There are a few things you want to avoid when it comes to buying any type of lubricant (flavored or not), according to board certified urologist with a specialty in female pelvic medicine Karyn Eilber, MD, CEO and co-founder of Glissant. First up in the list of no-go lube ingredients is glycerin, which might contribute to overgrowth of yeast that can cause infections. Propylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze, is a close second.
"It's also best to avoid parabens, a preservative linked to fertility problems and that may act like estrogen—so should be avoided if one has breast cancer or is at risk of breast cancer—and phthalates, which are found in plastics and linked to reproductive and endocrine problems," she says. You also want to make sure that if you're using this on the vulva, that the lube is pH balanced.
"A healthy vagina is actually acidic and pH above 4.5 is associated with bacterial vaginosis," says Dr. Eilber. "The osmolality should not be too high because this can actually draw moisture out of vaginal cells and cause them to dry up—the opposite of what you want with a lubricant. If condoms and toys are used, then the lubricant should be water-based."
And when it comes to flavored lubricants specifically, there's a couple of things to be aware of. "Most flavored lubes contain some sort of sweetener-glucose, and sucrose, all of which can trigger a yeast infection in some vulva owners," says Taylor Sparks, erotic educator and founder of sexual wellness emporium Organic Loven. And keep in mind that your vagina is supposed to taste and smell like a vagina. Be mindful of that when you see something with a fragrance. "When a woman's health, including sexual health, is 'off' one of the first things to change is the taste, texture and smell of her vaginal secretions," Sparks says. "If you need to mask what you smell and taste like, you need a doctor's visit, not a flavored lube."
But the thing is, while nobody needs a flavored lube, it still adds a new sensual element to sex play. "If you and your partner are feeling adventurous and want to try something new, flavored lubes can be a fun novelty item to try out," says sex educator Kenneth Play. "Flavored lubricants can also be great for those who have trouble getting in to oral sex if taste or smell is a distraction. You don’t need to use a lot; just a small drop can help."
Below, a few safe and tasty selections if you want to get into flavored lube.
The best flavored lubes for adding some flavor to your sex life
Play recommends Sliquid Swirl naturals for something sugar and sugar derivative free, adding that “vulva-owners should look for [that] as sugar can agitate BV or lead to yeast infections.” This is an easy bet if you want to stock up on a variety of tastes, including Strawberry Pomegranate ($9), Tangerine Peach ($9), and Green Apple ($16).
Glissant’s Sea Salt and Caramel lube holds a place of honor on my nightstand because, well, it’s as pretty as it is delicious. This elevated lubricant could be easily disguised as a glam lip gloss, plus it’s stray-style pump is pretty mess-free!
It’s a bold name, I know, but this lubricant (which is oil-based, so heads up that it isn’t latex-compatible) is actually a fan favorite. The balmy butter melts with the warmth of your skin, and features dense quantities of rose with pomegranate and raspberry. Frankly, I find it tastes mostly like rose-infused white chocolate—very luxurious.
While not explicitly a “flavored” lube, Sparks recommends this water-based, ginseng-infused lube for something that tastes lovely and (ooh!) increases sexual stamina.
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