Lube. It’s an ancient sexual aid. Yet, today it’s commercial, controversial, and clouded in mystery. Our next series will be about lube. Today is a basic introduction.
What Is Personal Lubricant?
Personal lubricant, or lube for short, is lubrication specifically used during sexual activity. You can find lube in adult shops, sex toy parties and workshops, online, and in drug stores and supermarkets. It’s everywhere, although the best lube isn’t usually found in grocery stores.
Why Do People Use Lube?
Lube increases pleasure sensations, transmits vibrations better, and prevents delicate tissues from damage and pain due to friction. In particular, the vulva, especially around the clitoris, is at risk of damage from the tissue being pulled or receiving extra friction.
It’s especially important to use during anal sex, since the anus does not produce any sort of lubrication. Having anal sex without lube is not only painful, but tears the tissue and increases the risk of infections and STI transmission. It can even lead to scar tissue.
It’s also a good idea to use lube with toys, since toys don’t react to natural vaginal lubrication the way the skin on another human does, with its skin oils and the like.
Vaginas need lube during hormonal changes such as pregnancy and aging, but also when one’s mucous is not thick enough, while on certain medications, while dehydrated, after drinking alcohol, on certain diets, while breastfeeding, under stress…we’ll be here all day if I cover all the possible reasons for lube during vaginal sex.
Lube is even great for oral sex. It helps keep the whole process slick and is more delicious for the giver!
I’ve already written a post on 12 common myths about lube. Let’s review those myths just to make sure you know these are not always true, although there are bits of truth to a few of them:
- Spit is an equitable substitute.
- “I’ll never need it.”
Vaginal lubrication changes with hormones and age. Besides, maybe someday you’ll want to try anal sex.
- Wetness = slick.
When you wash your hands, are they just as slick under running water as they are when you’re washing with soap? Didn’t think so.
- Wetness = arousal.
Absolutely, biologically, medically false. Vaginas can produce lubrication during arousal, but they also produce it during assault, and often it’s insufficient in the first place.
- “I’m allergic/sensitive to all lube.”
Chances are you’re allergic to ingredients in grocery and drug store lubes. We’ll talk about that in this series and let you know what to look for so you can avoid it.
- Lubes don’t mix with condoms.
Oil lubes don’t mix with latex and polyisoprene condoms. All other lubes do, and in fact, most condoms come pre-lubricated. Unlubricated condoms break more easily.
- Lubes don’t mix with toys.
Silicone lube isn’t compatible with silicone toys, and can react with some toxic toys. The former is more of an absorption and disrupts the finish, mostly. The latter is a reaction in already unstable toys.
- It always stains.
Some oil and silicone lubes can stain. Quality silicone lubes and water-based lubes do not.
- It isn’t used in porn.
False. There is a lot of editing in porn. It’s fantasy, not sex ed.
- All lube tastes gross.
Lube shouldn’t have a taste unless it’s flavored. If it tastes bad, it’s either gone bad or there’s an ingredient in it you don’t want in your mucous membranes.
- “I shouldn’t have to reach out and grab a bottle just to have sex.”
Humans are tool-using primates. It’s 30 seconds that’ll make sex even better. I’m always wary of “should” statements, as they tend to be shaming. In coaching, I urge clients to take this word out of their vocabulary.
- It can’t be used when trying to conceive.
Yes it can! There’s even specialty lube for when you’re having trouble. We’ll talk about that in this series.
There are tons more myths out there, which I may eventually address, but in this series, I’m going to deal with these more common ones.
Different Kinds of Lube
If you’ve never used lube before you should know there are 3 different types to shop for:
Oils are fatty lipid chains that don’t mix with water. Oil lubes should not be used vaginally, as they promote bacterial growth. Oils also break latex and polyisoprene condoms. Only use oils with the FC2 internal nitrile condom or polyurethane condoms or with a fluid-bonded partner during anal sex. Oils also have a tendency to stain sheets.
Silicone is an inorganic (i.e. without carbon) substance that is hypoallergenic and safe to use with condoms. In fact, it’s the lubricant most often used in condoms because it never expires. Most silicone lubes aren’t compatible with silicone toys. The only way to tell is a patch test on a part of the toy that doesn’t come in contact with your body. Sometimes it can stain sheets. It’s the longest lasting. It’s also the most expensive.
This is a mix of silicone and water together, usually with a substance that makes them mix together evenly. Usually there is far more water than silicone, so this is generally safe to use with silicone toys. Again, it’s best to patch test. It’s the best of both worlds.
The most diverse and widely available lubes use water as a base. We’re going to “dive” pretty deep into this because our bodies are 60% water and water is the universal solvent. That means things dissolve in water easily and sometimes water-based lubes are full of stuff that isn’t good for the body. Water-based lube has some very unique chemistry that matter when it comes to using in and around your mucous membranes.
I’m looking forward to taking you on a fantastic journey through the wonderful world of wetter, better sex. Why not follow my blog to be notified of the next post in the series, and the weekly Ask DeAnn sex advice column?