Lube 101 Definitions

Myrrh

The resin of Commiphora trees. Myrrh is powerfully aromatic, and it is commonly used as an antiseptic. It also acts as a natural painkiller by affecting how the brain perceives pain. Myrrh can also effectively treat minor skin irritation.

Some lubricants use myrrh for its analgesic (painkilling) properties. It may also support the skin’s natural healing abilities, and it is included in some lubes and cosmetics for this reason.

While myrrh is typically safe in small doses, it can cause skin rashes in some cases. It is not safe for pregnant women, as it can cause uterine contractions. People who take medications for skin conditions, diabetes, and heart problems should speak with their physicians before using products with myrrh.

Maca

The root vegetable of the Lepidium meyenii plant. It is thought to act as an aphrodisiac; some small-scale studies support this claim. It has been shown to increase libido in men, and it may have a positive effect on semen quality and sperm mobility.

When used as a lubricant ingredient or as an herbal supplement, maca is very safe. It is a non-irritating ingredient, although users with conifer allergies should avoid lubricants with maca root.

Mint

A family of plants including peppermint, spearmint, pennyroyal, and more than 100 other distinct species. Mint plants are known for their strong, fresh taste. When mint extracts are used in personal lubricants, they can create an intense tingling sensation along with a cooling or warming effect.

Lube manufacturers use various types of mint and menthol (the flavorable compound in mint) as sexual enhancement ingredients. Mint is said to increase sensitivity and allow men to control their orgasms; it can also create pleasurable sensations for both partners, and it is fairly safe. People with salicylate allergies should not use products with mint or menthol.

Muira Puama

Two species of South American plants known for their effect on libido. Muira puama is included in some sexual enhancement products, including personal lubricants.

Traditionally, the bark of the muira puama is used as an aphrodisiac, but lubricant manufacturers often use an extracted form of the plant in order to maximize the potential effect. Muira Puama is a safe ingredient, but may cause mild side effects such as topical irritation and anxiety in some users.

Methosulfate

An ingredient used in some creams and thicker lubricants. Methosulfate acts as an emulsifier, stabilizing the texture of products that contain both oil and water.

The term “methosulfate” refers to a class of substances. The most common methosulfate used in lubricants and cosmetics is behentrimonium methosulfate, a mild ingredient that rarely causes negative reactions. It is also commonly used in hair conditioners and shaving products.

Methyl Cellulose

A compound derived from cellulose, which is produced naturally by many plants and animals.
Methyl cellulose is an effective thickening agent. In its raw form, it is a white powder, which can be added to lubricants, cosmetics, and other products to improve viscosity. It is considered a safe ingredient, as it is hypoallergenic and non-toxic. Humans can safely ingest methyl cellulose, although it is not digestible.

Some lubricants use methyl cellulose as a main ingredient, but it is often used as an emulsifier (meaning that it prevents two liquids from separating).

Microflora

A complex, interconnected system of bacteria. In a sexual health context, microflora usually refers to bacteria and other microorganisms in the vagina. This includes bacteria such as lactobacillus and fungi such as Candida albicans (the species that causes yeast infections).

Vaginal flora naturally limits potentially dangerous bacteria and fungi, which keeps the female body clean and healthy. Some lubricant and douche ingredients can affect microflora, increasing the chances of a yeast infection or a bacterial overgrowth; however, most commercial lubricants are completely safe for vaginal use.

Menopause

The biological phase that occurs when a woman stops menstruating. Menopause usually occurs between 45-50, and is marked by an increase in testosterone production and a decrease in estrogen production. This can cause a range of symptoms including insomnia, irregular periods, headaches and hot flashes.

Menopause can also cause vaginal dryness, and many post-menopausal women use over-the-counter personal lubricants for this reason. Some women also experience changes in sex drive during (and after) menopause.

Menthol

Menthol is a concentration of oils derived from peppermint and other types of mint. It can also be made synthetically.

In personal lubricants, menthol serves several functions. It creates a tingling, cooling sensation when applied to the skin, and lubes with menthol are often marketed as sexual enhancers. Menthol can also act as a mild anesthetic. It is a safe substance, but people with mint allergies should avoid lubricants that use organic or synthesized menthol.

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Potassium Alum

Potassium Alum is an astringent and induces a tightening or tingling sensation of the skin. Potassium Alum is an active ingredient in many vaginal tighteners.

Lube 101 Definitions