personal lubricants. We know that vaginas are more absorbent and definitely more sensitive than typical skin, but there is surprisingly little research on how chemicals in lubricants affect our special lady place.
2. Conventional lubricants have parabens and petrochemicals.
95% of traditional lubricants sold in the U.S. are petrochemical based. The most commonly used preservatives added to water-based lubricants to prevent microbial growth are parabens. These preservatives can cause irritation and sensitization in some people, plus they considered to be endocrine disruptors, which are linked to breast cancer.
3. Conventional lubricants can actually make you dryer with use.
Sure, they make things wonderfully slippery the moment you use them (though, that mild burning sensation is sort of alarming, right?), but the petrochemicals and glycerin in conventional lubricants actually dry you out for the next time, creating an uncomfortable cycle if you having to use them more and more. It's because these ingredients are hyperosmolar, causing water to be sucked out of the walls of your vag.
4. And they've been linked with bacterial infections and STIs.
When your vag dries out, this in turn damages the tissue and increases your chance of an STD or STI. Plus, lubricants containing highly osmolar glycerin and petrochemicals have been linked to increased levels of bacterial vaginosis. Two in five women have BV, which occurs when the normal balance of good bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced with an overgrowth of certain types of harmful bacteria. These harmful bacteria can act as a host for HIV and other STDs, increasing your risk of getting and passing along HIV. Also, traditional lubricants have a pH that is higher than the pH levels in the human body, and when they come into contact with the vagina, can cause the pH level to increase, making it more likely that a woman will get BV. Oh, and glycerin can lead to chronic yeast infections. Woohoo! All super fun things.
5. BUT lubricants make condoms more effective.
Don't run screaming from lube! Besides making sex more fun, lube makes it less likely that your condom will break. So that is something to recommend it.
6. There are non-toxic lubricants on the market that don't do any of those scary things your vagina.
I've covered the lubricant Yes! out of the U.K. before, but now there's a new one on the U.S. market from Sustain Condoms (remember my fascinating interview with Meika from Sustain?) that is non-toxic, vegan, and gluten-free. It comes in a plain scent and a lavender scent, and I've been told that it tastes really pleasant. (Wink!)