When it comes to sex, wetter is better. Sexual lubricants are becoming increasingly common, with drugstores and specialty stores carrying a wide variety of options. Sometimes the choice can be a little overwhelming: silicone or water-based? Flavored or tingling? This guide will help you figure out how to choose the best lube for better sex.

Why use lube?

Lube can be used to enhance almost any sexual activity, from penetration to masturbation. Lube is crucial for making anal sex comfortable and pleasurable as the anus isn’t self-lubricating. Although the vagina produces its own lubrication, different people have varying levels of natural wetness. This can decrease for a variety of reasons, including hormonal changes, medications, and stress. Lube can be particularly helpful for  women over 50, as aging causes a natural decrease in lubrication among post-menopausal women. For women who experience sexual pain, lube can help decrease irritation or discomfort with penetration or manual stimulation. Flavored lubes can make oral sex more palatable, particularly when used over a condom or dental dam to mask the taste of latex. Lube helps transmit sensation through latex when used under a dental dam or with a condom. A drop of lube inside the tip of a condom provides a more natural feeling during sex, while lubricating the outside of the condom reduces the friction that can lead to condoms breaking. Finally, using lube gives a new, enhanced sensation to your favorite sexual activities!

Choose body-safe:

When it comes to choosing the right lube, the most important part is choosing one with body-safe, non-irritating ingredients. Many widely available lubes contain two major causes of irritation: glycerin and parabens. Glycerin (which is a sugar) can cause bacteria and yeast in the vagina to flourish, leading to yeast infections and urinary tract infections. Parabens are preservatives that can cause painful allergic reactions on sensitive tissues. Although parabens are generally considered safe, there are concerns that they may be linked to endocrine cancers like testicular, breast, and ovarian cancer. Luckily, there are numerous glycerin- and paraben-free lubricants on the market, available at many drugstores and high-quality sex shops.

Water-based lube:

The simplest, most widely-used type of lubricant is water-based lube. The majority of lubricants available at drugstores are water-based. Water-based lube comes in liquid and gel formulas, both of which are safe for use with latex and non-latex condoms, dental dams, and gloves. Water-based lube is safe to use with all types of sex toys, making it a good choice for solo play. Although water-based lubricants tend to dry out and become tacky, they can easily be rehydrated with water, saliva, or more lube. When the fun is over, water-based lube easily washes off of sheets, toys, and bodies.

Silicone lube:

If you’re looking for something slicker than water-based lube, silicone lube is a great choice. Typically made up of liquid silicone and vitamin E oil, silicone lubes are extremely slippery and don’t dry out quickly. Naturally free of glycerin and parabens, silicone lubricants are good for sensitive skin, and rarely cause irritation. Silicone lube is latex safe and compatible with all sex toys except those made of silicone (silicone lube degrades silicone toys, eventually ruining them). Although silicone lube is more expensive than water-based lube, it is slippery and long-lasting, so you only need a small amount at a time. Because it doesn’t absorb quickly, it’s great for anal play and body massages. Silicone lube is more difficult to wash off than water-based lube, and some people find the slightly oily texture unpleasant. However, this makes it a great choice for sex in the shower or bath!

Hybrid lube:

For those who want the slickness of silicone lube but the natural feeling of water-based lube, hybrid lubricants provide a third option. Hybrid lubes are primarily water-based, but contain a small amount of silicone, making them slipperier and longer-lasting. Unlike silicone lube, hybrid lubes don’t feel greasy or oily, and wash off easily. Hybrid lubes are safe for latex and non-latex barriers and all sex toys, including those made of silicone. Some hybrid lubes contain parabens, which may cause irritation, but most types of hybrid lube are good for sensitive skin.

Flavored or Stimulating Lube:

If you’re interested in adding a little something extra, flavored and stimulating lubes are a fun choice. These products are usually water-based, but contain natural or artificial additives to enhance taste and sensation. Flavored lubes are often used during oral sex to mask the taste of latex condoms or dental dams. They are also a great option for switching between penetration and oral sex, as many non-flavored lubricants can leave behind a bad taste. Flavored lubes are more likely to contain sugars such as glycerin; look for one with artificial sweeteners, which provide sweet taste without the increased risk of infection. Stimulating lubes often contain menthol or cinnamon oil to cause tingling sensations. These can be irritating to delicate tissues, so it is a good idea to test all stimulating lubes on less sensitive skin (such as the inside of the wrist) prior to using in order to avoid allergic reactions.

Oil-based Lube:

Finally, there are a small number of oil-based lubes available on the market, and some people prefer to use natural oils (such as coconut or almond oil) during sex. Although oil-based lube can be wonderfully slick, it is not latex safe, and should never be used with latex condoms, dental dams, or gloves. Some non-latex condoms may be safe with oil-based lube, depending on the type of material used. Natural oil-based lubes are great for masturbation or use during sex without barriers. Many commercial oil-based lubricants contain irritants that can affect vaginal tissue, but are safe for male masturbation.

No matter which kind you choose, adding lube is a great way to make sex comfortable and enhance sexual pleasure. If your first choice doesn’t meet your needs, keep trying- lube isn’t one-size-fits-all. With the wide variety of lubes available, you’re sure to find something that makes you feel good! Want more information on how to have better sex? Contact Sex Therapy in Philadelphia today at 267-324-9564.