Sex isn’t always as smooth as shown in movies. While the romance, excitement and intimacy can outdo what you see on the silver screen, lack of sufficient lubrication is a reality. This can lead to uncomfortable and downright painful sex. It is worth mentioning that there are many solutions to this common problem, such as using lubricated condoms; however, you will be surprised to know how far you could get with just a standard sex lubricant. But what are the types of lubes available, how do you use them the right way and what are the benefits?
TC46 connected with Sexologist Dr Sanjay Kumavat of Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, He’s here to tell you the 8 things you need to know to buy the right lube for you and your partner.
1. There are mainly 3 types of lubes in the market: Water, Silicone & Oil-Based
Lubrication is the process or technology used to reduce the friction of one or both surfaces in close proximity and moving relative to each other, by interposing a substance called lubricant between the surfaces to help carry the load between them.
3 Types of Lube
- Water-based lubricants: Containing glycerin are popular
- Silicon-based lubricants: They last longer than water-based lubricants, making them a good option for people with severe vaginal dryness or a history of pain during sex
- Oil-based lubricants: Edible oils such as kitchen oil are readily available. Synthetic oil-based lubricants such as mineral-based and petroleum jelly can work but could irritate the vulva
2. If sex is painful for you, lube can be a great solution
Men and women get an increased sense of pleasure following lubrication of the inner tissue of the vagina. In ageing women, a decrease in estrogen levels leads to fewer moisturizing secretions and can make the vagina feel dry. When natural lubrication is not sufficient, one should go for artificial lube to make sexual life more comfortable.
Here are a few benefits:
- The use of lube minimizes the feeling of soreness or irritation
- Helps women with long-standing vaginal dryness due to menopausal or following medical issues like Vaginal Atrophy
3. Each type of lube has its own pros and cons
- Can be useful in penetrative sex with or without a condom
- Can be used with silicon toys
- Can be used with silicon dilatory and vaginal weights
- It can be useful for people who have sensitive vulvas and or vaginal walls, and experienced irritation with it
- It might get sticky
- Reapplication needed multiple times for sustenance of lubricant effect
- Can be useful in penetrative sex with or without a condom
- Useful for non-silicon dilator or vaginal weight usage
- Can stain sheets and clothes
- Requires some efforts to clean up afterwards
- It can be used for unprotected penetrative sex (no condom)
- Useful for non-latex sex toy usage
- Useful for non-latex dilator or vaginal weight usage (glass)
- Beneficial for people who have sensitive vulvas or vaginas, and don’t like water-based lubes
- Can’t be used with condoms or other latex items
- It may be difficult to clean up afterwards
4. Natural lubricants do work for some people
Natural lubricants are the ones that are easily available, accessible and affordable. Using natural lubes is an excellent way to get the experience of slipperiness without side effects that can arise from using other available lubes.
Some of the natural lubes are:
- Coconut oil with no glycerin or alcohol in it
- Peanut oil has less viscosity than some of the other products
- Vitamin oil for topical applications for some women suffering from dryness, particularly related to menopause in origin
- Aloe vera has slippery, soothing properties and can even help prevent yeast infection as opposed to the likelihood of getting one
- Vaseline or petroleum jelly helps in softening skin
- Unsweetened yoghurt can be used for lubricating effects
5. Vaginal lubes are recommended for women when their body isn’t lubricating naturally during foreplay
If you are dealing with dryness of the vagina then stick with water-based lubricants. Start lubrication by lube during foreplay or masturbation only. The deal is to start with a small amount and gradually increase the amount of a lubricant to allow the body to get adjusted with the lube. Any kind of soreness and or itching may indicate vaginal sensitivity or allergy and may necessitate the need to switch over to another brand. The safest lubes are estrogen-based creams which can also be used.
