May 26, 2010
Lubricants for Anal Sex May Increase Risk of HIV, STIs
People who used lubrication during anal sex were three times more likely to have rectal sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than those who didn’t use lube, according to a study presented at the International Microbicides Conference in Pittsburgh.
Why the increased risk? A separate study, also presented at the conference, may offer answers. It evaluated the safety of lubricants used for anal sex and found that many of them may make the body more vulnerable to STIs, including HIV. The tests found that Astroglide and KY Jelly were the most damaging lubes, while Wet Platinum and PRÉ were the safest. Results of both studies are summarized in ScienceDaily.
In one analysis regarding anal sex and lubricants, researchers with the University of California at Los Angeles looked at data from 302 men and women in Baltimore and Los Angeles. About half (147) said they used lube during anal sex. Of the 302 people, 25 (8.3 percent) tested positive for rectal gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Researchers found that 11.7 percent who tested positive had used lube, compared with 5.1 percent who did not use lube. In other words, people who used lube were three times more likely to have a rectal STI, a difference that was statistically significant. Data showed that 61 percent of African Americans used lube for anal sex, as did 40.4 percent of Latinos and 23.2 percent of whites. In addition, 56 percent of HIV-positive participants used lube, compared with 43.7 percent of HIV-negative participants. And 76 percent of all lube-using participants said they used water-based lubricant.
The second study evaluated the safety of five water-based lubes—Astroglide, Elbow Grease, ID Glide, KY Jelly and PRÉ—and one silicone-based lube Wet Platinum. Laboratory tests looked at the toxic affect the lubes might have on the epithelium, the layer of cells that act as a barrier inside the rectum.
Researchers evaluated lubes based on viscosity (slipperiness), pH and osmolarity, which is a measure of its dissolved salts and sugars. Products that are hyperosmolar have a higher concentration of salts and sugars than skin cells. As a result, they leech water out of the skin cells, which dries them out and even kills them. Isomolar lubes contain the same amount of salts and sugars as skin cells. (PRÉ was the only isomolar lube in the study.) Researchers also looked at each lube’s affect on different types of cells and bacteria.
Test results found that Wet Platinum and PRÉ were the safest, Astroglide was most toxic to cells and tissues, and KY Jelly has the worst effect on good bacteria (it wiped out an entire colony).
Researcher noted that studies in humans are needed to determine the affects of lube on HIV and STI transmission. The study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and Magee-Women’s Research Institute in collaboration with the International Rectal Microbicides Advocates and the Microbicide Trials Network.
The ScienceDaily article also includes results of a survey regarding pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) awareness among men who have sex with men.
Search: anal, sex, lubricants, rectal, STI, International Microbicides Conference, HIV, African Americans, Latinos, Astroglide, KY Jelly, Wet Platinum, PRÉ, gonorrhea, chlamydia
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comments 1 - 15 (of 26 total) next
Buh, , 2011-01-23 01:14:39
The kind of people who buy special water based lube for anal sex are probably more likely to engage in anal sex with multiple partners and therefore more likely to contract an STD. Blaming the lube used during unprotected anal sex seems to miss the problem entirely.
J T Hudson, Bowling Green, 2010-12-28 00:18:47
I have always used my own saliva for lube and had no problems. It's natural and produced from your own body . I have never had any type infection or STI's from it and will continue to do so until other wise told diffrent by my infectious disease doctor.Or they figure out what type or style of lube to use .
DNA58, , 2010-07-08 11:38:11
Just a comment on the medical device comment regarding lube. Not all lubricants are classified as a medical device and those that are in that classification are strictly regulated by the FDA and followed up on for continued adherence to the guidelines to maintain that classification. Hence the immense amount of study and testing that is required to achieve that designation. Those on the market that have the designation are few and far between in the world of personal lubricants.
old, , 2010-06-25 11:15:54
Try boinking when post menopausal without any lube. Not only is it hard to do, BOTH partners end up RAW. You cannot tell me ray tissue is not condusive to infection.
bGeek107, West Hollywood, Ca., 2010-06-21 19:14:55
Lube of most types is better than not using anything at all. The more friction there is the more damage there is and that increases the chances of getting infected because of the damage. HIV needs an opening in the skin to get into the blood. Lubrication lowers your chances of getting damaged. Checking their parts for other SDTs can save you from those too.
Peter, Detroit, 2010-06-17 15:23:03
And did these researchers comment on how many people were infected from anal-tissue tearing who did not use lube at all?!
Travis, Modesto,CA, 2010-06-14 22:15:39
I read this study twice because I first thaught it was an advert for Wet Platnum. Then when I read the article again while searching for the opriginal it appeared to me as some type of between the lines reading of Hetrosexual research on "PRE" lubricant as the base to all lubricants due to PRE does not harm the female sex orgins. Only the anus.
Tristan Troby, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2010-06-11 11:07:32
To one extent it is kind of interesting with the health effects of aid for sexual play. Unfortunately the article is missing information about the connection to condom use, and to what extent condoms, used with lube, decreases or increases the damage on the epithelium in colon/rectum. In fact, nothing is being said about condoms.
As for the STI/HIV prevention side of the article, it can probably be re-written...
nvhorseman, Reno, NV., 2010-06-08 11:54:26
How about good old olive oil...lasts forever almost, smells good, and no toxicity. Europeans have used it for centuries in and out of the body. Second choice is crisco but you have to watch out for bacterial growth in the can...not good.
Jim Pickett, Chicago, 2010-06-06 12:35:03
I was at Microbicides 2010 where this info was reported, and was at the session where the researchers presented their findings. To clarify - Gorbach's study did control for condom use and # of partners - neither factor changed the finding that lube use correlated with STI transmission. That said, this study and Dezzutti's study on lubricant safety point to the fact we need more data, we need safety testing. The FDA characterizes lubes as medical devices - hence little regulation in this regard.
Rhona Collins, Winchester, VA, 2010-06-02 08:54:18
This study review says nothing about whether condoms were used as well. Am I correct in assuming this refers to anal sex without condoms, only lube?
Tim, Buffalo, 2010-05-29 08:45:48
Inconclusive, and completely misguiding.
tyler, Phila, 2010-05-28 17:07:58
Sorry...I don't fully buy into this research. 1. During anal sex with a condom, lube is essential in helping to stop the condom from tearing. 2. During bareback sex, dry boinking can cause rectal tearing where using lube helps stop the rectal tearing and bleeding.
Hardy Haberman, Dallas, 2010-05-28 13:37:49
Why no mention of condom use? This article gives the impression that lube is a contributing factor to infection without stating if condoms were or were not used. Bad reporting or a bad study?
Jeff B, San Francisco, 2010-05-28 06:17:39
comments 1 - 15 (of 26 total) next
The number of participants who used condoms who did NOT use lube has to be approaching zero.
There's just no way you have anal sex with condoms and not use lube.
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