Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lube

My first experience with lube was the cold, goopy stuff that my doctor used when she examined my lady bits. Needless to say, that experience did not make me ever want to use lube on my own, which would have been a mistake. As I would later discover, lube is an incredible tool when it comes to sex — and a lot of people don’t even know it. “Lubricant is probably the most underrated product when it comes to sexual enhancements,” agrees sexologist Logan Levkoff, PhD. “It makes sex smooth, slippery, and fun. ”

It’s a myth that using lubricant is a sign of sexual inadequacy, Dr. Levkoff says. The degree to which a woman’s vagina naturally lubricates is not a sign of sexual arousal; hormone fluctuations from pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause; medication; and stress can cause vaginal dryness, she explains.

In addition to intercourse, lubricants are handy for solo play and mutual masturbation. And, they’re a must for anal sex, as the anus doesn’t naturally lubricate. We talked to the experts to find out what types of lubes are available, what lube you should use (and avoid) if you’re trying to get pregnant, and more.

What is lube?

Personal lubricants — known as lubes — are designed to be used during foreplay and sexual intercourse. They reduce friction to make sex more pleasurable for you both. Most come in liquid form in varying consistencies, but gels have become more common on store shelves. Lubes can be used externally or internally (in your vagina or anus).

What are the different types of lubricant available?

Commercial lubes, such as KY and Durex, can be found in drugstores, usually by the condoms in the pharmacy area. For more selection, you can go to a sex shop. Or, shop for lubes online at places such as Good Vibrations and Babeland; it’s more convenient and discreet! Most lubes you find will fit in one of these categories:

1. Water-based lubricants are less sticky than their counterparts, but they can also dry faster. They’re also safe to use with condoms and compatible with most sex toys. Lubes We Like: ID Glide, Good Clean Love Almost Naked (great for sensitive skin), Wet Original

2. Silicone-based lubricants provide a very silky feel, and they last longer than water-based lubes. They’re ideal to use if you’re having sex in the shower or hot tub because they won’t rinse away quickly. They are also safe to use with condoms and good for anal sex. (Note: Silicone lubricants are incompatible with some silicone sex toys, because the silicone can bind together and create a sticky surface on the toy.) Lubes We Like: Mood Lube Silicone, Pjur Original Bodyglide, Sliquid Silver

3. Oil-based lubricants, such as petroleum jelly or lotion, are a popular choice for masturbation — however, they’re not recommended for sexual intercourse. Oil can break down latex condoms and increase your chances of getting pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Additionally, the oil can be difficult to clean off of your body and can clog your pores. Plus, it will stain your sheets and clothes!

4. Flavored lubricants can jazz up oral sex. From cotton candy to chocolate mint, there are a ton of cool flavors out there. When shopping for flavored lubes, which are typically water based, avoid any made with real sugar (you don’t want to get a yeast infection!). Lubes We Like: Mood Lube, Juicy Lube, Slippery Kitty (available in various flavors)

What’s the best lube to use if you’re trying to get pregnant?

Use Pre-Seed, a lube that is specifically formulated for couples who are trying to conceive, says Jessica Shepherd, MD, MBA, an ob-gyn at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, in Chicago. “Lubricants sold over the counter can hinder sperm motility, or movement,” she explains. 

Which lube is right for you?

The only way to find out is to use them. Purchase sample sizes of each type and experiment! Each lube is different. You may discover that you prefer a water-based lube for sex in bed, for example, but silicone lube for those steamy showers, since it won’t rinse away quickly. 

With just a few drops, lube can take sex to the next level — even if you’re exhausted from chasing the kids around all day. They’re a fun and inexpensive way to add a little excitement to your bedroom fun. Give lube a try, you won’t regret it.

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Photo: Getty