Whole Life Magazine

April/May 2013

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Page 16 of 43

SEXtalk Moving Parts whole living By Wendy Strgar L the ins & outs of sexual lubricants ubrication is a fact of life. In any relationship where working parts are at play, whether it be an engine, a dinner party or an evening of love, everything works better when it is "well oiled." Lubrication allows for glide, ease and effectiveness. When lubrication is working well, it is invisible, a thought we don't have. When it isn't working, we know it immediately, although not always by its name. An engine without oil locks up in minutes; awkward silence and uncomfortable averting of the eyes is immediately recognizable. Our earliest sexual experiences are usually well lubricated, and often include moments of vaginal wetness or erections seemingly unbidden. As life goes on, lack of lubrication in intimacy can occur for a myriad of reasons—childbearing, nursing, aging and even common medications, such as antihistamines and antidepressants, can cause vaginal dryness and its associated pain in sex. The good news is that our body memories from earlier times are stored deep in our psyches, and triggering them can be as easy as inding the right lubrication. Although there are literally hundreds of brands vying for the more than $200 million Americans spend on lubricant annually, the choices in the market exist more in name and packaging than in the ingredient base of the products. There are four main categories of lubricant available. Of these, water-based petrochemical-heavy lubricants make up the lion's share of product sales in both mainstream and adult markets. Silicone-based lubricants are more of a niche market, as are natural oil (mostly coconut) lubricants and an emerging group of aloe-based lubricants. When I irst began looking for a product that didn't create adverse reactions, such as burning and itching that forced me to soak for hours afterward, I tried everything, increasingly convinced that the problem was with me. Only later did it become clear that even though I was buying different brands, the product in each of the bottles was virtually the same, and that millions of people were having this same painful reaction. As I did more research, I was shocked to learn that many of the best-known brands were made with petrochemical ingredients, including propylene glycol, a primary derivative used not only in such products as cake mix and antiperspirant, but also in anti-freeze and brake fluid; polyethylene glycol, used in laxatives and oven cleaner, among others; and methyl- and propylparabens as preservatives. Parabens were recently identified as potentially carcinogenic by the Breast Cancer Fund, which is a founding member and national coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition working to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products. In recent studies researching a buffer gel for the prevention of HIV, researchers from Johns Hopkins discovered that many of the lubricants they tested were actually damaging the genital and rectal tissue they were intended to protect. Their reports compared the osmolality—the concentration or weight of cell luid—of the different lubricants. The vast majority of widely used personal lubricants had extremely high osmolality ratings compared with human tissue osmolality, which is about 300. Some popular warming varieties had ratings 10 to 30 times the human cell weight. When human cells try to balance chemical products that are 10–30 times their own cell weight, they shrivel and can start to shed. This damage creates issures and tears that weaken genital and rectal tissue, making it more susceptible to infection, HIV and STDs. Recent studies conirmed that the use of these lubricants increased the risk of BV (bacterial vaginosis) by 12–14 times. Aggravating the problem, hyperosmolar lubricants also kill off protective microbes such as lactobacillus, which is nature's protection against infections. Personal lubricants may be the last frontier of health care products to experience it, but there is a revolution stirring, with organic and non-harmful products that are effective and cause no damage. Take care of your body's sensitive tissue by reading labels, and watching for adverse reactions. Good sex isn't about feeling the burn; it's about feeling the warmth of someone you love. Choose wisely and realize that the body can teach the mind, and arousal and sexual enhancement may be as close as the bottle on your nightstand. Wendy Strgar is a writer, teacher and loveologist. She is the founder and CEO at Good Clean Love, makers of Almost Naked 95 percent organic lubricant. WL.indd 17 April/May201317 3/26/13 4:22 PM

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