Personal lubricant

Personal Lubricants

Finding the right personal lubricant

Personal lubricants are perhaps the greatest unsung sex toy. While it’s true that lubricant can be used to solve a sexual problem, like vaginal dryness, lube is much more than something to use only when you “need” it.

Finding the right personal lubricant

Personal lubricant (lube) can be used during sex, masturbation, or sex toy play—more pleasurable. Lubes work to reduce friction between your skin and the person/object/or body part that you are using, which can eliminate chafing, pain, and uncomfortable rubbing.

The right personal lubricant can:

  • Intensify and enhance sensations (for solo or partner sex)
  • Change the way that sex feels
  • Help you have sex longer
  • Make safer sex safer by reducing the chances that a condom will break
  • Eliminate pain associated with intercourse that comes from vaginal dryness
  • Be essential for certain kinds of sex play, like using sex toys and exploring anal vibrators.

Figuring out which is the right one for you can be tricky. Here are some key things to consider when choosing a personal lubricant.

Water-Based or Silicone Based Personal Lubricant

Both water-based and silicone-based lubricants are safe to use with condoms, and many of the products and all of the ingredients are FDA approved. The main difference between water-based and silicone-based lubricants are:

Water-based lubricants:

  • Flush out of the body, and off the body easier than silicone
  • Are more widely available
  • Are available in flavored and warming variations
  • Are less expensive

Silicone-based lubricants:

  • Contain no water, so they never dry up or evaporate
  • Require soap and water to come off the skin
  • Do not absorb in the skin
  • Are more expensive, but less is required

Functions of Personal Lubricants

Personal lubricants are great to use for all kinds of sex play, including:

  • Vaginal penetration
  • Anal penetration
  • Sex toys
  • Masturbation or partner sex

In general, thicker lubricants are better for anal play and with sex toys as they stay on toys better, and may provide extra comfort for anal penetration. For vaginal penetration, consistency is a personal preference. Men who are looking for a lubricant for masturbation may want an oil-based product since it stays slick longer (but is not good for use with condoms or vaginal penetration). Some people mix a long-lasting silicone lubricant with some water-based lubricant to give it a thicker consistency.

Health and Safety Concerns with Personal Lubricants

Unfortunately, there is practically no official research on personal lubricants and allergic reactions or health risks. But there is information about the ingredients in personal lubricants, and over the years, some of the better sex stores have identified anecdotal concerns about using some lubricants. The concerns tend to fall into four areas:

Personal lubricants and yeast infections. While there is no conclusive research that demonstrates that lubricants can cause yeast infections, most water-based lubricants contain glycerin, and people who are prone to yeast infections are probably wise to avoid these products. If you’re prone to yeast infections, consider choosing a glycerin-free lubricant.

Personal lubricants and allergic reactions. Individuals could react to any of the ingredients in a lubricant. Always read the ingredient list before using a lubricant (and if you’re shopping online only buy from a site that lists the ingredients). One common ingredient in lube that can cause an allergic reaction is the paraben preservative.

Personal lubricants and long-term health concerns. Two small studies in the past five years have raised concerns over the potential long-term impact of parabens, which are commonly used in many water-based lubricants. There is not enough research to prove anything, but if you are concerned about reactions and long term health effects you may want to consider a paraben-free lubricant.

Personal lubricants while trying to conceive. It isn’t often talked about, and there are many physicians who aren’t even aware of it, but most commercial personal lubricants harm sperm and can get in the way of trying to have a baby. This doesn’t mean that lubricant can be used as a form of birth control, but it does mean that if you’re trying to conceive, you should make sure you’re using a lubricant that won’t get in the way.

Flavored and Warming Personal Lubricants

Flavoring and warming effects don’t improve the function of a lubricant, and some people report that the lubricants with flavor dry up faster than others. If you are concerned about allergic reactions, you should avoid both flavored and warming lubricants. On the other hand, they can be a fun way to add something different to sex play, and a growing number of lubricant companies are adding flavored and warming products (one company also offers a lubricant that has a cooling effect).

Lubricants, produced by the body

During sexual stimulation, secretions are released from the vaginal glands. They moisten the entrance to the vagina. There are no glands inside it, which is why moisturizing depends on the introduced “lubrication”. The fluid is “released” from the network of veins surrounding the vagina.

Natural Vaginal Moisture

If the vaginal area is well supplied with blood, enough fluid is produced. The natural aging process causes the blood supply to decrease and the vaginal walls become thinner. In general, the tissue becomes less “juicy”, which in turn affects the self-cleaning mechanisms of the vagina and interferes with one’s sex life. The time for sufficient lubrication becomes longer, and the amount of released moisture becomes less.

In addition, the vaginal surface becomes more sensitive to mechanical stimuli, and bacteria can easily find their way to a suitable fertile environment.

However, the regular application of personal lubricants can help you avoid the negative effects of vaginal dryness. Also, you can help your vagina by masturbating on a regular basis. The wide variety of sex toys on the market offers unlimited options for clitoral and vaginal stimulation.

For clitoral stimulation, you can use a good pocket vibrator that you should apply to your clit or if you prefer hands-free masturbation, you can choose a wearable panty vibrator – both options are super discreet, yet efficient.

For vaginal stimulation, you can use a regular internal vibrator or a dildo. There’s also the option to wear your internal vibrator while in public – this will guarantee you sufficient lubrication all day/night long. Lush 2 and Esca 2 are good examples of such vibrators.

You can even find sex toys for both internal (vaginal) and external (clitoral) stimulation in the form of bunny vibrators – just check our article Best rabbit vibrators and find out more!


Amie Dawson, Ph.D.

Amie Dawson, Ph.D.

Amie is your go-to gal for all things related to sex and sexual well-being.

A certified sex educator and award-winning sex toy reviewer, Amie has spent her career empowering individuals and couples to embrace their sexuality.

With a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality and an ever-growing collection of over 200 vibrators, she's got the knowledge and experience to guide you on your pleasure-seeking journey.

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