Why Silicone-Based Lubricant May Be Best for Vaginal Health

Iryna Veklich
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Penetrative intercourse is likely one of the few conditions in life the place the extra slippery it’s, sometimes the higher. While a vagina can create an ample dose of wetness by itself, including in a personal lubricant can immediately stage issues up—and hold it that method, nonetheless lengthy you would possibly like. But precisely which lube you select issues not solely for its efficacy and glide, but in addition for its well being implications, given its shut contact with the vagina. And in accordance with gynecologists, the sort that’s most certainly to take care of the vagina’s wholesome bacterial stability can also be one which may shock you: a silicone-based lubricant.

As a fast lube refresher, silicone-based lubricant is likely one of the three common categories of lube, alongside water-based and oil-based formulation. But whereas sure of us would possibly want one of many latter two choices—for instance, opting for water-based choices for their compatibility with silicone intercourse toys, or oil-based to reap the soothing qualities of sunflower oil and even CBD—silicone-based lubes are surer bets for sustaining vaginal well being, in accordance with medical professionals, as they do not require using any preservatives.

How completely different private lubricants can have an effect on the well being of the vagina

Because silicone-based lubricants include no water, there’s no alternative for micro organism to develop in them. So, in consequence, they do not want a preservative, says OB/GYN Gunvor Ekman Ordeberg, MD, PhD, co-founder of DeoDoc Intimate Skincare. While that’s usually good from a skin-sensitivity standpoint—no preservative means one much less factor that might trigger a possible response—it’s additionally helpful for the microbiome of the vagina.

Consider first {that a} happy, pH-balanced vagina is somewhat acidic, wherever from a 3.8 to a 4.1 pH. (As a reminder, the pH scale goes from a super-acidic 0 to a extremely fundamental 14.) When your vagina’s pH is unbalanced in both course, as Love Wellness founder Lo Bosworth beforehand informed Well+Good, “you are having a difficulty along with your vaginal microbiome,” which may, in flip, permit for unhealthy bacterial development and an infection. And the identical is true for the reverse: Messing with that microbiome may cause a pH imbalance—which may additionally result in an infection.

And that is the place preservatives in lube come into play: “Preservatives utilized in water-based formulations can intervene with the lactobacillus or good micro organism flourishing contained in the vagina,” says Dr. Ordeberg. “Similarly, oil-based merchandise, whether or not or not it’s petroleum, coconut oil, or others, can kill off these good micro organism.”

“Because silicone-based lubricants don’t include any water, they’re pH-neutral and gained’t intervene with the vaginal pH.” —OB/GYN Gunvor Ekman Ordeberg, MD, PhD

Not to say, the pH of a water-based lubricant itself can mess with a balanced vagina’s pH (whatever the bacteria-killing actions of its preservatives). And with a silicone-based lubricant, you merely don’t run that threat. “Because silicone-based lubricants, once more, don’t include any water, they’re pH-neutral and gained’t intervene with the vaginal pH,” says Dr. Ordeberg.

Another upside: Since silicone-based lubricants cannot evaporate or dry out with time, they’re additionally sometimes freed from the components used to spice up glide of their water-based counterparts—like glycerin, glycerol, and propylene glycol. “These substances, in addition to sweeteners and flavors, can improve one thing known as osmolality, which is the measurement of how a lot solvent is dissolved in a method,” says gynecologist and sexual-wellness professional Christie Cobb, MD. And when the osmolality of a lubricant is greater than that of the vaginal mucosa—anywhere above 380mOsm/kg, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)—you threat jeopardizing vaginal cells.

How? If you possibly can recall studying about osmosis in science class, you would possibly keep in mind that water molecules have a tendency to maneuver throughout permeable membranes (just like the vaginal lining, on this case) from the less-concentrated answer to the more-concentrated one, diluting it. So, a high-osmolality (aka very concentrated) lubricant might suck a number of the moisture out of your vaginal cells, resulting in epithelial tissue harm. “That may cause irritation and make you extra prone to sexually transmitted infections,” says Dr. Cobb.

While not all water-based lubricants have a excessive osmolality (this quantity isn’t usually reported on the bottle, however you will discover a listing of frequent ones within the above WHO report), silicone-based lubricants evade this concern fully. Again, they do not include any water, so there is not any threat of water molecules crossing the vaginal membrane.

All of that mentioned, you positively don’t wish to use a silicone-based lubricant if you happen to or a companion is allergic to silicone or are pairing the lube with a silicone intercourse toy, as it will probably degrade the toy over time. In these circumstances, you would be higher off with a water-based lubricant formulated with an identical pH to the vagina (verify the packaging for the quantity or the phrases “pH-balancing”) and solely pure preservatives with a seal of approval from organic certification company Ecocert, like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (each of which aren’t identified to up the lube’s osmolality), says Dr. Cobb.

And if you have already got an oil- or water-based lube that you simply completely love? If you are not experiencing vaginal dryness, repeat infections (yeast or bacterial vaginosis), or any sort of irritation, you might be high quality sticking with it. Though, your greatest guess is to not let both lube linger within the vagina or on the vulva post-sex, simply to reduce your probabilities of any potential pH disruption. According to Dr. Cobb, completely different lubes can actually work in another way in numerous individuals, so it isn’t a nasty thought to strive just a few till you discover your dependable winner.

Ingredients to keep away from in any sort of lubricant to take care of vaginal well being

No matter the bottom of the lubricant you select (water, oil, or silicone), it’s smart to avoid any sort of perfume. “Perfume contained in the vagina is like vaginal suicide,” says Dr. Ordeberg. “Many perfumes include identified allergens and alcohol, all of which can trigger irritation and might doubtlessly dry out the pores and skin.”

It’s additionally name to keep away from any product containing a spermicide like microbicide nonoxynol-9, which has been proven to wreck the vaginal flora and increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis, in addition to parabens, which may trigger contact dermatitis in people with sensitive skin.

Both docs additionally strongly counsel solely utilizing a lubricant that’s been permitted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Personal lubricants really should be permitted as medical gadgets by the FDA, which is a distinct [and more stringent] course of than cosmetics,” says Dr. Cobb. So, basically, whenever you’re shopping for an FDA-approved lubricant, you may be positive its advantages outweigh any identified dangers.

The 5 greatest OB/GYN-approved silicone-based lubricants

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