Did You Know Sex Can Make You Sick?

© 2014 Dr. Sharon Norling

Spring is in the air. Sexual energy is enhanced and harmful toxins are abundant. We hear a lot about environmental toxins in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. We know about the dangers of cleaning products and cosmetics. But many are not aware of the toxins in personal sexual health products.

Sometimes We Need More Friction

Most people have used a personal lubricant at some point in their lives. Lubricants are a way of life. Everything works better when it is well-oiled. Yet commonly used lubricants loaded with toxins are directly absorbed unto the bloodstream.

You have an opportunity to totally redefine your sex life. If you are an empty nester, you don't have to worry about kids at home. You may have an empty bed you can fill with whomever you want. Here is a chance to redefine who you are as a sexual being—and we all have that chance.

You don't have to believe the story of your life you have been told. You're not the same person you were when you first had sex and not the same person today you're going to be five years from now.

There's always an opportunity to reinvent, rediscover, rejuvenate and redefine who you want to be as a sensual, sexual person. All it requires is the courage to be fearless, to open your heart, to let go of the judgments you've internalized. Now is your time.

But a lack of lubrication can turn into a waning sex drive because natural lubrication is a primary signal of arousal. You want to be friction-free.

What’s Wrong With Lubrication?—Ubiquitous Parabens!

The competitive personal lubricant field is a $219 million dollar industry.
Many choices are on the market but more than 95 percent of them contain petrochemical ingredients including propylene glycol, a primary derivative used in products like antifreeze and brake fluid.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is used in laxatives, medications and even oven cleaner!

There are different types of parabens—the most commonly used are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. They are used as preservatives in products and as a germicide. Just read the labels to find them.

Manufacturers love these chemicals, as they are cheap and effective at doing what they are supposed to—allowing for a longer product shelf life.

The problem is, parabens are considered by many to be toxic and are now being found in the blood of consumers at high levels.

Because parabens are often used in cosmetics, women in particular are at a higher risk for paraben exposure. Women are also more heavily exposed to parabens in personal lubricants from pap smears, vaginal dryness remedies and sexual use. They affect your body from your face to your vagina.

Parabens Have Been Heavily Researched

There has been some hot debate as to whether or not parabens are toxic; however, France, Denmark and other countries are already banning them.

Denmark banned two types of parabens: propylparaben and butylparaben in cosmetic products for children under the age of 3 on December 20, 2010. On May 3, 2011 the French National Assembly banned phthalates, alkylphenols and parabens in consumer and professional products.

On June 26, 2012, the EU announced a ban on parabens in skin care products for children under the age of 6 months.

Growing concerns continue as parabens are known hormone disrupters and are estrogenic—mimicking natural estrogens that promote cancer. They have also been linked to allergic reactions, skin rashes, breast cancer and decreased sperm count.

Think about what they are doing to your penis or vagina before you use products containing them.

Research proves parabens have been found in breast tumors examined after a biopsy. A 2004 study in the UK showed five types of parabens in cancerous tumors removed from 19 out of 20 women.

While this does not show that the cancer was (or was not) caused by the parabens it does show the body is not able to metabolize or alter them and that they were able to permeate and remain in women's breasts.

In the U.S., the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), as well as the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have all said that while they have not seen conclusive evidence that parabens cause cancer, they concede that there is no conclusive evidence that it does not.

Other Sex-related Paraphernalia to Avoid

However, women do not want cobwebs in their vagina and men have needs, too. For many women (and men), masturbation is easier, faster and simply more reliable—like taking the highway versus the scenic country road, says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, sexologist and certified sexuality educator.

You'll be heartened to hear research has found that women in relationships tend to masturbate more than those who are single. There could many reasons, Fulbright says. "Maybe they're left hanging, or they're exposed to more testosterone through sex, or their partner is unavailable when they're in the mood."

However, your super-charged, jelly-rubber vibrator may be causing not only a sexual problem but also a health problem. Some sex toys (seven out of eight in a study by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) contain dangerously high concentrations of phthalates—industrial chemicals that make plastic soft, squishy and easily molded into bumps, ridges and pearls.

In 2008 the U.S. Congress banned (over specified limits) the use of six types of phthalates in the plasticized parts of children’s toys and other child care products (three of the bans are on an interim basis, pending further study). Under Proposition 65, California has added one of these to the list of chemicals known to cause cancer (DiNP—See where it is used here: www.bna.com/california-add-diisononyl-n17179880738).

According to the EPA website, “EPA is concerned about phthalates because of their toxicity and the evidence of pervasive human and environmental exposure to these chemicals.” They have a phthalate action plan that includes eight phthalates.

Condoms also contain toxins. Condoms are made of latex, polyurethane, lambskin or non-latex natural rubber. They may contain lubricants, spermicides, and many have casein—a milk protein.

A German scientific research institute has warned that most condoms on the market contain a cancer-causing chemical and has urged that their manufacture be subjected to stringent quality control. The Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Institute in Stuttgart, Germany found the carcinogen N-nitrosamine in 29 of 32 types of condoms tested.

“N-nitrosamine is one of the most carcinogenic substances,” the study's authors said. “There is a pressing need for manufacturers to tackle this problem.” The study said the carcinogen is thought to be present in a substance used to improve condom elasticity. When the rubber material comes in contact with human bodily fluids, it can release traces of N-nitrosamine.

But since there are no prescribed limits of N-nitrosamine for condoms, the study hasn't caused panic among manufacturers or mass recalling of the products from counters.
Local government officials said condom users should not stop using rubber contraceptives based on the results of the study because N-nitrosamine does not present an immediate health risk.

Germany's biggest erotica company, Beate Uhse, however, has decided to play it safe. Shortly after the results of the study were introduced the group banned chocolate-flavored condoms from its range. The study had shown condoms laced with a chocolate flavoring had overwhelming high levels of N-nitrosamine.

Safer Alternatives

The jury is out on the exact toll of chemicals on life and libido, but better vibes come from safer materials: medical-grade silicone or rolling a non-toxic condom over a trusty old vibrator that you suspect has phthalates.

“Many factors are involved in keeping the vagina naturally lubricated, but anything that sabotages your hormone levels or your body’s blood flow can make you feel like the Sahara Desert,” said Dr. Lauren Streicher.

Meanwhile use aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil, or olive oil so everything works and nothing hurts.

Being in a healthy, fulfilling sexual relationship can do wonders for your health. Fulbright reminds you of the fringe benefits of getting busy: Sex improves the muscle tone of the pelvic floor, lubricates the vaginal tissues, can help prevent yeast infections, releases stress, and eases migraines, chronic back pain and PMS-related cramps.

Sex also has the potential for lowering your risk of developing heart disease, boosting your immune system and making you look younger.

Enjoy sex and live longer!

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