What You Need To Know About Lube

by Haley Rosenberg

Like many other women who are/have been on birth control, I've struggled with vaginal dryness for years. Nothing dulls a mood more than an eager hand slipped between your legs to find not the Pacific Ocean but instead the Sahara Desert. "It's not you, it's me," you tell your partner, hoping they'll understand that you do want to jump their bones, but your vagina just isn't cooperating.

Personally, I've struggled with feelings of shame for my lubrication issues. I want to be a good sexual partner, and I want my vagina to accurately express my attraction to both my partner and the heat of the moment, so when the time comes to test the waters, and she comes up dry, I'm embarrassed.

That's where our saving grace–lube–comes in.

The decision to buy lube may come easy but choosing the right one for you may not. There are many different types of lubes, so it's essential to be informed before purchasing since you want your choice to be productive towards your sex life and sexual health. There are four categories of lubricants to choose from: water, oil, silicone, and natural.

Water-Based Lubricants

The most common of all lubricants, water-based products have the advantage of being sex-toy friendly (their formula won't negatively react with the silicone of your toys) and condom friendly (lower risk of breakage). They are widely available at any local drug store and wash out of sheets easily with soap and water. However, the water-based formulas tend to evaporate quicker than others, requiring more frequent reapplication during sex/masturbation.

Oil-Based Lubricants

You might be familiar with some oil-based lubricants and not even know it. Did you know that coconut oil, olive oil, and baby oil are all safe, household items that are vagina and anus-friendly? Just be sure to remember which coconut oil jar you've been dipping your dildo in before making curry for your in-laws.

Oil-based lubricants are a good alternative for people with sensitive skin that might be reactive to the additives found in water and silicone-based products (though they still run a risk of infection for certain users). They are also a good go-to for shower sex since they won't dissolve in the water and stay slippery for longer. Adversely, they can also leave pesky stains on your sheets, so make sure to lay down a towel when experimenting with oil-based products for the first time. Most importantly, however, is to be aware that oil-based lubricants should NOT be used with latex condoms since the oil degrades the latex. If you love your oil-based lube and want to use it with condoms, try polyurethane condoms.

Silicone-Based Lubricants

If you want to turn your vagina or anus into your own personal slip-and-slide, this is the product for you. Silicone-based lubricants tend to be the most slippery than their counterparts and work well with condoms and water. Not only are they hypoallergenic (meaning less risk of reaction), but they also last longer than other lubes as well since the silicone keeps the product from evaporating too quickly.

The downside? Silicone-based lubricants cannot be used with silicone sex toys, as they will solidify on the surface and cause abrasions that bacteria can grow inside.

Natural Lubricants

Lastly, natural lubricants have begun to appear in the mainstream market. These products often employ aloe or hemp to do the deed and can be favorable in that they don't use parabens, the most common preservative in lube that is linked to health risks. So, they may be safer for some users. Just keep in mind, natural lubricants will cost more and have a shorter shelf life due to the lack of preservatives and artificial chemicals.

So now you see–it's not you, and now it's also not me! Lube is a fun and handy way to get the sexual ball rolling. Remember that it's not a "one size fits all" situation: different types of lubes pair with different bodily reactions and personal lifestyles, so make sure you do your research and some patch tests before getting down and lube.