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Your Ultimate Guide to Lubes – Personal Lubricants 101

What is lube?

Lube is short for lubricant – and that’s what it’s for! Lube is a tool that allows the user to create instant lubrication for sexual play. This can mimic the natural lubrication that some vagina-havers experience, and it can also facilitate pleasurable play in parts of the body that don’t naturally lubricate, such as the anus

Why use lube?

Because some extra wetness will enhance pleasure, particularly during penetrative play such as vaginal or anal sex and masturbation with penetrative toys. 

Vaginal sex: Lube mimics and enhances the naturally occurring lubrication that some – but not all – vagina-owners experience. Some people don’t produce the optimal level of lubrication on their own for various reasons, and lube is a great tool to overcome vaginal dryness at any stage of sexual play. Check out Team RW’s favorite lubricants here.

Anal sex: Lube is essential during anal play because it will prevent tearing of the delicate tissue inside the rectum, which is not only painful (owww!) but can create a higher risk for STIs. The anus does not naturally lubricate, so adding lube is the safest way to ensure a pleasurable experience. Re-application might be necessary to maintain comfort and pleasure, so anyone giving penetration (aka topping) during anal should check-in with the recipient regularly! Cake’s Tush Cush & Sliquid’s Sassy are two of our personal favorites.

Masturbation: For all genders, lubricant is a powerful masturbation tool. Whether there’s penetration, stroking or massaging, lubricant can add to the experience in so many wonderful ways. (ATTN: Penis-owners, check out So-Low from Cake, you’re welcome.) Just be sure to use a lube that is compatible with your toy! (Check out some of Team RW’s favorite toys here!)

For any penetrative play, whether partnered or solo, it’s a good idea to keep a bottle or three handy, so you can apply and re-apply as needed!

Who is lube for?

Lube is for everyone!

If you want to receive a penis or a toy in your vagina or anus, or touch your genitals with more comfort, lube is for you. 

Vagina-owners sometimes feel that there is something “wrong” with them if they want or need lube to enjoy penetrative sex. This is not true!

Vaginal dryness has numerous causes, such as:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Immune disorders
  • Rigorous exercises
  • Medications (including birth control)
  • Changes to hormone levels

Rather than focusing on lube as an indicator that something is wrong, try focusing on it as a helpful tool to enable you to experience greater pleasure regardless of your ability to self-lubricate! Lube is your friend!

Of course, as mentioned, lube is essential for anal sex, and people of any gender should definitely use lube to facilitate safety and pleasure for receiving anal penetration. 

What kind of lubricant should I use?

There are three different types of lube to choose from!

Oil-Based:

Pro: Oil-based lube is known for its long-lasting ability

Cons: Can not be used w/ condoms as the oil breaks down the latex, can stain bed sheets due to its oil content, for some vagina owners may include higher risk for infections

Water-based:

Pros: Can be used w/ any toys or condoms and is super easy to wash off!

Con: It evaporates quickly, so keep it handy – more is better when using!

Silicone-based:

Pro: Great for sensitive skin because silicone is hypoallergenic, super slippery, less is more! Can be used with condoms!

Con: Can not be used with silicone-based sex toys, they will eat each other!

Ingredients to avoid when buying lube:
  • Glycerin
    • Glycerin is a common ingredient found in lubes because it helps retain moisture and taste better
    • The problem is that glycerin is a sugar alcohol that can disrupt the pH of a vagina leading to bacterial growth, yeast infections, and potential UTIs
  • Petrochemicals
    • Petrochemicals are things like propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, and petroleum jelly
    • The oils in petroleum are sticky and may overstay their welcome which can clog pores and alter Ph balances
    • These ingredients are also common in antifreeze and can cause burning or allergic reactions
  • Nonoxynol-9
    • Many spermicides contain nonoxynol-9. This chemical kills sperm, but it also kills both good and bad bacteria
    • Whenever vaginal bacteria goes off balance, it can result in infections, like bacterial vaginosis (BV)
    • Nonoxynol might also cause some uncomfortable inflammation and irritation
  • Preservatives 
    • Preservatives can be things like parabens, benzyl alcohol, sugar, and citric acid
    • These ingredients may cause reactions like burning, itching, or infections
    • It’s best, as a rule of thumb, to stay away from flavored lubes — or keep them away from the vagina because most are full of things like sugar and preservatives that can create an overgrowth of yeast. 

Go forth and lubricate!

Lube is an essential tool to enhance sexual pleasure. Anyone can use lube to support safe and pleasurable penetrative sex. Using lube does NOT mean there is something wrong with you – it means you use every tool at your disposal to ensure that your sexual play is safe, pleasurable, and fun!

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