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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

taking a natural approach to hanky panky

Hanky panky? Uh, yes. I figured if I put "lovemaking" in the title, some of my usual readers might be scared off. Got you.

Now that you're here, this is a really important subject. Let's be honest, at times we ladies just need a bit of lubrication before we are ready to rock and roll in the sack. Nothing wrong with that. This need can be based just as much on where we are in our monthly cycle as anything else, as during ovulation the body is trying to get pregnant and so provides a slip'n'slide a bit more readily, but at other times pre- and post-ovulation, dryness can be more normal. This is often simply related to levels of estrogen, which is why many women nearer to or during menopause can experience dryness. It's a part of life.

So what do you do about it? No! Don't reach for the KY!

Why not? It's filled with grossness which you (I hope, by now) wouldn't even put on your face. Most commercial lubricants are petroleum based products, derived originally from crude oil, which while "natural" in essence must be refined and refined, and then to form different products have various synthetics added as well. The resulting personal lubes really aren't good for your skin in general, and they are even worse for application to a delicate, sensitive, internal part of a woman's body. When you use a personal lubricant, it is given entry right to the inside of a woman, to her uterus if she is near ovulation. Even for the people who don't have an allergic skin reaction to petroleum based products, basically contact dermatitis in a rather uncomfortable place, the seemingly harmless use of these lubes can cause or contribute to a host of problems. Besides the obvious discomforts of increased candida and decreased healthy vaginal flora, the one that stands out most to me? Nerve degeneration.

Hey, wait a minute! So my personal lube, that I use because I'm feeling a little dry or maybe want some extra sensitivity, could actually be causing or worsening my dryness and lack of sensitivity?!

You've got it, babe.

But I can't leave you hanging. There are alternatives! Oh, yes. There are fun, cheap alternatives that you can personalize to your own special needs.

My top recommendation is Coconut Oil. Good old crunchy classic. Coconut oil is antibacterial, mildly anti-inflammatory, extremely gentle, and a little goes a long way which checks the frugality box. While solid to a salve-like density in most room temperatures (although liquid for about 4 months during summer in my Arizona kitchen), coconut oil has a low melting point and dissolves rapidly at body temperature. You can use it plain, or add things to it. Make sure you buy organic, unfiltered, cold pressed oil. I buy 62 oz tubs of the stuff by Nutiva when I go to Costco.

Coconut oil leaves very little residue on fabrics, too, and washes out easily leaving hardly any staining. Oil stains lasting through a wash can often be removed by applying powdered white chalk (crush up some standard teacher's chalk sticks) to the area and running through the wash again after 5 or so minutes.

Alternatively, you can whip up some Body Butters. Scroll down to the end of my post for several varieties you can easily make up at home. As with Coconut Oil, these are (ahem) edible, and you can even add raw honey to taste as desired.

You can also add vitamin E oil or primrose oil to any oil based lube, for extra healing power. You can also use any basic salve (oil thickened with beeswax) as a lubricant.

Ah, but oils are not latex-safe! So if you rely on condoms for birth control, you can switch over to a latex-free (polyurethane) brand, or you can get adventurous and try one of these following suggestions. 

Raw Egg Whites are a natural alternative to oils. Okay, not natural as if it's obviously the first thought that pops into your head, but natural as in from a totally natural and unprocessed source. You should apply common sense with egg whites and use fresh, not old, and from a reliable source of chickens. (Or ducks, or geese... Peacocks? Quail?) It's also a good idea to set the egg out at room temperature before cracking and using, as cold egg whites may well produce a knees-clamped-together reaction rather than enthusiasm from Maid Marian. As the natural texture of raw egg whites tends to be a little difficult, you can beat them up a bit, sans-yolk, with a fork before use. Discard any leftovers.

Vegetarian and vegan friendly Vegetable Glycerine makes another food-safe, fabric friendly option. Use pure, not diluted as you would for making a glycerite tincture. Glycerine is colorless, with a slightly sweet taste, although despite the pleasing flavor is not tacky sticky. As with the Sexy Body Honey, you can add a drop or two of essential oils for a light buzz. Glycerine is totally fine stored at room temperature, too, so this may be the most convenient latex-friendly solution for many people.

My last suggestion for you is another totally vegan option. I can see how it would work, despite having not tried it myself for the purpose of personal lube. Flax and Chia Seeds contain mucilagenic properties, and so they swell up in water, chia more so than flax. I think chia seeds look kinda like frogs eggs once they've sat in water for five minutes. They get all gooey and thicken up the water. Take 1 Tb each of flax and chia seeds, add to 1 1/2 cups of boiling water, and simmer to reduce by about half. Strain solids through a sieve, pushing the natural gel through with gentle fingers, and reserve the gelatinous product resulting from your efforts. This is a water soluble, latex-safe, entirely plant-based option. Store for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, although as with the egg whites you will probably want to set out a little before use.

What other remedies have you tried or created as safer alternatives to petroleum-based personal lubrication products?

**Note: I realized, belatedly, that I finished and posted this article on April 1st. I promise, most heartily, that none of this info was a Fool's Day joke, and all are legitimate tips and recipes! :)

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