Lube, short for “lubricant”, is a gel or liquid being used with the aim of increasing comfort and pleasure while decreasing friction during sexual activities. The motto is “The wetter, the better”. Asking yourself whether you are using the right lube indicates some doubts.
The many different options available on the market can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed. Before choosing the right lube for yourself, it helps to ask certain questions, like:
- Do I want my lube to be compatible with silicone sex toys?
- Does my lube have to be safe to use in combination with condoms?
- Do the sexual activities I will use lube for involve the vagina or anus?
- Which ingredients would cause irritation to my sensitive skin?
- Does it have to be long-lasting, or wouldn’t I mind reapplying?
Many lubes available on the market contain parabens and glycerine. Parabens preserve the lube and are considered safe; however, research argues they may contribute to testicular, breast and ovarian cancer development. Glycerine is a sugar that can cause yeast and bacteria to flourish in the vagina, leading to infections. You may wish to opt for glycerine and paraben-free lubricants, therefore.
There are different kinds of lubricants available; here is an overview:
These are the most widely-used type: They come as gel or liquid and are safe to use with all kinds of condoms as well as sex toys made of any material – this makes water-based lubes essential for both solo play and couple sex. If a water-based lubricant dries out, it can be rehydrated with water.
For some extra flavour in the bedroom, some options come with natural or artificial additives for enhanced taste during oral sex.
As the name suggests, these lubricants are made of liquid silicone, which does not dry out quickly and is extremely slippery. Silicone-based lubes are naturally not containing parabens and glycerine, which makes them great for sensitive skin.
These lubes are compatible with latex condoms, but not with silicone toys, as they degrade the material over time.
Silicone-based lubricants are more expensive than water-based ones, however, due to the texture, a smaller amount is needed which makes them long-lasting.
For a combination of the natural feeling of a water-based lube and the slickness of a silicone-based lube, there are hybrid lubricants available.
Thinking in terms of oil-based lubricants, often Vaseline comes to mind. Even though it can be used as lube due to being sticky, smooth and easily getting warm with skin contact, there are better options.
Oil-based lubes include natural lubes such as coconut or almond oil. These can be slick and due to being available in many households serve as an alternative, however, they are not safe with latex condoms.
Choosing the right lube
In summary, everyone’s lube needs are different. You might want to try different lubes and experiment with different amounts to find the one that feels right for you.
One important factor to consider when making a choice is that a healthy vagina maintains a pH level of 3.5-4.5 – the lube should have the same level to not cause any imbalance.
To get to know more about the Pros and Cons of these main categories of lubes, you may want to read this blog as well. [link to the second one I submitted].
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Franziska Richter is a transcultural counsellor with the Willingness Team, offering counselling sessions to individuals and couples. She is particularly interested in sexuality, relationship issues, trauma and general mental health.