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  • Dr. Karyn Eilber

Can a lubricant actually be bad for your vagina?

Updated: Dec 1, 2020


These days most of us make an effort to take care of ourselves—we exercise regularly, eat healthy, and even wear sunscreen (if you’re around my age, you probably slathered on baby oil when you went to the beach). Even with all of our daily self-care rituals, it’s not uncommon to forget about care down there. When was the last time you scrutinized the ingredients in your lubricant to the same degree you scrutinize what’s in your facial moisturizer? It's probably because everywhere you turn there is information on what the ideal ingredients are for facial moisturizer, but there isn't nearly as much readily available information on ideal ingredients for vaginal products. Because of this lack of information, many women are using lubricants that may not be helping and may even be harming them. To help you out, here’s a few things you need to know when choosing a lubricant:


First, the normal vagina is ACIDIC. Yes, that’s right, but obviously not so acidic that our vaginas could burn a hole in our partner’s skin (although there are times when we all wish that was true). The acidity of a healthy vagina ranges between 3.8 and 4.5 and is the result of the good bacteria making both lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide—Voila! A self-cleaning oven. A lubricant that is pH balanced for the vagina can maintain the good bacteria and hence a healthy vagina, while lubricants that are not pH balanced can make you more prone to infections.


Secondly, certain chemicals commonly found in vaginal lubricants have potential to harm the vagina. Both glycerin and propylene glycol can damage vaginal and rectal skin cells that can increase the transmission of genital herpes and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). And there is data to suggest that paraben is an Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical (can affect hormones). If you use a lubricant, you should try to use one without these chemicals.


Third, osmolality is extremely important. What is osmolality? It's a measure of how much something pulls fluid out of something else. In the case of lubricants, it’s a measure of how much it causes the vaginal or rectal skin to lose moisture (the opposite of what you want your lubricant to do). An osmolality of 1200 mOsm/kg or less is what is recommended by the World Health Organization for safe sex because not only do lubricants that have too high an osmolality potentially cause dryness they can damage the skin and increase the risk of STIs. Women’s Voices for the Earth reviewed the osmolality and pH of some common lubricants.


And last, but certainly not of least importance, is that lubricants are considered a medical device and should have FDA clearance. Despite this, a study by Dr. Michael Krychman showed that 96% of women were not aware if their lubricant was FDA cleared. Having said that, it is important to note that the FDA currently does not certify any products containing cannabinoids so FDA clearance for CBD lubes isn’t possible at this time.


You should take as much care down there as the rest of you. GLISSANT's FDA-cleared lubricant was made the needs of woman's vagina in mind, and its ingredients promote vaginal health: pH balanced, no harmful chemicals, optimal osmolality, and smells and tastes great!


Take care of your vagina...it's the only one you've got.

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