Can Lube Cause A Yeast Infection? (And Ones That Won’t)

Yes, lube can cause a vaginal or anal yeast infection if you use personal lubricants that disrupt your microbiome with unsafe ingredients or pH balance.
Aerial Photograph Of Yeast Microorganisms In Petri Dish
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Yes, lube can cause a yeast infection if it contains ingredients that disrupt your pH balance and vaginal health, like glycerin and oils — especially if you’re prone to recurring infections of this nature.

Here’s why:

  • Glycerin (also known as glycerol) is a sugar alcohol and although it isn’t a “true” sugar, studies have shown that it feeds Candida albicans, the fungi most commonly responsible for yeast infections, leading to overgrowth and subsequent infection.
  • Oil-based lubricants (even singular oils that are safe to use alone as lube alternatives) can increase the risk of vaginal infections, including yeast and even bacterial vaginosis.
  • If water-based, a lubricant that is not pH-balanced with body-safe osmolality can disrupt the vaginal microbiome, causing skin irritation that makes infection more likely.
  • Although yeast infections are often considered to be a malady of the vagina, they can and do occur in the anus — so anal lubes that contain glycerin or have an improperly balanced pH or osmolality may increase your risk of developing an anal yeast infection.
  • In order to prevent yeast infections from lube, use a pH-balanced and osmolality-friendly lubricant.

Yeast infections are uncomfortable and common, but it’s important to know that the lubricant you use could play a role in their development — especially if you’re already prone to them.

We’ll go into more detail and share some lube options that won’t cause yeast infections.

Things To Know

Can Personal Lubricants Cause A Yeast Infection?

Yes, a personal lubricant can indeed cause a yeast infection (of the vagina and even the anus) if it contains ingredients (like glycerin) that feed the fungi responsible for the infection.

Additionally, oils (like those found in oil-based lubes) have shown an association with the colonization of Candida species, increasing the risk of vaginal infection.

Finally, water-based personal lubricants that have a pH or osmolality level that is not safe for the part of the body they come into contact with could cause skin irritation, raising the risk of infection in tandem.

How Does Lube Cause A Yeast Infection?

Personal lube can feel slippery and even soothing if it’s made from the right ingredients, but a lubricant’s formulation plays a major role in whether or not it’ll increase your risk for yeast infection — in a few different ways.

One of the biggest culprits is glycerin, an ingredient commonly found in water-based lubes.

Glycerin is a type of sugar alcohol that, although it isn’t technically a sugar, has been shown to act as a food source for Candida albicans — the most common type of fungi responsible for yeast infections.

In a healthy vaginal (or anal) microbiome, Candida is generally kept in check.

However, if the fungi are well-fed (by glycerin, for instance), an overgrowth can occur — leading to a yeast infection of the vagina or anus.

Additionally, oils have been found to increase the risk of infection, as they’ve been associated with Candida colonization (overgrowth).

This includes body-safe oils that might be used as lubricant alternatives on their own.

If you’re prone to recurring yeast infections or are pregnant, oil-based lubricants are generally best avoided for this reason.

During pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations make yeast infections and other vaginal infections more likely to occur, so it’s wise to avoid oil-based lubes if you’re expecting.

Finally, water-based lubes (only) have a pH and osmolality that can ultimately affect the genitals or anus if the lube doesn’t match the pH and osmolality of the skin it makes contact with.

When this occurs, irritation is more likely and the risk of infection is increased.

Keep in mind that lubricants don’t need to be avoided entirely — just be sure to read the ingredient label to select one that is best for your body — especially if you’re already prone to recurring yeast infections.

How To Avoid Yeast Infections From Lube

The best way to avoid contracting a yeast infection while using personal lubricant is to make sure that it contains the right ingredients that are safe for your body.

It should be free from glycerin and ideally oils (especially if you’re prone to recurring yeast infections) and should have a body-safe pH and osmolality.

