When it comes to sexual health, it pays to be overly-cautious.
Most of us learned during puberty to always practice safe sex, using condoms to prevent STIs and getting regular check-ups to ensure reproductive health.
But what if the condoms we use to keep ourselves safe are actually detrimental to our health?
More and more recently, awareness has been drawn to how toxic elements in the products we use daily can be a hazard to our bodies — and condoms are no exception. Anything that is going to come into contact with such intimate areas, whether a condom or even a personal lubricant, needs some extra consideration before selection!
In this article, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of condoms and personal lubricants, to see how these products affect our health and how important it is to choose wisely. And, we’re going to dig into organic condoms and organic lube options, so you can discover some healthy, safe, and natural alternatives!
The Problem with Non-Organic Condoms and Lubes
While we’re all increasingly conscientious of what goes into our bodies, do we often stop and think about the products we use that come into contact with intimate, highly permeable parts of the body like vaginal tissue? This is a part of our health that can’t afford to be neglected!
Recent research has shown that the majority of condoms on the market today contain nitrosamine — a known carcinogen that is formed during the rubber production process which condoms undergo. And sadly, very few people know of its existence in condoms, or of its risks.
We’ve discussed this before in our article on organic tampons, but it’s worth going over again, because it’s so, so important: vaginal tissue is incredibly sensitive and highly permeable. It has a high concentration of blood vessels, which makes it an ultra-efficient delivery system. This is a good thing when you’re talking about using a medication or natural remedy to treat some kind of issue. But when you’re discussing toxins, it’s not so great.
The highly permeable vaginal tissue is quick to absorb anything it comes into contact with — meaning, if toxic materials come into play, they’re going to be absorbed quickly into the body. This is a scary thought, and shows that it’s all the more important that we know every ingredient that goes into our condoms.
But it’s not just condoms that need to be examined. Even personal lubricant products can contain ingredients that can be problematic for reproductive wellness and overall health.
Many personal lubricants contain:
If you look at a bottle of lube and it contains ingredients like propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, or petroleum, you’re seeing petrochemicals. These are elements that are generally used to provide that warming sensation that many lubes have, but unfortunately they carry some unsavory side effects.
For one, petroleum-based products can be highly irritating to sensitive skin — and for some, these chemicals go beyond just warming the skin and cause an actual burning sensation. That’s definitely a buzzkill when you’re trying to get “in the mood.”
Additionally, petroleum can disrupt vaginal pH levels, which can lead to yeast infections or other bacterial infections. The best way to avoid all this unpleasantness is to opt for an organic lube that doesn’t contain these types of additives.
We’ve discussed parabens in other articles, but we think it’s worth emphasizing again. Parabens are a common preservative in many health and beauty products, and they can be found in some personal lubricants as well. The problem with these additives is that they are also endocrine disruptors, which means they can cause serious reproductive issues.
Parabens have also been linked to several types of cancer, as well as hormonal imbalances that can lead to more significant problems like infertility or endometriosis. So when it comes to preserving your reproductive health, lubes that contain parabens are definitely something to stay away from.
This substance is a sugar alcohol that is found in many lubes, and while it may not sound as scary as petroleum, it can certainly have some negative side effects.
The main issue with this additive is that it can cause unhealthy bacteria to grow in the vagina, which may lead to yeast infections or even UTIs (and anyone who’s had one of those knows how incredibly uncomfortable they can be).
As a general rule, anything that can cause bacteria to grow inside your body should be avoided — and that’s why glycerin makes our list of unhealthy lube additives.
While there are fewer lubes on the market that contain fragrances, they still are out there. Fragrances are hormone disruptors that can be contaminated with carcinogens and allergens.
We harp on this so much in this article, but bear with us, because it’s important: your sex organs are sensitive!
When it comes to personal care products, fragrances are just one of those things that are better left out. They are known for having irritating tendencies on that delicate skin, so skip the hassle and always go fragrance-free.
This is another one that we recommend to avoid. Benzocaine has numbing properties, and it’s typically added to help sex last longer or make some sex acts (use your imagination) less painful.
However, when it comes to your intimate areas, you want to be able to feel sensations, and pain is a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re having pain during sex, your body is trying to tell you something is wrong, so numbing these sensitive areas is a big no-no.
As you can see, there are quite a few ingredients in condoms and personal lubricants that have the potential to cause both short- and long-term damage to your health. But due to increasing concerns about improving the safety of these products, there are now a number of organic condoms and all natural lubricants on the market.
Now we’re going to take a closer look at organic and natural options, so you don’t have to stress about long-term safety risks next time you’re ready to get busy.
So you’re ready to make the switch to natural protection. But where do you even start? Is there such a thing as an organic condom? How would that even be possible??
First off, in answer to the most pressing question: No, organic condoms don’t exist. At least not in the way that we’ve come to understand the term “organic” and by that I mean, USDA certified.
While I have yet to see an actual truly “organic condom” with the USDA seal, there are tons of great options out there that include natural condoms which are made free of harmful chemicals. Many of us have never heard of them, but let’s be honest — many of us had never considered the dangers of conventional condoms either. But now you’re informed, so there’s no turning back.
Ok, so we know natural condoms exist — but how? What are natural condoms?
