How a Trendy Lube Gave Me a $200 UTI (and Cost Me My Favorite Vibrator)

I love vibrators. I love masturbating, I love orgasming myself to sleep, I love cuddling up in some horrible old pajamas and still getting to feel hot and sexy. After all, for me, the best part of masturbation is the lack of performance: There’s no need to brush your teeth or check your hair or make sure you’re making the right noises. No shower? No problem. You just do your thing. It’s important to me, to say the least, so it’s unsurprising that I have a favorite vibrator — which is exactly why it was so heartbreaking when I ruined it by not researching my lubes before I used them.

My first mistake was in not going beyond the packaging. Unfortunately, packaging plays a big role in what I do or don’t buy. That, and Instagram ads. I know, I’m a sucker, but when I see the same packaging time and time again, a little light bulb goes off in my brain that says, yep, I need that. I’m a marketer’s dream. When I saw a certain new lube, I knew I had to try it: it was adorable, it had a fun Instagram and it smelled amazing. The coconut oil base made it seem like a more natural product, so I immediately assumed it would get along with my vagina — and my favorite vibrator, The Perfect Match by Sweet Vibrations.

Perfect Match Vibrator
Image: Amazon.

The Perfect Match is a tried and true toy for me: It’s one of the most “doable” g-spot vibrators I’ve found, as it’s actually quite small, and I love the smooth silicone exterior. I’m gay and I’m not super into penetration, so my vagina tends to prefer less of a “full” feeling — something this vibe lends itself well to. Plus, some sex toys feel too “plastic-y” to me, even if they aren’t made out of plastic. This one, though, gets nice and warm with your body and has a good, rumbly vibration. I was having a lazy day, which is why I reached for the lube. Normally, I just take my time getting nice and lubricated myself so I can slip the toy right in without anything additional, but, let’s be real. I was tired, and I wanted to orgasm and pass out.

So I reached for the lube, used probably way too much, and got to work. I made several mistakes, from not double checking that my toy was squeaky clean (it lives in a drawer, not a nice little sex toy bag, sorry) and not doing any research into my lube before I bought it. I figured, I’m young, I’m healthy, my body and my vagina can handle it.

False. I woke up in absolute agony.

I’ve had a UTI before, so I begrudgingly recognized the pain immediately. I drank endless water and had literally every type of cranberry product I could delivered to my apartment (because it’s almost 2020 and you can do that now). Unfortunately, the damage had already been done, and I texted a friend and invited them on a fun evening trip to Urgent Care, where I spent nearly $200 for someone to tell me that yep, I was right, and hand me a prescription for a generic UTI medication. It worked immediately — and by the next morning my vagina was nice and happy. My UTI meds replaced my vibrator, as I shoved it and the offending lube deep deep down in the drawer as punishment. 

So, WTF actually happened here?

It’s not entirely on the lube itself. It’s on me for not researching what lubes work with what materials, and for my own body. While playing with new sex toys is a fun and exciting process,  lube experimentation isn’t a game. 

“The main issue with lubricants to be careful about is that it can change the PH of the vagina if it’s too acidic or too alkaline,” Dr. Nisha Jackson, gynecology health specialist, founder and medical director of One Peak Medical Clinics in Oregon tells SheKnows. “Not only does it absorb what you’re putting into it, whether coloring or fragrance, but it can change the pH and lead to an overgrowth of bacteria or an infection.”  

“You don’t want to be put a bunch of chemicals down there,” SKYN Condoms Sex & Intimacy Expert, certified sex coach, sexologist and author Gigi Engle adds. “Failing to use clean, safe sexual wellness products can result in bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, irritation and even pain during intercourse as a result. If you put chemicals in the vagina that aren’t safe for it, you through this ecosystem out of whack.”

You have to really do your research, dig into those ingredients and make sure they work with your preferred forms of sex and with your body; especially since a lot of these products aren’t regulated. “I know it’s hard because the marketing of some of these things are like, ‘Oh it looks awesome!’ But it may be making the problem worse, or create a problem that wasn’t there to begin with,” Engle says. “The problem is these products for women are not regulated.”

Dr. Jackson doesn’t recommend trying a lubricant just because it’s popular or trending. “If you’re reading about a lube online… check for harmful ingredients,” she says. “Women are using coconut oil as a lubricant, which is something they shouldn’t be doing because coconut oil is the wrong PH for the vagina — so it can lead to a problem. It’s amazing how many women are using it because it’s organic.” 

Also, if you find a lube that works, it’s best to stick with it. All vaginas are different, so once you find one that works with your body and your needs, consider it your new BFF and don’t stray just because of pretty packaging — trust me.

Finding the lube that you (and your vagina) will love

As you search for a lube, how can you ensure you’re finding one that’ll protect both your vagina and your beloved (and often expensive) sex toys? 

 “You want to treat your vagina and vulva like you would your face: Only using high-quality products that won’t cause your vagina to have a fit.” advises Engle. “You want to look for a lube with buzzwords like: Paraben free, preservative free and petrochemical free. You also want to make sure it doesn’t have any super gross stuff in it, like petroleum — not good for your vagina.” 

As I did research for this piece, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t necessarily that the lube ruined my sex toy. But, nonetheless, it did ruin my connection to and trust of the toy. Now, it’s just a reminder of that horrible UTI I had. In the end, the silky, adorable vibe didn’t mesh with the lube, resulting in its demise and giving me an infection in the process. Even if the lube itself wasn’t entirely responsible for the infection, it may have led to one that was already in progress and been the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. 

It’s been months since I used The Perfect Match — it now lives in the drawer of shame with the rest of my rejected sex toys. But now I know that when I reach for my second and third tier toys (and when I find my new number one), I need to pause just a bit longer before getting the vibrations going to make sure the lube I’m reaching for is a perfect, well-researched fit. 

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