Even if you don’t necessarily 'need' it, the right lubricant can make sex better. A recent study showed that women enjoy sex more with a lubricant. That’s not all, using a lubricant makes sex possible for women with vaginal dryness. And if you’re thinking about anal sex without lubricant, it can be slightly painful and cause skin tears, which can cause serious health risks. Lubricants help to keep STDs away by reducing friction and skin tears, lowering the risk of infection.
Lubes come in four basic types – water-based, oil-based, silicone-based and all-natural. Each has its merits and disadvantages. Most lubricants on the market are water-based. Water-based lubes are good if you have sensitive skin. They are easy to clean up, cheap and safe to use with protection. However, water-based lubes may have glycerine, which can cause yeast infections in some women. Water-based lubes are also quickly absorbed by the body, meaning you’ll need to reapply.
Oil-based lubes provide good lubrication, but can tear latex condoms and damage latex toys.
Silicone-based lubes are extremely slick, contain no water and stay wet for a long time (good for extended lovemaking), but can damage silicone sex toys.
All-natural lubes have fewer additives and generally use organic ingredients – ideal for people with allergies and sensitive skin. Some all-natural lubricants are aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, shea butter, olive or almond oil.
Some lubricants offer a little extra. Warming lubricants, for example, can increase sensation during sex with a warming sensation. It can be a bit much if you have sensitive skin, however.
Flavoured lubricants are great for oral intercourse – imagine getting your partner to go down on you while trying out a Kiwi Strawberry lubrication gel! Just be sure not to use flavoured lube for vaginal or anal sex unless it specifically reads ‘vagina-friendly.’ 'His and 'Hers' lubricants are another variation, but these labels are only for marketing purposes and are no different from other standard lubricants.
Water- and silicone-based lubricants are best if you’re using a condom, because oil-based lubes break down latex. If you’re having sex in the shower, or any other wet environment, silicone is the way to go. Oil-based lubes are good for men masturbating, but some health experts ask you to avoid oil lubrication during vaginal or anal sex, because they can cause certain infections.
Thicker, longer-lasting silicone-based lubricants are ideal for anal sex, although the same silicone lube applied to silicone sex toys can damage them. For silicone sex toys, water-based or all-natural lubricants are best, while for non-silicone sex toys, silicone is your best bet.
Lubricants are absorbed into the body during vaginal and anal intercourse, so you should read the label carefully and watch out for harmful ingredients before using it. Some of the notorious ones are Propylene glycol, Glycerin, and glucose, Phenoxyethanol, Parabens, Petroleum or petroleum-derived ingredients and Chlorhexidine.
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