Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants
So...Dame has been thinking a lot about lube 😉Welcome to Lube Week, a 5-part series giving you all the juice on personal lubrication.
by Gabrielle Kassel
A human who looks like a blond James Dean is naked, kneeling over my body. They’re giving me their best “I want to fuck you” eyes, and I’m totally feeling it. But there’s one problem: My vagina isn’t. No matter how gently my lover presses their finger or dildo against my opening, it won’t open. And even the sensation of their touch on my bits is uncomfortable.
As someone with a tense pelvic floor, penetrative sex is often painful, if not impossible. So, when I received a sample of Awaken by Foria Wellness, a natural arousal oil that promises to “enhance pleasure while decreasing tension” in the pelvic floor, I wondered whether it would be the chill pill my pelvic floor needed. For the last month I’ve been using this CBD lube during my solo sex sessions. Recently, for the first time in more than a year, I was able to comfortably insert a finger inside myself. And I’m convinced I have my lube to thank for it.
CBD lube is a lubricant infused with CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. You’re meant to apply the product to your clitoris, inner labia, and outer labia for localized relief—and intervaginally for an even greater effect.
“The inside of the vagina is lined with mucous membranes, which are very absorbent,” explains Dr. Leslie Apgar, OB/GYN, founder of Blissiva, a new cannabis company that focuses on creating products specifically for women’s health. “Lubricating the inner vaginal cavity will allow the CBD to penetrate through the vaginal wall and enter the bloodstream.”
"CBD is an excellent anti-inflammatory, which can sooth the pelvic floor muscles if they’re inflamed.”
Unlike typical water- and silicone-based lube, which immediately start to work, CBD lube needs some time to absorb. Dr. Apgar suggests waiting about 10 to 20 minutes before pivving to allow the CBD to work its magic.
And don’t worry, you don't have to just sit around twiddling your thumbs between application and fornication: There’s a wonderful thing called foreplay to pass the time.
According to somatic sex expert Kiana Reeves with Foria Wellness,“CBD lubes/oils can reduce muscle tension and boost blood flow to the area for arousal.” This is good news for people like me with tense pelvic floors. The pelvic floor muscles operate like the other muscles in your bod do, Reeves explains. “They can be ‘flexed’ or hold tension.” Unfortunately, if the pelvic floor muscles get too tense, you can experience muscle spasms, painful penetration, or a feeling that your vagina is ‘closed off’—precisely the feeling I got during my encounter with my James Dean lover.
Not only that, muscular tension in the pelvic floor can cause a chain reaction, according to Reeves. “When the muscles are tense, the blood flow to that region is restricted,” she explains. “And blood flow is essential for sexual arousal and pleasure.” The result? It’s physically impossible to feel turned on.
That’s where CBD lube comes in. Keep in mind there’s been no published scientific research specifically on CBD lube. However, research has been done on other CBD products, and Reeves and Dr. Apgar say the findings from those studies likely apply to CBD lube, as well.
“The CBD in the lube can help ease tension in the muscles, so that they begin to release,” explains Dr. Apgar. “And CBD is an excellent anti-inflammatory, which can sooth the pelvic floor muscles if they’re inflamed.”
"If the CBD in the lube can help the body and mind relax, then there’s a chance the sex will be much more pleasant, and less painful.”
Further, Reeves explains, “CBD has been shown to have vasodilating effects, which means it promotes blood flow to the area it’s applied,” she says. “When used on the genitals it can help blood reach the tissue responsible for arousal. And more blood means more natural lubrication.” Trust, the slickness from lube itself plus the extra lubricant courtesy of the glands in your vulva equals a hot, wet win.
And, because some of the CBD can be absorbed into your system, Dr. Apgar says there’s reason to believe that using the lube may actually help decrease overall feelings of anxiety. “Being in a general state of anxiety and stress during sex can cause even more sexual discomfort,” Dr. Apgar says, “so if the CBD in the lube can help the body and mind relax, then there’s a chance the sex will be much more pleasant, and less painful.” This, too, has absolutely been my experience.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to painful sex and/or pelvic floor tension. “No two bodies are wired exactly the same, so the best treatment for painful sex and pelvic floor tension is one that’s incredibly individualized,” says Dr. Apgar.
Her recommendation? Meet with your healthcare provider, and if you get the green light, “experiment! See what works and does not work for you.” (Note: CBD may interact with other drugs so checking with your doc is a must.)
If you do decide to try CBD lube, Good Vibrations sexologist and curator of the Antique Vibrator Museum Carol Queen PhD suggests doing an allergy test. Dab some of the product on the inside of your wrist or forearm, cover it with a Bandaid for an hour, then check to see if there’s been an irritation. If there’s a rash or redness, you probably don’t want to put the lube near your vulva. “Since CBD is a plant-based material, I like to call out that a reaction is a possibility.” Plus, the lube could have other ingredients that you may be sensitive to, she says.
Also keep in mind: “If the lube contains an oil, it’s not compatible with latex and can break them down. And if it contains silicone, it may also degrade silicone-based toys,” says Dr. Queen. (In case you were wondering, I’ve been wanking off using both Awaken and my Pom for the last month, and there’s been no toy degradation.)
Are my pelvic floor issues completely solved? Of course not. But it’d been a while since I was able to comfortably finger-bang myself, so I consider that progress. Given that simple water-based lubes hadn’t gotten me there, I think it’s safe to say the CBD lube played a role.
Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. When she’s not testing sex toys, Tindering in public, or asking folks about their sex lives (all in the name of journalism, of course) she can be found reading self-help books, bench-pressing, or pole dancing.