5 Notable Lube Ingredients to Avoid if You Want to Stay Healthy

Written by: Quanna Experts



Time to read 5 min

Lube is one of those things that until you’ve tried it, you’ll never know what you’re missing out on. A personal lubricant can be used to enhance sexual pleasure and reduce friction during sex if natural vaginal lubricant is not available. However, not all lubes are created equal, so you need to know which lube ingredients to avoid.

In this article, we'll explore five notable ingredients commonly found in sex lubes that you should steer clear of.

What Ingredients to Avoid in Lube

Before we begin, lube can be found in three categories; water-based, silicon-based and oil-based. Which one is for you is something you and your partner need to experiment with as each has pros and cons you need to know.

Before the fun experiments can begin there are ingredients found in some lubes that you should know about and avoid if you can. Here are the top 5 lube ingredients to avoid.

1. Parabens

Cosmetics, including lube, often contain parabens as preservatives. These additives prevent bacteria and mold growth that can lead to infections. However, parabens have been associated with health problems such as hormone disruption, allergic reactions, and cancer. This is due to the fact that they imitate estrogen in the body, disrupting the endocrine system.

Parabens are one of the lube ingredients to avoid, so choose lubricants that are labeled "paraben-free."

The FDA is still inconclusive as they do not have enough information related to the use of parabens in cosmetics [1].

2. Glycerin

Glycerin is a type of sugar alcohol that is commonly used as a lubricant due to its moisturizing abilities. However, it has been known to cause irritation and infections in certain individuals. Glycerin can support the growth of bacteria and yeast, leading to vaginal infections and other related health issues.

Moreover, glycerin can be transformed into glucose, which can elevate blood sugar levels. If you have sensitive skin or are susceptible to infections, it is advisable to steer clear of lubricants that contain glycerin.

Recommended Reading: Can You Have Sex with a Yeast Infection?

3. Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline, is a byproduct of oil refining that is often used as a lubricant. However, it's not a good choice for sex because it can trap bacteria and cause infections.

Petroleum jelly can also degrade latex condoms, making them less effective at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. If you're looking for a safe and effective lube, avoid anything that contains petroleum jelly.

4. Nonoxynol-9

Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicide that is sometimes added to lube to prevent pregnancy. However, it's not a good choice for most people because it can cause irritation and increase the risk of HIV transmission. This is because Nonoxynol-9 can damage the delicate tissues of the vagina and rectum, making them more susceptible to infection.

Inside the vagina, there are “good” bacteria that are needed to maintain a healthy pH balance however Nonoxynol-9 kills these good bacteria opening up infections like bacterial vaginosis.

If you're looking for a lube that can help prevent pregnancy, consider using one that is labeled as spermicide-free.

5. Fragrances

Lubes are sometimes scented with fragrances to give them a sweet or fruity smell. However, these fragrances can lead to irritation and allergic reactions in certain individuals. Fragrances are composed of numerous chemicals, and their labels do not always disclose all their ingredients. Some of these chemicals can be harmful and may result in skin irritation, headaches, or respiratory issues. To steer clear of fragrances, opt for lubes that are labeled "fragrance-free" or "unscented."

Lube Ingredients to Look Out For


When selecting a sex lubricant, we recommend choosing a water-based lube as they are less likely to cause skin irritation, damage condoms, or harm silicone toys. A study has shown that water-based lubricants are highly rated for their ability to enhance sexual pleasure [2].

To ensure you are choosing a water-based lube, make sure that water is listed as one of the main ingredients.

pH Balanced

While not an ingredient, the pH balance of a lube plays an important role in its quality. pH indicates the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The vaginal pH typically ranges from 3.8 to 4.5, but it does rise towards 7 during ovulation.

When the pH balance is disrupted, women become more vulnerable to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and abnormal discharge.

If you desire a sex lubricant that promotes vaginal health and potentially enhances fertility, the pH of the lube is important. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is recommended to use lubricants with pH levels below 7 [3]. This is crucial for safeguarding the vaginal epithelium, maintaining a healthy pH, and preventing infections [4].


If you’re trying for a baby, couples can benefit from hydroxyethylcellulose which can be found in some fertility-friendly lubricants. This ingredient does not have any negative impact on sperm or its motility [5].

In addition, it can replicate the natural environment of the vagina, thus increasing the likelihood of conceiving.

Paraben Free

When looking for a lubricant, it is important to avoid certain ingredients that can interfere with hormone signaling and fertility. To ensure you are using a safe lubricant, look for products that do not contain any "paraben" ingredients or are specifically labeled as "paraben-free" or "made without parabens."


By taking the time to do your research and choose wisely, you can enjoy a more pleasurable sexual experience by choosing the right lube for intimate moments and which lube ingredients to avoid.

To ensure that you're using a safe and effective lube, look for products that are labeled as natural, organic, or free of these ingredients. You can also consult with your doctor or a sexual health expert for advice on choosing the right lube for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use saliva as lubricant?

In the heat of the moment, you may be tempted to just use spit, however, using saliva as lube is not advised as it drys quickly and does not last as long as lube.

What can I use coconut oil as lube?

Coconut is a natural alternative lubricant to use however it does come with an increased risk of infections. It's better to use a water-based or silicon-based lube.

Can sperm get through lube?

If the lube you're using contains Nonoxynol-9 then the lube will kill the sperm. However most water-based lubes do not affect contraception and allow sperm through.