Whether you're getting it on with your man or going for some solo fun, a little lube can make everything feel better. Follow these tips to find your best lubricant match and reach new heights of pleasure.
Why lube up
The real question isn't why; it's why not.
Gone are the days when the lube was regarded as nothing more than a fix for vaginal dryness. It's now the staple bedroom accessory couples use to enhance the great sex they're already having. "Lubricants are underappreciated treats," says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., author of Pleasure.
The extra lubrication provides a sexy, slick feeling that intensifies sensitivity and pleasure. Lube also allows for easier penetration and thrusting, which helps increase the odds of achieving climax.
To spice things up, some playful lubes even come with "tingling" or "warming" effects to stimulate sensation during sex, while others are flavored to enhance oral sex.
You don't need a lot of lube each time. Starting with a dime-size amount, apply onto your genitals (or his), the sex toy you're using or to your fingers. "Experiment and see what feels most arousing and pleasurable to you," says Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., MPH
, author of Because It Feels Good.
Lube is also essential if you're using condoms. "Condoms can break or slip off during intercourse," explains Hutcherson. "You can decrease the chances of breakage by using lots of lubricant outside the condom." (Be sure to avoid oil-based lube as it destroys the latex.) Bonus tip: To create delicious friction for your partner, try placing a dab of water-based lubricant inside the tip of the condom.
Types of lubes
The three most common lubricant types are water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based. How do they stack up? Here are their pros and cons:
Water-based lube is the safest and most popular lube on the market. It's safe for condoms, washes off easily, and doesn't stain sheets or clothing. The downside is that they tend to dry out quicker. You can apply more or refresh them with a little saliva or water.
Silicone-based lube feels ultra-slippery and do not dry out, so no re-application is needed even during long lovemaking sessions. But because it doesn't wash away easily with water, it requires more effort in the clean-up department. The best place to use a silicon-based lube? In the shower or bath, as it stays slick underwater. One caveat: Silicone lubricants should not be used in conjunction with a silicone vibrator
or silicone diaphragm, as it may degrade or damage the silicone products, Herbenick cautions.
"This includes olive oil, which is sometimes recommended by gynecologists as a natural lubricant but is generally not considered safe to use with latex," says Herbenick. If you prefer an oil-based lubricant, consider using a polyurethane condom instead.
Shopping for your lube
There are tons of options when it comes to lubricants. So how do you choose the right one for you? Here are some points to consider:
Will you be using the lube with latex condom? Then use a water-based lubricant instead of an oil-based lube which can destroy the latex. If you are using silicone sex toys or birth control, avoid a silicone-based lubricant.
Do you have sensitive skin? Check that your lube doesn't contain methyl or propyl paraben or nonoxynol-9. If you are prone to yeast infections, you may want to avoid lubes containing glycerin.
Some studies have found that certain lubricants may slow down sperm and thus may not be good choices for people trying to become pregnant. "If you're trying to conceive, ask your healthcare provider for his or her opinion about Pre-Seed or other lubricants that have been designed to be more friendly to sperm," says Herbenick.