When it comes to sex, wetter is better, as the old saying goes. So why does there seem to be so much shame surrounding personal lube? I do a great majority of my sex toy parties for women, and a great majority of Passion Coaching for heterosexual couples. Lube is sometimes actively avoided, yet when someone tries one, they’re astounded at the difference it makes!
I thought I’d bust a few personal lube myths:
Myth #1: Spit is a good substitute.
Saliva just doesn’t work well. Saliva absorbs too easily into the tissue to be effective for very long. There’s also some evidence that saliva increases vaginal yeast infection risk. Using spit as lube is like using a wet finger to brush your teeth – it’s better than nothing, but it doesn’t do the job effectively.
Myth #2: I don’t think I need it in the first place.
Do this: gently glide a dry finger against your dry lips. Now, lick your lips and do it again. It feels different, doesn’t it? You can feel every groove of your finger print, every groove of your lip print.
Now, I just said spit is not the best substitute for a quality lube, but you get the point. Thin mucous-membrane tissue “feels” things better when moistened. That tissue is also delicate, and can tear easily. Lubricant protects delicate tissue. This is why it’s highly recommended with toys, including toys that are for external use only, such as cock rings and clitoral stimulators. Besides, lube transmits vibrations so much better!
Myth #3: I don’t need it because my vagina makes a lot of fluid.
Do this: wash your hands. Move your hands back and forth against each other with soap. Feel how slick that is? Now, rinse them off and do it again under the running water. Not so easy, is it? There’s a jerky start/stop and definite friction, even under running water.
Vaginal fluid is a complex mixture of water, mucous, carbohydrates, and proteins. It’s directly affected by things like estrogen levels, pregnancy, breastfeeding, stress, diet, blood sugar levels, and so many other things. Often, a vagina that produces a lot of vaginal moisture produces a substance that’s too watery.
Myth #4: If a woman is dry, she’s not turned on enough, so we don’t actually need lube, it’s just her fault.
This is just flat-out false, and misogynist and cissexist to boot. Vaginal moisture is not an accurate measure of arousal, and sex research is moving away from this as a measurement of female arousal.
Myth #5: I’m allergic to all lube/they cause yeast infections.
I hear this one a lot from people using lube for vaginal intercourse. It’s partially true that some lube can result in a reaction such as a yeast infection, but it’s certainly not true of all lube.
There are 3 types of lube:
Oil-based – Oil-based lube is the least common. Oils break down latex, so it should only be used with non-latex barrier methods. It can also create a safe harbor for bacteria to overgrow in the vagina, so use vaginally with caution.
Silicone-based – Silicone lube is the most expensive of the three, but the most versatile. It’s safe for all kinds of sex and doesn’t absorb into the skin so it lasts for-ev-er! You also need less to do the job. There are also silicone-water hybrids available that make clean up a snap. It is nearly impossible to develop an allergy to silicone.
Water-based – Water-based lube is the most common. Because water is the “universal solvent” (remember Chemistry class?) there are more types of water-based lube than any other. This is where large manufacturers tend to cut corners. Check labels carefully. Parabens and glycerin are known allergens and are the primary cause of irritation when using a lubricant. Also avoid flavors, artificial sweeteners, and warming or stimulating ingredients if you’re sensitive.
Myth #6: You can’t use any lube with condoms.
This is only true for oil-based lubes and latex condoms (see above). Most condoms include silicone lube on the inside to facilitate unrolling.
Myth #7: You can’t use any lube with toys.
Water-based lube is safe to use with all toys. Silicone lube and silicone toys don’t always play nice (they can, but you want to patch-test). Low quality sex toys are prone to damage from just about anything, including other toys, and just sitting out. Ever smell a sex toy with toxic ingredients? It stinks like a shower curtain!
Myth #8: Lube stains.
This is only true when there are artificial dyes in your water-based lube, or it’s a low-quality silicone or oil-based lube. Using a high-quality brand of lube is the best way to prevent stains.
Myth #9: But in porn…
Porn is not sex ed! It’s fantasy. They use lube; you just don’t see it on camera in mainstream porn. However, you will see it in indie and feminist porn on occasion.
Myth #10: All lube tastes gross.
Myth #11: I shouldn’t have to reach over and grab a bottle just to have sex.
This myth is cultural, and it is essentially an unrealistic expectation. If you use toothpaste in the bathroom, why can’t you reach for lube in the bedroom? It’s good for you, and it makes sex so amazing!
Myth #12: We’re trying to conceive, so we can’t use lube.
Did you know there are lubes specifically made for those trying to conceive? Check out Pre-Seed lube, which won’t inhibit sperm motility! However, most couples find they can conceive just fine with any high quality regular lube. It’s when sperm motility or count are low that you need to look for something special.
Have you heard other myths about personal lube? Share them in the comments below!
Have questions about lube or anything else? Send them in anonymously!