What Are Lubricant Gel Side Effects? Are Lubricants Safe?

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Intimate pleasure is desired by all of us. Vaginal wetness during intercourse improves the experience and brings in a deep sense of pleasure, but things can go the other way when sex causes discomfort due to vaginal dryness or lack of natural lubrication. Personal lubricants or lubes can enhance the lubrication needed for comfortable intercourse. Let’s discuss about the lubricant gel side effects, which harmful ingredients to avoid, and select lubricants that are safe for you.

Lubricants and Their Types

Lubricants or lubes are external solutions that improve vaginal lubrication or wetness during sex or intimate pleasure. Vaginal wetness is essential to avoid discomfort and pain during sex.

The vagina has a natural lubrication mechanism that helps during sexual intercourse. The vulva and vagina together produce natural fluids when aroused or stimulated. But when the vagina cannot do so – due to dryness from menopause or skin issues, medical procedures, certain medications, etc. – external lubricants can be game-changers.

To learn more about Let us go through the three major types of personal lubricants.

Vaginal Lubricants

Vaginal lubricants are majorly water-based, oil-based, or silicone-based.

  • Water-based vaginal lubricants contain water-soluble gums as their primary ingredient. Commonly used and the safest bet amongst the three types for most use scenarios. Cheap ones usually contain glycerin as well as a major constituent, while premium formulations use natural alternatives.
  • Oil-based vaginal lubricants are further categorized into edible oil and synthetic oil varieties. Oil-based lubricants that are edible can contain cheap kitchen vegetable oils or premium plant-based oils. They are extremely safe to use and work well for most individuals. On the other hand, synthetic oil lubricants are made of mineral oil and/or petroleum jelly. Note that oil-based lubricants are not compatible with condoms.
  • Silicone lubricants contain a mix of silicones as the main ingredients. They are usually the most expensive and last much longer during sex when compared to the other types of lubes. They are especially preferred for long-duration play where other types of lubrication may not persist and during anal play as there is no natural lubrication present around the anus.


Vaginal moisturizers

The use of moisturizers for dry skin is known to most people. But many people are not aware that the vaginal skin is also prone to dryness. Due to the vaginal region having a different pH than the rest of the body, daily skin moisturizers like Vaseline should not be used on this body part. For this purpose, specialized pH-balanced vaginal moisturizers are available that help keep the vaginal skin hydrated by preventing water loss from the skin surface. They also stay in place for a longer time, thus preventing vaginal dryness during intercourse.


Estrogen creams

Those with estrogen deficiencies or hormonal disorders are generally prescribed medical estrogen-based lubricants that help restore the level of estrogen in the body. These are usually not over-the-counter solutions.


PRO TIP: If you have particular skin-related concerns, here is our in-depth guide on lubricants for sensitive skins.


Lubricant Gel Side Effects

Following are the ingredients in lubricant gels that may cause side effects:

  • Parabens: These are preservatives used in skin care products, including lubricants. Parabens can cause hormonal imbalances and may lead to breast cancer.
  • Glycerin: Glycerin is essentially a humectant (preserves moisture), and when broken down by our cells, it releases sugar. Sugar can be a feeding ground for yeast, causing yeast infection.
  • Nonoxynol-9: Known for its spermicidal (sperm killing) properties, nonoxynol-9 lubricant gel side effects in some cases may kill the good bacteria present around the vagina, causing irritation and infection.
  • Petroleum jelly: Usually found in skin lotions and moisturizers and some lubricants, petroleum jelly is harmful to the vagina.
  • Chlorhexidine gluconate: It is an antibacterial agent in lubricants. Individuals with sensitive skin and those prone to infections may develop itching and inflammation.

How to Avoid Lubricant Gel Side Effects

Some ingredients or formulations need to be avoided that are used by people during masturbation or sex. Potential side effects have also been mentioned.

  • Vaseline or petroleum jelly: They are skin moisturizers that are absorbed into the skin are meant to be used in small quantities. Therefore, their use as intimate lubricants should be avoided.
  • Water: Water, though a fluid, is not meant to be a lubricant.
  • Oil-based lubricants cause tearing and leakage of latex condoms.
  • Water-based lubricants should not be used during shower sex as they tend to wash out in the water. Silicone lubes can be used in a shower and underwater.
  • Silicone-based lubricants can break silicone condoms and damage sex toys.
  • Baby oil is meant for baby care and gets absorbed into the skin.
  • Food items like chocolate syrup are potential sources of infection as sugar attracts yeast and bacteria, and can increase the chances of sexually transmitted infections.

Essential tips

  • The use of coconut oil is safe for all forms of sex, but not with condoms.
  • Start with smaller quantities of lube, moving on to using more as the vagina gets adjusted to the lubricant. Too much lubricant can decrease feel and sensation during sex.
  • Use paraben-free lubes.
  • Go for glycerin-free lubricants.
  • Choose lubricant ingredients wisely.
  • Use water-based lubricants for vaginal, anal, and general duration couple sex.
  • Avoid using oil-based lubricant for vaginal shower sex. The obvious reason for this is that the oil in the shower can cause accidents due to slippery floors.
  • For Anal sex, the specialized water-based thick gel lubes are more recommended as they are safest than Silicone or Oil-based lubricants.
  • Apply lubricants to any sex toys being used during sex. Preferably water-based.



Lubricants enhance sexual pleasure. One should go for any specialized intimate lubricant: water, oil, silicone, hybrid but watch out for harmful ingredients in popular lubricants, as they might not be suitable in certain scenarios or skin types.

I hope all of your concerns related to lubricant gel side effects are addressed in this article, if you have any specific safety concerns feel free to reach out to us or comment below.

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