A look at natural personal lubricants.

If vaginal dryness is affecting some of your female customers, inform them of the benefits of natural personal lubricants and the drawbacks of synthetic ingredients.

Female Lubrication
Decreased estrogen levels, medication, stress and infection are the most common causes of vaginal dryness. Estrogen levels can be affected by menopause, menstruation, childbirth, chemotherapy and immune disorders (1). Natural personal lubricants can saddress the need for sexual lubrication and promote vaginal skin rejuvenation. Some lubricants contain vitamin E and allantoin, both of which replenish vaginal moisture and work to restore balance to vaginal skin health.

Lubricant Bases
Personal lubricants typically feature either oil, silicone or water bases. Oil-based lubricants are only ideal for massage. They are never recommended for intercourse because the oil coats internal skin and results in infection (2). Moreover, oil lubricants breakdown latex contraceptives, so they are not effective for safe sex practices.

Silicone-based lubricants are latex-friendly and suitable for intercourse and massage. These lubricants are “inert” and therefore will not alter the pH level of your body. This is a benefit for women who are prone to yeast infections.
Natural lubricant makers often prefer a gentle water base. Water-based lubricants are the most easily absorbed by the body, so it is important to make sure that they do not contain any toxic ingredients (3).

For instance, parabens are widely used as preservatives in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Parabens bind to the body’s estrogen-receptors and can encourage breast cancer cell growth. This preservative may also decrease sperm cell count among males, cause problems to fetal development for pregnant women and cause allergic reactions like contact dermatitis and rosacea (3).

Diethanolamine (DEA) is a wetting agent commonly used in shampoos, conditioners, lubricants and lotions. DEA can react with other ingredients in the cosmetic formula to form an extremely potent carcinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). NDEA is readily absorbed through the skin and has been linked with stomach, esophagus, liver and bladder cancers (3).

Glycerine is used to sweeten and preserve foods as well as acts as a solvent in cosmetic products and should be avoided by women prone to yeast infections. Glycerine is closely related to glucose, containing sugar that provides food for vaginal yeast (2). Lubricants featuring aluminum sulfate and synthetic menthol can dehydrate vaginal tissue and thus aggravate the vaginal dryness women seek to curtail with lubrication (3).
Check with product makers if you have any questions about ingredients.
Male Clientele
Lubricants are often marketed toward women and conditions of vaginal dryness; however, men benefit from the use of lubrication during intimate acts. As previously mentioned, oil-based lubricants are perfect for massage and moisturize the genital skin. Also, warming and cooling lubricants provide sensational effects for both men and women. Cinnamon, honey and niacin (vitamin B) are natural ingredients that promote blood flow, warming and arousal (4). WF

1. The Mayo Clinic, “Vaginal Dryness: Causes,”www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-dryness/DS00550, last updated July 1, 2010, accessed Dec. 3, 2010.
2. Sinclair Institute, “Personal Lubricant Buying Guide,”www.sinclairinstitute.com/Buying-Guides/Personal-Lubricant-Buying-Guide.aspx, accessed Dec. 3, 2010.
3. Intimate Organics, “Educational Manual,”www.intimateorganics.com/pdfs/Intimate-Organics_Catalog.pdf, accessed Dec. 3, 2010.
4. Emerita, product list, www.emerita.com/products/sexual-vitality, accessed December 3, 2010.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, February 2011