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The Truth About Wild Yam Lube

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Yams, Yam Lube

Using Wild Yam in Lubrication: Menopause, Perimenopause, and PMS

Using wild yams for issues affecting women's sexual health has been going on for a very long time, and because of this, you will, unfortunately, find a lot of misinformation about it. That is why we provide this article to get factual, science-based information that will help empower your decisions in using wild yam products.

Yam Lube Shown On Show "Grace And Frankie"

Since the hit show on Netflix called Grace and Frankie, which stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, mentioned yam lube, more and more women are looking at the benefits of using it. However, there are some risks to using some of the wild yam products on the market, so we feel it essential to review this information.

The show Grace and Frankie bring up issues that have always been important to our holistic sexual health company concerning sexual products such as parabens in personal lubricants, the importance of sexual products maintaining a long shelf-life while still being healthy, and of course sexual products that are appealing to consumers while still being eco and animal friendly.

We were thrilled to see discussions in shows such as Grace and Frankie to help the public become more aware of sexual issues that are not often discussed, such as sex and aging, sexual products and their impact on the environment as well as the toxins that are still in many sexual products.

Does Yam Lube Exist?

However, the problem with promoting this fantasy product called "Say Grace Organic Yam Personal Lubricant" is that it may lead women to believe that something like this works and is safe for everyone to use. Additionally, it may have them start looking for wild yam products, specifically yam lube. However, you need to understand that there is no such thing as an FDA-approved yam lubricant on the market, and there is a reason for that.

Personal lubricants sold in the U.S. have not always been seen as medical devices, but because of newer laws, they now must be cleared by the FDA to sell them commercially. As lubricants enter the bloodstream, their ingredients must now be tested by FDA laboratories to ensure no adverse effects on humans and are classified as either a Class I or a Class II Medical Device.

This means that yam lubes, yam creams, and yam gels are being sold as nutritional supplements with very loose regulations. As many of you know, there are serious concerns with many nutritional supplements such as products that do not contain what they claim, products that contain harmful additives, and those that mislead consumers into thinking they will provide certain health benefits when they may not.

Do Wild Yam Products Work?

The first thing you should know is that products such as yam lube, yam gels, and yam creams are usually sold to women with a warning that they are not to be used internally. Sellers often indicate that they are to be used outside of the vagina (outer labia) and are marketed with claims that they are solutions for menopause and PMS. Yet, they typically will have the disclaimer following these claims that say, "The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements."

You may wonder why one cannot use them internally, and this is most likely because they cannot legally be used as a lubricant unless the FDA approves them. Furthermore, some women report burning and rashes from using them, most likely due to allergic reactions and sensitivities. However, let's delve into why yams are so widely talked about regarding women's sexual health in the first place.

Yam Lubes & Sexual Health

Wild yam contains a chemical called diosgenin, which has been used as an additive in steroids such as estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The diosgenin is found in the plant's bulb and root and is prepared as a concentrated liquid extract.

There are only twelve types of yam that are considered edible, and with over six hundred types of wild yam, those that are typically used to extract the diosgenin are from those varieties that are too bitter to eat. Because of the diosgenin found in wild yams, it has long been seen as a natural alternative to estrogen therapy, menstrual cramps, vaginal dryness, osteoporosis, and increasing sex drive in both men and women as well as in breast development.

Yam Lube Contains DHEA

However, the truth is that while wild yam does have diosgenin and is often claimed to be a natural form of DHEA, it does not convert into estrogen in the body naturally. The misconception that hormones in wild yam came from labs that chemically altered diosgenin to make progesterone, androgens, and cortisone. Using wild yam creams, gels, and taking wild yam supplements or eating wild yams does not increase DHEA levels. It also does not seem to affect hormone levels such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, or progesterone despite often being marketed to women as natural progesterone.

Studies on using wild yam have shown that applying wild yam cream to the skin does not typically relieve menopausal symptoms. You may have seen positive reviews of yam products that celebrate such benefits, but this could be due to a few reasons such as a psychological placebo effect, false reviews made by or paid for by the manufacturer, or even a more dangerous possibility that the products contain synthetic hormones that can cause adverse health problems in many women.

