Yes, there are natural causes with aging that can cause vaginal dryness, but our society has also skewed the way we view our natural lubrication. Every woman has glands in their vagina that secrete various amounts of lubrication. My thought is why not add to the fun, because lubricants can definitely be that!
Using a lubricant can enhance the pleasure, decrease friction, prevent pain/discomfort, and prolong sexual excitement, so why wouldn’t you want to use it. Now finding the right lubricant for you can be a challenge, but no worries this will help you get started. We will start with some basics when looking for your soulmate lubricant.
Osmosis is the movement of any solvent to result in equilibrium of solute concentration on either side of a membrane. For instance, if there is a cell with higher salt levels inside a solution with less salt to water ratio (a hypotonic solution), then water from the solution will fill the cell up to make the concentrations equal. In contrast if a cell is placed in a hypertonic solution (meaning higher salt levels in the solution than the cell), in order to balance the concentrations the cell will be sucked dry to compensate. So the osmolality is the amount of solute (i.e. sodium, chloride, potassium) in a given weight of water (mOsm/kg). Now we will be looking at the osmolality of lubricants and how they affect the epithelial cells in the vaginal mucosa.
In a study done in 2017, they found no mucosal irritation with the hypo-osmotic and iso-osmotic lubricants. The hyperosmotic products had the most severe irritation showing tissue damage. They also found high levels of glycerol in the hyperosmotic products.
In a study done in 2007 (Fuchs’ et. al) they looked at the effects of lubricants on the rectal mucosa and they also found that the hyperosmolar lubricants induced greater epithelial denudation or erosion than iso-osmolar gels. Therefore, it’s important to know what type of lubricants you are using for both vaginal (260-290 mOsm/kg) and rectal mucosa (osmolality of colon ∼290 mOsm/kg).
Once you're successful finding the right personal lubricant you will be on your way to a better sex life! And contact us here if you feel like you need more help in your journey toward optimal pelvic health.
Ayehunie, S., Wang, Y. Y., Landry, T., Bogojevic, S., & Cone, R. A. (2017). Hyperosmolal vaginal lubricants markedly reduce epithelial barrier properties in a three-dimensional vaginal epithelium model. Toxicology reports, 5, 134–140. doi:10.1016/j.toxrep.2017.12.011
Edwards, D., & Panay, N. (2016). Treating vulvovaginal atrophy/genitourinary syndrome of menopause: how important is vaginal lubricant and moisturizer composition?. Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society, 19(2), 151–161. doi:10.3109/13697137.2015.1124259
Edward J. Fuchs, Linda A. Lee, Michael S. Torbenson, Teresa L. Parsons, Rahul P. Bakshi, Anita M. Guidos, Richard L. Wahl, Craig W. Hendrix, Hyperosmolar Sexual Lubricant Causes Epithelial Damage in the Distal Colon: Potential Implication for HIV Transmission, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 195, Issue 5, 1 March 2007, Pages 703–710, https://doi.org/10.1086/511279
Nicole W. A question for women's health: chemicals in feminine hygiene products and personal lubricants. Environ Health Perspect. 2014;122(3):A70–A75. doi:10.1289/ehp.122-A70
World Health Organization. (2012). Use and procurement of additional lubricants for male and female condoms: WHO/UNFPA/FHI360: advisory note. World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/76580
Vishwanathan SA, Morris MR, Wolitski RJ, et al. Rectal application of a highly osmolar personal lubricant in a macaque model induces acute cytotoxicity but does not increase risk of SHIV infection. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):e0120021. Published 2015 Apr 8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120021
**This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.