We suggest reading this post accompanied by hits from the ‘80s soft rock band Wet Wet Wet because things are about to get seriously drippin’ up in here. Most people are in agreement that sexual experiences, be it alone or with a partner, are better when wet, yet oftentimes there is a stigma around using lubrication because of the assumption that needing it means you’re not sexually aroused by your partner- something that can confidently be debunked right off the bat. Studies show that adding lube to any sexual act increases a woman’s chance of orgasm by 80%, showing that lubrication isn’t just about practicality, but pleasure too. Lube is not a solution to a problem, but a little extra somethin’ somethin’ that heightens sensation and makes pleasure accessible to more of us- what’s not to love?!
Having said that, for those that do suffer with painful sex, irritated skin or have experienced trauma from past sexual experiences, lube can be a welcome encouragement and helping hand in easing into sexual acts and adding some moisture to the vulva, vagina, anus, penis or sex toys, making for a more accessible and pleasurable experience altogether.
And whilst sex ed made it seem like slapping on some Durex Original and sliding right in there was all there was to it, turns out there is far more to know when it comes to getting the most from your wet and wild bedroom experiences…
The different types of lubrication:
So you’re in the sexual pleasure aisle and things are feeling overwhelming- who knew there were so many types of lube out there?! The four main variations you’ll likely come across include water-based, silicon-based, oil-based, natural lubricants or a hybrid of the above.
This is the perfect go-to for almost every sexual activity going- be it penetrative sex, masturbation or sex toy play- and is the most versatile of lubes out there to help fulfil sexual desires aplenty. Water-based lubrication is lightweight and silky in feel making it ideal for those with sensitive skin, vaginal irritation or chronic pain, and is also super easy to clean out of sheets and clothes without leaving a stain- a win-win! Water-based lubrication is typically runnier in consistency compared to silicone lube, meaning it’s not your best bet for use in the shower as it will wash away far more quickly, but aside from that is a perfect go-to for use with condoms and toys.
Silicone-based lubricants last the longest out of any lubricant, so if you’re planning a Bridgerton style sex marathon then this is the one to reach for. They’re safe to use with latex condoms but not with your silicone toys- for that revert back to your reliable water-based offerings. If steamy shower sex is your thing, then look no further than a silicone lube, as this bad boy needs to be reapplied far less often than other lubrications and will hold up for as long as you do. Silicone based lubrication is hypoallergenic meaning most people won’t experience any reaction to it. All you have to worry about is which lingerie set you’ll be wearing at said sexy time!
The true slip ‘n’ slide of lubrication, oil-based lubes will keep going, and going, and going. Oil-based lubes can double up for both sex and sensual massages, but the biggest thing to know about them is they’re not compatible with latex condoms as they undermine their strength and therefore are not safe if this is your primary form of contraception.
Whether it be for sex, foreplay or alongside your favourite toy, an oil will keep things hydrated and ready for whatever it is you have in store. Bear in mind that they can stain bedding and clothing due to their consistency, which is also harder for the body to clear out in comparison to their natural counterpart meaning they have greater potential for vaginal infections or irritation if you are prone to this.
Some decide to opt for natural lubricants to avoid using potentially harsh or irritating ingredients on sensitive or easily irritated skin, however what counts as a natural lubricant can vary. Natural lubricants may have a shorter shelf life which is something to bear in mind, however in general they are compatible with most condoms and silicone toys making them extremely versatile. Organic-based coconut oil is typically the preferred natural lubrication as it possesses antibacterial properties, but aloe vera, olive oil and avocado oil are also great (but remember they cannot be used with latex condoms).
What not to do…
Now we’ve spoken about the dos, it’s time for the don’ts. It’s best not to use flavoured lubes for vaginal intercourse as they contain sugar (glucose) which can be a big trigger for yeast infections- something best to be avoided at all costs. Ouch. Below are a few ingredients also worth looking out for and avoiding because of potential irritation or inflammation:
- Propylene glycol
- Chlorhexidine gluconate
If you’re trying to conceive then be sure to look for a lubricant that says it’s “sperm-friendly” or “fertility-friendly” on its packaging, as lubrication with certain ingredients (namely petroleum, propylene glycol, glycerin, parabens, silicone, and Nonoxynol-9 ) can impact sperm motility- the ability of sperm to move properly through a woman’s reproductive tract.
Lubrication and chronic pain:
Sex can be painful for those with chronic pelvic pain problems and conditions including Vulvodynia and Vaginismus, but the right lube can alleviate some of the symptoms that make sex difficult and in general create a more positive and pleasurable experience. Brands such as YES create lubrication especially for those dealing with these problems, helping to provide relief from burning, irritation and discomfort, maintain a healthy pH balance in the vaginal environment to offer natural protection against thrush and also hydrate the necessary delicate tissues and general vulval and vaginal areas.
Finding the lubrication products that work for you and keep sex pleasurable for longer is the aim here, because no matter your criteria, there will be something that works for you!
To summarise, lube can be everything when it comes to positive sexual experiences and a real game-changer whether you’re having fun alone or with a partner. The vagina’s natural lubrication depends on hormone levels during our monthly cycle, pregnancy or menopause, and can be affected by things such as contraception, breastfeeding or stress, meaning the need for lubrication can be far and wide-reaching, and can benefit almost everyone in the bedroom. Anything that makes for an experience as pleasurable as watching Normal People for the first time is more than fine by us…