How to use lube

SHS Sexual Health Team

Q: What’s the purpose of lube? I thought only older people needed to use it.

A: Sex lubricants are used to do just what you would assume, lubricate. 

The idea that only older folks, or those with sexual dysfunction, use or need lube is completely untrue. 

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Many individuals experience vaginal dryness, for a number of reasons, all of which are completely normal. 

Lube is also used in ways other than vaginal intercourse. 

Lube can be also be used to increase pleasure and decrease friction during anal intercourse. Friction, often caused by inadequate lubrication, can cause pain and irritation. 

The use of lube can enhance a variety of sexual activities and can help some begin to enjoy sex more than they ever have before. 

Before you start exploring the world of lube, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Lubricants typically fall into four groups, water based, oil based, silicone based, and hybrid. Each group has its pros and cons, so it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients. 

Water-based lubricant is easy to use and safe for all forms of sexual activity. Water based lubricant does not break down latex and doesn’t cause irritation in most folks. 

If you’re just trying lube for the first time, water-based lubricant is a good place to start. Water-based lube can also be used with silicone toys.

Some folks find that they need to apply water-based lubricants during sexual activity more than other types, and prefer to go with a lubricant that will not dry out. 

Oil-based lubricants tend to last longer, and will not dry out during sexual activity. They can also be used during foreplay activities, such as massage. Sounds great right? Not always. 

Oil-based lubricants cannot be used with latex condoms, as the oil breaks down the latex, creating microscopic holes in your condom, leaving you vulnerable to STIs and unintended pregnancy. 

Silicone-based lubricant also won’t dry out, and can be a good option for those with very sensitive skin. Since silicone doesn’t break down in water, it can be a good option if you’re in the shower or bath, a place where our natural lubrication tends to dry out quickly. 

A very important thing to remember about silicone-based lube is to keep it away from your silicone sex toys. 

The silicone in the lube bonds to the silicone in the toy, and can create a porous surface, which can harbour bacteria, and cause infections during later use. Silicone lube also tends to taste bad, and is hard to get out of fabrics, such as sheets or clothing.

Hybrid lubricant is just what it sounds like, a hybrid of the bases described above, typically water based with added silicone. 

When using a hybrid, keep in mind all of the things above. A water based lube with added silicone may not dry out as quickly as purely water based, but still is unsafe to use with your silicone toys.

When exploring the world of lubricants, you might also see flavored lubes. Keep in mind that flavored lubes (as well as flavored condoms) are meant to be used only for oral sex, and should not be used for vaginal or anal intercourse. The flavoring in these lubes contain sugar, which can easily irritate genital tissue. 

There are hundreds of different kinds of lube out there, and each body is different, so it might take you a while to figure out what kind works best for you, but sometimes the journey is half the fun.