Why women struggle with natural lubrication
Vaginal dryness is experienced by many women and can result from a variety of conditions such as hormone imbalances, aging, menopause, breastfeeding, new motherhood, medical conditions such as diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease, and side effects of cancer treatment or other certain medications. For whatever the reason, it’s estimated that over 65% of women in the United States have used some form of personal lubricant in the previous month.
The uncomfortable truth
Vaginal lubricants are made to offset vaginal dryness or inadequate natural lubrication to reduce discomfort or pain. However, vaginal lubricant safety is a major public health issue that most women have never even heard about. This is because personal lubricants (lubes) are popular and widely-used products. As such, most people assume that they are safe. But the FDA does NOT regulate all of the ingredients in lubricants, some of which have been linked to infertility, fibroids, endometriosis, birth defects in babies and possibly breast cancer.
The truth is, the majority of lubricants contain glycerin, petrochemicals, and parabens - ALL of which have been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as posing serious health risks to women, our partners and our potential future children. And, although lubes can be effective at reducing discomfort at the time they are used, recent research indicates that many lubricants on the market can also have both immediate and long term detrimental effects on the vaginal tissue itself.
It’s not just the chemicals
In addition to containing toxic chemicals, many commercially available lubricants have pH levels (acidity levels) far exceeding the natural pH level of the vagina, as well as high osmolality rates (the rate at which a substance draws moisture from tissues and cells). As a result, most lubricants significantly disrupt the vaginal microbiome causing yeast and BV infections AND breakdown the mucus membrane barrier - which helps protect the vagina from STIs.
There is a growing consensus among the scientific community that not enough care has been taken to design lubricants that are truly safe and healthy, and the vast majority of lubricants need to be reformulated.
Do healthy lubricants even exist?
Absolutely. Female-first companies like Love Wellness are challenging the lube paradigm by providing women with safe and healthy personal lubricants that are hyper-moisturizing, free of glycerin and parabens, pH balanced to match the vaginal environment and FDA cleared. Plus, they actually help maintain the vaginal microbiome, so women can enjoy pleasure and intimacy without making compromises.
The bottom line is vaginal exposure to conventional lubricants can have toxic side effects that pose considerable risks to reproductive health. So when making a choice about what you put into your body, do your research and remember to be as careful about your lube as you are with your food.