Choosing a lubricant is tough. Most women just grab the first one they see and high-tail it out of the store. Because of course, loitering in the lube and condom aisle comparing labels and ingredients for ages doesn’t seem to be anyone’s idea of fun.
Whether you’re using a vaginal lubricant occasionally during intercourse or more daily for vaginal dryness, it’s important to choose the right one with the right ingredients. Not only is the vagina comprised of very sensitive tissue, it also maintains it’s own pH and bacterial balance. Chemicals or harmful ingredients that disrupt this delicate balance can mean more itchiness, dryness, and even an increased risk of potential infections (like yeast infections, UTIs, and bacterial vaginosis). The vaginal canal also contains a vast network of blood vessels, which means anything you put in there can end up anywhere in your body.
Many common lubricants that are available at your local pharmacies and groceries stores are littered with ingredients such as:
Mineral Oil: A petroleum byproduct (think: vaseline) that can clog pores and may contain impurities.
Glycerin: Has been associated with yeast infections and irritation in some women.
Parabens: Mimics estrogen and can act as an endocrine disruptor. Parabens can contribute to hormone imbalances making your symptoms worse, and have been linked to hormone-dependent cancers.
Propylene Glycol: May cause burning and irritation in some women.
Fragrances and Flavours: Can be a variety of undisclosed ingredients that can be irritating to many women. They have also been associated with allergies and negative effects on the reproductive system.
So what’s a women to do? Here are some options…
Coconut oil: All natural and so safe you can use it in the kitchen too! Coconut oil can be used as needed for dryness or irritation, as well as during intercourse. Not to be used with condoms.
Natural and/or organic lubricant products: Look for products that avoid the above ingredients and instead use natural ingredients such as: aloe, vitamin E, cocoa butter, coconut oil, or almond oil
Hyaluronic Acid: Is natural to our own skin and connective tissue. It promotes the natural lubrication of the vagina and can improve burning, dryness, and itchiness. This is my go-to option for menopausal women who would prefer a non-hormonal treatment for vaginal dryness.
Vaginal Estriol: Estriol is a hormonal option to be used only under the supervision of a health professional. It’s indicated for menopausal women experiencing vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, irritation or burning. Estriol is a weak estrogen which means it has a better safety profile and only needs to be used 1-2x per week to maintain symptom relief.
If you’re struggling with itchiness, burning, pain or feeling like the Sahara desert, let’s talk! A Naturopathic Doctor can assess what might be contributing to your symptoms and the best ways to get you relief. Your lady bits deserve it!
The Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org