Sex is messy enough. There’s no need to add worry on top of that with lube that’s loaded up with harsh chemicals — especially when you're trying to conceive. Fortunately, though, there are a lot of awesome new non-toxic lube options on the market that help you turn up the heat without getting burned by irritants or hormone disruptors.
9 Ingredients To Avoid in Conventional Lube
Parabens are preservatives that are often used in personal care products, including lubricants. They’re added to prevent the growth of bacteria to extend the shelf life but can cause potential hormone disruption, skin irritation, and accumulation in the body.
Glycerin is a sugar alcohol that’s often used in lubricants as a “humectant,” to retain moisture. While it’s generally safe for most, it can potentially cause yeast infections in people who are prone to them, and cause irritation, and vaginal dryness post-intercourse.
Propylene glycol is a synthetic compound used in various personal care products as a humectant to increase moisture retention. It can be a skin irritant, cause allergic reactions, especially in those with sensitive skin, and accumulate in the body over time.
Most conventional lubricants contain artificial fragrances or perfumes to enhance the scent. Fragrances can cause irritation, allergic reactions, and hormone disruption. Fragrances are very poorly regulated, meaning companies don’t have to disclose what’s in their fragrance, making it nearly impossible to know what you’re being exposed to.
Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicide that was previously used in several lubricants as a contraceptive. However, it’s been found to cause irritation, disrupt the natural balance of vaginal flora, and potentially cause damage to the internal tissues of the vagina so it’s no longer recommended for regular use. Many companies have taken it out of their formulations, but it’s best to always double-check your labels!
Petroleum-based ingredients, such as mineral oil or petroleum jelly, are included in many lubricants to reduce friction and provide moisture. However, they can potentially disrupt your natural vaginal pH balance, lead to a drying effect over time, trap bacteria, cause irritation, and increase the risk of condom breakage.
Silicone is used as the main ingredient over water or petroleum in some lubricants because it has a silky texture, is waterproof, and is long-lasting. It’s generally safe and effective, but for individuals who are sensitive or allergic to silicone, it should be avoided.
Chlorhexidine gluconate is used in some lubricants as a disinfectant. It can kill off the good bacteria in your vagina, thereby triggering inflammation and irritation. Many brands have opted to remove it from their formulations for this reason, but you should still always read your ingredient labels.
Benzocaine is a local anesthetic commonly used to numb or reduce pain and discomfort. It’s sometimes used in lubricants for pain relief some may experience during sex, or make anal play less scary. However, because it operates as a numbing agent, you can mask sensations during sex that are silently causing harm and cause irritation.
5 Ingredients To Look For in Fertility-Friendly Lubricant
Look for “water-based” as the primary ingredient. Water-based lubricants are generally safe, hypoallergenic, and compatible with most body types. They’re also easy to clean up and won't stain fabrics.
Organic or real, easy-to-read ingredients
Avoid products that contain vague, synthetic fragrances, dyes, or harsh chemicals and look for plant-based extracts, botanical oils like coconut or almond oil, aloe vera, natural emollients like shea butter and cocoa butter, or other gentle and nourishing substances instead.
These are generally considered safer and less likely to cause irritation or adverse reactions.
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Hypoallergenic means the product has undergone rigorous testing to ensure it’s gentle and suitable for sensitive skin. And ideally, a “dermatologist tested and, or recommended” stamp of approval goes the extra mile.
Non-irritating and fragrance-free
Especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies, choose lubricants labeled as allergy-friendly and fragrance-free to minimize the risk of irritation or adverse reactions. However, even if you don’t this, is the safest route to take so you don’t create potential hormonal or vaginal pH disruptions
(Bonus) pH balanced
The natural pH of the vagina is 3.5 to 4.5, so ideally, look for lubricants that are pH balanced to match this range. This helps maintain your natural vaginal ecosystem and minimize irritations or disruptions to your flora.
Our Top 10 Picks for Non-Toxic Lubricants
- BabyDance by Fairhaven Health
- “The Lube” by Natalist
- Coconu Oil-Based Organic Personal Lubricant
- Maude Organic Personal Lubricant
- Good Clean Love Almost Naked Personal Lubricant
- Lola Water-Based Personal Lubricant
- Ah! Yes Organic Water-Based Lubricant
- Hello Cake Aloe-Based Organic Lube
- Dame Products Aloe Personal Lube
- Love Wellness Sex Stuff Personal Lubricant
The rest is all up to your own personal preference! ;)
Caroline McMorrow is Rescripted's Content Manager.