Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on September 28, 2011

Does flavored lubricant weaken condoms or cause any other problems?

Does flavored lubricant weaken condoms? The lubricant I bought is water-based and contains sugar...will it make the condoms less effective in protecting against pregnancy? Also, could the sugar in the lubricant cause an infection for my girlfriend? Thanks for your help and advice.

answered by
Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 28, 2011

Thanks for your great questions. I also appreciate your concern for your girlfriend’s health. To answer your first question... 

No, a flavored, water-based lubricant shouldn’t weaken the effectiveness of condoms. Any kind of water-based lubricant is typically okay to use with latex condoms. The types of lubricant that can weaken latex are oil-based lubricants. 

To be clear, oil-based lubricants include anything like hand lotions, cooking oils, shortening or other oily substances. As long as you look for the term “water-based” on the lubricant, it isn’t likely to weaken latex condoms. 

Are flavored lubricants safe for you girlfriend? Honestly, the jury is still out on this one...researchers just aren’t sure. There is some research, like this 2004 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that found that for women who had recurring yeast infections, using lubricants of any kind increased the likelihood of getting another yeast infection. If your girlfriend tends to have problems with yeast infections, I encourage her to speak with her doctor about whether lubricants may be a contributing cause of her infections.

About using condoms for birth control…It’s great that you and your girlfriend are using some form of birth control. Condoms, when used correctly each and every time you have sex, are relatively good at preventing STDs and pregnancy.

However a 2008 study in the journal Contraception found that, under normal circumstances, couples didn’t always use condoms correctly. In fact, for every 100 couples that used condoms as their only birth control method for one year, 18 ended up getting pregnant. That’s a pretty big number if you’re not ready to be parents...so you and your girlfriend may want to talk to each other and with a doctor about additional birth control methods that can fit both of your lifestyles and needs.

To learn more about practicing safer sex, you might also want to check out our Prevention + Safer Sex Overview.

Hopefully, this information is helpful to you and your girlfriend. I wish you both the best of health

Related info:

Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.

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