Mother nature was the one who gave us the taste for a little extra wetness. She provided female juices just when we need them, and saliva as an available top-up solution. But not everyone has enough to go around, and some forms of sex just need a little extra help. So we invented a few artificial options, to make sex more manageable and much more enjoyable.
Who Needs Lube?
All forms of penetration are more comfortable when they are wet. For vaginal penetration, if a woman is aroused, she will usually, but not always, be well lubricated. There are even those women who lubricate so much that they need to wipe some of it off to get a bit more feeling; but that is a whole different story.
If a woman does not naturally lubricating enough, or if she dries up during sex, lubricant is the answer. Hormonal changes and stress can cause dryness problems, so many menopausal women find that lubes become essential, even if they have never had a need for them before. Women on the pill will tend to lubricate less than they would if they weren’t on the pill.
Masturbation, dildos and anal sex tend to demand some lube because there are little or no natural juiced provided for these sex acts.
What’s In a Lube?
The lubricants marketed as sex aids are basically either oil-based, silicone-based or water-based. People sometimes use other creams and jellies because they are readily available, such as petroleum jelly or hand cream, but these are a bad idea. If they are thick they make a slimy mess around the genitals which is neither helpful nor sensual. Body creams are designed to be absorbed into the skin, whereas lubricants are meant to stay wet for as long as possible, with as little absorption as possible.
Oil-based lubricants generally have a great feel to them and stay wet very long, but the oil is rarely good for the sensitive vaginal tissue. They often have a scent added, which also acts as an irritant to the vagina. Pure vitamin-E oil is actually a good lubricant because it conditions the skin. It is especially helpful for women who experience pain during sex.
Do not use oil-based lubricants with condoms. They will be weakened and are then likely to tear.
Silicone-based lube is smoother that smooth. Some people find this very erotic, but many others feel that it is so unlike the real thing, that it just doesn’t belong there.
Its advantage is that it silicone resistant to water. This means it is great for having sex in the water, but it’s really dangerous if you’re trying it standing in the shower – once it gets on the floor, you’ll be running on the spot for hours with no way of stopping!
Silicone lubes are safe for use with latex condoms, but not good to use with silicone toys – somehow it wears them down. Just as with silicone toys, silicone lube is more expensive than the others, and generally not as harmless as a water-based lube for regular use.
Water-based lubes are always your best bet. They are safer, for condoms and your skin. They are the closest to natural lubrication (after all, saliva is water-based). But there is a wide range of water-based lubes so it’s important to take a look at the ingredients.
These lubes come in gel and liquid form. Gel was more commonly used in the past and is still used for ultrasounds and other medical uses, but the liquid form is definitely more effective.
Most water-based lubes contain Glycerin, which is the active ingredient that makes them slippery. Some women have a bad reaction to this, so if this is the case, don’t switch to an oil or silicone lube, rather try a non-Glycerin water-based lube first. Stay away from anything with smell, taste or colour. These are unnecessary when you consider where they’re going. Remember, our body juices have their own tastes and smells. We should learn to love them instead of reflavouring them like food.
Watch out for lubricants and other aids that add taste. They usually use sugar, and however tasty that may be, some will stay behind and start a real party for the yeast infection. Always read the contents of a new lube to make sure there is nothing there that doesn’t have a really good reason to be there.
Today some sex stores offer a lube sample, which is a brilliant idea. They sell a selection of different lubes, in sample sizes, so that you can try out a wide range, without running out of the funds. You don’t need to stick to the brands they offer you, but getting a feel for the different kinds is a good way forward. Take a look at our recommendations of various products here.