Are Your Lubricants Hurting You?

Published: JUNE 10, 2015
Make sure that you know what's in your chosen lubricant. If you feel a burning sensation, wash off the lubricant. Check the label.


You've been getting hot and heavy, and now you're ready to seal the deal. You reach for the bottle of lube in your nightstand, and get ready to ride!

A few minutes later, your lady bits feel uncomfortable. So, you switch positions and add some more lube. Soon, your discomfort turns to pain. You're burning and itching so much that you swear your partner's skin is covered in sandpaper.

You're desperate to find a solution. You try new positions and go slower, but nothing is helping. You go to your doctor, and she can't find anything wrong. She tells you, "Just use more lube." You are, and it's not working!


Look at the Ingredients in Your Lube

A third of women experience pain during sex at some point. Most resources and doctors recommend lube. However, new research indicates that the lubricants themselves may be the problem!

Over 95% of OTC lubricants contain chemicals that are well-known to be toxic and irritating to the skin. Turn your bottle around, and see if your go-to lube has any of these harmful ingredients.

The main compounds to look for are parabens (like propylparaben, methylparaben, and butylparaben), glycerin, and glycols (like propylene and polyethylene glycol). These chemicals are used to preserve lubricants and make them slippery and long-lasting. They are also linked to painful and dangerous reactions.


Paraben Problems

Parabens have been found in cancerous breast tumors. They've been linked to breast, ovarian, and testicular cancer, as well as reduced sperm count. They can also create allergic responses in skin, especially the sensitive thin skin of the vaginal and rectal walls.

Glycerin Grief

Glycerin is linked to yeast infections and mucus membrane damage; glycols are known skin and eye irritants. Propylene glycol, also found in brake fluid, anti-freeze, and paint solvent, causes visible skin damage. Polyethylene glycol is linked to cancer, acidosis, and central nervous system damage.

Nonoxynol-9 No-No

If you're using a spermicidal lubricant, the sperm-killing chemical nonoxynol-9 also causes cell and tissue damage. Any lubricants with fragrances, menthol, or peppermint can also be irritating, drying, and cause allergic reactions.


These chemicals can also increase your risk of catching an STI, as recent studies show that those who use lubricants regularly have an increased rate of STIs and transmission.

Why Are These Harmful Chemicals Allowed in Lubricants?

Most lubricants are sold "for novelty use only” or are not regulated by the FDA. With that label, they are held to a lower standard. They do not have to go through the same safety testing as other products. Only prescription lubricants and lubes that make claims about safety during pregnancy are held to a higher safety standard.

Don't worry! There are alternatives out there. Many smaller lubricant brands are now removing parabens and glycerin to meet the needs of their customers who demand higher quality products. Look for lubricants that are are paraben and glycerin free or that are labeled all-natural and organic alternatives.


Everyone's body is different. Explore your options and try a few different brands. Some companies even offer small sample-sized packets for a lower price. If you experience any pain, burning, or itching - wash it off, and try another! With a little time, you'll find the lube that's perfect for you and your body. (Want to learn more? Check out The Ins and Outs of Sexual Lubricants.)

Slutty Girl Problems

Slutty Girl Problems aims to entertain, educate, and empower young women to feel confident, take control, and discuss their sex lives openly. We have humorous content, educated advice columns and guides, sex-positive resources, and an interactive community where readers can connect and express themselves.

Latest Sex Positions