By Emma Stessman
Whether you’re in the heat of the moment and your brain and body aren’t cooperating (AKA a Sahara desert situation), you’re trying something new in the bedroom, you’re going through menopause, or you just want something to get the party started, lube can be a handy tool.
“When nature precludes the natural creation of adequate lubrication, a quality lubricant is a welcome addition,” says Felice Gersh, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN. “It will make sexual intercourse a far more pleasurable experience, reducing pain during and after intercourse and facilitating orgasms for both parties.”
Unfortunately, like so many other personal care staples—from tampons to condoms—the regulations for the ingredients that go into the products (and into your body as a result) are seriously lacking. Some lubes on the market contain chemicals and additives, like glycerin and propylene glycol, that can damage the cells of the vagina and increase the risk of STD transmission, Dr. Gersh says.
The good news is that a handful of companies have started to create safe alternatives, with pronounceable ingredients and an emphasis on sustainability. Sustain, for example, has a water-based lube that’s free from irritants like glycerin and petroleum (not to mention, they have a super cool founder). Good Clean Love’s formula is designed for sensitive skin and is infused with lemon and vanilla (for a little added flavor).
RELATED: Should You Be Using Organic Tampons?
But if you don’t have those on hand on a rainy, stay-in-bed kind of day, the even better news is that, much like cleaning supplies and skincare products, your cabinets already contain some all-natural alternatives that work just as effectively as those sold at the store.
So, we asked Dr. Gersh which ones you should bring to the bedroom for lubrication and which are best left in the cupboard.
Your Guide to Natural Lubricants
Do Use: Aloe Vera
You know the bottle of aloe vera you bought for your one bad sunburn of the summer? Give it a home on your bedside table. The soothing gel can add excellent lubrication, Gersh says. Choose a product that’s organic and 100 percent aloe, since some products contain additives that can be irritating. Bonus: Unlike many other natural lubricants, aloe is totally safe to use with condoms.
Don’t Use: Vaseline
Vaseline may seem like an obvious substitute (it looks pretty similar to most lubes), but it’s a big no-no, Gersh says. A 2013 study found that using petroleum jelly during sex can increase your risk of developing bacterial vaginosis. No, thank you!
Do Use: High-Quality Oils
Organic olive oil, almond oil, and coconut oil can all be used when things are getting hot and heavy, Gersh says. While coconut oil is solid at room temp, as things heat up (literally) it will soften. One caveat: “I don’t recommend using them with condoms,” Gersh says. “There’s a chance they will break down and degrade [with the oil].”
Don’t Use: Vegetable Oils
Not all oils are fair game though. Vegetable oils, like canola and soybean oil, can up your risk of infection, say Gersh.
Do Use: Ghee
Ghee is a healthy addition to popcorn or spread on a baked potato, but it can also add some slickness to your sex life. And for those who love the rich flavor, it’s an added bonus. But much like oils, ghee can potentially break down a condom. Also, don’t blame us if your sheets permanently smell like butter.