Have you ever wondered what lube is best for Lichen Sclerosus? Perhaps you felt overwhelmed by the massive selection of lube options online and had no clue what to buy? Have you ever wondered what you should look for and avoid in a lube? If yes, this is the episode for you!
Today I am here with my amazing friend and fellow LS warrior, Jaclyn, from The Lost Labia Chronicles, and we are going to be talking about lubrication, artificial lubrication, that is. But before we jump into this, click here to subscribe to The Lost Labia Chronicles, which dives into sex, mental health, and Lichen Sclerosus. I am so happy to be here with my girl to talk with y’all about lube (what kind of lube is right for you, Jaclyn’s experience with dilators and lube, what you want to consider in choosing a lube, etc.).
Types of Lube
Let's start with types of lube!
Water-based lube: Very versatile. Safe for toys, dilators, and penetrative sex. Water-based lube is compatible with condoms.
Silicone-based: Long-lasting. Has a very silky feel to it. Safe for penetration. However, it is not advised to use silicone-based lube with silicone toys, as silicone lube can degrade the surface of silicone toys, making them more prone to accumulating bacteria (which encourages vaginal infections).
Oil-Based: Safe for toys, dilators, and penetrative sex. However, they are not compatible with condoms as they can break down the condom.
Hybrid: This is a combination of any of the above. Be mindful of a hybrid on silicone toys, and be mindful if there is oil that isn’t compatible with condoms.
Plant-Based: This might be aloe vera types, such as Aloe Cadabra, for example. These a great, but be mindful of the ingredients. For instance, Yes Oil-Based is a great product. However, it does contain natural oils. Therefore, it wouldn’t be compatible with condoms.
Which Lube is Good for Lichen Sclerosus?
Lube is so important when working with dilators, toys, and/or penetrative sex.
First, you are probably experiencing pain or discomfort if you are using dilators.
Second, working with dilators, especially in the beginning, can be very clinical. Therefore, you may not have a lot of natural lubrication. Using a lube can help make the process a lot more comfortable.
Jaclyn found some recommendations by Heather Jeffcoat, such as Uberlube and Slippery Stuff. She also ordered Yes Water-Based, Aloe Cadabra and added coconut oil to her arsenal.
Trying new products on her vulva made Jaclyn anxious. She was worried about having a reaction or the lube causing her to flare. Therefore, Jaclyn has a protocol for testing new products on her vulva.
Jaclyn’s Lube Test Protocol
On Day 1: Fingertip dab of lube on the left labia minora and leave it on.
On Day 2: If day 1 went well, I will add a bit more on the left labia minora.
Day 3: Day off.
Then on Day 4: If there is still no reaction, I put it on the labia minora.
*Day 5: Day off
Day 6: If there is no reaction, good to go on the vulva.
Finally, on Day 7: A similar process in the vagina (just because it’s OK for the vulva doesn’t mean the vagina will be OK too). Take a little bit of lube on the dilator and insert ¼ of the way in and do a similar process.
Importantly, Jaclyn tracks this data in a symptom tracker; this allows Jaclyn to see whether a lube is Jaclyn-LS approved or not. Once a lube passes the protocol, she uses it regularly.
Want to track your symptoms but don’t know where to start? We got you! I made a FREE symptom tracker just for you. Download it here. It is fully customizable.
Jaclyn’s Experience with Lube and Dilators
The following is Jaclyn’s lived experience. Importantly, LS is an individualized condition, and there is no one lube that everyone will love. What works for some may not work for others. There is some experimentation needed.
Pros: Cheap, cost-effective, and easy to purchase. No irritation feels soothing. Minimal ingredients.
Cons: Messy because it doesn’t come with a pump or squeeze bottle. Not the greatest with bigger dilators because didn’t provide enough thickness; ideally, Jaclyn wanted something more substantial.
Pros: Relatively cheap, minimal ingredients. Squeeze bottle, so less mess. No irritation.
Cons: Again, Jaclyn wanted something thicker and more substantial.
Pros: Great texture, very soothing. Created for people with vulvovaginal disease/conditions. Phenomenal customer service. Squeeze tube so there is less mess; easy application.
Cons: Pricier option.
Cons: Expensive, takes quite a while to ship outside of the USA. Didn’t work well with dilators – BUT – Jaclyn notes this was her fault. At the time, she didn’t know silicone lube isn’t recommended for silicone dilators and toys. It was very challenging and uncomfortable to use this lube with dilators.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive, pump or squeeze bottle, easy application, feels soothing, great texture (thick and really helps the dilator move in and out comfortably), minimal ingredients, non-irritating.
Jaclyn’s Experience with Lube
Jaclyn experimented with lube for 4+ months while working with dilators and 2 months with penetrative sex in order to find the best lube for her body and her LS. Let’s start with dilators first!
