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Using lubricants for smooth sex? Beware of these 5 side effects

While lubricants are supposed to make your sex life smooth, there are certain side effects of lubricants that you should be aware of.
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Beware of these side effects of lubricants! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Team Health Shots Published: 20 Jan 2024, 19:30 pm IST
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Lubricants are used to reduce friction during sexual activity, enhancing comfort and pleasure. They provide essential moisture, especially when natural lubrication is insufficient, and help reduce discomfort and irritation. However, choosing the right lubricant is crucial, as certain types may contain additives that can lead to side effects such as dryness, irritation, and infection. So, should you go for water-based lubricants or the oil-based ones? Read on to find out which one may pose a higher risk of infection.

Health Shots connected with senior consultant and gynaecologist Dr Surabhi Siddharth, who says certain types of lubricants can cause a few side effects, such as itching and dryness.

What are the ways lubricants can be harmful?

Lubricants are important when it comes to sexual activities, but sometimes they may be harmful.

1. Itching and skin irritation

Lubricants, especially those containing certain additives or fragrances, can lead to itching and skin irritation. A 2023 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that lubricants with added flavours or warming agents were more likely to cause itching and skin irritation. It is advisable to opt for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free lubricants to minimise the risk of skin reactions.

Vaginal itching
Choose the lubricant wisely. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Yeast infections

Some lubricants may alter the natural balance of the vaginal flora, potentially leading to yeast infections. As per a 2021 study in the National Library of Medicine, lubricants with a few harmful ingredients such as glycerin and parabens could increase the risk of vaginal infections. Those who are prone to yeast infections should consider water-based or silicone-based lubricants without these additives.

3. Risk of infertility

Research suggests a potential link between lubricant use and fertility issues. A 2010 study in the Fertility and Sterility journal found that some glycerin-containing lubricants negatively impacted sperm motility and embryo development. They are more likely to impair sperm function. Another study published by Fertility and Sterility journal in 2016 found that couples trying to conceive may benefit from using fertility-friendly lubricants or opting for natural alternatives such as mustard or baby oil.

Also read: How to use lubricants for better and smoother sex

4. Allergic reactions

Lubricants may contain ingredients that trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. A 2017 study published by Annals of Dermatology highlighted cases of contact dermatitis resulting from exposure to lubricants with specific preservatives and additives. Always read the label before buying, and choose the right lubricant.

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5. Dryness

While lubricants are used to feel more wet and enhance fun, frequent or improper use of certain lubricants may lead to increased dryness over time, says the expert. Certain lubricants, especially water-based lubricants, dry quickly and could disrupt the natural moisture balance in the genital area, potentially leading to dryness and discomfort.

vaginal dryness
Lubricants can cause vaginal dryness. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

How to choose the right lubricant?

When choosing a lubricant for intimate use, opt for water-based or silicone-based options, suggests the expert. Avoid products with glycerin, parabens, and fragrances, as they can potentially irritate the skin. Apart from this, keep in mind that the lubricant should be latex, rubber, and plastic-friendly. You can also test a small amount first to check for any adverse reactions. If you notice any adverse reactions, stop using it and consult with your doctor.

Can you use lube during oral sex?

Yes, using lube during oral sex is entirely safe and can enhance the experience. Water-based or flavoured lubricants designed for intimate use are suitable choices. They can reduce friction, providing added comfort and pleasure. However, it’s essential to check the product’s ingredients to avoid any potential irritants, especially if there are known sensitivities.

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