Dear Dr. Jenni,
I saw in your column last week that you recommend that women eat more oils to keep their vagina lubricated. I’ve also heard that olive oil and coconut oil are good lubricants to apply manually. What about others? Vaseline? Crisco?
—Looking for Lubricants
There are many luscious lubricants from which to choose, depending on where and how you use them. Vaseline and Crisco are great for male masturbation, but I don’t recommend them for intercourse of any kind. Oils and oil-based products (like Vaseline) don’t dissolve with water and thus shed slower from the vagina (and anus). This can be a bacteria trap and increase the risk of an infection.
On the other hand, I have many clients who prefer the more natural and organic route and thus use natural coconut oil. Coconut oil is certainly moist and lovely, but remember that it still has a slower shed time than water-based and silicone-based lubes. My advice is to keep an eye on your vagina, as each woman may respond differently to different products.
Also recall that oil and latex are enemies, so never use oil or oil-based product with condoms. Oil will decompose the condom and render it ineffective.
Dear Dr. Jenni,
My boyfriend and I engage in anal sex. Though we really enjoy it, I’m nervous about medical damage. What are the health or medical risks of engaging in anal sex?
—Anxious about Anal
Any type of sex — vaginal, oral or anal — has the health risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms and STD protection are necessities, unless you both have been tested and agree to sexual exclusivity.
As for medical damage, serious injuries from anal sex are rather rare. Some people may experience a little bleeding after anal sex. This could be a hemorrhoid — an engorged vein in the anal area that is delicate and more apt to bleed. Hemorrhoids are quite common, irrelevant of anal sex, and can bleed from bigger bowel movements.
Sometimes one may bleed when there is an anal fissure — a small tear in the lining of the anus. These can be quite painful because it will incite spasms in the opening of the anus. Unfortunately, they may take a while to heal because they’re continually irritated during bowel movements.
Both hemorrhoids and anal fissures appear as blood on your toilet paper or in your bowel movement.
The last medical risk to note is a perforation, or hole, in the colon. Though far more atypical, this can be a very serious and complicated medical affair that entails surgically repairing the hole, accompanied by antibiotics for infection prevention.
A colonic perforation will often appear as a fever with severe pain and pressure in the abdomen. Unlike hemorrhoids and anal fissures, this rare condition calls for immediate medical attention. Of course, if you do have internal pain or see blood, it’s always wise to see your health care provider.
The best medicine is prevention. To mitigate risks, use lots of lube. Lots. Keep reapplying as needed and then some. The anal cavity does not self-lubricate like the vagina, so reapplying your water-based or silicone-based lube is essential.
Go slow. Starting out at a slow, gentle pace helps prevent rapid tears. Once inside, take a few breaths to allow the internal anal sphincter to relax.
Whether using a penis, finger or toy, keep objects of insertion soft, smooth and clean to prevent extra bacteria from entering the area. Fingernails should be trimmed to prevent micro tears, and dildos should be soft and flexible to prevent colonic perforation.
To decrease anal pressure, position the receiver face down.
Most of all, communicate. If you feel any pain, tell your partner to go slower or stop. Sex should always be about pleasure for both parties!
Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.
Send questions for Jenni Skyler to firstname.lastname@example.org.