FAQs about Lube
2016 August 06
We get asked lots and lots of questions about lube! You’ll often hear sexual health professionals make the claim “The Wetter, The Better!”
Along with barriers (condoms, gloves, and dams) and regular infection testing; personal lubricant or “lube” (as it is usually called), is an essential ingredient in safer and pleasurable sex.
Here’s some of the most common lube FAQs:
Do I need to add lube if I’m using lubricated condoms?
YES. Although most are pre-lubricated, you should add a few more drops to the outside and the inside of the condom before putting it in or on the body. Remember to make sure that the type of lube you are using is compatible with the type of condom you are using.
Don’t some parts of the body make their own lube?
Some parts of the body definitely produce their own lube such as the mouth, the lining of the vagina, and the opening to the urethra on the penis. However, the amount of fluid that is produced differs between people and factors such as age, health conditions, dehydration, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, hormonal birth control, smoking, drugs, and level of arousal can change the amount each person produces. This is why we advise people to add lube to enhance the amount of natural fluids produced.
The vagina does make its own fluids through the Bartholin’s glands and the Skene’s glands. As the vagina relaxes and becomes more flexible during the arousal process, the glands lubricate the vaginal lining. There are many factors that can affect the amount of lubrication that each person produces. It is advised to always add additional lubricant to any thing going into the vagina.
The anus does not make its own fluids. It simply is not a function of the anus/rectum. The tissue around the anal opening and into the rectum is thinner than other parts of the body. The tissue thinness and lack of lubrication ability increases the likelihood of microscopic tears occurring and it also not feeling comfortable or pleasurable. Many people prefer to use a thicker or more substantial lube made especially anal sex such as a gel form rather than a liquid.
The mouth does make its own fluid called saliva. The amount of fluid made will differ between people and various factors can change the amount each person produces. The reason flavoured lubes exist is to enhance the lubrication in the mouth and provide a different flavoured experience. Be aware that many flavoured lubes (just like condoms) are made with sugar based products and can cause irritation to the genitals and increase the likelihood of an overgrown of yeast in the vagina. Flavoured lube is best kept for oral sex and external masturbation not used for vaginal or anal sex.
What kinds of lube are there?
There are the main types of lube available: Water, silicone or oil based.
- Water based lube uses water as the base and they combine various other ingredients to change the texture and thickness of the lube. The good news about water based lube is that it is easier to clean up and less like to stain fabric. The not so good news about water based lubes are that because they are based in water they dry up faster than others and sometimes they contain preservative ingredients that may cause irritation.
- Silicone based lube uses silicone as the main ingredient. The good news about silicone based lube is that the texture is smoother and thicker than the other types of lube and the moisture and lasts longer than water based lube. While silicone lube is made from synthetics; it’s also hypoallergenic! The challenges with silicone based lube is that it is not compatible with silicone sex toys, it can stain fabric, and can make other surfaces very slippery (i.e., using it for sex in a shower requires caution and attention).
- Oil based lube uses natural or synthetic oil as a base. Oil based lubes are not compatible with latex products such condoms, gloves and dams. Oil based lube maintains its structure longer and may be a good choice for masturbation with those who have a penis. In addition to not being compatible with latex products, some users report increased irritation and a change in their vaginal and/or rectal environment.
How do I know what type of lube is right for me and/or my partner?
There are many, many types of lube available. If you’re purchasing lube from a sexuality supply shop such as frisky business; you may be able to purchase a sample size package to try out. When you’re introducing a new type of lube to your body or someone else’s, you should try a dab on the inside of the wrist and bottom lip before introducing it to your genitals. If it causes irritation in those areas, do not use in the genital area. Pay attention to the texture and feel, the smell of it and if you’re going to use it for oral sex the taste will be important to consider.
Lube comes in 3 forms and sometimes the same brand can be found in all forms:
- Liquid – Usually the thinnest form that is clear in colour and often contains more water which makes it more likely to dry up more quickly.
- Cream – Cream forms of lube tend to be opaque in appearance and the consistency is most like that of vaginal fluids. Some have silicone as their ingredient so they tend to last longer than liquid forms
- Gel – Gel lubes are thicker in consistency, more clear in appearance than creams and provide s softer barrier than creams of liquid. They are often recommended for anal sex as they last longer than liquids and creams and feel very comfortable.
Can I use lube with my sex toys?
Absolutely, you can and you should be especially if these are being inserted into a body! It is really important to make sure that the type of lube you are using is compatible with the material that the sex toy/object is made from. As mentioned above, silicone lube and toys made from silicone are not compatible – the molecules cause a reaction that can ruin the sex toy.
Can you use flavoured lube for anal and vaginal sex and/or masturbation?
Flavoured lube is best used on the outside of the body. Many (not all) flavoured lube use sugar in the flavouring and the sugar can cause an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, vulva or anus.
What about these lubes that heat up and cool down or that promise a reaction when used together?
The ingredients that are usually used in these types of lubes are synthetic and can cause a range of reactions in users. Some people report positive and pleasurable experiences while others report genital irritation, numbing or burning sensations that were the exact opposite of what they were hoping for! Again, a good idea to try them on a less sensitive area on your and your partner’s body before you try them in the genitals.
Are there any natural lubricants available? I am really sensitive to artificial ingredients.
Yes, there are lots of great lubes available that are made natural ingredients. Check out the ingredient listings on the product label. In our frisky business store, we carry several types of lube that use only natural ingredients including some that are gluten free and vegan.
What about coconut oil as a lube?
While coconut oil is an incredibly versatile product that can be used for many things; it has not been officially studied as lube for genitals at this time.