The benefits of using a personal lubricant for sex are numerous. Lubricants can deepen your pleasure, since they increase the natural slip and slide that go with the best sex, and they can also be helpful in combating conditions like vaginal dryness or pain with sex that often accompany normal hormonal shifts, medical conditions, and age-related changes.
In your quest for great sex, you may be wondering whether it’s a good idea to use olive oil as a lubricant. While olive oil is an ingredient you likely already have around the house and may initially seem like a convenient natural lubricant, it might not be the best choice. In this article we’ll explain why, and also talk about how to find the right lubricant for you.
Let’s start by looking closer at the reasons you might want to use a lubricant in the first place.
Benefits of Using a Lubricant
At first blush, the idea of a lubricant doesn’t seem very sexy. The word inspires anxieties that something might be wrong with you, images of dead bedrooms, fears of a sex life that doesn’t feel sexy anymore.
Lubricant needs a serious image change, and luckily it’s finally getting one. There is no shame in using a lubricant; in fact, we recommend using one even if you don’t think you need one. We wholeheartedly believe “Wetter is better.” Whatever your reason for using a lubricant, it can only help your cause. In case you’re still in doubt, here are a couple of good reasons to grab a lubricant the next time you get intimate.
Lubricants Increase Pleasure
The first and most important reason to use a lubricant is because it feels good. Women’s bodies naturally create lubrication, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a little extra. A good lubricant will only add more of that moisture, and the more moisture you have to work with, the better sex feels. If it’s a really good lubricant, then it will actually blend with your own natural lubrication until you can’t tell the difference between what’s yours and what’s the lubricant.
Let’s be honest – plenty of perfectly good sexual encounters have been ruined because there wasn’t enough lubrication. If we’re not lubricated, sex doesn’t feel good, and it’s hard to stay turned on. We’re left with pain, friction, awkwardness, and overall bad bedroom vibes.
Sometimes You Have to Use a Lubricant (And That’s Not Bad)
In addition to making any sex better, lubricant can also help people dealing with conditions like vaginal dryness or pain with sex. Both of these conditions can occur for a variety of reasons, including normal hormonal changes (due to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause), certain medical conditions, and a number of unrelated medications.
In other words, you might use a lubricant not just to increase your pleasure, but to take on a physiological challenge that would otherwise cripple your sex life.
There can be a lot of shame around this kind of condition, but the truth is there’s nothing to be ashamed of. These things affect all kinds of people at varying stages of their lives and for various reasons. Nobody chooses vaginal dryness and pain with sex — but you can choose to have a healthy sex life despite those challenges, and a good lubricant can be an important part of that choice.
Whether you’re using it for increased pleasure or for other reasons, a good lubricant can only make your sexual experiences better. Now that you know you should be on the lookout for a lubricant, where do you start?
Common Lubricant Types
If you’ve never shopped for a lubricant before, you may not know that there are different types out there. Lubricants generally fall into three categories: water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based, as well as hybrids which are combinations of water-based and silicone-based lubricants. Maybe it’s obvious, but the main difference between these types is the base ingredient of the lubricant, which may be water, silicone, or oil.
People have varying preferences about how they want their lubricant to feel, and different lubricant types have different properties. One size does not fit all; depending on the type of sexual activities you’ll be engaging in, one lubricant type may be better for you than another.
- Water-based lubricants are popular, general-purpose lubes that are safe to use with latex condoms and toys.
- Silicone-based lubricants are silky smooth and last longer, but they can be messy, and they aren’t recommended for use with silicone-based toys.
- Oil-based lubricants also last a long time, but can lead to condom breakage and higher rates of certain infections.
Some experts consider natural lubricants to be another, separate category. Natural lubricants are made without ingredients like petrochemicals, parabens, and artificial fragrances, which may make you slippery, but aren’t necessarily good for your health. Instead, natural lubricants are made with body-safe ingredients like aloe vera.
What to Consider When Choosing a Lubricant
With the wide world of lubricants out there, what should you look for?
First, we think it’s a good idea to avoid lubricants that contain petrochemicals, parabens, or artificial fragrances. Though they’re widespread, these ingredients are particularly harmful to the sensitive vaginal microbiome, and can cause more problems than they solve.
Next, it’s important to ask about the salt and pH balance of the lubricant in question. Why? Because the vagina has its own natural salt and pH balance, and when you use a lubricant that doesn’t match those, you can increase your risk for common vaginal infections, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Look for lubricants that are pH-balanced and iso-osmolar (salt balanced), which means they will mimic the qualities of your natural lubrication.
You also need to consider whether the lubricant is safe for your skin. Some products can clog pores, and if a lubricant is not safe for your skin, it won’t be safe for your vagina.
You might think that using a lubricant labeled “antibacterial” is a good idea, but that’s not necessarily true. The vagina thrives off a balance of healthy bacteria, and antibacterial products kill all bacteria, whether good or bad. Using a lubricant labeled “antibacterial” could potentially throw off the natural ecosystem in your vagina, which can again leave you at risk for common vaginal infections.
