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The Slippery Slope: Lubricant Use and Rectally Sexually Transmitted Infection: A Newly Identified Risk

11.28.18

GORBACH, ET AL., SEX TRANSM DIS., JANUARY 2012

Studies were performed in Baltimore (Johns Hopkins University) and Los Angeles (UCLA) from 2006 to 2008 to assess the association of lubricant use and risk for STI acquisition in men and women who had receptive anal intercourse (RAI). Thirty-six percent (36%) of participants reported consistent lubricant use when engaging in RAI with more men using lubricants consistently than women. There were significantly more STIs detected among those who reported consistent use of lubricant for RAI compared to those reporting inconsistent use. This scientific report suggests an association, not causation, of STIs and the consistent use of personal lubricants. Although the information reported in the paper cannot definitively prove that personal lubricants induce some damage or irritation of the rectal epithelium during personal lubricant use, the authors do note that the evaluation of topical microbicides for STI prevention should utilize products which are safer and less damaging to the fragile epithelium in the rectum. The products used in these clinical trials, which are safer and less damaging, are lubricants which possess lower osmolality and neutral pH, aiming to mimic the natural body fluids in the same way as FLIP.

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