Gentle Stud

Friday, July 29, 2005

Question

My girlfriend and I use condoms during sex. Sometimes after a while and trying some different positions, it can become dry. So I use lube. But sometimes when I do, my girlfriend says it can feel really weird and sometimes hurt a little, almost like a burning sensation. What causes her to feel this burning sensation and what can I do to help?

Answer

Several things could be contributing to your girlfriend's discomfort. The first thing to check out is the condom. A lubricated condom that contains nonoxynol-9 is more likely to cause irritation and burning. This chemical was once included in condoms and sex lubricants because it killed HIV in test tubes. However, in the human body, it has been found to cause tiny abrasion to the lining of the vagina and rectum which actually increases the risk of contracting HIV. Manufacturers are removing nonoxynol-9 from condoms and lubricants, but it pays to read the label and make sure it's not there.

Since more and more of us are using latex products to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases as well as birth control, the number of people having allergic reactions to latex has also gone up. If you note redness in the vaginal area (or on your penis), or if you have any shortness of breath, see your doctor and get checked out. Latex allergies can be severe enough to cause a completely blocked airway, so don't decide to just put up with the discomfort!

A burning sensation can also be caused by a thinning vaginal wall. If your girlfriend is near the age of menopause, she may need to consult her gynecologist. Regular checkups for vaginal infections are also a good idea. A low-level bacterial or yeast infection can make the vagina more susceptible to burning during intercourse.

The most likely cause is a sensitivity to one or more of the chemicals in your lubricant. You shouldn't use anything with a fragrance or things that are oil-based like hand lotion or baby oil, Crisco, or Vaseline. The oil in these cosmetics can weaken the latex in the condom, anyway, and the vagina has trouble eliminating them. Use only lubricants that are water-based or silicone-based. (Silicone-based lubricants can cause degradation of silicone sex toys, so put a condom on these toys before exposing them to that type of lubricant.) Other than nonoxynol-9, perfume, or grease, a likely culprit for irritation is glycerin. It makes some lubricants taste sweet and can predispose some women to getting yeast infections. Liquid Silk and Slippery Stuff are two brands that don't have glycerin. Hathor is a brand of lubricant especially compounded for women who are chemically-sensitive.

I hope the two of you can find something that will smooth the way for those long rides! It sure is annoying to feel unwelcome irritation when you just want to concentrate on the thrill of penetration. Thanks for being a considerate lover who wants to make sure his partner is getting her half of the good stuff.