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What’s the deal with lube?

Dr. David: What’s the deal with lube? Does it hurt or help when it comes to HIV?

Dr. Demetre: You have some questions? We know HIV.

Dr. David: I’m a doctor. I’m trained for this.

Dr. Leandro: We’re gonna give you what you need.

Dr. David: This question gets asked a lot, and the main concern for a lot of people is what type of lube, and actually can it irritate or increase the risk for HIV for certain people. I could break it down on a bunch of different levels but what I’ll say to you is this, spit is not a good lubricaton and probably will not provide enough lubrication to prevent friction or irritation of the anal mucosa. When you think about what lube does, it’s just making sure that the inside of the anus does not get irritated enough where you’re going to cause little micro tears where HIV could get in or other STIs. Lubrication can come in many different forms and what I will say is that when men are having anal sex, spitting is probably the worst lubricant you can use because it’s not going to actually lubricate the inside of the anus enough where you’re not going to cause irritation. What we usually recommend for people when they’re talking about anal sex and the best kinds of lubrication would be a water-based lubricant, and so things like Astra Glide, which are usually water-based are going to be good. Things like baby oil, Vaseline, may irritate the inside of the rectum and also may break condoms. And then silicone, actually is a good alternative for people who don’t like the water-based lubricants.

The right lubricant can make all the difference. Dr. David covers different types of lube and how they can help prevent HIV.

Using a pre-lubricated condom or applying a small amount of water-based lubricant outside the condom can help prevent rips.

Oil-based lubricants (for example petroleum jellies, body lotions, mineral or vegetable oils) should NOT be used with latex condoms because they can cause the latex to break down, and reduce or eliminate the condom’s effectiveness.

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#AskTheHIVDoc is a video series from Greater Than AIDS featuring top HIV doctors providing answers to commonly-asked questions about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.

This information is shared for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The views expressed are those of the featured medical professional and reflect information available to that professional at time of filming. Always consult a health care provider for any personal health decision.

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