Lube is often a tragically overlooked component in the bedroom and is sometimes retired to thinking it’s just for “old people”. This simply is not true! Lube is an incredibly useful aid for sex. People of all ages, genders and sexualities use it to make sex more pleasurable. In fact, a study from Indiana University found that more than 70 percent of women between 18 and 68 said that using lubricants made sex feel “very pleasurable and more comfortable”.
Not only can lube make sex more pleasurable, but it also can make sex safer. Using lube decreases friction and the risk of condom breakage. And less chance of condom breakage ensures you are less likely to experience unwanted pregnancies or come in contact with STIs. Lube is also a must-have for anal sex because the anus can’t produce natural lubricants like the vagina can.
Vaginal dryness is common in people on certain medications or stages of their lives. Stress can also increase vaginal dryness, but lube is a great fix for that! Even if you don’t suffer from vaginal dryness, and even if you’re not someone with a vagina, lube is amazing. It can be used with a partner (or several), or even when you’re going solo.
From anal to solo play, there are so many different ways to enjoy lube. So let’s dive in to find out which lube is right for you — plus some tips and tricks on how to use them!
Water-based lube is the most common and your best friend for nearly every situation. It is safe to use for all barrier methods like condoms and oral dams, and it’s also safe to use with sex toys. The downside to water-based lubes is that they need to be reapplied regularly and they’re not ideal if you’re wanting to get frisky in water.
Silicone lubes are ahh-mazing for their longevity and silky smooth gliding effect. They are heavier than water-based lubes and don’t need to be reapplied as often. They’re also great in the water and perfect for anal sex (especially because they’re safe to use with condoms). Silicone may also be a great choice if you have sensitive skin as it’s hypoallergenic.
Silicone-based lube does have downsides. Avoid using this lube with silicone toys. Silicone lube can damage silicone sex toys, which makes it easier for bacteria to grow on the surface. It can also be difficult to clean up because of its oily consistency. Make sure to clean yourself, toys and sheets off with soap and water after use!
If you’re ever in the heat of the moment but find yourself without lube, DO NOT use household oils like coconut, vegetable, canola, or olive oil to help out during sex. These oils will corrode condoms and have a higher risk of vaginal infections because of their varying pH levels. They are, however, long-lasting and great for doubling as a massage oil which may lead to more fun. These oils will often stain clothing and sheets, so be careful.
Want to use a lube that doubles as a sperm killer? Then spermicidal lube is for you! But use this lube with caution. Spermicidal lube is not 100% effective on its own, so combine it with condoms and/or another form of birth control.
It is also worth noting that some gynecologists do not recommend using spermicidal lube or condoms packaged with spermicidal lube because it can cause UTIs or other infections. So if you’re prone to these infections, do not use spermicidal lube. There are other contraceptives that are just as, if not more, effective without this side effect.
Warming and Cooling Lubes
Warming and cooling lubes are usually water-based and carry all the same benefits. Lubes which emulate a warm sensation can be GAME CHANGING! Try using this with certain toys to recreate the feeling of oral sex.
Cooling lubes are equally compelling. The temperature drop adds stimulation with your partner (or even solo sex!) by making your erogenous zones feel colder. They are especially effective when used on your nipples — and when combined with blowing cold air, can feel extra amazing! You can also try using them with glass or metal toys.
Flavored lubes are amazing for oral sex, adding an extra flavor and sensation and is a great way to get rid of the often-rubbery taste of barrier methods like condoms or oral dams.
It should be noted that while flavored lubes are technically safe for penetration, the sugary component in them can increase the risk of a yeast infection, especially if you’re already prone to them — so we recommend you use them for nipple, anal and oral stimulation. Just keep in mind they can be a bit sticky and messy…but that’s just a good excuse for a hot steamy shower afterwards!
If you don’t have a bottle of lube handy, sometimes the best option is saliva. While it’s not recommended, it is okay to use it in a pinch. Licking someone in certain areas can be sexy! And a little saliva may be all you need to get your first application of a water-based lube going strong again. Just don’t use saliva if you are feeling sick, and always have a discussion with your partner(s) about their STI status, especially if you aren’t using a barrier method!
If you haven’t tried (or tasted!) any or some of these lubes, go for it! Remember, lube can help you experience more pleasure with your partner(s) — and with yourself! As with everything, be careful what you’re putting into each other’s bodies. Not all lubes are made equally, so always read the ingredients before using them (no icky stuff) and make sure they’re FDA approved.
About The Authors
A senior at the University of Missouri, Veronica Mohesky is studying Emerging Media Journalism. She is also a sexual health peer educator at her university. Veronica works for local media outlets while in school, and you can find her other journalistic work at veronicamohesky.com. She will graduate in December 2020 and hopes to work for a nonprofit or public media outlet. Veronica loves to report on sexual health issues and believes it is important to have conversations to de-stigmatize sex, pleasure and STIs. You can find her on instagram at @veronicamohesky13.
Based in the UK, Darcy (@dxrcyer on Instagram) is a BA and Master’s by Research graduate in History specialising in medical history. Her work focuses on violence on the body, the evolution of public views on anatomy, and corporeal metaphors through time. This also includes the presentation of the female body and the expectations of female dignity before public execution. Darcy is also a self-taught digital illustrator and this fascination with anatomy is also found in her work which combines messages of body positivity and female empowerment.