Lube is often a tragically overlooked component in the bedroom and is sometimes retired to thinking it’s just for “old people”. Not true!
Let's start with the basics...
Definition of Personal Lubricant or Lube
Personal Lubricant As A Class II Medical Device
The Benefits of Personal Lubricants
Lube Makes Sex Safer
Lube Makes Sex More Pleasurable
Types of Personal Lubricants And 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 (it won't damage the silicone).
The downside to water-based lubes is that they may 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 - think thicker - than water-based lubes and don’t need to be reapplied as often. They’re also great in the water and recommended for anal sex (especially because they’re also safe to use with condoms). Silicone may also be a great choice if you have sensitive skin as it is 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!
Oil-Based Personal Lubricants
If you’re ever in the heat of the moment but find yourself without lube, we'd recommend avoiding 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. The downside: these oils 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.
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.