For Episode 4 of Guess Who’s Coming, I co-hosted with Jessica from Radical Eros (@radicalerodspodcast) and Ben over a lovely Sunday morning breakfast. The conversation first starts with explaining our personality types (intermingled with recapping on our dates from the night before) based on results from the Myers-Briggs personality types. After several (read: 20 minutes) of this, our conversation redirects towards the headlining subject: condoms and lubrication. Before I talk about condoms and lubrication, I want to make sure that I briefly cover what this personality test is about…
Episode 4 is now available on Spotify.
Personality tests have taken an ever-popular turn in the modern dating world, with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in the forefront among millennials. As a psychology geek, the MBTI was brought up (frequently) during introductory courses but I did not pay much attention to it until several years later when I had to take the test during a graduate-level public health course. Let’s dig into the basics…
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality inventory utilizes the theory of personality types, developed by Carl Jung, to understand how people perceive themselves and interact with their environment (internal and external) (The Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2019a). The creators, Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, developed the inventory to develop insights about people and groups. Those variables developed by Carl Jung assisted in the creation of 16 distinctive personality types, expressed in 4-letter codes:
Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)
Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
From these variables, folks can determine their preferred environment (E or I), how they prefer to focus on basic information (S or N), if their decisions are more based on logic or instinct (T or F), and if there is a preference for structure or fluidity (J or P) (The Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2019a). Below, you will find the “type table” as demonstrated on The Myers & Briggs Foundation (2019a) website:
NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF…
I did not learn about different types of condoms and lubricants until I was in my mid-20s, and consequently, I dealt with several complications since I was using things that did not work for my body. If you listen to this podcast episode, you will hear about how I found out I am allergic to latex condoms. After figuring this out (and buying latex-free condoms), it helped to improve my sexual experiences because a) I was not stuck in my head instead of enjoying the moment, and b) I learned how to connect with my body in a more intimate way (i.e., I listened!). The most commonly reported symptom related to an allergic reaction to latex condoms is yeast infections. However, you can experience other localized (itching, redness, hives, etc.) or systemic (watery eyes, flushing of the face, runny nose or congestion, etc.) symptoms, or suffer from anaphylaxis (difficulty breathing, swallowing, or swelling of the throat, mouth, or face) (O’Keefe Osborn, 2018).
It is worth mentioning that you can use polyurethane, polyisoprene, or lambskin condoms as an alternative to latex. I would only recommend lambskin if you and your partner have tested negative for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) since lambskin should only be used to prevent unwanted pregnancies (O’Keefe Osborn, 2018).
There is also the possibility of an allergy to lubricants (or spermicide, which actually may not prevent pregnancy at any higher likelihood when compared to a condom without spermicide), so it is worth learning about the different types: water-based, silicone-based, oil-based, and hybrid (or “natural”).
I tend to recommend water-based lube as a starter for folks, typically Sliquid H2O. The benefits of water-based lube are that they are safe to use with latex and non-latex condom options. According to Adcox (2017), “This type of lube is most popular for three reasons: it won’t stain your sheets, it’s easy on the skin, and it washes off easily in water.” Unfortunately, water-based lubes tend to dry rather quickly and will require reapplication, but you can use this lube with your toys. An additional note, provided by @featsofeducation (on Instagram): water-based lube is not hypoallergenic, and it is much more likely to contain potentially irritating ingredients because it generally has more ingredients than others.
Silicone-based lubes are also recommended for super sensitive skin since silicone is hypoallergenic. It is also long-lasting and tends to feel like silk on your skin. As I mentioned on the podcast episode, Uberlube is a wonderful option to test out. Not only does it come in a beautiful, sleek glass bottle, but a small amount will go a very, very long way (I would strongly recommend slip guards in your tub for this one!). The downside is that silicone-based lubes can degrade your toys but are typically safe for use with condoms (Adcox, 2017).
Oil-based lubes are ideal if you do not want to apply more than once, but they should not be used with latex condoms since they increase the likelihood of a condom rip or tear (Adcox, 2017). Furthermore, oil-based lubes are associated with higher rates of infections (such as bacterial vaginosis), they can stain sheets and clothing, and is difficult to clean up.
Hybrid, or “natural”, lubes are newer to the game, and typically include natural-based products (coconut oil, aloe, etc.) and very few ingredients. Like other oil-based lubes, coconut oil can cause the condom to break or tear (Adcox, 2017). Aloe-based lubes can also have a drying effect on the vagina’s natural lubrication, so it is important to not stack a bunch of new products when you are engaging in sex so you can decipher which product(s) are working well (or not so well) with your body.
Adcox (2017) shares that you should always pay attention to ingredients listed, avoiding certain ones which may cause irritation or inflammation, including: glycerin, nonoxynol-9, petroleum, propylene glycol, and chlorhexidine gluconate. Also make sure that whatever lube you use is latex, rubber, and plastic-friendly. Other ingredients which may cause genital irritation or discomfort include l-arginine, parabens, and flavoring agents.
Lastly, for the love of all things wonderful, avoid lubes and condoms that are flavored and scented. These items are typically intended for oral play, and they can have a very negative effect on vaginal pH (potential for Hydrogen).