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Editor’s Note: We at POPSUGAR recognize that people of many genders and identities, including but not limited to women, may or may not have female sex organs such as vulvas or vaginas. This particular story includes language from studies and experts that generally refer to people with female sex organs as women.
You may be familiar with CBD as an ingredient in beauty products, snacks, and even sparkling beverages. But did you know that it’s also made its way into sexual wellness products, such as personal lubricant and intimacy oils?
If you’ve never used a CBD lubricant, you may be curious about the benefits of using one during sexual activity. To find out, we reached out to Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., a sexpert for LELO and author of “Becoming Cliterate” and “A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex.” Keep scrolling for info on what you should know before using CBD lube, the possible benefits of CBD, and more.
What Are the Benefits of CBD in Lubricants and Arousal Oils?
First, let’s start with the benefits CBD-infused lubricants and arousal oils might offer. According to Dr. Mintz, while there isn’t currently any published scientific research on the effects of CBD on sexual function, “there is related research that can shed light on this question, as well as a wealth of anecdotal evidence from users who swear by it.”
Dr. Mintz points out that research has found that CBD can help reduce anxiety. “Additionally, according to Harvard Health Publishing, while more research on humans is needed, one animal study found that CBD could lower pain and reduce inflammation,” she says.
Dr. Mintz also mentions that CBD is thought to increase blood flow and help with smooth-muscle relaxation: “These findings are why many sex therapists and educators suggest that CBD-infused lubricants might be especially helpful for women who have pain during intercourse or other sexual encounters.”
In general, there’s a lot anecdotal evidence to support the use of CBD. You may have positive experiences with CBD products yourself or heard stories from friends about how CBD has helped ease certain issues. So what are some examples of anecdotal evidence related to CBD lubricants? According to Dr. Mintz, “countless reports by women point to the notion that CBD lubes increase touch receptivity and sensitivity, and even heighten orgasms.”
This, she says, could be due to increased blood flow — it could also be the placebo effect. “However, it’s essential to note that this isn’t all in your head — research shows that believing in something can actually alter physiological responses,” she says. Dr. Mintz also says that anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD lubricant doesn’t have as much benefit for a person with a penis, and that the skin on the penis is thicker than vulvar skin.
Not all products containing CBD use the same type of CBD, which may play a part in the results experienced. Dr. Mintz says that some CBD lubes are labeled “full-spectrum,” meaning they contain CBD, hemp-derived cannabinoids, and small amounts of THC — but that this amount of THC is generally less than 0.3 percent. “While the amount of THC in these products is too small to get you high, they might even provide even more sexual benefits given the research on the positive effects of THC on sexual functioning.” One study, she says, found “a positive relationship between marijuana use (THC) and sexual frequency in both women and men,” while another study found cannabis to have potential positive and negative effects on sexual effects.
What You Should Do Before Trying CBD Lubricant and Arousal Oils
Because CBD can interfere with certain medications, Dr. Mintz says it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor and get the OK before using CBD products. “This is especially important if you plan to ingest the CBD oil, either directly or during oral sex,” she says.
She mentions that certain brands, like FLORA + BAST, test their products for passive oral ingestion, like during oral sex. According to FLORA + BAST, the APHRODISIA Intimate Arousal Oil ($77) can be consumed orally.
Read the CBD Product Ingredients and Purpose
While certain products are designed to help lubricate and are marketed as lubricants made with CBD, others are actually designated as arousal oils infused with CBD. Generally, Dr. Mintz says, arousal oils are meant to enhance sensation.
Both of these products are frequently made with different types of ingredients and tend to have different purposes or benefits. If you’re interested in using one, be sure to check over the label and product description to ensure you’re getting a formula that’s right for you.
“In terms of CBD products that promise lubrication, the ingredient that promises the lubrication can be oil, water, or silicone — although generally it is water or silicone, whereas those products labeled CBD arousal oils generally have oils only vs. water or silicone,” Dr. Mintz says. An extremely important note: oil-based products should not be used with latex condoms, as oil can cause them to break down. Certain silicone sex toys are incompatible with oil products as well.
As with any product that’s meant to be applied or used near the genital region, it’s important to thoroughly read over the ingredients list to make sure the formula doesn’t contain any personal or known irritants to the vulva or vagina. “For example, some have alcohol products in them (check for any ingredient ending in ‘-ol’), which can dry and irritate the vulva,” Dr. Mintz says. “Others may contain sugars or glycerin, which can be a culprit in yeast infections if you are prone.”
One way to potentially prevent irritation from occurring when using a new product is to do a patch test. “This is always a good idea — regardless of whether it’s a CBD lube or just a regular lube you’ve never used before,” Dr. Mintz says. “Test it on the inside skin of your arm. It’s also a good idea to put a bit on your sex toy if you are going to use one and make sure the toy doesn’t change colors or get sticky.”
If you’re unsure if your product is compatible with your condoms or safe for you to use, reach out to your healthcare provider for advice.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Matthew Kelly
Product Credit: Unbound lubricant, Unbound vibrator