6. Different lubes have different advantages when used with condoms
Water-Based Lube: Water-based lube is your safest bet to start with. It can be used for all your sexual needs: penetrative sex, masturbation, and sex toy play. Water-based lubes are also ideal for people with sensitive skin or vaginal irritation and can be used with condoms and sex toys. They are also easy to use and won’t leave a stain on the sheets or clothes. Water-based lubes do have some downsides though. They are not good for water-play or shower sex, as they will just wash away. Also, water-based lubes tend to get sticky and require frequent re-application.
Silicone-Based Lube: Silicone-based lube is slippery, long-lasting, and is ideal for a longer session. It requires less lube to be applied and needs reapplication less often. Silicone-based lubes are also great for shower sex or masturbation in the shower, as they don’t wash away so easily. The catch is that silicone-based lubes are a bit more tedious to wash off, as you will need soap and water to clean up afterwards. Sometimes silicone-based lubes may also stain sheets. Moreover, silicone-based lubricants should not be used with silicone-based sex toys, as they can break down the rubber over time. However, this doesn’t mean all sex toys are off-limits with silicone-based lubricants – there are many toys made from other materials, like hard plastic, glass, and steel that can be considered.
Oil-Based Lube: Oil-based lube also provides a slippery feeling that lasts longer than water-based lube. These lubes are ideal for masturbation (hands or toys), penetrative unprotected sex, and water-play. Oil-based lubes can also be used for a sensual massage. Oil-based lubes (or any other oil products like petroleum jelly or mineral oil) should not be used with latex condoms, as they can dissolve the latex of the condom and may cause latex condoms to break. Latex diaphragms and latex sex toys should also be kept away from oil-based lubricants. Non-latex condoms (like those made of polyisoprene) are also sensitive to oil-based personal lubricants, so check the package before use. Another downside to oil-based lubes is that they can be more difficult to clean off of sheets and your body.
7. Lubes can make oral and anal sex more fun
Personal lubrication is recommended for anal sex since the anal canal does not produce fluids that can help ease penetration. Moreover, a tight muscular sphincter at the entrance of the anus offers more resistance than the vagina, which is full of folds and stretchable tissue. Using a water-based lubricant decreases the chances of condom breakage while having anal sex. In contrast to oil-based lubricants or saliva, the chances of condom breakage during sex are higher. The chances of the condom slipping off during anal sex are also related to lubrication. Applying lubrication outside the condom can decrease chances of slippage while applying lubrication to the inside of the condom can increase chances of slippage.
8. Read the label and check the ingredients before buying lubricants for sex
In general, avoid any lubricant that contains any artificial flavours, colours, sugars, essential oils, additional additives, or glycerin – you never know how you’ll react to these additives. Especially, if it is your first time using a lubricant, then those extra features like warming or tingling can be more overwhelming than expected. Also, just because a product is natural does not necessarily mean it’s better for you. Check the ingredients list, read product reviews, or ask an expert.
Glycerin or glycerol is a sugar alcohol that is sometimes used as a lubricant but can cause bacterial infection. Some evidence suggests that lubricants containing glycerin may increase the chances of vaginal infections, while others find glycerin makes no difference to the microflora of the vagina at all. (Studies and research are underway). Sometimes, a large amount of glycerols (and other similar compounds) are used in lubricants to provide special properties, like warming sensations or extra slipperiness. Lube with a high concentration of glycerols can harm anal and vaginal tissues, by causing damage and dehydration to these tissues. This tissue damage is not only uncomfortable but can also increase the risk of sexual disease transmission.
When picking a water-based lube, try to pick one that has pH levels between 3.8 to 4.5 – to prevent an increased risk of Bacterial Vaginosis. The anus has a more neutral acidity level (pH 5.5 to 7), so also try to pick a lube appropriately. Some lubricants may also contain spermicide chemicals, but these may cause irritation to the vagina, and are therefore not recommended for use. If you are trying to conceive and are using lube, make sure to buy one that is specific for conception, as some lubricants may decrease sperm motility. While using lubes with condoms, one must know what works together what doesn’t.