By Kelli Young, Occupational Therapist, Sex Therapist and Couple and Family Therapist
Okay ladies, let’s talk about sexual lubricants. Now, you may be thinking: “I don’t need a lubricant-those are only for old dried-up vaginas”. Not true! Sexual lubricants are for everybody! In fact, a sexual lubricant can add an extra dose of pleasure to just about any sexual encounter.
Many of us have been led to believe that our own vaginas “should” naturally produce enough lubrication to stay slippery throughout a given sexual activity. However, copious vaginal lubrication does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with sexual arousal. Vaginal lubrication is highly influenced by hormonal fluctuations and can vary greatly depending on where a woman is at in her menstrual cycle. Reduced estrogen levels also contribute to reduced lubrication in women who have recently delivered a baby, breast feeding women, as well as those in menopause. Hormones are not the only culprits for reduced lubrication. Excessive alcohol, marijuana, and even some over the counter cough and cold remedies can dry up mucous membranes- including those in the vagina. Even when a woman is producing a lot of natural vaginal lubrication, the extra slipperiness that an artificial lubricant provides can add to the arousal and enjoyment of both partners.
Not All Lubes are Created Equally
Oils have been used as sexual lubricants for centuries and they can be great for sexual massage and manual stimulation. However, women should avoid oil-based lubricants for any activities involving vaginal penetration. These products (especially thick ones like petroleum jelly) can be very difficult to wash or flush out of your body. They can coat your vagina for days, inviting the overgrowth of bacteria and contributing to yeast infections. Oils are also incompatible with safer sex practices as they break down the latex in condoms, dams, and diaphragms, putting both partners at greater risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI).
Water-based lubricants are safe to use for all types of sexual activities and they easily wash out of your body. You can now find them at your local pharmacy and they come in a variety of brands. Astroglide, KY liquid, Oh My, and Wet products are amongst the most popular lubes. Some of these come in scented, flavored, or “warming” varieties. If you are prone to yeast infections, choose a lube that is glycerine-free, as the glycerine is a sugary substance that can contribute to yeast production. Some people do not like water-based lubricants because they can dry up during prolonged sexual activity. However, they can be reactivated with just a tiny drop of water or saliva. So, if you think you might be pulling an “all-nighter”, you might want to keep a glass of water, a spray bottle, or water gun nearby! Water-based lubricants are meant for moist membranes-they will dry up quickly when applied to your skin, so they do not make good massage products.
Silicone lubricants stay slippery much longer than water-based lubricants and they can be applied anywhere on the body. They can be used for prolonged sexual pleasuring as well as for massage. They are also safe for use with condoms and are preferred by those with sensitive skin as they generally do not cause allergic reactions or skin irritations. They tend to be more expensive than the water-based options, but they generally go further as “a little dab will do ya”. Two of my favorites are PJUR (pronounced “pure”) and Wet Platinum.
One Final Butt
One final word of caution: NEVER try any type of anal or butt penetration without the use of a lubricant. The anus and rectum do not produce any natural lubrication, and the anal tissue is much thinner and delicate compared to the vaginal tissue. Therefore anal penetration without an added lubricant can result in painful tears and can potentially increase your risk for infections.