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Can Lube Cause Yeast Infections?

Posted Mar 27 2011 10:00am

Lube does a lot of things, including relieving vaginal dryness and making sex more comfortable and pleasurable for both partners. Lube is recommended for almost every sexual activity, especially during vaginal penetration and anal sex. But are there any downsides to using lube during sex? Can using lube cause vaginal discomfort or yeast infections?

A yeast infection is simply when the pH of the vagina has been thrown off – and this can happen any number of ways.

  • Sex. Sexual partners can actually pass yeast infections to one another during intercourse.
  • Getting sick. If your immune system is lowered, you can be more susceptible to the overgrowth of yeast in the vagina.
  • Stress. Stress lowers the immune system and women with chronic problems are often found to be exposed to constant stress.
  • Hormones, pregnancy and birth control. If the hormones in the body aren’t balanced properly, a yeast overgrowth can occur.
  • Antibiotics. They change the pH of the vagina too, eliminating all the natural bacteria that are found in the vagina (the ones that consume excess yeast).

There are also a number of things that can help a yeast infection form, or make it much worse once it has started.

  • Tight clothing
  • Polyester or synthetic fabrics that do not allow good ventilation
  • Lots of sex in a short period of time
  • Wiping from back to front
  • Sweating, especially in hot or muggy weather
  • Douching

Some brands do contain glycerin – in fact, quite a few of them do. Glycerine is a sugar based product, which can affect the growth of yeast in the vagina. Things with high sugar content that are inserted into or near the vagina can cause an infection – which is why you always see a disclaimer when reading about having sex with chocolate or candies. Lube can certainly make a previous infection worse, and in extremely sensitive individuals, using it may bring an infection on.

However, since there are so many different factors that can cause or contribute to the overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, it is much more likely that lube isn’t the only cause of a yeast infection (although it is possible). It is formulated specifically for the vagina and is designed to mimic natural lubrication as closely as possible. It is likely that the pH balance in the vagina was off to begin with and lube tipped the scales towards an infection, causing symptoms of vaginal discomfort, burning or itching.

Some brands of lube may cause more vaginal discomfort than others. For example, warming lubes that are designed to heat up have been known to cause intense sensations, sometimes to the point of pain and discomfort in women that are very sensitive. You may have had a reaction to a new lubricant without actually having a yeast infection.

If you’re very sensitive to yeast infections and get them frequently, look for some that is made without glycerin. Astroglide makes a glycerin and paraben free formula, which is great for women with sensitive genitals. Parabens are also chemicals that can cause an uncomfortable reaction in some women, so consider purchasing a lube that is both glycerin and paraben free.

Do not use things that you get from home – that means no vegetable oils, olive oils, lotions or anything that isn’t made to be put inside the vagina. These kinds of oils (even baby oil) can clog the pores on the inside of the vaginal walls and make the environment a great host for all kinds of unwanted yeast and bacteria. Spare yourself the trouble and spend a few bucks on a great bottle of lubricant, available anywhere from sex toy stores to your local supermarket. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

If it seems like you’re doing everything right and you’re still having vaginal discomfort or yeast infection symptoms, even after using over the counter remedies, it may be time to make an appointment with your doctor. You could have an  STD – or just a really nasty bacterial infection that requires the use of antibiotics to get rid of.

If you’re to embarrassed to see your doctor about a possible vaginal infection, find a doctor that you are comfortable seeing. Honestly, your doctor has seen just about everything from anal sex injuries to STD’s to really strange stuff that you probably don’t want to hear about. That’s what your doctor is there for – to talk to and to find solutions to keep your body healthy.

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