If you’re considering using latex condoms or latex-based toys, you also need to remember that oil-based lubricants are not compatible with those products. You don’t want to have to stop during a passionate moment to think about which lubricant to use, so if you ever use latex in the bedroom, whether condoms or toys, we suggest looking for a different everyday lubricant.
Finally, the ideal lubricant should be easy to use and clean up, and should taste and smell good.
Olive Oil as a Personal Lubricant
Given all these considerations, how does olive oil measure up?
Not Compatible with Latex – Or Your Sheets
Olive oil is an oil-based lubricant, which means that it has all the hallmarks of other oil-based lubricants (hello, coconut oil). What does this mean? First, like any oil-based lubricant, olive oil is not compatible with anything latex, including condoms, dental dams, and toys.
Furthermore, like coconut oil, olive oil is also not easy to use, in the sense that it’s messy and requires more cleanup than a water-based lubricant or even a silicone-based lubricant. Also like coconut oil, olive oil is thick and viscous, which is not necessarily skin-friendly, and can cause clogged pores or irritation.
May Not Be the Best Option for Couples TTC
If you’re trying to conceive (TTC), olive oil may not be the best choice for a personal lubricant. When TTC, it’s important for whichever lubricant you use to be made in a way that it does not harm sperm. Unfortunately, clinical trials on olive oil’s effects on sperm are mixed. For example, a 2017 study on olive oil’s effects on sperm motility showed a decrease of 50% in 15 minutes and 25% in two hours. However, other studies show that olive oil increases gonadal functioning and overall sperm quality.
So olive oil could be safe for conception, but when there are plenty of water-based lubricants that have been specifically designed and tested to be safe for conception, “could be” isn’t good enough.
Studies on Effectiveness Are Mixed
In general, the medical studies on olive oil as a personal lubricant are also mixed. One study examined the effects of using olive oil as part of a multi-pronged approach, alongside pelvic floor work and a vaginal moisturizer, to treat sexual problems in women with breast cancer. Women in this study did find relief using this method – but was it because of the olive oil, the moisturizer, or the pelvic floor work? This study again suggests that there may be benefits to using olive oil as a personal lubricant, but more research is needed to get a clearer picture.
Quality Can Be Questionable
There is another potential problem with olive oil, which is unusual among oil-based lubricants. Commercial olive oil is often adulterated or even fraudulently substituted with other oils. The manufacture and sale of olive oil has not, thus far, been well regulated by the FDA, which means that you might go to the grocery store and pick up a bottle of olive oil that is bland, rancid... or even completely lacking in actual olives, instead being a mix of other oils and chemicals that are not listed on the label.
In other words, even beyond the risks of pure olive oil itself, there’s a chance that store-bought olive oil might actually be a mystery cocktail of chemicals — not what you want to put in one of the most sensitive areas of your body.
The general consensus in the medical community is that using olive oil for foreplay or sensual massage is fine, but if you’re interested in using it for penetration, it is not the best choice. The biggest concern is that olive oil can disrupt the natural bacterial balance of the sensitive vaginal microbiome, leaving you more susceptible to common vaginal infections like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or STIs. There are some encouraging studies, but there are also some discouraging ones; until the evidence is clearer, it’s hard to recommend olive oil as a personal lubricant, especially when there are so many well-studied alternatives out there.
So what is a good alternative to olive oil?
We recommend a high-quality, water-based lubricant that’s pH balanced and salt balanced. Good Clean Love’s products are not the only good ones out there, but we would be remiss not to mention them. Our organic, all-natural lubricants are made without petrochemicals, parabens, or artificial fragrances, and are designed with the protection of the vaginal microbiome in mind.
- For women who are struggling with vaginal dryness, we recommend Restore Personal Moisturizer, which can be used as both a daily internal moisturizer and a lubricant.
- If you are extra sensitive, we recommend BioNude Ultra Sensitive Lubricant, which is scientifically formulated to be the best match for natural feminine moisture.
- For everyday intimacy, we recommend Almost Naked Personal Lubricant, which is certified organic and, like all our lubricants, water-based and pH balanced.
Conclusion: Leave the Olive Oil in the Kitchen
There are a few things we know for sure about olive oil as a personal lubricant. Because it is oil-based, it is not compatible with latex condoms, latex toys, or dental dams. In addition, it’s messy and hard to clean up, both off your body and from your sheets.
There are also some important things we don’t know about olive oil, including whether it is safe for conception, whether it can disrupt your delicate vaginal microbiome, and whether it can put you at greater risk for infections. Not only that – it’s hard to know if a bottle of olive oil in the kitchen is really olive oil, or something else. While some experts say olive oil is perfect for foreplay or sensual massage, the general consensus among scientists and doctors is that you are better off using something else as a lubricant for penetration.
While it might seem easy and more cost effective to just grab your olive oil from out of the kitchen and bring it to the bedroom, we recommend using a high-quality, natural, water-based lubricant, since it will blend with your own feminine moisture and won’t disrupt your vaginal flora. Not only that, but you can use a water-based product with your condoms and toys, and in any other scenario you might imagine.
And the bottle of olive oil? Leave it in the kitchen.