Dilators and Lube
Dilators are typically silicone (e.g., Intimate Rose) or hard plastic (e.g., Hope and Her). Jaclyn used silicone dilators and went to see a physical therapist to learn how exactly to use the dilators. Her pelvic floor physiotherapist used Slippery Stuff for lube. Slippery Stuff is incredibly popular and is widely used in physiotherapy clinics.
Jaclyn’s pelvic floor physiotherapist used Slippery Stuff lube to insert the dilator and showed her how to use them. During this appointment, the lube felt fine. However, Jaclyn noticed some stinging and burning afterward while walking home.
Thus, she came to make an association between Slippery Stuff and her stinging/burning, whereby she believed this was causing the discomfort.
A Critical Lesson
Importantly, Jaclyn saw her pelvic floor physiotherapist very early in her Lichen Sclerosus journey. In fact, Jaclyn began physiotherapy a mere three weeks after being diagnosed. In hindsight, Jaclyn realized the burning and stinging were more likely due to the fact that she still had open tears and fissures that hadn’t healed since she hadn’t been using her steroid long enough.
Thus, looking back, Jaclyn recommends tracking your symptoms in general and when using new products on your vulva and/or inside your vagina in order to discern what is causing what. Jaclyn realized the irritation she experienced back then was more likely due to the open tears and fissures than a reaction to an ingredient in Slippery Stuff.
*Spoiler Alert* Slippery Stuff is actually Jaclyn’s ultimate favorite lube now!
Working with Dilators on Her Own
It took time for Jaclyn to start working with dilators on her own. In fact, because of the burning and stinging she experienced, she decided to put them on the back burner for a while. It took about a year to start working with them again. During that time, Jaclyn focused on getting her Lichen Sclerosus under control.
After a year, Jaclyn felt ready to start trying dilators, but there was still a lot of fear holding her back. She worried about things like the dilators causing a tear or flare-up. At this time, Jaclyn listened to an episode of Lichen Sclerosus Podcast and learned about the Lichen Sclerosus Support Virtual Meetup, which she attended. Jaclyn joined that meetup and shortly after joined the LS Warrior membership.
Through the membership, she learned about Heather Jeffcoat’s book, ‘Sex Without Pain,’ which outlined a dilator protocol to help have pain-free sex. This inspired her to start dilators again, and with her newfound support from the LS Warriors membership (with all her LS warriors cheering her on), she started them again.
Sign up for the Virtual Meetups here.
Join LS Warriors here.
Jaclyn’s Experience with Lube and Penetrative Sex
Jaclyn had penetrative sex after having taken over a year and a half off while she treated her Lichen Sclerosus – click here and here to listen to Jaclyn’s story. Jaclyn and her husband used coconut oil. It did the trick, but it was really messy, and she wanted to really feel the lube there.
Then they tried Yes Water-Based and loved it, but ultimately, they settled on Slippery Stuff because of the price point. Because Jaclyn is having sex like a bunny rabbit now, she goes through a lot of it, so the price is something she needs to consider in deciding which lube to use.
What to Consider When Picking a Lube?
- Usage: Think about what you are going to use the lube for. For example, are you going to use it with dilators? If so, are they silicone, plastic, or other? Alternatively, is it exclusively for sex? If so, do you use condoms?
- Talk to the experts: Ask your pelvic floor physiotherapist or doctor for recommendations. Follow resources like Dr. Heather Jeffcoat and Dr. Jill Krapf on Instagram, both of whom share a wealth of knowledge through their platforms.
- Think about textures: do you want long-lasting, something thin and smooth, thick and cool, etc?
- Price point: Realistically, most of us have to budget, which is something to consider.
- Be mindful of ingredients: Ideally, opt for a product with minimal ingredients. The reason is that if there are only a few ingredients, it’s easier to know what ingredient is causing a reaction if you have one. Furthermore, know what ingredients may be harmful, given what you plan on using them for. For example, if you are planning to use it with condoms, be sure they don’t contain oil. Lastly, some lubes have essential oils and scents, and these can be aggravating to some.
In sum, Jaclyn told us about the kinds of lube that exist, what to consider when purchasing a lube, how to start using a new lube, and shared her experience with lube when using dilators and having penetrative sex.
Virtual Meetup Information
Did you learn anything new from this episode? Do you have a favorite lube? Let me know! Email me at Kathy@lssupport.net or DM me at @lichensclerosussupportnetwork on Instagram.
Better yet, why don't you tell us at our Lichen Sclerosus Support Virtual Meetup!
We meet every other Saturday from 2-4 pm and/or 7-9 pm Eastern Time. This is your opportunity to share your diagnosis story, what is working for you and what isn’t, and ask a question to the group. Perhaps share your experience with appointment anxiety! I have met so many incredibly strong LS warriors through these meetups, and I would love for you to join our community.
Sign up here for notifications and updates! I cannot wait to meet you.
Want to Talk to Jaclyn? Here’s Her Information
The Lost Labia Chronicles
If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to The Lost Labia Chronicles so you get all the juicy updates and notifications at lostlabia.com/subscribe. Email her at email@example.com or DM her on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok @thelostlabiachronicles