After an extraordinary amount of work with IRMA’s Lube Safety Working Group and members of the IRMA Steering Committee – led by IRMA Secretary Marc-André LeBlanc over the course of four months and many, many drafts – we are delighted to release two important documents to help you gain a better understanding of the safety issues around lubricants used for anal intercourse.
Many men, women and transgender people use lubricants (lubes) during sexual intercourse. Yet we know very little about their safety when used during anal intercourse (AI).
Very few studies have examined the effect of lubes on human rectal tissue, but those that did showed mixed results. Most water-based lubes tested in these studies were shown to be damaging to rectal tissue. However, some lubes were more damaging than others. Furthermore, in one study the use of lube for AI was associated with the presence of rectal sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Based on current evidence:
- More research is urgently needed to explore if there is a link between lube use and acquiring HIV and/or rectal STIs.
- It is unclear whether any particular type or brand of lube might increase, decrease or have no effect on acquiring HIV and/or rectal STIs.
- Using male or female condoms is still considered the best way to prevent acquiring HIV and STIs during AI. In addition, the use of condom-compatible lubes has been associated with a decreased risk of condoms breaking or slipping.
- It is not possible at this time to recommend for or against using lubes if having AI without condoms.
- Lube use on its own is not a proven method of HIV or STI prevention.
For more detailed information:
- Safety of lubricants for rectal use: A fact sheet for HIV educators and advocates (1-page)
- Safety of lubricants for rectal use: Questions & Answers for HIV educators and advocates (much more detail with research explained and citations)
- Read all blog posts on the topic of lubricants.
- Click here for an IRMA teleconference recording on lube safety (6/16.)