Friendly reminder: our skin is an organ, and any products we use on our body get absorbed into it. This includes the products you use to keep things heated in the bedroom—which is why I recommend using non-toxic products whenever possible. Reading labels can be confusing, and researching all the ingredients can be time-consuming. Below, I have broken it down into an easy reference list of ingredients I suggest avoiding, whether in personal lubrication or other beauty products.
1. Petroleum or petroleum-based ingredients:
These often stay put for longer than other lubes by coating your skin, which can lead to infections. They will also damage condoms. Two widely known examples are baby oil and petroleum jelly.
This synthetic preservative is thought to act as an endocrine disruptor and can mimic the effects of estrogen. This can interfere with your natural hormones and potentially increase breast cancer risk.
It is widely used in personal lubricants, and for some women, it can lead to candida (yeast infections) and urinary tract infections (UTIs), so if you are prone to those you might want to steer clear. If you aren’t, this ingredient should be fine.
It is a numbing agent and used in some lubricants. Women who find intercourse painful are more drawn to it. However, with fewer sensations, your body may not recognize signs to stop, which can lead to microtears in tissue and major problems. It can also cause allergic contact dermatitis (skin irritation).
5. Propylene glycol:
This ingredient is found in some brands of antifreeze and can cause tissue irritation.
6. Chlorhexidine gluconate:
This antibacterial agent can alter bacteria levels in our vagina and throw it off balance, which can lead to infections. Chlorhexidine gluconate can also lead to tissue irritation and inflammation.
This spermicide can kill the good bacteria in your vagina and lead to bacterial vaginosis (BV) for some.
If you suspect your vaginal dryness is from medication, speak with your doctor. For many medications, there are alternatives that will not have that side effect. Women who continually have dryness and symptoms can speak with their doctor about other treatment options. When we are dehydrated, it also affects our vagina, so make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. A good pelvic floor exercise program and regular sexual stimulation can also help increase blood flow and natural secretions to the vagina.