While most studies show no benefits in taking wild yam supplements or using an external vaginal cream to reduce menopausal symptoms, there has been one study that showed the improvement of sex hormones, lipids, and antioxidants when postmenopausal women increased their diet by eating two-thirds of staple food with yam for 30 days. However, it could be easily said that eating increased fiber and healthier food (such as yams) than their normal diet would have made the same difference as people who increase their vegetable, fruit, and other healthy high fiber foods also see similar effects.

Avoid Dangerous Scams

Some wild yam creams that claim to be natural and healthy for you may contain synthetic progesterone, which can cause serious health issues for people with hormone-sensitive conditions. This is especially true for people who have had blood clots, strokes, and for those women who take hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills. In addition, women with health issues such as diabetes, fibroids, endometriosis, or cancer of the breast, uterus, or ovary should also avoid such products.

So What Do Wild Yams Do?

Wild yams have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation and pain for conditions affected, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They are also known to help reduce digestive issues such as flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, because wild yams contain an alkaloid compound called dioscoretine, they lower blood sugar levels. They are high in antioxidants, promote HDL cholesterol (the good type), help relax your muscles due to the alkaloids found in them, and regulate metabolism.

Yam Allergies

The most common report of health issues with wild yams are skin irritations and allergic rashes. Exposure to yams for those who have allergies to them can also cause asthmatic effects. In addition, wild yam taken in high doses may cause an upset stomach and induce vomiting.

Is Yam Lube Good For You?

We recommend sticking yams in your mouth rather than using them as a primary lubricant source when there are better options. That is not to say that putting yam lube up your hoo-ha is bad for you; they are just not going to deliver what many claim they will, such as bring your vagina back to age twenty. If you decide to make a homemade yam lube recipe, make sure you understand that even organic yams can contain pesticides and bacteria, which the vaginal mucus membrane will directly absorb as any toxins you insert can go directly into your bloodstream. That is why we do not recommend using vegetables in the vagina or rectum. See more in our Homemade Sex Toys Guide.

You are best using lubricants pure and natural such as coconut oil, hemp seed oil, etc.. However, because you cannot use oil with certain sex toys, condoms and diaphragms, we always recommend using a paraben-free water-based lubricant preferably with healing and soothing ingredients such as vitamin E and aloe, which are found in lubricants such as our top-selling Aloe Cadabra or water-based coconut oil hybrid formulas.

See our Lubricant Guide and Organic Lubricants Guide.

Vaginal Dryness

The most important thing to remember if you are having issues with vaginal dryness and/or a hormone imbalance that impacts your sex drive, fertility, or menopause, we recommend you address the most crucial thing you could, which increases your nutritional intake through healthy eating. Nutritious food has a guaranteed positive impact on the body for anyone at any age. Furthermore, do not underestimate the positive health benefits that a solid nutritional intake has on your sexual performance, libido, and general sexual well-being. Make sure to see our Nutrition Guide for Good Sex & Health for more information.

There are a few books that we highly recommend when it comes to nutrition:

  • Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body's Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

  • How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger, M.D.

  • WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti, HHC, AADP

Preventing Vaginal Dryness

Many factors contribute to vaginal dryness, so here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure you are well hydrated.

  • Ensure that you consume enough healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, certain fish).

  • Eat a nutritionally rich diet: greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, nuts, and seeds.

  • Avoid harsh soaps and chemicals.

  • You can use the following oils as a natural lubricant as long as you are not using something that cannot tolerate oil, such as a condom, sex toy, or diaphragm: coconut oil, pure aloe vera gel, olive oil, flaxseed oil, vitamin E oil, and almond oil. See a full list of paraben-free lubricants that are water-based.

  • Avoid using anything with sugar (may cause yeast infections), including honey, agave, chocolate syrup.

  • Avoid essential oils that may burn or irritate the sensitive skin and mucous membranes of the genitals or rectum.

  • Avoid lubricants that contain commonly used parabens include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.

Additional Information

If you are a fan of the show, Grace and Frankie, here is some additional information about the vibrator that they mention on the show regarding the Vybrant Sex Toy: The Ménage à Moi.

This well-loved show has found its way into the hearts of many with its poignant storyline and thoughtful yet comedic approach to a variety of topics from aging, LGBT+ issues, death, and even environmental and health topics. So how does the new sex toy adventure go in season 3 for Grace and Frankie? Not as well as one would hope.

