So long, painful sex!
Do you want sex to be more fun? What about pain-free? Whichever boat you’re in, using a personal lubricant might be your ticket to a more comfortable (or friskier) night under the sheets.
But don’t go using any lube — research suggests that over-the-counter options (flashy ones filled with parabens and sulfates) can have a negative impact on your ability to get pregnant. Luckily, there are tons of natural and safe options on the market. Some formulas even have FDA-approval and National Institute of Health data behind them to suggest they can prevent certain conditions, like recurring bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Even gynecologists, like Dr. Sonia Bahlani (a.k.a. New York City’s “pelvic pain doc”), are fans of using lubes in bed — at all ages. “Lubricant is not something that needs to be used only as you age — that’s one of the biggest misconceptions out there. It’s like, if you’re old, you need a lubricant. If you’re young, you don’t need a lubricant,” says Dr. Bahlani. She pushes back against that. “When 20-year-olds walk into my office, we talk about lubricants. Pain or no pain.”
So, now that we’ve established lubes are an amazing tool to keep in your sex kit, we’re breaking down everything there is to know about the slippery goop with expert advice below. Plus, we’re sharing some OB-GYN-approved lubes and other amazing products that can help moisturize your area down below for better sex.
So, why should you use lube during sex?
Let us count the reasons! First, they make sex more enjoyable! When you use a lube, it’s easier to try new positions and experience deeper penetration without feeling sore. They’re also great to use with different sex toys so they’ll slide in easier and they help de-stigmatize the idea that sex has to be painful. “You definitely don’t have to have pain with initial penetration, and something like a lubricant can help to prevent that,” says Dr. Bahlani.
Another benefit? They’re particularly useful during postpartum sex. After giving birth, the vagina’s microbiome changes — it can feel dry or sore — which makes sex painful. Lubricants help ease that pain, explains Dr. Bahlani. And if you’re prone to a burning sensation or discomfort after sex, using a lube can actually help normalize the pH of the vagina during intercourse to prevent that, she explains. That’s because materials like latex and semen can throw off your bodies’ natural pH level during sex.
What are lubes made with?
It depends. There are three common types of lubes — water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based — and they’re all composed differently (and have different benefits):
- Water-based lubricants are truly made with a water base, but they tend to dry up faster because they’re made with H2O. “Some will dry up in a matter of minutes,” says Dr. Bahlani.
- Silicone-based lubricants are…you guessed it…made with a silicone base. “Back in the day, people used to say, ‘You can’t use silicone-based lubricants with sex toys, because sex toys are also silicone, so they’ll ruin the sex toy.’ Now with the new lubricants that’ve come out, that’s not necessarily true,” says Dr. Bahlani.
- Oil-based lubricants (made up with oils like coconut and grapeseed) can help moisturize the vagina, but be careful using them as a lube. “We don’t really recommend these much, because using them during sex can actually decrease the integrity of condoms,” explains Dr. Bahalani.
Which type of lube will last the longest?
Silicone-based lubricants are really slippery, and they’re really fun for people who want to experiment with sex toys or who are interested in anal sex, explains Dr. Bahalani. They’ll remain slippery over the entirety of intercourse.
Are water-based lubricants the most natural?
Not technically. While it sounds like there’s no harm in using a product made up of water, it really depends on the exact brand you’re using. Just like anything, some companies sneak harmful chemicals, like parabens and sulfates, into the formula. “In my opinion, you don’t want to purchase whatever lube over-the-counter because that water-based lubricant can contain ingredients like parabens and sulfates, which we’re now learning can make it difficult to conceive in patients who are trying to have a baby,” says Dr. Bahlani.
Does lubricant help combat vaginal dryness associated with menopause and perimenopause?
The short answer is: yes, 100 percent. “I’m a big believer that all age groups should use it, but especially menopausal women. In every other circumstance of aging (dry eyes or dry skin, for example) we treat that problem. But when women become menopausal vaginally, we’re like, ‘Oh that’s normal,'” says Dr. Bahlani.
During this life stage, there’s a loss of estrogen and testosterone which alters the pH level of the vagina — and that can cause you to get UTIs and BV. The tissue also dries out, which can cause burning and discomfort with penetrative intercourse, explains Dr. Bahlani. “Lubricants help to ease that discomfort. For some, they can even use lube as a vaginal moisturizer.”
The Best Lubricants for Women
Dame Aloe Lube
Dame makes some of our favorite sleek, user-friendly sex toys, so it only makes sense that the lube would be the same. Because it’s made from aloe, it’s safe for skin, toys, and condoms, removing any confusion about what lubricant can be used with what toys or condoms during sex. The bottle even comes with a non-slip silicone sleeve, that way you don’t drop it if you need to reach for it while your hands are wet.
Unbound Babes Jelly
Lube isn’t exclusively for use with penetration, which is why it’s important to make sure that the formula you choose is safe for ingestion should you be using it for oral sex. This water-based formula can be used safely with or without toys, and a slight vanilla and lemon flavor makes it enjoyable for those performing oral sex, too.
Good Clean Love Water-Based Lube with Aloe Vera
“For water-based lubricants, Good Clean Love is by far my favorite. This has National Institute of Health (NIH) data behind it to prevent recurrent bacterial vaginosis and recurrent yeast in patients that seem to be more prone,” says Dr. Bahlani.
Überlube Luxury Lubricant
“Überlube is a great lubricant that’s super slippery,” says Dr. Bahlani. They also make nifty travel-sized bottles for times when you’re on the go.
Sliquid Silver Silicone Lubricant
“This is one of my favorite silicone-based lubes. They also make water-based lubes. Both are really good!” says Dr. Bahlani.
Maude Shine Silicone Lube
Maude is a KCM favorite and the brand makes an incredible silicone-based lube free from parabens. This one also scored an FDA-approved formula, so you know it’s safe to use.
Kindra Daily Vaginal Moisturizer and Applicator
If you don’t already know, we’re obsessed with Kindra. The female-founded brand makes amazing estrogen-free peri/menopause products with women’s needs in mind. And while their best-selling vaginal lotion isn’t necessarily a lube, it does bring moisture to the area. In fact, over 88 percent of women who used it reported an improvement in vaginal dryness.
Chiavaye Organic Personal Moisturizer And Lubricant
Chiavaye’s organic lubricant only uses six natural ingredients. It can be used during sex, but you can also apply it to help boost your vagina’s natural lubrication.
Foria Awaken + Lube Bundle
Foria makes sexual wellness products infused with USDA organic-certified CBD. Used topically, CBD can actually increase blood flow, which helps heighten sexual arousal. This two-in-one bundle includes Awaken, a topical that increases sensation and arousal. Apply it, then wait fifteen minutes to start feeling the effects. Plus, you’ll also get a jar of their Intimacy Sex Oil, a CBD-infused (and oil-based) lube.
Products you buy through our links might earn us a commission.