Lube 101


Lubricant can make most kinds of sex more pleasurable, and for certain kinds of play, lubrication is a necessity. What kind of lube you choose will depend on the kind of sex you are planning to have, what formula or ingredients work best with your body and your toys, and whether you need the lube to be condom/dam compatible.

For vaginal sex

Vaginas are able to self-lubricate, but the amount of wetness can vary depending factors such as hydration level, specific time in the menstrual cycle, perimenopause or menopause, or medical treatments/medications. Lube can help whenever dryness or comfort is an issue.

For anal sex

The anus and rectum do not self lubricate, so adding lube for anal play is necessary for comfort and to avoid irritation or injury to the anal tissues.

Ingredient considerations

All lubes are not created equally! Lubes can impact vaginal pH as well as the overall balance of the body’s microflora and tissues. Ingredients like parabens, glycerin, glycol, or scents may cause irritation to some users. Osmolality value can also impact the body, with high-osmolality lubes linked to irritation and tissue damage. Look for lubes that are formulated for optimal pH and osmolality, with non-irritating ingredients.

Other Lube Tidbits

There are lots of different ingredients in lubes, but some common ingredients can cause issues for some users. If you or your partner are having trouble with irritation, here are some lube ingredients you may want to avoid:

Glycerin or Glycol: Used to make lubes feel slippery, but some users report links to yeast infections, irritation, and other imbalances in vaginal flora. That said, some bodies seem to tolerate glycerin or glycol without these issues. Our bodies often have very individual tolerances for certain substances, and those tolerances may vary over time.

Parabens: Used as preservatives, parabens can cause irritation in some users. Parabens have also come under scientific scrutiny as possible endocrine disruptors, and some studies have linked them with cancer. The research in these areas is inconclusive, but many people feel more comfortable choosing lubricant options that are free of parabens.

Warming/stimulating/intensifying lubes: While these lubes can be enjoyable for some people, the ingredients in these types of products can cause itching, burning, and tissue irritation. Use caution when trying stimulating lubes, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Numbing/prolonging lubes: These types of products are marketed to "relax" or numb certain areas such as the throat or the anal canal, or to prevent premature ejaculation. In general, such products work by removing the body's ability to feel anything-- good or bad. Because they deaden pain (our body's warning signal that something is wrong), such products can be potentially dangerous.

Ingredient purity: When choosing a lubricant, look for reputable lube manufacturer who makes their product in the USA or Europe, as the possibility of chemical or toxic impurities is far less common.

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