To avoid getting a yeast infection from lube, you should: 

  • Select personal lubricants that do not contain glycerin and are made from body-safe ingredients that won’t cause irritation or infection of the genitals or anus
  • If using a water-based personal lubricant, select one that has a safe pH and osmolality for the part of the body it will come into contact with — a pH between 3.8 and 4.5 for the vagina (although after menopause, vaginal pH becomes higher and lube with a higher pH should be chosen) and 5.5 to 7 for the anus, with an osmolality under 1200 mOsm/kg (ideally below 380)
  • Avoid using lubricants with oils if you are already prone to recurring yeast infections or if you are pregnant, as hormonal fluctuations make yeast infections more common
  • Avoid lubricants that contain body-safe ingredients you are allergic to or sensitive to, which could cause skin reactions that lead to irritation or possible infection

A pH-balanced lubricant that is free from glycerin is the best choice if selecting a water-based product, but silicone lubricants are equally safe (and rarely, if ever, contain glycerin).

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 3 out of 4 women will get a yeast infection at some point in their lifetime, usually more than once, so you are definitely not alone if you experience this.

Best Lubes That Won’t Cause Yeast Infections

The best lubes that won’t cause yeast infections are those that are specifically designed to protect your delicate vaginal or anal microbiome.

Water-based lubricants are ideal as long as they’re pH-balanced and have a body-safe osmolality, but silicone lubes are also an excellent choice.

We’ve included some of our favorites below — all of which have been personally tested by our team.

→ For more, read: 

What To Do If You Get A Yeast Infection After Using Lube

You may have a yeast infection if you notice increased vaginal discharge (which may be white, thick, or even slightly lumpy) and experience burning or itching of the vulva.

We’ll share what a yeast infection is, signs to watch out for, what to do, and when to see your doctor.

What Is A Yeast Infection?

Yeast infections are common among women — with 3 out of 4 experiencing at least one during their lifetime.

Also known as yeast vaginitis or vaginal candidiasis, yeast infections are caused by a type of fungus, Candida, which is normally found in the vagina, on the skin, and even in the gastrointestinal tract.

Most of the time, Candida is kept in check by the body’s natural microbiome, which prevents overgrowth from occurring.

That said, hormonal fluctuations, medications, injury, stress on the immune system, and even personal lubricants can cause an overgrowth of Candida, leading to a yeast infection.

Women who are pregnant, in particular, are more susceptible to developing yeast infections because of the increased estrogen present during gestation.

Dr. Susan Milstein, a human sexuality health educator on our medical review board, advised that those who are HIV-positive are also more susceptible to yeast infections.

Whenever the healthy pH balance of the vagina is disrupted — whether due to internal or external factors, the likelihood of developing a yeast infection is increased.

Yeast infections of the vagina may occur infrequently, but some women deal with recurring infections and chronic symptoms.

Finally, anal yeast infections can and do occur.

Symptoms Of Yeast A Infection

Vaginal yeast infections tend to have similar symptoms, but they can also be mistaken for other vaginal infections (bacterial vaginosis, for instance) or STIs.

Additionally, symptoms of anal yeast infections are similar — only they occur in the anus.

Symptoms of a yeast infection in the vagina or anus include:

  • Irritation and intense itching in and around the vagina, labia, vulva, or anus
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva or anus
  • Vaginal or anal pain and soreness
  • A burning sensation while urinating (vaginal yeast infection only)
  • Pain during penetrative sex of the vagina or anus (due to infection in the affected area)
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge that may be thin, thick, or white — sometimes resembling cottage cheese (vaginal yeast infection only)
  • Discharge that smells “bread-like” with a yeasty odor
  • Bleeding or other discharge from the anus (anal yeast infection only)

What Does A Yeast Infection Feel Like?

A yeast infection can be intensely uncomfortable or only mildly annoying, depending on the person and the severity of the infection.

The most common symptom is the intense itching it causes — which only leads to pain and irritation once scratched.

This leads to a cycle of itching, irritation, and general discomfort until treatment begins to alleviate the symptoms.

Vaginal and anal pain are both common with yeast infections in those areas, along with discharge and in the case of anal yeast infections, bleeding.

Sex may be safe if you currently have a yeast infection, but the discomfort it causes might be far more trouble than it’s worth.

