The studies regarding at-home lube options are mixed in terms of efficacy and safety, Irobunda says. “One of the big concerns with using many DIY natural lubes—especially oil-based lubricants—is that they decrease the effectiveness of condoms,” she says. That can decrease protection against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Another concern of store-bought or homemade lube is the risk of allergic reactions or other forms of skin irritation. “Natural lubricants are tricky because everyone is different,” Irobunda says. “The vagina is such a sensitive organ and can react to pretty much any substance that is introduced to it.”
Before using any lube on your genitals, particularly natural or DIY options, sex therapist Cyndi Darnell, MHSc, MNT, recommends doing a spot test on your wrist. “Wait 24 hours to see if there is a reaction,” she says. If you’re in the clear after 48 hours, she recommends repeating the test on a small area of your vulva, penis, or around the anus.
“If you start to have vaginal itching or change in the scent of your discharge, you should stop using it and contact your medical provider,” Irobunda says. “This may be a sign that you are having an allergic reaction or developing an infection from the natural lubricant that you are using.”