Have you ever felt pain with sex and thought lubricant was the answer, only to find that it makes it worse? It may burn, it may itch, it may do both… but most of all, it really doesn’t feel good… or is causing more pain than before. Your doctor keeps telling you to use more lube… but it’s not working. You start to think it’s just you… you must be allergic to something in the lubricants, or you body is defective… but what if it’s the lubricants themselves that are hurting you, without your knowledge?
Virtually all hyperosmolar lubricants need to be reformulated… Normally the mucosal lining of the vagina is a good barrier to infection all by itself, but when that barrier gets compromised, all bets are off.
– Richard Cone, biophysicist Johns Hopkins
We’ve known for a while now that almost 1/3 of women will have pain with sex at least at one point or another. Lacking lubrication can be one of the main causes of pain during sex. It is incredibly common, and happens for a ton of reasons. Aging, child birth, nursing, and even common medications like anti-histamines and anti-depressants can often cause vaginal dryness and contribute to a lower libido. The physical symptom of dryness turns into a lowered sex drive for many reasons. First, natural lubrication is a primary signal of arousal. Early sexual memories often include moments of wetness. Those sexual memories are stored deep in your mind and body. Triggering them to cause arousal can be as easy as finding the right lubrication. Second, lack of lubrication causes pain, which decreases your enjoyment of sex, and can cause anxiety. This can become a terrible cycle that makes you want to avoid sex all together.
What’s In Your Lube?
Lubrication is a fact of life. In any relationship where working parts are at play, lubricants play a role. Whether it is an engine, a dinner party, or having sex, everything works better when it is “well-oiled.” Lubrication allow your bodies to glide, for ease and effectiveness. When lubrication works well, it’s invisible, and we don’t even think about it. When it isn’t working, we know it immediately… although we might not attribute it to lube. An engine without oil locks up in minutes, and a lack of lube can lead to the same awkward silence and uncomfortable gazing down into the lap that your car breaking down does to you. But personal lubricants never seemed like the answer to a national health crisis until now.
The lubricant market is full of choices, some over the counter – like Johnson and Johnson’s KY Jelly, a $219 million dollar industry – and others only found at sex shops or online retailers. But when you look beyond the packaging and brand hype to the ingredients, it quickly becomes clear that over 95% of OTC and adult lubricants are made with petrochemical ingredients including propylene glycol, used in products like anti-freeze and brake fluid, and polyethylene glycol, used in laxatives and oven cleaner. These are largely preserved with methyl- and propyl-parabens, which have been listed as potential carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) and are not allowed in the EU. But, since most lubricants are marketed as “novelty products only” and are not regulated or approved by the FDA, they continue to use these toxic chemicals.
The petrochemical lubes that dominate the market damage the genital and rectal tissue that they are intended to protect. The problem is a bio-physics issue caused by dangerous chemicals, not an allergic sensitivity. KY warming jelly’s have a cellular weight that’s 30 times heavier than human skin tissue cells (weighing around 300 isomoles). These lubricants literally squeeze human tissue cells to death. The warming sensation you feel is actually the skin cells shriveling up and falling off. This causes pain, and most of all, small tears that compromise the natural immune response of the genital walls.
Most disturbing of all, lubricants with petrochemicals can increase your risk of contracting and spreading STD’s and HIV. New lubricant studies conducted by biophysicists, commissioned by National Institute of Health to create a buffer gel for the prevention of HIV, analyzed the current petrochemical-based lubricants on the market. Studies have since found that women who use these types of lubricants are 13 times more likely to contract Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), when compared with women who use nothing at all. The number of women impacted by BV is staggering. Depending on ethnicity, between 29 and 51% of all women currently have BV. Worse still, 84% don’t even know that they have it. This condition is often silent, yet it makes you susceptible to more lethal STIs and HIV. Women with BV are 60% more likely to contract other sexually transmitted infections and diseases, including HIV. Although researchers aren’t clear about how HIV gets transmitted, women with BV are three times as likely to transmit the disease to their male partner.
The founder of Good Clean Love, the leading organic body-safe lubricant on the market, was inspired to solve this her sexual need of pain during sex – and now, to solve the public health crisis surrounding lubricants. The burning and itching that followed her intimacy didn’t really leave her longing for more. Developing products and lubricants that made having sex healthier was as much a personal quest as a business idea. When we first began making lubricants and learning about the petrochemicals ingredients that were making people sick, we thought that burning reactions were due to sensitivities or allergies that was exacerbated by other issues, like vaginal dryness or pain with sex. Soon, we realized that the chemicals themselves were the problem. Ten years later, we remain on the forefront of science – continually looking for safer, cleaner formulations so that you can have sex as dirty as you want without worrying about feeling bad afterward.
There is currently a revolution moving toward new, innovative brands of organic and all-natural products. They are entering the market to replace the dangerous, toxic effects of bad chemicals currently used today. Personal lubricants may be the last type of health care products to experience this change. Until then, take care of the most sensitive tissue in your body by reading labels, being aware of toxic chemicals, and listening to your body’s bad reactions. Good sex isn’t about feeling the burn; it is about feeling the warmth of someone you love. Choose wisely and realize that the body can teach the mind. Arousal and sexual enhancement may be as close as the bottle on your night stand.