Focus On Important Sexual Topics

In season 3, Grace and Frankie create a brand called Vybrant that is going bring to market such things such as vibrators, condoms, and perhaps even butt plugs. The first product they focus on is the fictional Ménage à Moi vibrator that is supposed to be comfortable to hold for those older women with arthritis and features a large, bumpy phallic-shaped jelly handle has a glow-in-the-dark control. Throughout the season, they find challenges in marketing it in an underserved market and find themselves facing competition from a company that is knocking off their product. Marketing sex toys in mainstream media is no small task, and marketing them to older adults is an uphill battle.

Vibrator In Show Not That Revolutionary

The Ménage à Moi vibrator is nothing revolutionary in the real world of sex toys. There are already products that far surpass this fictional product's features, from ergonomic handles, controls that light up, lightweight, and powerful. Beyond that, their product does not achieve additional features that many real-life sex toys offer these days with non-toxic, phthalate-free materials, USB rechargeable charging, waterproof submersible features, and remote control, Bluetooth app compatibility, and special functions that allow users to create their vibration patterns. While it is a wonderful attempt to bring awareness to the sexuality of older women, it falls short in the reality of what advancements the sex toy industry is making these days. See more information about vibrators that stimulate both the clitoris and G-spot at the same time through our How To Use A Rabbit Vibrator Guide.

Marketing Sex Toys To The Elderly

In the show, Grace and Frankie approach a sex toy distributor/manufacturer called Purple Orchid in hopes of becoming the "Ben and Jerry's of vaginal stimulation." What they find is that even as progressive as Purple Orchid seems, they want to market the Ménage à Moi vibrator with Grace and Frankie pictured on the packaging in hyper-sexualized airbrushed photos, making them appear as Grace says as looking "twelve-years-old." They walk away from the possible deal, as they put it, "focus on running their old lady business" on their terms and work on appealing and sexually empowering women they feel they can identify with regarding age and sexual health issues. See our How To Choose A Vibrator Guide for more information. 

Social Taboos With Sex Toys

A rather interesting episode is when the girls have a friend who offers to bring a woman's group over to provide feedback on their new product, not knowing that it is a sex toy. As it turns out, the friend brings her bible study group, or as they are called in the show, the "bible thumpers," making for a rather uncomfortable sales pitch.

After the Christian group acts disgusted in private, they secretly reveal they are interested in the product. In this day and age of Tupperware-style sex toy parties, with over 80% of American women already owning a vibrator, it shows that there are still circles of people that are embarrassed to discuss sexuality openly, and it was undoubtedly addressed positively. And yet it seemed like with such two strong women in Grace and Frankie that more could have been said about sexual empowerment and the need to embrace sexuality in a healthy way during that particular episode.

Vibrator Jealousy

In another episode, Frankie's son Bud's girlfriend uses the Ménage à Moi vibrator, and he seems a bit jealous initially of the pleasure she receives from it. Bringing up vibrator jealousy was an excellent point to bring up as often users of sex toys worry that using one will make their partner feel jealous. Certainly, vibrators are effective tools, but women who use them are not fantasizing about vibrators; when they use them, they fantasize about their partners. Sex toys do not replace sexual partners; they can make things more fun, just like icing on a cake. Bud is later encouraged to have it used on him, and from the sound, he rather enjoys it as well, showing that sex toys are also fun for men and couples together.

The Rip-off (Hydrox vs. Oreo) By Omni

In the show, the girls run into some problems with a competitor called Omni, who knocks off their Ménage à Moi vibrator, and legal issues pursue. This is a very real issue in the adult novelty industry. It is something sex toy manufacturers face not just from other manufacturers but also from the companies that produce them in countries like China, Malaysia, and Taiwan using 3rd party selling sites to reach customers directly. Knockoff products are pretty common, and the problem is that they are sometimes made with cheaper parts and even toxic materials. While consumers think they are getting a reasonable price, they are actually, in some cases paying for something that may break in a short time or even be bad for their health. See our helpful article on Sex Toy Scams for more information.

A Novice Mistake

One novice mistake Grace and Frankie make when packaging the Ménage à Moi vibrators is putting their brand name Vybrant on the labels. If you are in the sex toy business, you know that sending sex toys discreetly in the mail is one of the most important things in keeping customers happy. We should know because that is what we do.

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