Document Type


Publication Date



This paper presents the results of an extensive review of the literature pertaining to the relationship between vaginal lubrication and the acceptability of microbicides, spermicides, and male and female condoms. The review highlights the need for research that better elucidates norms, preferences, and practices regarding lubrication during sex within and across countries. The second part of the report presents the results of the first phase of a qualitative study on lubrication during sex showing that diverse personal and cultural factors shape preferences and practices and may ultimately affect the acceptability of microbicides. The immediate challenge is to provide women with an opportunity for empowerment and self-protection by introducing effective microbicides that are both acceptable to and feasible for use by women and men who are vulnerable to HIV/STIs. However, it is difficult to account for a variety of sexual preferences, practices, and personal and social circumstances in the development of a microbicide; ultimately, several different vaginal microbicides in different formulations will likely be needed to provide a full range of options for women and men from diverse settings.






Robert H. Ebert Program on Critical Issues in Reproductive Health