Many of us overlook lube as a factor in the sexual equation, whether it’s during a masturbating sesh or sex with a partner/s. There is still a sense of shame, particularly among women, when it comes to lube. Lots of us are afraid of being labeled as sexually deficient or simply “not into it” if we need or want to use lube during sex.
This fear is super fucking real, too, and it’s a result of lube-shaming. According to sex and relationship expert Dr. Jess O’Reilly, "lube-shaming erroneously suggests that if a woman is turned on, she'll get wet. But vaginal lubrication is controlled by the autonomic nervous system and is beyond our conscious control.” Basically, you can be super turned on, but totally dry, and vice-versa.
Personal lubricant exists for many reasons–the first being to reduce the dryness and irritation that is so often attributed to discomfort or pain during sex (particularly penetrative sex). It can be a game-changing aid for women who suffer from vaginal dryness (17% of women aged 18-50 experience problems with vaginal dryness).
But the best part about lube is that it’s not used solely for the purpose of combating discomfort. It can literally make sex better–physically and, as a result, mentally. In a 2011 study, 2,500 women used lubricant regularly over a 5-week period. Results show that the use of a water-based or silicone-based lubricant was associated with higher ratings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction for solo sex and penile-vaginal sex!
So it’s time to reshape the lube narrative. To begin, we asked nine women of sex-related and non sex-related professions the question: “What is your relationship like with lube?”
Lube is always a great idea. Although, the type/quality of lube matters. Ideally you want a lube without parabens, glycols, microbicides, and preservatives. Ideally you want a lube that is similar to your body's pH. A healthy, happy vagina has a pH of 3.8-4.5 and the rectum is around 7.0, so you want a lube that matches or is a slightly higher pH than your natural environment. Lack of lubrication or vaginal dryness can contribute to or cause pain with sex. Adding lubrication may not address the underlying cause, such as a hormonal imbalance, but it can definitely help decrease the symptoms. Depending on what data you look at ~40% of women under 60 report sexual dysfunction and up to 60% of women will experience pelvic pain, I can't say what percentage is due to lack of lubrication, but if someone is having pain with sex adding in a lubricant may help and most likely won't make it worse, unless someone uses a poor quality lubricant.
I think lube should be used when engaging in any type of sexual activity, including masturbation and when using sex toys. Be mindful that if you are using condoms (which most people should because safe sex is the best sex) to use a water-based lubricant as oil-based lubricant can degrade the latex.
I think there is a stigma around lubricant, and people think they shouldn't need it and if they do something is "wrong" with them. I always think of that scene in the movie Superbad where Jonah Hill makes fun of Michael Cera's character for having lube because the girls "are young" and won't need lube. Also, some people have had bad experiences with lube, it irritated them or they had a bad reaction to it, and again that may have been due to using a lubricant that wasn't good quality. I always recommend patients try different kinds, so I am always giving an array of samples or having patients go to Good Vibrations, where they have a large selection in sample sizes for people to try.
The World Health Organization, also has a nice chart that shows the different lubes and their pH/osmolarity.
When I was first having sex at the ripe ol' age of 15 (sorry, Mom!) I never used lube. Actually, I didn't end up using lube until well into my 20's. I thought lube was for anal sex or women who needed help producing lubrication on their own. It wasn't until I actually tried anal that I realized lube was FREAKING AMAZING.
Lube made EVERYTHING feel way better. Lube made everything feel more sensitive and I enjoyed sex SO much more once I brought my lube friends into the game. Now I consider myself a lube aficionado. I mean, I don't exactly need to buy a 55-gallon drum of it on Amazon (that exists...for what? I dunno but the reviews are incredible.) But I definitely use it almost every time I have sex because, why the hell not? I personally like sex to feel like a Slip n' Slide.
