Written by Grove Collaborative

Sexual wellness: A guide to personal lubricants.

Last Updated: June 24, 2021

Wondering how to enhance your sexual wellbeing? Well we’re covering a big part of sexual wellness here: natural and personal lubricants. Have a read on which are best and how to use them correctly!

Living a happy and healthy lifestyle isn’t just about making good choices in the kitchen, drinking plenty of water, and working out. It’s also about making self-care a priority, including sexual self-care.


We lead such busy lifestyles, it’s easy to forget to slow down and give ourselves some time to just enjoy the moment. That’s where a healthy sex life comes into play. But healthy sex means well-lubricated sex and we believe natural vaginal lubricants or anal lubricants are the way to go!


Sexual health and wellness is such an important part of the human condition that it simply can’t be overlooked. Regardless of who you share an intimate encounter with, you certainly deserve to enjoy yourself and feel your best while using products that are good for your body and your partner’s!

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What is sexual wellness?

“Sexual wellness” is sort of an umbrella term that refers to your social, physical, and mental state of wellbeing as it relates to your sexuality. It encompasses everything from the health of your sexual organs, to the health of your sexual relationships, to the health of your mental and emotional states surrounding the subject of sex.


In recent years, debates and discussions related to sexual health and wellbeing have become more prevalent, with healthy and appropriate sex education becoming a hot topic.


The reality is that sex is a natural process, and you should be able to enjoy it. Since sex is not just tied to your physical health, but your emotional and mental health too, practicing self-care in all aspects of your life is important, because it all feeds into your sexuality.

What can affect your sexual wellbeing?

Many things actually, and they aren’t all related to intercourse.

Your eating & fitness habits

Eating well is critical for your physical and nutritional health and helps you feel confident, healthy, and energetic enough for your sexual endeavors. Similarly, exercise is important, not just because it strengthens your body, but also for your stamina and flexibility.


Meanwhile, a poor sleeping schedule, a bad diet, excessive drinking, and smoking are just some of the things that can be detrimental to your physical health and negatively affect your sexual wellness, too.

Your environment

To a certain extent, even your social life and your surroundings can affect your sexual wellness. For example, if you are dealing with bullying or discrimination, a poor work environment, or a situation at home that isn’t healthy, you may notice a diminished interest in sexual activities.


If your home life and your social circle aren’t thriving, it’s difficult to enjoy a thriving sex life.

Your mental health

It should go without saying that the state of your mental health is a huge factor in sexual wellness. For example, if you’re a stressed or anxious person, whether it’s due to financial strain, relationship problems, etc., the reality is you may not have a high sex drive as a result.


Meanwhile, a person in a good mental and emotional state is often more responsive toward sex. Keep in mind that both your physical health and your social health can also affect your mental/emotional state. It’s all connected!

Your sexual satisfaction

Finally, another key factor that can significantly impact your sexual wellness is your level of sexual satisfaction. There are many factors that lead to sexual satisfaction, including the ones we’ve mentioned already.


However, things like consent, safety, and boundaries are also important for your sexual satisfaction, along with the freedom to try new things without being judged, and the use of toys and tools or aids, like lubricants, to help you enjoy sex even more.

What are lubricants, and why should you care?

Lubricants are used during sex to ease discomfort, overcome vaginal dryness, and enhance sexual pleasure during intercourse. Some people simply don’t always produce enough personal lubricant naturally during sex and that can happen for a range a reasons. Unfortunately, dryness is quite uncomfortable when doing the deed, which is why lubricants are so fab!


The truth is that lubricants not only make sex more comfortable, they also increase your chances of reaching orgasm. That’s probably the number one reason why so many people love them!

How to choose a lubricant

There are a variety of sexual lubricants available on the market today, but not all are created equal. Certain products may cause reactions in some people, especially if you have sensitive skin to the more common ingredients like glycerin, glycol derivatives, or perfumes and scents.


Lubricant––also called lube––is intended to mimic your natural bodily discharge, so that intercourse feels good and is not painful. It’s also a great reason why natural lubricants are often the most suitable, since they pose the least risks for triggering a reaction.


However, choosing said lubricant can be a daunting process. There are so many options! Natural lube can be made from common household items, or it can be a manufactured lubricant that is made with clean, natural ingredients.

What are natural lubricants?

First, no matter whether a substance is natural or not, it can be a risk to use anything as a lubricant because you can have a reaction to it, whether you expect to or not. Our bodies are funny that way.


However, there are two substances that are considered generally safe to use by most people.

Aloe vera as lubricant

Aloe vera has been used in self-care and medicine for centuries. It’s beneficial for your skin and it’s especially great for sunburns. Many natural lubricant products use aloe vera in their formulas.


Just make sure there’s no alcohol in the mix because harsh ingredients like alcohol can cause pain and burning.

Coconut oil as lubricant

Oils are a common household item many are open to trying as a natural lubricant. Some of the most popular –– and safest –– natural oils to use are coconut oil — but also olive oil and sweet almond oil too.


Oil-based lubricant can provide easy glide and allow for comfortable movement. However, oils and oil-based products can also be damaging to a latex condom so be careful! (And learn more about different condom types here!)


To avoid broken condoms, avoid latex condoms altogether if you plan on using any kind of oil-based lube.

Lubricant ingredients to avoid

Glycerin

Glycerin is a by-product of sugar and a common ingredient in commercial lubricants. However, sugar aids in the development of yeast, which means glycerin can make you more vulnerable to a yeast infection.

Parabens

Parabens––although a common ingredient in many cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and even food products––is actually classified as an endocrine disruptor. That means that parabens can disrupt the natural functioning of your endocrine or hormonal system, resulting in serious health problems.

Petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly is oil-based. Since oils can damage a latex condom and cause breakage, it’s probably wiser to use something else for your lubricant. Additionally, petroleum jelly is kind of sticky, which means it stays around longer and puts you at an increased risk for bacterial infections.

Scents and perfumes

Perfumes and scented products –– when applied to the skin –– can cause an allergic reaction in many people with sensitive skin. Similarly, lubricants that have added scents or perfumes can be unsafe for vaginal or anal use, triggering irritation and rashes.

Yogurt

Surprisingly, yogurt is sometimes used as a natural lubricant. While it’s definitely considered safe because it’s a natural product and you can eat it––not to mention it’s sometimes used to treat yeast infections––there is no real medical research that’s been done regarding it’s safety or efficiency.

Refined cooking oils

Refined cooking oils include those like vegetable oil and canola oil. These oils are manufactured using heavy processing and hydrogenation tactics. The process includes chemical treatments, bleaching, heating, and more, which basically means the oils are not really natural any longer.

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