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Updated: Jul 15, 2021

You may hate the word, but a decrease in natural lubrication can really put a damper on your sex life. That's why the lubrication market is a high-profit industry with hundreds of brands and styles to choose from, but not all lubes are created equal. So, how do you know what's best for your sexual health and vaginal health?


Natural production of vaginal lubrication can decrease for many reasons, the most common being menopause (either naturally or following hysterectomy in which the ovaries are removed), but can also be the case for women who are on oral contraceptives (the pill), newly postpartum, and breast feeding. Women with a history of breast cancer treatments are also at risk due to chemotherapy and hormone treatments such as Tamoxifen and Arimidex. Women with cancers in the pelvic region may require radiation, impairing the structures that produce lubrication.

Stress can play a huge part in lubrication production as well. There can be a wide gap between the desire to have sex and the actual physiological changes that occur during arousal such as increased production of lubrication and increased blood flow to the vaginal tissues which causes swelling, providing comfortable pliability and increased sensation. This means you could be in the very throws of passion, desiring your partner here and now in most dramatic and steamy of erotic novel scenarios - Take me before I faint! - but if your mind is on the baby who's sleeping alone in the nursery for the first time this week, you're late on a deadline at work, or on the dishes that didn't get done before bed, you might find it very difficult to get things running on all cylinders despite your effort or need.

As a provider, I found the book Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. to be extremely enlightening on this topic! It's witty, fun, and a very easy, helpful read.

I feel it's very important to emphasize the message here that a decrease in lubrication does not make you any less of a woman. It does not mean you are any less sexy or desirable. On the flip-side, partners who are less educated about the sheer science behind natural lubrication production might misinterpret this as a sign that you have somehow lost interested in them and that they are not desirable. Poor lubrication can lead to abrasions of fragile tissues and pain during intercourse, which often interferes with ability to achieve orgasm or even tolerating completion of the sexual encounter, further perpetuating misunderstanding and frustration between partners. A poorly lubricated environment also does not support a healthy flora (good bacteria and yeast), and places the vagina and bladder at risk for infection. So, lubrication, whether its for sex or not, can be supplemented to encourage tissue health in women of all ages who have low levels of natural production for any number of reasons.

When deciding on an appropriate lube, try to find ones that are as natural as possible, and avoid the following:

  • Dyes - not good to eat, also not good for your vagina.

  • Heating agents - it's already warm down there, and most of these make it feel like fire!

  • Fragrances - ever had a break out on your skin from a bad perfume? Try having one in your pants.

  • Flavors - usually have a sugar component; hello yeast infection.

  • Glycerin - plant sugar.

  • Alcohols - talk about dry! I never understood why one would put this in a lube...

  • PARABENS - as if your hormones were having enough trouble, parabens add to the issue!

  • Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and mineral oil (baby oil) - vaginal tissues can't breathe!

Most women (including myself) find that a simple, organic, cold pressed oil works wonders for lubrication! Coconut oil and olive oil are the usually the best for intercourse, and yes, I mean the oil from the cooking isle. Coconut oil also possesses anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, making it fantastic for inflamed skin during radiation treatments. Be sure to follow your radiation schedule and avoid applying any products to the skin prior to treatments as it may decrease their effectiveness.

I personally use Dr. Bronner's brand as I trust the integrity and purity of this company's sources and ingredients.

A couple of notes:

*oil-based lubes are not compatible with condom use; use water-based instead

**There is some mixed information circulating the internet regarding the risks of using coconut oil due to the possibility of natural sugars from its source, however I have not found any empirical evidence yet to suggest that it is linked to infections or other issues. I have used it for many years and it is recommended by many of the OB/GYNs I have worked with in the past. If you have had another experience or have found other information, please feel free to share.

Here are some of my most commonly recommended lubrication products. They have great patient reports and are also highly regarded by other Pelvic Health clinicians I have spoken with:

I wish I could tell you these were one-size-fits-all, but the truth is, you might have to experiment a little to find the one you and your partner both enjoy. Try not to become discouraged, your perfect lube is out there! And, oh the fun you can have on its search...

Have a favorite lube that's not listed? Let me know!

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