I don’t really remember a time when I thought, “if I use lube I’m sexually deficient.” In fact, I’m the lube queen [ha]. With guys, I would always suggest bringing out the coconut oil or some lotion to do a proper HJ. Lube just makes sex more enjoyable all around. No matter how wet you start off in the beginning, after a long session of intercourse, you’re bound to get dry and with dryness comes irritation. I actually dislike using spit for lube. I know, It sounds vanilla, but I just think its gross to have to hock spit every time for lubrication. Imagine a night out partying, with partying comes drinking, smoking, eating, etc. Then you head back to your house, you're ready to hook up and the guy just spits on you. Just feels bacteria ridden lol. Our mouths are dirty! Also, with clitoral stimulation, how many times do I need to spit on my fingers when I could just use a little scoop of coconut oil, one time. It smells good, it tastes good, the consistency is perfect, and it helps prevent yeast infections. What’s better than that?
for a long time i didn't understand why sex hurt so much for me. even when it felt "good" it didn't feel "great" and growing up i didn't have the safest experience with sex so subconsciously i think it has affected how my body works during arousal. it takes a lot for me to get wet and even when i do i'm not like a faucet dripping with cum as these rappers would say (lol.) when i first started using lube i was with my partner for awhile and it was something we both knew made everything more enjoyable not only for me but for her as well. in the beginning i did have some feelings of insecurity having to pull out a third party during sex and even now i battle stigmas within my own thoughts that come along with using lubricant, especially when sleeping with new people but for the most part i'm at a place where i don’t internalize any shame with using lube.
i think there's a lot of roadblocks when it comes to female pleasure and the ridicule of using lube is one of 'em. even if you are someone who gets really wet on your own there's no harm in exploring lubricants. some have cooling sensations, some warm it up down there, some even have thc in them (highly recommend). using lube has made me a more explorative person when it comes to my sex life because i'm always popping into local sex shops to cop some and i end up looking at other things along the way.
I spent four years helping customers pick out and purchase lubricants while I worked in adult retail shops, and I recognized that many of our buyers exhibited shame or discomfort around their purchase. I've even heard women exclaim, "I don't NEED that", as if wanting if the purchase of lubricant was indicative of some kind of inadequacy. It's no surprise really, much of our society measures arousal by how "big or hard" erections are, and how "wet and tight" vaginas and vulvas are.
There are lots of reasons that people like to use lubricant: Did you know that prescription medication dries out some vulvas? So does stress, sickness, or just your own genetics can determine how much natural lubricant a person's body makes on it's own. Besides, it's fun! People with penises and vaginas can play with silicone lube, waterbased lube, flavored, all-natural, there are so many options and many of them are body safe and ethically sourced. I like to vary my activities and the addition or subtraction of different kinds of stimulation with toys or lubes makes for a diverse and creative sex life.
@Falkyou, web app developer, cybersecurity ms candidate, model:
There is a stigma that exists around lube that if you need it then you’re unfortunately just not a well-oiled car. In theory, this sounds legit because we lack proper sex education in our society. However, in reality, lube is the savior you’ve been waiting on to take your experience to the next level.
This is because not only does lube help cancel out friction but it is an enhancement to whatever activity in which you’re currently partaking. It has properties that have the potential to create sensations the body alone cannot - like an icy feeling. It’s like you can drive a Ford on the reg but if you had the chance to drive a Lambo for a few extra dollars you just wouldn’t pass that up.
Whatever you need to use to have a wonderful and enjoyable sexual experience, use it. Don’t ever feel ashamed. Always do what’s best for your mind body and soul.
If lube is a staple in your sex life, amazing! If it’s not, amazing!
I love lube and I find it really enhances sex and gives me ultimate pleasure. But I don’t always need it, it’s if I choose to and want to. Isn’t that what we all truely want from sex? For our minds to be blown and our bodies to be sent into another dimension? I certainly do.
You can never go wrong with a bit of extra lubrication.
I think lube and the proper use of it should be taught in sex education. When I was in high school, there was so much myth around the use of lube that no really knew how to use it and probably still don’t. Haha.
Millie (IG: @milliesykess):
In the earlier, more confused years of my sexual exploration the thought of mentioning lube was pretty mortifying. To me, the suggestion of lube screamed ‘Not good enough! You’re dryer than the Sahara desert down there! He needs use tube juice to fix all that is wrong with you and your malfunctioning parts..pathetic!’. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gaged that my parts were working just fine, he just didn’t quite know how to operate them.
Now, I keep a bottle handy in my top drawer at all times. If I feel the slightest chafe, or if i’m just in the mood to get slippery I’m opening that drawer. It’s an awesome bedside companion, an aid for me rather than a symbol of my sexual inadequacy.