If you’re dealing with painful sex and vaginismus in particular, choosing the right lubricant is even MORE important than the right set of dilators.
When it comes to your dilating practice, it’s highly recommended to put a liberal amount of lube on the dilator before you attempt to insert it. And keep in mind, an effective, pain-free dilating involves multiple steps before you attempt insertion.
Overall, if you’re having any trouble with penetration…
You’re going to need A LOT of lubricant.
So you might as well use a lubricant that will make penetration easier AND is healthy for your body.
What kind of lubricant should you use?
Right off the bat, if you’re using silicone dilators (the material I most highly recommend for this reason), you must use a water-based lubricant.
Silicone-based or hybrid (water/silicone mix) lubricants should NOT be used with silicone toys! That’s because the silicone-based lube can degrade and/or discolour them.
But there are so many of these kinds of lubricants to choose from!
Here are the 2 MOST important factors to consider when you’re making the decision of which lubricant to stock up on.
Let’s talk about osmolality…
Osmolality is the most important factor to consider when choosing a lubricant.
But what does THAT mean?
Osmolality measures the concentration of dissolved particles per unit of water.
You know how salt absorbs water? A similar thing can happen with lubricant absorbing your body’s moisture.
If a lubricant has a higher osmolality than the cells of the body (hyper–osmotic), the vaginal tissue releases its own moisture in an attempt to reach homeostasis with the lubricant. Like salt (the lubricant) absorbing water (the body’s moisture).
So instead of making the vaginal tissue moisturized, a hyper-osmotic lubricant actually dries out the tissue! This can put vulva owners at risk of abrasions, skin sloughing, infections, and other cell damage.
On the other hand…
If a lubricant has a lower osmolality than the cells of the body (hypo–osmotic), it causes the cells of the body to pull water out of the lubricant.
So a hypo-osmotic lubricant creates an excess amount of moisture!
But the epithelial skin layer (the body’s natural mucus) is constantly trying to maintain an equilibrium of osmolality (to be iso-osmotic). It doesn’t want to deal with neither a hyper-osmotic lubricant, or a hypo-osmotic one).
In other words, it seeks balance.
A perfect lubricant would therefore be iso-osmotic, meaning its cells have the same hydration levels as the cells of vaginal tissue. So that the vaginal tissue cells wouldn’t release their own moisture, OR pull water out of the lubricant.
Makes sense, right? Give yourself a high five.
The genital-friendly iso-osmotic level is approximately 275-295 mOsm/kg (milli-osmoles per kilogram of solvent).
Keep this magic measurement in mind!
Here is a summary of osmolality levels of popular water-based lubricants:
A lubricant that is as close as possible to the green is what you should e looking for.
Good Clean Love lubricants are iso-osmotic, at about 269 mOsm/kg, a smidge under the genital-friendly range of 285-295 mOsm/kg.
I had heard great things about this lubricant and this is why!
Here are the average osmolalities of tap water, vaginal mucus, colon lining, human blood, human semen and some popular lubricant brands out there:
- Tap Water~ 3 mOsm/kg
- Slippery Stuff® Liquid ~ 26 mOsm/kg
- Sliquid® Organics ~ 106 mOsm/kg
- Good Clean Love™ ~ 269 mOsm/kg
- Vaginal mucus ~ 260-290 mOsm/kg
- Human Blood ~ 285-295 mOsm/kg
- Human Semen ~ 260-380 mOsm/kg
- Colon Lining ~ 920 mOsm/kg
- K-Y® Jelly ~ 2424 mOsm/kg
- ID Glide® ~ 3429 mOsm/kg
- Astroglide® ~ 6113 mOsm/kg
- K-Y® Warming Jelly ~ 10,300 mOsm/kg
But a measure you’ve probably heard of isn’t explained by osmolality!
What about pH?
Your lubricant’s pH level is the second most important factor to consider…
The pH level in general is a measure of acidity and alkalinity in a water-based environment.
The pH scale ranges from zero (acidic) to 14 (alkaline) with pH of 7 being the neutral state (neither acidic nor alkaline).
The vagina is a naturally acidic environment fully equipped with powerful bacteria that fends off many infections.
A healthy vaginal pH level is between 3.8 – 4.6 (pH can range up to 5.5 without necessarily being unhealthy).
Using a lubricant with a pH below or above a normal vaginal pH will reduce the natural level of acidity in the vagina. This damages the beneficial bacteria that fends off infections and thus increases the risk of infection.
Here is a summary of pH levels of popular water-based lubricants:
Good Clean Love lubricants have a pH around 4, within the range of a healthy vaginal pH.
