Wow, guys. Thanks for reflagging our post on glycerin lube far and wide. We’re so glad that so many of you are interested and willing to help spread this information!
That said, researchable information on glycerin in lube varies widely, even among sexologists, and in our efforts to produce our last easily-accessible post on glycerin, we’ve unfortunately made a few errors in phrasing and sacrificed some accuracy for the sake of succinctness. After consulting with our medical experts and colleagues, we want to own up, apologize for our own lack of comprehensive proofreading, and offer you what we do feel is the most recent and medically sound advice on glycerin and what it can do in your body! Thanks to those who called us out on it: now let’s get down to what is and isn’t true about glycerin lube.
We have reproduced our original post below, making it very clear which things are edits and which remain accurate and up-to-date information.
How often do you check the ingredients on your lube beyond the labels “silicone” or “water-based”? Today we take a look at glycerin.
Glycerin is a sugar-alcohol. It’s typically added to water-based lubes to make your naughty bits taste sweet when lubed up, and keep everything as moist as it should be. A lot of people like glycerin lubes because they complain about the bitter/bad taste of unflavored lubricant.
However, here’s why you might want to stay away from it:
- If you’re already prone to yeast infections, using glycerin lubes is thought by some to exacerbate your chances of getting yeast infections. It may also aggravate existing yeast infections. Although there is currently no conclusive evidence that glycerin itself directly causes yeast infections, if you constantly suffer from them you may find that switching to a glycerin-free lube will make them less frequent.
- In our previous post, we equated “glycerin” to “sugar”, which is not true. We used an oversimplification to get a point across, as glycerin is a sugar-alcohol and the mechanisms behind its workings are complex, but as the statement was both confusing and misinformative, we are retracting this. Our bad.
- Do you know what else contains glycerin? Anal suppository laxatives!Glycerol itself is a natural, hyperosmotic laxative. If you’re using lube for anal play (which you should be!), be aware that it may cause you to drop some major deuces post-play. If you are already uncomfortable about the possibility of fecal matter appearing in your anal activities, this may not be a good choice for you.
- Glycerin based lubrication has been shown to potentially lead to higher rates of STI transmission in anal sex. This was omitted from our last post but is crucially important, especially if you are having condomless, penetrative sex. Note that since this study was the first of its kind, more research needs to be done in the area to conclusively and consistently demonstrate the accuracy of this statement. Furthermore, you obviously can only transmit an infection if you already have an infection before engaging in play - glycerin does not create STIs!
So should I use glycerin lubes or not? Glycerin lubes are still able to be used safely both vaginally and anally. However, we continue to advise against using them on the basis of potential yeast irritation, higher rates of STI transmission, and the fact that glycerin usually makes lubes sticky and tacky in an uncomfortable way - but just because your lube contains glycerin doesn’t mean it is innately unhealthy and should be immediately thrown away.
What are your alternatives? There are lots of glycerin-free water based lubes on the market, just read the label carefully! You could also opt for silicone-based lubes. And if the taste factor of your lube is a big deal for you, there are ways to get yummy lubes WITHOUT glycerin in them. Just reach for a flavored lube (Sliquid carries a good line) that specifically notes it uses non-sugar artificial flavorings.
Thanks for bearing with us as we make sure to keep you all updated on the most accurate sexual pleasure and health information we can produce!