From vibrators For sex toys even sex pillows, there are plenty of tools available to take your sexy time to the next level. But when it comes to lube, many of us aren’t quite sure how to use it to our advantage. What is lube, anyway? Fear not: our experts are here to explain when and how to use lube in sexy scenarios, and how to choose the right one for your needs.
What is lube, really?
A lube, aka lube, is a liquid made of silicone, water, or oil, used during sexual activity to reduce friction by making genital skin softer, either alone or with a partner, says Sherry Ross, MDwomen’s sexual health expert and author of she-logy And the beautiful girl. Sex lubricants are especially helpful if you experience vaginal dryness during sexual activity, she adds.
While some people use lube during sex to help reduce friction, add slippery, increase comfort, and decrease irritation, “others use it to minimize the discomfort associated with vaginal dryness due to peri/postmenopausal vaginal atrophy”, notes Kiarra King, MDQualified Obstetrician-Gynecologist.
Most people like to bring a lubricant into the bedroom to make sexual activity more enjoyable and reduce pain during vaginal penetration with fingers, a penis, or sex toys, Dr. Ross says. “A perfect lubricant should be moist, slippery, tissue-safe, long-lasting, and won’t increase your risk of infections or skin irritations.”
What are the different types of lubricant?
There are many types of lubes on the brand and not all are created equal, says Anat Sapan, MD, a licensed gynecologist and member of the Institute of Bioidentical Medicine. There are two main types of lubricants: natural and synthetic. “Natural lubricants fall in water and oil”, while synthetics are usually silicone-based.
Water-based lubricants soft, “silky” and slippery feel to the touch, says Dr. Ross. “There is no clumping effect and is safe to use with condoms and sex toys.” Water-based lubricants are also easy to clean, non-staining, and suitable for people with sensitive skin, says Dr. Sapan. “However, they may dry out faster and require reapplication,” she adds.
Water-based lubricants also won’t affect sperm integrity, making them a safe option to use when trying to conceive, adds Dr. Ross.
Oil-based lubricants, such as coconut oil, is a natural, preservative-free, economical, and vagina-friendly alternative, says Dr. Ross. For people with skin sensitivities, it has the advantage of not causing allergic reactions or vaginal infection. “Coconut oil is antifungal, so it won’t increase your risk of yeast infection,” adds Dr. Ross.
Oil-based lubes also have a thicker, longer-lasting effect during sexual activity, adds Dr. Ross. However, keep in mind that “oil-based lubricants can deteriorate the integrity of latex condoms and dental dams, increasing the risk of STIs and pregnancy. These lubricants can also affect sperm integrity, making them the lubricant of choice when trying to conceive, notes Dr. Ross.
Silicone based lubricants are just as wet and slippery as water-based lubricants, says Dr. Ross. “Silicone-based lubes tend to be thicker, last longer with more staying power, but need soap and water to rinse off after sexual activity.”
Synthetics such as silicone won’t jeopardize the latex condom, but are often not compatible with sex toys, unlike water-based options, Dr. Sapan notes. Silicone-based lubes tend to be favorite for anal play because it’s thicker, slippery and doesn’t absorb into the body, so it lasts longer than other lubes, adds Dr. Ross.
Like water-based lubes, silicone-based options also won’t affect sperm integrity, making them a safe option to use when trying to conceive, adds Dr. Ross.
What you need to know about lubricant safety
Lubricants can be very beneficial for vaginal dryness, says Dr. King. “They are generally safe, but in certain circumstances you want to be particular about the type of lubricant used.”
Vaseline, aka petroleum jelly, was not created to be used as a vaginal lubricant, says Dr. Ross. “It’s great for chapped lips and dry skin, but tends to be thick, sticky and gummy as a vaginal lubricant.” The use of Vaseline can also increase the risk of bacterial infection and degrade latex condoms, so it is recommended to leave it for other non-sexual purposes.
You should also keep in mind that some lubes may not be ideal for safe sex practices. “Oil-based lubricants, including coconut oil and olive oil, can break down latex barriers, including condoms and dental dams, increasing the risk of STIs or pregnancy,” warns Dr Ross. You want to look for coconut oil that’s pure, natural, preservative-free and fragrance-free, she says, and “look at the ingredient list on the bottle to make sure the only item listed is coconut oil. coconut”.
Ingredients you want to avoid when choosing a lubricant include parabens, glycerin, petroleum, artificial fragrances, colors or flavors, synthetic chemicals, dyes, preservatives or other harmful toxins , adds Dr. Ross. “The fewer ingredients, the better!”
How to choose the right lubricant for you
Lubes are a very personal decision, whether you play solo or as a couple, says Dr. Ross. “Trial and error, along with experimentation, is always my recommendation for which lubes work best for you or for you and your partner with vaginal and anal play.”
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before shopping:
Why do I use lube? Consider whether you will use lube on a sex toy, whether you or a partner will wear a condom, or have vaginal or anal sex when determining what type of lube to try. As we mentioned before, if you’re using a sex toy, silicone-based products are the ones you want to avoid. Alternatively, silicone-based lubes are a great option if you plan on doing anal play. And if you and your partner plan to use condoms to protect against STIs or pregnancy, oil-based lubes can break down latex, so look for water- or silicone-based options instead.
What are my skin’s needs? First of all, if you have allergies, be very careful to check product labels carefully. Likewise, if you have sensitive skin, look for something water-based, as these tend to work best for easily irritated skin.
What unique features am I interested in? Besides function, there are a wide variety of additional features that you can consider when looking for the right lubricant for you. These may include flavorproducing sensations (like warming up), or even CBD options for a unique experience.
Magdalene, Preventionassociate editor of , has a history with health writing from her experience as an editorial assistant at WebMD and her personal research at university. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience — and she helps strategize for success across Preventionsocial media platforms.