In the same vein as masturbation, lubricant is one aspect of sexual health that should never be a source of embarrassment. Whether you're a little dry down there or moist as a wet sponge, lube has the capacity to change your sex game forever. Resident expert Dr. Emily Morse, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast, tells you everything you need to know about the pleasure tool, which packs a punch in one dollop.
1. Silicone-based lubes feel like silk.
Crave a supersoft formula for your lady bits? One word: silicone.
"Silicone-based lubricants are very popular, largely because they are longer-lasting and require fewer reapplications once things get hot and heavy, in addition to their velvety, silky feel," Morse says. "Plus, they are often hypoallergenic, making them ideal for people with sensitive skin or allergies."
Furthermore, silicone lubricants are usually safe to use with latex condoms and are excellent for water play (think showers, baths, and hot tubs). However, Morse says they shouldn't be used with silicone sex toys. "They will cause the toy's materials to break down over time," she says. "They are also known for being hard to remove from fabric, so be sure to use your favourite silicone lube sparingly.
2. Water-based lubes are highly popular.
Morse says water-based lubricants are the most commonly used, and are considered to be the optimal choice all-around.
"They are safe to use with all sex toys and latex condoms, and are totally body safe," she says. "In fact, some water-based lubricants can actually soothe and moisturise your skin as you use them, as long as they are glycerin-free."
They may not last as long as silicone-based lubricants, she says, but they're much easier to clean up and remove when things get sloppy. "If your water-based lube starts to feel a little tacky mid-action, a tiny bit of water or saliva can bring back the slippery goodness and keep things going," she says.
3. Oil-based lubes are an all-natural option.
Some oil-based lubricants are SO safe and natural (coconut oil and olive oil, to name a couple), you can even ingest them.
"Some people may prefer to keep things 100-percent natural, opting for an oil-based lubricant," Morse says. "However, I would stay away from using Vaseline, baby oil, or your average body lotion for penetrative intercourse, as the ingredients might cause irritation to sensitive lady parts. [Also] while it might be convenient to reach for a nearby jar of coconut oil — which you're already using for everything else — in the heat of the moment, keep in mind that oil-based lubes will absolutely destroy sex toys, not to mention the damage they will do to your sheets."
4. One type of lube is not safe to use with condoms.
If oil-based lube seems ideal for your sex life, take extra precaution.
"Both silicone and water-based are, as a general rule, safe to use with latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene," Morse says. "Lubricants that are oil-based, however, are not safe to use with latex, as the ingredients may wear down and cause tears in the condoms." Your best bet? Save it for foreplay, "unless you are with a partner you trust and are using a secondary form of birth control, like the pill or an IUD."
5. No matter what lube you're using, keep the towels nearby.
Morse says that some lubricants are messier than others, but the majority can be cleaned up with a simple mixture of soap and warm water.
"If you're planning a marathon sex session and would like to load up on lubricant, I recommend laying down a dark-coloured towel to protect your sheets and mattress," she says. "It can also be helpful to keep a wet flannel by the bedside, to clean up any minor spills during the act itself."
6. Lube is more useful than you may realise.
People tend to think of using lube as a means to combat female dryness, but that's just one small part of the story, Morse stresses.
"In fact, it's this stigma of lube that often deters people from enjoying its many benefits," she says. "Of course, the main function of lubricant is to reduce friction. Too much dry rubbing during sex can cause microscopic tears in the vagina, making women more susceptible to bacteria and sexually transmitted infections. Regardless of age or level of arousal, approximately one-third of women have trouble producing lubrication naturally. For these women, lubricant is more than just a fun bonus to sex — it enables them to enjoy intercourse without fear of pain or vaginal irritation."
7. Lube can improve your sex life.
In addition to its numerous sexual health functions, a good tube of lube can act as a vehicle for enhancing your overall sexual experience.
"It has also been shown to significantly increase the chance of orgasm for men and women, during both intercourse and masturbation," Morse says. "For men, adding a touch of lube to the inside tip of the condom can reduce friction, prevent condoms from breaking, and enhance their sensations overall."
According to Morse, people think of lube as an inside job, but a couple of drops around the genitals can both increase arousal and heighten sensations for either gender. "It's also great to use during foreplay — rubbing a touch of water-based lube on a partner's breasts or genitalia can be a pleasurable way to help warm her up," she says. "You can also use it with a vibrator (depending on the type, of course), and the extra layer of wetness will make the vibrations feel even more intense."
Morse's ultimate wish? For every sexually active person to have lube on hand.
"There's still a stigma attached to lube, with many people believing it's only needed to 'fix' a sexual problem," she says. "My dream is to have lube on every nightstand, so everyone realises that using a little lube can make sex a whole lot better."