Personal lubricants are often used during sexual activity to decrease friction. Many have the label 'glycerin based'. What should be considered before choosing a glycerin based personal lubricant?

  • 4
    This is a pretty broad question. I'm guessing you are asking about potential allergic reactions, but I could imagine someone asking about disease and pregnancy protection in this context. (I assume you know better, but people finding this question via Google might not.) Could you narrow the question down? Commented May 1, 2015 at 18:53
  • @JonEricson actually there are some pretty significant considerations that are not broad. And very worthy of mention, possibly the question should be narrowed to females, but I don't think there is anything else worthy of mention. Commented May 1, 2015 at 19:03
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    Yes, there are some specific considerations. I can read about them on Wikipedia and elsewhere. But what are you specifically asking about? Commented May 1, 2015 at 19:43
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    I found a broad strokes answer relatively easy to write, and I don't necessarily think this question requires a high degree of specificity in being asked, especially since the use of a personal lubricant may have several different simultaneous concerns that must be considered.
    – Fomite
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Disclaimer: Some of the sources in this post should likely be considered "Not Safe for Work".

Glycerine-based lubricants, which are likely the most common form of water-based lubricants on the market (consider, for example, Astroglide or K-Y) have a number of positive properties to them (when compared to silicon or oil-based lubricants):

  • They are safe for use with latex-based condoms. Oil-based lubricants can have negative impacts on both slippage and breakage of condoms, which is of course a bit of a problem, as presumably that condom is meant for either pregnancy prevention or disease prevention, both of which rely on an intact and in-place condom.
  • Similarly, they are safe for use with toys of various sorts. Some silicone-based lubricants can interact with silicon-based toys.
  • Because they are water based, they are relatively easy to clean.

There are also a number of drawbacks, compared to alternatives:

  • As they are water based, they can become tacky over time, and when used in water, may wash off, resulting in an essentially unlubricated surface (water has this same effect on vaginal secretions).
  • There is some suggestion that these products are associated with an increased risk of yeast infections when used vaginally, but at least one study did not find such an effect.
  • There has been some noted damage to cellular tissue from the use of some lubricants, as they may be hyperosmotic compared to the tissue they're coming into contact with. This has been shown in some animal models and human studies, and may not be as much of a problem in some silicon-based lubricants.

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