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Lubricants

Lubricants (lube) can increase pleasure and lower the chance that a condom will break with penetrative sex. Lube helps condoms move easily on skin, making sex safer and more pleasurable.

When there is dryness, there is more chance that tender anal or vaginal/internal genital skin will tear, or a condom will break. Not only is it painful to have small tears, it is also easier to get or pass an STI if the skin is broken. Lubricants reduce friction during sex and this helps to prevent condoms from breaking. Some people find that a small drop of lube inside the tip of the condom can also increase pleasure.

There are different kinds of lubricants:

Water-based lube is safe to use with latex condoms and silicone toys and easily washes away. It tends to dry up and become sticky sooner than silicone-based lube, but adding water or saliva will make it slick again.

Silicone-based lube is also safe with latex condoms.  It tends to stay wetter longer and does not get sticky. Silicone lube is not water-soluble, so it can be harder to wash away and may damage silicone toys over time and make them sticky.

Glycerine-free lube is good for people who find that lubricants cause vaginal/internal genital irritation

Both water-based and silicone lubes are available in drugs stores and sex stores. They vary in thickness, smell, and taste, so try some different ones to find out what you prefer.

Lubes to avoid

Avoid petroleum-based products (for example, Vaseline), oils, and lotions if you are using latex condoms, as they can cause the condom to break. Sometimes people use home ingredients as lube, such as vegetable oils or syrups. Be aware that some may cause other problems such as yeast infections.

Avoid lubes and condoms with the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 causes cell damage in the vagina and anus, and may increase the chance of passing or getting an HIV infection.

Coconut oil as lube

Coconut oil is an edible vegetable-based oil that can be used on external skin. There has recently been increased interest in using coconut oil as a sexual lubricant.

There is no formal research on coconut oil as lube and caution is recommended when using it inside the body (like inside the vagina/internal genitals or anus). If you decide to try using coconut oil as lube, be aware of any body changes afterwards and stop using it if you notice any irritation in the genital area.

Why do people like it?

  • Convenient: For some people, coconut oil is a convenient choice for lube because they are familiar with it and have it available at home.
  • Doubles as massage oil: Coconut oil is great for using as a massage oil. Some people like using it for massage before sex and as lube during sex.
  • Moisturizing: The moisturizing properties of coconut oil are well established. For some people, the extra moisture provided by coconut oil makes it a good option for them.

What are the drawbacks?

  • Antibacterial properties: Coconut oil has proven antibacterial properties, meaning that it can kill bacteria. Although we use antibacterial products to wash our hands, using antibacterial products inside the body can cause problems. For example, the vagina/internal genitals have a delicate balance of healthy bacteria and coconut oil may disrupt that balance. Altering the balance of vaginal bacteria can lead to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
  • Should not be used with condoms: Oil-based lubes damage condoms. Research shows how oil damages latex and polyurethane condoms, and makes condoms more likely to break.
  • Staining: Coconut oil is greasy and can stain bed sheets and clothes.


Resources
Toward the Heart – Search by city or postal code to find clinics in BC that provide free safer sex supplies, including lube.

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