Two studies about the safety of lubricant use during anal intercourse were presented last week at the 2010 International Microbicides Conference in Pittsburgh. The data from the studies has yet to be published, but there have already been several write-ups about the research , which at first blush seem to suggest that using lubricant might be found to be associated with an increased risk of STDs. As Jim Pickett, the chair of the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA) one of the organizations involved in putting on the conference, said to me in an email, what is key is that this research be discussed and interpreted without hyperbole. If you’re confused by what you’ve read so far, you’re not alone. Let’s start with the research itself.
One was a laboratory study of six popular lubricants used during anal intercourse. Actually only five of them are popular for anal intercourse (Astroglide, Elbow Grease, ID Glide, KY Jelly and Wet Platinum), the sixth (Pre) was used because it is isotonic (more on that below). The popular lubricants were chosen based on a large global survey which asked over 9,000 people about lubricant use during anal sex. Researchers did not report on which specific style of each product was used in the research, but in one write up I read that the “basic formulation” was used from each brand. (Interesting side note from my years in sex shops: the lubricant Pre is a lubricant made specifically for women trying to conceive. In addition to being isotonic, it is the only lubricant on the market that is specifically designed not to harm sperm).