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Sex Lubes: Good Versus Toxic

May 24, 2013


Lubricants which reduce friction and presumably increase sexual pleasure are a $219 million market in the U.S. alone, according to SymphonyIRI Group research firm.

The $219 million in corporate profits means that the Food & Drug Administration has adopted a use at your own risk policy. But what about human safety? Isn't that what the FDA is supposed to protect? Nope. The FDA doesn’t require testing of personal lubricants in humans.

The effect of sexual lubricants on disease has been virtually unstudied - until recently.


Whether you get your lube at the corner pharmacy, your favorite sex-toy shop or online, you need to look past your pleasure and pay attention to the harm lubricants can cause.

Questions about lubricant safety arose when micro­bicide developers were testing whether the detergent nonoxynol-9 could block HIV transmission. This spermicidal lubricant is known to punch holes in the cell membranes of sperm.

Lab testing shows that the Nonoxynol-9 detergent is so good at punching holes in cell membranes that it bores into sperm as well as the cell lining of the vagina and rectum!

In 2002, a clinical trial of a nonoxynol-9 vaginal gel failed to protect women from HIV infection. Not only that, the detergent actually increased the risk of HIV infection in the sex workers tested. (Lancet, DOI: 10.1016/s0140-6736(02)11079-8).

Believe it or not - the Nonoxynol-9 detergent is still used in condoms today. Richard A. Cone, a biophysicist at Johns Hopkins University says, “virtually all sex lubricants need to be reformulated.”


Salts and sugars in lubricants cause the internal chemistry of your cells to be thrown off, damaging the lining of the anus or vagina.

Charlene S. Dezzutti, a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh explains that when lubricants have too high a concentration of sugars and salts, your cells react by releasing water to dilute the sugar and correct the imbalance which causes them to dry out, shrivel up, wither and die.

The popular K-Y Warming Jelly lubricant, which has an osmolality of more than 30 times the body’s own fluid, increased herpes transmission more than ninefold in rodents. (BMC Infect. Dis., DOI: 10.1186/1471-2334-10-331).

Sexual lubricants contain large amounts of glycerin and propylene glycol that throw the natural flora in the vagina off balance leading to infections.


Many people believe they are allergic to latex because of an itchy, burning reaction on the penis or vagina when they use a latex condom. You are probably reacting to the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Some women found they had micro-tears in the vagina after repeated use of nonoxynol-9 contraceptive products (World Health Organization 2000 study in Africa).

An irritated, itching, burning sensation may also be caused by one of the other ingredients in the lubricant on the condom. Even if your latex condom’s lubricant did not contain nonoxynol-9, it could have contained other ingredients like glycerin, methylparaben or propylparaben (common preservatives), or a warming, “stimulating or tingling” or cooling ingredient.


Dezzutti and coworkers found PRE and Wet Platinum to be the safest. Astroglide, a water-based lubricant, was found to be the most toxic of the lubes to cells and tissues. KY Jelly was also highly toxic to "good" bacteria in rectal tissue. The team found Elbow Grease and ID Glide had intermediate toxic effects.

Here is a NOT FUNNY advertisement for the most toxic of the lubes - Astroglide.

Some experiments show that personal lubricants can damage cell lining in both the vagina and rectum, making the body more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STI's). ''When you get rid of your first line of defense, you are opening yourself up for opportunities for infection from other pathogens,'' explains Dezzutti.

In a recent study of popular over-the-counter and mail-order lubricants, a majority were found to be toxic to cells and tissue, possibly rendering a user more vulnerable to infection of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. A professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that lubricant users were three times more likely to have rectal STDs.


The lubricant that is 100% safe and healthy is vitamin E oil. It is healthy for the penis, the vagina and the skin. It is also a cure for vaginal dryness. Vitamin E oil protects the sensitivity of the penis head by retaining moisture and skin softness.

You have two choices. Edible vitamin E oil and the non-edible vitamin E oil. The cheaper, non-edible oil can be used for massage or as a sex lube. For oral sex, use edible vitamin E oil.

The added expense of Vitamin E oil is well worth it. You're going to love it.

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