Lubricants: A Refresher

Okay. We’ve talked about sexual lubricants before. Many times. And for good reason. Vaginal dryness and the associated pain with sex, penetration, and sometimes daily life is possibly the #1 issue I deal with in my practice.

Insufficient lubrication during sex isn’t just a problem of menopause—many women experience it at various times of life—during pregnancy, with insufficient foreplay, or while on certain medications, for example. Or just because.

Fortunately, the sexual lubricants are an easy, safe way to make sex more comfortable and fun.

Vaginal lubricantsOne critical distinction: Lubricants are for use during sex to increase comfort and reduce friction. They coat whatever surface they’re applied to (including the penis and sex toys) but they aren’t absorbed by the skin, thus, they have to be (or naturally are) washed off. Moisturizers, on the other hand, are specially formulated to soften and moisten vaginal tissue. Like any lotion, they should be used regularly and are absorbed into vaginal and vulvar tissue. Moisturizers are for maintenance; lubricants are for sexual comfort.

Basically, there are three types of sexual lubricants: water-based, silicone, and a newer hybrid formulation. Each has unique characteristics and limitations. Water-based lubes are thick, feel natural, don’t stain, and don’t damage silicone toys. They rinse off easily with water. However, they tend to dry out more quickly (although they can be re-activated with water), and don’t provide long-lasting lubrication. Water-based lubricants may contain glycerin, which tastes sweet, but can exacerbate yeast infections.

Some lubes contain “warming” ingredients, such as capsaicin, the ingredient that gives chili peppers their heat, or minty, or menthol-y oils. They’re intended to enhance sensation, increase blood flow to the genitals, and create a “tingly-warm” feeling. As such, they’re good for foreplay and use on vulva, clitoris, penis, nipples, external vaginal tissue, but not internally if they contain essential oil.

Use warming oils and lubricants with caution, however, since delicate or dry vulvar-vaginal tissue may respond with a fiery-hot rather than pleasantly warm sensation.  

Silicone lubes are the powerhouse of personal lubricants. They tend to feel slick and last three times as long as the water-based option. They’re hypoallergenic, odorless, and tasteless. They may stain and they will destroy silicone surfaces on other equipment, so you can’t use silicone lubes anywhere near your expensive silicone vibrator. They wash away with soap and water.

At this life stage, you can put away your coupons and dispense with frugality. Your vagina deserves the best! Not only have those tissues become more delicate, your vagina also has a finely balanced pH level that (usually) protects against yeast and bacterial infections. Cheap or homemade lubricants can seriously mess with tender tissue and that natural acidity.

Use only products recommended for vaginal lubrication—not baby oil, vegetable or essential oils, petroleum jelly, or saliva. (Note: Oil destroys the latex in condoms and leaves behind a film that is a bacteria magnet.) Look for organic, natural, and high-quality ingredients (we look for these for our shop).

Each individual (and couple) ends up with one or more faves when it comes to lubricants. So make this a fun exploration for the products that work best, both for solo and couple play. If you don’t like one lube, a different type or brand might be just the ticket; don’t give up on lubes altogether.

Because the options for various lubricants are legion, we’ve tried to narrow the field in search of only the most effective and safest products for our shop. We examine the ingredients and opt for the most natural and organic brands possible. We also look at the philosophy of the company that makes them. We’ve been known to do quite a bit of research “in the field,” as well.

In the spirit of experimentation, we’ve put together a selection of seven sachets of water, hybrid, and silicone-based lubes in a handy sample kit. You can give them a whirl without the investment in a full bottle of lube that ends up in your sock drawer.

New lubricant options appear with some regularity, and we evaluate and add them periodically. If you’ve found something you love, let us know; other women may be happy to learn about the option!

February 15, 2016

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comfort ›   intimacy ›   lubricants ›   pain-free ›  


Six Tips for Using Your Lube

When it comes to sex, friction is bad; lubrication is good. Nicely lubricated surfaces not only protect delicate vaginal tissue, but revitalize the sexual experience.

That’s why we talk a lot about personal lubricants here at MiddlesexMD. Sexual lubricant is part of a regimen of vaginal health that is meant to keep vaginal tissues moist and sex pleasurable. This goes for all ages, not just menopausal women.

So, in the interest of great sex (we’re always looking out for you, sister!), here are six tips to help you choose and use your lube:

1. Use one! This is general good advice for young and old(er). It will revitalize your sex life and help to keep it pain-free.

2. Experiment. What do you like? Thick or slick? Warm or cool? Tasty or—not? Lube choice is as personal as eye color. And there is no shortage to choose from. Sexual lubricants are sold online and over-the-counter in every conceivable permutation of flavor, color, and promise of ecstasy. As we said in this post, it’s hard to even determine a trend among our clients.

Here are the main categories:

Water-based lubes are thick and easy to wash off, but they don’t last as long as silicone-based or hybrid lubes. They are safe for use with silicone vibrators and sex toys.

Silicone-based lubricants are slippery and long-lasting. They don’t dissolve in water, so they’re good for sex play in the hot tub or shower. They do coat the vagina, however, so you may need a good, soapy clean-up. Silicone lubes may also stain clothes and bed linens. And you can’t use a silicone lube with a silicone-surfaced toy or vibrator. This includes the E-string vaginal ring, which delivers hormones to the vagina and is partly made of silicone.

Hybrid lubricants are the newest kid on the lubrication scene. They’re mostly water with a bit of silicone, so the texture is both thick and slick. Hybrids last longer than water-based lubes, tend not to stain, and wash off more easily. You can use them with silicone toys.

A good place to start? Our Personal Lubricant Selection Kit. We’ll send you sachets of 7 different lubricants: water-based, silicone, and hybrid, along with a card to choose your favorite. Return the card, and you get a full-size bottle of that lubricant. So much better than having a collection of leftovers of lubes you don’t like!

3. Vet your lube. Your hardworking vagina deserves nothing but the best. Not only that, vaginal tissue is very absorbent, so those substances end up directly in your bloodstream.

Check the ingredients in any lube you’re about to buy. Avoid products with parabens and any compound ending with –paraben (this is a preservative that acts like estrogen in your system) and polypropylene glycol (a thickener with some unpleasant side-effects). If you’re among the women prone to yeast infections, you may want to avoid glycerin. Check out fragrances; when they’re safe and natural, they can enhance your experience, but they’re not necessary, so not worth a chemical risk.

Bottom line: Your lube should be as natural as possible. In our shop, these water-based lubricants are good options, especially for people with allergies or skin irritations: Good Clean Love Almost Naked or Restore, Sliquid Organics Natural Gel, Yes, and Aloe Cadabra.

4. Keep it healthy. Vaginal tissue becomes more delicate as we age. Plus, it has a specific Ph balance to inhibit yeast and other infections. You can disrupt that balance or introduce harmful bacteria by using saliva, oil, petroleum jelly, body massage oils, or anything not specifically formulated for the vagina.

5. Keep it handy. What good is a lube if it’s stored in the bathroom down the hall? Keep your lube (better yet—a couple varieties, depending on the vibe that night) beside the bed. Carry sachets in your purse because—you never know.

6. Make it sexy. Lubes are all about fun and comfort, so don’t be stingy. Use it on his penis for some slick hand work or in the condom or on the condom, if you use them. (And you do use them under these circumstances, right?) Put some on your nipples or lube your breasts and slide them over his body. Aren’t the options enticing? You’ve got your lube, now get creative.