Here are the average pH levels of the vagina, human semen, rectal fluid, urine, and some popular lubricant brands out there:
- Vaginal pH – 3.8-4.6 (pH can range up to 5.5 without necessarily being unhealthy)
- During pregnancy: 4.0-4.5
- Post menopausal: 4.5-7.5
- Semen: 7.1 – 8.0
- Rectal Fluid: 7.0 – 8.0
- Urine: 4.6-8.0
- Astroglide®: 4.0
- Good Clean Love™: 4.2
- ID Glide®: 5.2
- Slippery Stuff ®Liquid: 6.8
- Sliquid® Organics: 6.8
I tried the Good Clean Love BioNude Lubricant specifically created for sensitive skin (as well as a few others of their products) and here is what I have to report…
The Good Clean Love BioNude Lubricant is a water-based lubricant that is free of glycerin, parabens and petrochemicals and is unscented and unflavoured.
It is meant for ultra sensitive vaginal ecosystems.
I thoroughly enjoyed this lubricant. I’m not typically physically sensitive to lubricants, and this one didn’t cause me any irritation either.
Most important to me is that it gave me the peace of mind that I’m using a product that is healthy for my body!
I also liked that it didn’t have any sort of chemical-y smell and didn’t require constant reapplication like other lubricants I’ve tried (this is ESPECIALLY wonderful for dilator training!)
Here are its ingredients:
Purified Water, Lactic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Carrageenan, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Ceratonia Siliqua (Carob) Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Calcium Chloride
Lactic acid promotes the growth of good lactobacilli, assists with maintaining pH balance…
Hydroxyethylcellulose is derived from the cell walls of plants and Carrageenan is derived from seaweed, both used as thickening agents…
The Good Clean Love BioNude Lubricant retails for $12 for a 3oz bottle.
Similarly, the Good Clean Love Almost Naked Lubricant is a slightly different formula meant for less sensitive vaginal ecosystems. I haven’t tried it yet and it retails for $12 for a 4oz bottle.
Restore Vaginal Gel
The Good Clean Love Restore Vaginal Gel is pH-balanced and moisturizing gel that can also be used as a lubricant.
It can help eliminate feminine odour and relieve vaginal dryness and discomfort.
Thankfully, I don’t experience vaginal dryness yet, so I can’t speak for the effectiveness of this gel when it comes to dryness.
I did use it as a lubricant though and it was wonderful!
Here are its ingredients:
Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Natural Flavor, Potassium Sorbate, and Sodium Benzoate
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice is known for soothing properties, low-micro variety allows for low preservative levels…
Xanthan Gym is a natural, plant-based thickener.
Each box contains 15 applications and 1 reusable applicator.
The Good Clean Love Restore Vaginal Gel retails for $16 for a 2oz bottle.
Balance Personal Wash
The Good Clean Love Balance Personal Wash is a pH-balanced and moisturizing personal wash.
It helps cleanse, refresh and eliminate odour, while soothing sensitive or irritated skin.
This personal wash was great for my vulva. Especially after wearing a pad, I felt that it helped soothe the irritation of my skin!
The Good Clean Love Balance Personal Wash retails for $11 for a 8oz bottle.
Rebalance Moisturizing And Cleansing Wipes
The Good Clean Love Rebalance Moisturizing And Cleansing Wipes are biodegradable wipes.
They help eliminate odour post-workout, after an intimate moment or during everyday cleansing.
Each box contains 12 individually-wrapped wipes.
I don’t typically use cleansing wipes but I plan to carry during my period to use in between changing my pad or tampon. I enjoyed the refreshing feeling!
What lubricant are you using, if any? Do you know its osmolality and pH levels?
If you’re interested in giving the Good Clean Love brand a shot, you can purchase it directly from Good Clean Love (use discount code KATRIN10 for 10% off your order).
Since it’s so great, quite a few online stores carry it!
You can ALSO get it at SoulSource (use discount code WITHLOVE for 5% off your order), or MedAmour (use discount code KATRINWITHLOVE for $10 off any order of $50 or more and free shipping on orders over $75).
Please comment below with your thoughts, questions or objections about anything I shared!
Also, I want to congratulate you for committing to your healing journey by doing your research and reading this!
Starting is the hardest step and that means you’re well on your path to healing! Celebrate that fact today… How about a relaxing massage?
If you haven’t gotten your hands on this goodie yet, get “11 Tips From Vulva Owners: What Helped Them Overcome Vaginismus”.
And get my book, “Vaginismus: Breaking The Cycle Of Pain” for FREE now (just pay shipping so I can get it delivered to your door)!
To your iso-osmolality and healthy pH levels!
– Katrin, with Love