Although yeast infections are more likely to pass between female partners during sex, it’s worth noting that about 15% of men who have unprotected sex with infected partners will go on to develop a rash afterward.

Additionally, Dr. Milstein, the human sexuality health educator we spoke with earlier, noted an important factor.

“Some creams used to treat yeast infections can weaken latex products,” she explained. “Keep this in mind if you’re using a latex condom.”

When To See Your Doctor

You should call your doctor the moment you start noticing symptoms of a yeast infection, although if you experience recurring infections, you likely already know what to do.

Still, STIs and bacterial vaginosis can mimic the symptoms of a yeast infection so unless you’re sure, it’s a good idea to have your doctor perform a test.

This is especially important if you’ve never had a yeast infection before.

Just as with urinary tract infections (UTIs), once you’ve had one, you generally know when you’ve contracted another.

Yeast infections are generally treated with anti-fungal creams or medicated suppositories, although oral anti-yeast medication can also be prescribed by a doctor.

Many anti-fungal creams and suppositories designed to treat yeast infections are available for purchase over-the-counter at just about any local drugstore.

Oral anti-yeast medication, however, is only available with a prescription.

Again, though, at-home treatments available over-the-counter should only be used by people who have had a yeast infection before and know for certain that they’re dealing with a yeast infection.

FAQs About Lube And Yeast Infections

Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions associated with personal lubricants and yeast infections.

Can You Use Lube If You Have A Yeast Infection?

You probably shouldn’t use lube if you have a yeast infection, mostly because you’ll likely want to avoid penetrative sex altogether until the infection has cleared.

This is rather tricky because lube can trigger a yeast infection if it contains glycerin or oil, or if it has an improperly-balanced pH or osmolality, but the physical discomfort a yeast infection causes in the vagina or anus can make sex less than comfortable.

Additionally, as we talked about earlier, yeast infections are more likely to pass between female partners but 15% of men will develop a rash in response after having unprotected sex with an infected partner.

Can Coconut Oil As Lube Cause A Yeast Infection?

It could — oil-based lubes have been associated with Candida growth (the fungi that causes yeast infections.

Especially if you’re already prone to recurring yeast infections, coconut oil may trigger another one.

Can Silicone-Based Lube Cause A Yeast Infection?

Generally speaking, no — silicone-based lube is a safe option and will not cause a yeast infection.

The beautiful thing about silicones is that they don’t typically contain glycerin, an ingredient that can act as a food source for yeast in the vagina or anus.

Additionally, silicone lubricants do not have pH or osmolality concerns either — as those are both specific to water-based lubes only.

Some silicone lubes contain trace amounts of oil (such as vitamin E), but many do not — and as the last ingredient on the list (in most cases), the risk associated with oils and yeast infections is likely minimal.

Does Glycerin In Lube Cause A Yeast Infection?

Yes, glycerin in lube can cause a yeast infection — it has been shown to feed the fungi most commonly responsible for them.

When this happens, an overgrowth of fungi can occur, leading to a yeast infection.

Can Using Spit (Saliva) As Lube Cause A Yeast Infection?

Yes, using spit as lube can cause a yeast infection.

Saliva contains 700 types of bacteria, some of which could disrupt the natural microbiome of the vagina, making infection more likely to occur.

Can Expired Lube Cause A Yeast Infection?

Yes, expired lube may cause a yeast infection because it can irritate the delicate skin of the genitals or anus, making it more prone to bacterial or fungal overgrowth.

Can Flavored Lube Cause A Yeast Infection?

Yes, flavored lube can cause a yeast infection due to the ingredients used — particularly glycerin, which can feed the fungi responsible for yeast infections.

In Conclusion

If you’re concerned about getting a vaginal yeast infection from a personal lubricant, there are ingredients to look out for that will save you some trouble while also keeping your genital and anal microbiome in balance.

Personal lubricants are a fun addition to spice up your sex life and can enhance your sexual experience — as long as they do it safely.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Everything Lube hub, an in-depth and evolving resource that comprehensively explores all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

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