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Is Wetter Better? An Evaluation of Over-the-Counter Personal Lubricants for Safety and Anti-HIV-1 Activity


Charlene S. Dezzutti et al., November 7, 2012 ; PLOS One

Sexual intercourse has the potential to cause irritation and damage to the epithelial linings of the vagina and rectum if these tissues are not adequately lubricated. This damage can result in portals of entry for bacteria and viruses that can cause disease. The purpose of a personal lubricant is to provide lubrication to vaginal and rectal compartments during sexual intercourse which ultimately may decrease or eliminate any potential trauma that is experienced. Based on the mechanism by which a personal lubricant acts, researchers at the Magee Women’s Research Institute tested the hypothesis that lubricants may play a role in prevention of HIV transmission. As part of this study they evaluated store bought lubricants including aqueous water-based lubricants (Astroglide, Elbow Grease, Good Clean Love, ID Glide Ultra Long-Lasting, KY Jelly, PRE’, Replens, Slippery Stuff and Sliquid Organic), lipid-based lubricants (Boy Butter H20 and Boy Butter Original) and silicone-based lubricants (FC 2 Lubricant and Wet Platinum) lubricants with varying osmolalities. The evaluations included the safety of the lubricants upon exposure to bacteria which are normally found in the healthy vagina and human cervical and rectal tissues and normal vaginal and rectal epithelial cells. The results of these important studies indicated that lubricants with high osmolality (Astroglide, Replens, Gynol II and KY) were toxic to the good bacteria of the vagina and to the vaginal and rectal cells and tissues, suggesting that high osmolality lubricants may cause damage and/or irritation to the vagina and especially the more sensitive rectal tissues. The study results demonstrate the need for personal lubricants with lower osmolality.

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