I am not sure where this myth came from, but it is one that we need to constantly address in the field of sexuality. Using lubrication is not a bad thing. It does not mean something is wrong with you if your vagina is not always as naturally lubricated as you would like it to be. Every woman’s body is different, and the amount of vaginal lubrication and discharge that we have really varies. Additionally, it fluctuates during your menstrual cycle. There is really no reason not to use lube. However, it is important to have a few basic facts about the different kinds of lubrication out there, and to find one that doses not irritate you and works well with whatever activity you choose. Vaginas can be sensitive and every lube does not work for every vagina. Many women try a basic lubricant like K-Y jelly and experience burning and then never use lube again. Please do try again! Below is a break-down of lubricants and their pro’s and con’s provided to us from the wonderful book: Our Bodies Ourselves and their web-based resources on women’s health.
– Water-Based Lubricants with Glycerin
The most commonly sold lubricants are water-based with synthetic glycerin, which produces a slightly sweet taste. Most flavored lubricants and warming lubricants contain glycerin. When water-based lubes start to dry, it is best to add water or saliva rather than just adding more lube, as the water makes it slippery again.
Examples: Astroglide, K‑Y Liquid/Jelly, Embrace, FriXion, Wet, Good Head, Revelation, Wet Flavored, ID, Replens, and Liquibeads (suppositories for dry vaginal walls).
Pros: Easy to find, low-cost, safe to use with latex condoms, do not stain fabric.
Cons: Dry out quickly, often sticky or tacky, synthetic glycerin can trigger yeast infections in women who are prone to them, products containing parabens or propylene glycol can irritate sensitive skin.
– Water-Based Lubricants, No Glycerin
If you have recurrent yeast infections, these are the lubricants to use. They can contain vegetable-derived glycerin, which does not trigger yeast infections like the lubes listed above.
Examples: Maximus, Ultra Glide, Liquid Silk, Slippery Stuff, O’My, Sensua Organics, Probe, Carrageenan, Glycerin, and paraben-free Astroglide.
Pros: Last longer than lubricants with glycerin, can reduce irritation to the genitals, safe with latex condoms, do not stain fabric, usually thicker and provide a cushion, some are more recommended for anal play (Maximus).
Cons: Can have a bitter taste due to the absence of glycerin, usually found only online or at adult stores, those that contain parabens or propylene glycol can irritate the skin.
These last the longest of all and are especially recommended for women with chronic vaginal dryness or genital pain. Silicone lubricant is different from the silicone used in breast implants and is not considered dangerous; it cannot penetrate through the skin’s pores. Most silicone lubricants are hypoallergenic.
Examples: Eros, Wet Platinum, ID Millennium, Pink, Gun Oil, Slippery Stuff.
Pros: Safe with latex condoms, stay on underwater, odorless and tasteless, last three times as long as water-based lubricants.
Cons: Expensive, cannot be used with silicone or CyberSkin sex toys, difficult to find (online or adult stores only), must be washed off with soap and water if too much is used.
The following oil-based lubricants can destroy latex condoms. They are safe to use with condoms made from nitrile, polyisoprene or polyurethane.
– Natural Oil-Based Lubricants
These lubricants often can be found in your kitchen. The general rule is that if it’s safe for you to eat, it’s safe to put on your vulva and inside your vagina. The body can clear out natural oils more easily than petroleum-based lubricants. Certain oils, such as grapeseed and apricot, tend to be thin and therefore better for vaginal intercourse than some of the others.
Examples: Vegetable, corn, avocado, peanut, and olive oils; butter; Crisco.
Pros: Great for genital massages, safe for the vagina, safe to eat, good for all forms of sexual play, low-cost, easily accessible.
Cons: Destroy latex condoms, stain fabric.
– Synthetic Oil-Based Lubricants
These take longer to clear out of your body than natural oils.
Examples: Mineral oil, Vaseline, body lotions, creams such as Stroke 29 or Jack Jelly.
Pros: Great for external masturbation, low-cost, easily accessible.
Cons: Irritate vulva, destroy latex condoms, stain fabric.