The low down on lube

The low down on lube

If you are using condoms then lube should go hand in glove with it.  Lack of lubrication can give condoms a bad name and also means they are more likely to rip or tear.  Some people simply don’t know that you shouldn’t use an oil-based lube with a latex condom.  This does sound a bit counter-intuitive but it is true.  Many people feel that lube is just there for the older generation, using lube is almost an admission of defeat somehow.  But lube is an essential aid in the bedroom and you could be missing a very pleasurable trick or two if you don’t use it.  Here are some other key facts about lube to help you pick the right product and enjoy yourself even more.

  • Using lube shouldn’t be embarrassing, in fact, if you are smart enough to be using condoms then you really should be thinking lube, in the same way, it will just enhance your pleasure
  • Choose from oil-based or water-based lubes, water-based lubes are easier to wash off afterwards and don’t stain sheets
  • Oil-based lubes contain silicone which doesn’t agree with some people.  Fortunately, there are ranges of lube made from purely natural ingredients for anyone who is allergic or has sensitive skin
  • Silicone lubes are thick, luscious and last a long time, the only problem is you can’t combine them with a latex condom or silicone toys
  • Lube tubes or dispensers usually state on the outside if they are suitable to be used with condoms
  • Use water-based lube for oral sex and pick from one of a vast variety of different tasty flavours
  • Some lubes create a tingling sensation which is designed to enhance pleasure

What even is lube?

Lube is gel or liquid specially formulated to be applied to intimate areas and to increase pleasure during sex.  Some might say it is there to decrease discomfort so it does depend a little on your perspective about using lube.

The idea is that foreplay and the build-up to sex cause the natural juices to flow but there are lots of reasons why this just may not be enough.  There are different points in life where it just might be harder for the body to produce enough of its own natural lubrication.  Lube takes away the friction of that situation, literally.  Many women associate the menopause and post-menopause with vaginal dryness but around 73% of women have admitted experiencing discomfort during sex due to lack of lubrication.  Monthly hormone changes and a dip in oestrogen can be one reason but pregnancy, the fog of those early post-childbirth months and breastfeeding can be others.  Even lifestyle – perfumed and scented bath and shower products – and medication can interfere with the body’s natural delivery of lubrication.

What are the different types of lube?

There are different types of lube including:-

  • Water-based lube – this feels almost as if it won’t be man enough for the job.  It is super light and won’t stain clothing or sheets and best of all, it isn’t sticky.  Water-based lubes are the ones to opt for when you use a latex condom or silicone sex toys.  Water-based lubes are perfect for oral sex and you don’t even need to worry about the calories as many good brands are sugar-free!
  • Silicone-based lube – thick and glossy this stays the course because it doesn’t absorb so easily as the water-based equivalent.  So, it means you won’t have to keep stopping to add more which is really important for some people.  Silicone lubes are only recommended for use with non-latex condoms and glass or metal sex toys

Where can you use lube?

Lube is designed to be used on the penis, the anus and in the vagina, anywhere where there is a requirement for more slickness.  Some lube doubles up as massage gel too.

What not to use as lube

  • Coconut oil – this is a no-no but often gets pressed into service as it is a favourite in the bedroom and the bathroom.  Coconut oil contains properties that can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina and lead to yeast infections.  Because it is an oil, it cannot be used with latex condoms
  • Vaseline Petroleum Jelly – linked to bacterial vaginosis in women and is unsuitable for use with latex condoms
  • Spittle or spit – apart from the issue of disease, spit actually provides virtually no lubrication at all

If you are casting around the house for something to use in a hurry then sweet almond oil is a good option, unrefined or virgin coconut oil is another (this lacks the bleach used in standard coconut oil products), olive oil, avocado oil or aloe vera gel.  Some people have even been known to use egg whites to cook up a perfect storm in the bedroom!  Remember, that anything oil-based cannot be used with latex condoms or silicone toys.

If you are worried about what you might be putting on or in your body, then there are ranges of lube made from totally natural ingredients which are also great for people with sensitive skin.  Natural is a bit of a generic term and lack of definition means that some companies will use it as an umbrella term for products which still do contain some hidden nasties.  Always read the ingredient list carefully.  If a lube contains natural oils such as coconut oil, you have to understand how that oil was made as the process could have happened using toxic chemicals.  So where the ingredients are sourced from is pretty important too.

Look out for phrases like, ‘hypoallergenic’, and ‘organic’ and if possible, pick a product which is approved by the vegan society.  This is one way to avoid synthetic fragrances and scents, parabens and glycerin.  Many of these products have a light, natural perfume which is more subtle and less overpowering than some of the mainstream equivalents which can have quite an artificial and strong scent.

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown

I'm Stuart, senior Editor at British Condoms. I am an expert in all areas of sexual health and have a passion to drive knowledge to youth in the UK. Any questions for me or media enquiries, please feel free to tweet me @britishcondoms. Always open to engagement.

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