The two staples of safe sex are condoms and lubrication. Condoms form a physical barrier that interrupts the transfer of semen and many viruses, helping prevent pregnancy and various sexually transmitted infections. Lubricant helps reduce friction when using a condom, thereby reducing the chance that the barrier will break. However, safe sex entails more than picking up a couple products at the pharmacy or grocery store; to truly be safe, additional considerations should be kept in mind. Proper condom storage and application are essential, for example. It is also important to mind the ingredients used in the lubrication one buys; certain common ingredients can cause vaginal and penile irritation along with other problems. Proper penis care, then, requires familiarity with ingredients to avoid in lubricants.

1) Glycerin

This ingredient is commonly added to water-based lubricants. While it contributes to the slipperiness of the stuff, it also creates a ripe environment for yeast, as it is similar to sugar. Men and women can pass yeast infections back and forth, leading to burning and itchiness in the genitals.

2) Sorbitol

As with glycerin, sorbitol can promote yeast overgrowth.

3) Preservatives

Several preservatives may be found in lubes to prevent bacterial growth, including parabens, benzoic acid, sorbates and phenoxyethanol. These ingredients increase the risk of vaginal infections.

While the science is still out on a potential link between parabens and cancer, these preservatives are believed to mimic estrogen in the body; for women exposed to them, this could translate to an increased risk of certain cancers. There are a few different parabens commonly found in lubes: butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. Better safe than sorry.

4) Oils

While oil-based lubricants (such as baby oil and coconut oil) generally contain no preservatives or odd ingredients, they can cling to the skin, clogging pores and increasing the risk of bacterial infections. Partners prone to yeast infections in particular should avoid them. Another highly important consideration is that they can wear down latex and diaphragms, increasing the risk of pregnancy and STIs when using those types of condoms.

5) Petroleum

Petroleum-based lubes can be irritating to the vagina, causing inflammation. They may also increase the risk of bacterial infections. As with oil-based lubes, petroleum products cannot be used with latex condoms or diaphragms.

6) Chlorhexidine

This antibacterial agent can interfere with the natural flora within the vagina, increasing the risk of infections.

7) Scents/flavors

The ingredients used in scented and flavored lubes can be highly irritating to vaginal and penile skin. Unscented, unflavored products are better choices.

8) Nonoxynol-9

This spermicide may be added to lubes to boost anti-pregnancy protection, but it has been shown to damage vaginal cells. It not only can lead to burning and irritation, but can increase the risk of contracting HIV, since damaged vaginal tissue provides an open door for the virus.

When using lubricant, check the ingredients and make sure it will not cause damage to oneself or one’s partner. It’s particularly important for individuals who are prone to yeast infections to avoid certain ingredients above. In general, a "plain Jane" lube is a couple’s safest bet for avoiding irritation and infections. Go for preservative-free, scentless products.

Sexy time isn’t the only time during which the penis may benefit from extra moisture. Using a penis health cream (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) every day can keep the tool hydrated, soft and supple. Look for Shea butter and vitamin E on the ingredient list. A man can get the best bang for his buck by choosing a cream that also contains L-arginine, a blood flow promoter, and acetyl L-carnitine, which supports nerve health so that a man can keep feeling sensations of pleasure.