Let’s talk about why lube causes UTI and which lube is best for UTI prone and why.
Earlier I explained why you might be experiencing urinary tract infections (UTIs) if you are using condoms. But, here is one more reason: condoms that are covered with lubricant or used with one, might disrupt vaginal flora and therefore affect your chances of getting a UTI.
In fact, most condom manufacturers recommend that you use additional personal lubricant since it improves the safety and enhances the experience. Therefore, if you are using condoms, most likely they are either covered with lubricant or you add one yourself.
Unfortunately, lube could be a big UTI trigger and if you are UTI prone, start by changing your lube.
#1 Can Lube Cause UTI?
Let’s be clear: bacteria cause UTI when they reach your urethra. So why do we say that lube causes UTI? Well, it does so indirectly by affecting your vaginal flora.
Of course, not everybody who uses “wrong” lube gets a UTI. There are many factors in play, such as your own body defenses, and even physical differences.
One study, for example, found a correlation between how far is your urethra from your vaginal opening and your risk to contract a UTI. And while you can’t do anything about your anatomy, you can choose a better lube if you are UTI prone.
#2 Check the ingredients list on your lube bottle
First, take a look at the ingredients listed on the bottle of your personal lubricant. Most likely, you will see that either Glycerin or Sorbitol is one of them. However, these are the ingredients you may want to avoid.
If you are using the condoms that are covered with lube, most likely they will have Glycerin as a component as well. Next time, pick the ones without lube and use a better lube instead.
Glycerin or Sorbitol are commonly added to many lubricants to make them more slippery and this is the most important quality of a lube, of course.
However, both ingredients are pretty much, sugars and therefore will promote yeast infections. Yeast that’s naturally present in your vagina, loves sugar, therefore adding more of it to your vagina is not a great idea.
Once yeast starts growing in your vagina, the balance between organisms that constitute your vaginal flora shifts, making it more favorable for other pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli.
And E. coli, as you know, cause 90% of all UTIs. This is how lube causes UTI.
But sugars that feed the yeast are not the only concern.
#3 Lube Is Bad For Your Vagina?
I hope you know about the importance of healthy vaginal flora to help you keep “in check” your own E. coli bacteria.
If vaginal flora is disrupted, it will be much easier for any random E. coli to prosper and multiply. Eventually, the pathogenic bacteria ascend closer to the urethra opening and climb up into the bladder to cause a UTI.
Unfortunately, it looks like some ingredients in the lubricants could also be harmful to the good and healthy Lactobacillus bacteria that are naturally present in your vagina.
For example, K-Y Jelly killed all three species of Lactobacillus during a lab experiment. “…[the] team also found that hyperosmolar lubricants and spermicidal gels killed microbes commonly found in the vagina”.
A researcher involved in the study hypothesized that it’s likely that the beneficial bacteria died because of the ingredient chlorhexidine, an antibacterial agent. “Unbalancing the natural flora in the vagina is another possible strike against personal lubricants”, she adds “because it might lead to infections such as bacterial vaginosis.”
And bacterial vaginosis, in its turn, linked to UTIs.
#4 Best Lube For UTI Prone
Perhaps in response to attacks on the mainstream brands like K-Y, a plethora of healthy, water-based lube options emerged. Obviously, nobody wants to buy a lube that causes UTI and BV.
But what is the best lube for UTI prone? It appears, there are multiple options:
The water-based lubes that are free of glycerin and sorbitol
There is a variety of water-based lubes that will keep your vaginal flora intact.
However, as with any cosmetic product, you’ll need to balance “natural” ingredients and the lube performance.
The more “naturally” you go, the more likely there’ll be issues with how your lube feels and how long it works.
I personally use (without any health issues) Sustain lubricant. The main ingredient in this lube is Organic Aloe juice.
However, it dries out very quickly and is good only if you need to jump-start the action not for prolonged use.
If you are looking for something more long-lasting, consider a popular brand like Shibari that is acclaimed for long lasting high performance.
Here are several well-rated options on Amazon:
- Hello Sailor, 16oz. ($/oz) Ingredients: Purified water, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Sodium PCA, Potassium Sorbate, Propylene Glycol and citric acid
- Isabel Fay, 4oz ($$$/oz) Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Propanediol, Citric Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthan Gum
- Lulu Lube 16 oz.($$$/oz) Ingredients: Purified water, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Sodium PCA, Potassium Sorbate, Propylene Glycol and citric acid
- Penchant Premium – Silicone Based ($$$$/oz) Ingredients: Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Phenyl Trimethicone
Oils and oil based lubes for UTI prone
Of course, you can go with a regular oil, which also has its pros and cons.
- Doesn’t go with condoms. First of all, you should not use oil-based lube (or oil) with latex condoms.
- Bacterial contamination. If you are using coconut oil, you should also think about where you keep it and how to dispense it. Of course, you simply scoop coconut oil with your fingers from an open jar but you’ll introduce bacteria to the product no matter how clean your fingers are. However, since coconut oil that you buy at a store doesn’t have added preservatives, it could quickly turn into a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Use a one-time use container for coconut oil if you are UTI prone. If you decide to experiment with pure coconut oil, make sure you take some with a clean spoon from the jar, place it in a clean container for one-time use, and then discard the remainder and wash the container before adding new oil.
- Anti-inflammatory properties. On the other hand, coconut oil is known for it’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and even though there is no research on coconut oil for OBGYN applications, it seems to be safe to use vaginally.
There are also lubricants, that are predominantly oil-based (for example Coconu). These are easy to use and have other oils added to maintain viscosity.
If you are experimenting with lubes, add some probiotics and prebiotics to your diet to help your vaginal flora withstand trial and error.
Drink probiotics, eat fermented veggies, cut down on soda, alcohol and processed food as much as you could and try to use as little lube as possible.