Well, condoms are already made from natural, sustainable materials — latex, namely, which is derived from the rubber tree plant. However, in fabricating your conventional condom, nitrosamines are used in order to speed up the production process, unfortunately leaving behind this unsavory chemical in the condom itself. And nitrosamines aren’t the only chemicals present — some condoms contain the toxin-laden lubes that we touched on earlier.
So essentially, even though there’s no strict regulation around organic condoms, generally if they are marketed as such they must not contain any nitrosamines or harmful chemicals.
Some companies take it a step further and also eliminate any animal products from production, so not only are their condoms 100% natural — they’re vegan as well!
The first step to making better selections is knowing that there are options out there. You can find natural condoms that contain all-natural flavoring; others that come in uniquely packaged tins. But no matter what you choose, you can feel confident knowing that what goes into your body is completely free of the chemicals that can so easily cause ongoing damage.
All Natural Lubricants
Now that we’ve dealt with the ins and outs of organic condoms, let’s get the skinny on organic lube.
The great thing about organic lubricants is you don’t have to go super fancy or expensive — in fact, you might have the makings of your own all natural lubricants right in your pantry as we speak!
Generally speaking, any oil that you can ingest can also be used as a personal lubricant. However, it’s important to note that if you’re using a condom, oils can compromise the integrity of the latex and lead to breakage. So consider the situation and your personal preferences before choosing!
First we’ll look at natural oils that can be used as an organic personal lubricant, and then we’ll look at water-based lubes that can be used with a condom.
Natural Oils as Organic Lube
Organic Coconut Oil
This oil is the go-to when it comes to safe, all natural lubricants — in fact, some consider it the best natural lube. Though it’s generally in solid form at room temperature, it only takes a little bit of warmth from your hands to melt it into a smooth, liquid lubricant.
Coconut oil is naturally hydrating, so it provides moisture without being sticky or leaving residue. And, as a bonus, coconut oil has antifungal and antimicrobial properties — so instead of your typical lubes that may cause yeast infections, using coconut oil may actually prevent these types of infections!
To use coconut oil as lube, simply rub a small amount on your hands until it melts, then apply to intimate areas.
Sweet Almond Oil
This is another oil that makes for a great organic lube. It’s got a sensual, silky feel that enhances the sexual experience, and it stimulates blood vessels for even more sensitivity.
This oil already comes in liquid form, so there’s no need to warm it up in your hands. Just apply and enjoy!
Aloe Vera Gel
This one isn’t an oil, obviously — but aloe vera gel is super safe, super effective, and can be used with your organic condoms without fear of latex breakdown.
Aloe vera is especially great for sensitive skin, because it’s naturally gentle and soothing. One caveat when choosing your aloe vera gel: always choose 100% pure aloe vera with no added sugars, as these can contribute to throwing off vaginal pH and increase the likelihood of infections. But, on the plus side, pure aloe vera is antibacterial, which helps keep intimate areas free of harmful pathogens.
Water-Based All Natural Lubricants
This brand of lube is made from all-natural ingredients, and is pH balanced to keep your vagina healthy and free of infections. It’s made from kiwifruit vine extract — and if you haven’t heard of this plant, don’t worry, because we hadn’t either. But it’s great for sensitive skin and has a smooth feel that’s great for any type of sexual situation.
Another all-natural water-based lube, this brand is specially formulated for menopausal women, who may experience more frequent dryness. And, it’s non-sticky to make play more fun with less mess.
Tips and Best Practices
We’ve covered a ton of ground here. But before you hit the bedroom, here are a few tips and tricks to remember when it comes to natural condoms and organic lube.
- If you’re planning on using natural condoms, make sure you pair them with only water-based organic lubes. Don’t forget, oil-based lubes can weaken the latex — and you certainly don’t want a broken condom if you’re looking to avoid STIs or pregnancy!
- If you’re concerned about vaginal health, avoid spermicides — even though they can help prevent pregnancy, unfortunately spermicides contain chemicals that may make you more susceptible to infections and even STIs.
- When it comes to natural condoms and lubes, remember that every body is unique. What is comfortable and effective for one couple may not be the same for another. Experiment with what types of condoms are most pleasurable for you and your partner, and do the same with lubes to ensure you find one that suits your biology.
- It is possible to make your own organic lube out of a variety of natural oils; try mixing a few tablespoons of almond oil with some aloe vera for a smooth and unique experience.
- It’s best to stay away from substances like jojoba oil and beeswax when you’re looking for a lubricant; these are not ideal for vaginal tissue. So even though they may be natural, they’re not your best bet in the lube department!
Getting Down While Staying Safe
It can be daunting to discover how many chemicals have made their way into our day-to-day products. When you can’t even get intimate with your partner without fearing chemical side effects, you know there’s a serious problem!
And when it comes to intimate areas, there’s no such thing as being too safe. Our sexual health plays such a heavy role in our lives overall that to neglect it could mean serious repercussions, both physical and emotional.
However, now there’s no reason to hold back — organic condoms and all natural lubricants give you the freedom to express your love while ensuring that you and your partner are both preserving your respective intimate health.
Let’s hear your input! Have you ever tried organic condoms or all natural lubricants? What’s your favorite natural lube option? Sound off below!