A Beginner’s Guide to Loving Lubricant
SEPTEMBER 11, 2016 6:00 PM
I love you and your show, and I’ve had a great time testing out your tips for spicing things up with my boyfriend. Per your recommendation, we have recently been trying to work lube into our sexual routine, but stopped because I was really not enjoying it. It made a huge mess and got everywhere during foreplay, and I was very aware of it WHILE we were having sex. I also didn’t like the way it felt afterward—especially if we had sex during the day (because I would have to go somewhere after, and I would have lube all around my vagina).
I know you’re a huge fan of lube, and I want to love it. But I feel like there’s something I must be missing, because so far, I’m not getting the appeal. Were we just using too much? Is there another lube you can suggest that might be better?
Thank you! Sheridan, age 22
I get it. I’ve been there. You get all excited to try something new, and the results are less than thrilling, so you start to question whether it’s really for you. Everyone else loves it, shouldn’t you? But before you lose the lube love completely, let’s try to troubleshoot so you can get the most out of what I think is an essential element to great sex.
The first thing we should probably look at is the type of lubricant you were using. There are a lot of options out there with different ingredients and textures, as well as varying qualities and price points. And yes: There are bad lubricants out there. Before you pick a lube out of the bargain bin at a drug store, it’s important to know what you’re taking home and slathering on your lady parts. The wrong lube can come with a host of problems that can really spoil an otherwise hot hookup.
So what separates the good stuff from the bad (besides the price tag?) To start, a low-quality lube is often sticky and leaves a residue behind. They can have perfumes or dyes that cause infections, mess up your vaginal pH balance and, as you noticed, may feel unnatural during sex.
On the other hand, a good lube is made to match and compliment your natural lubrication, rather than overpower or replace it. It should feel slippery or silky, depending on the type, but NEVER tacky. And the true test of a great lubricant is that you really can’t tell it’s there at all—it enhances, but never distracts from, the sex at hand.
So let’s talk the best lube for you. If you’re new to lubricants, definitely start with a water-based formula. You will find that this type is lightweight, doesn’t get sticky, washes away easily and most closely matches your natural lubrication. Water-based lubricant may not last as long as other formulas, but it won’t stain your sheets or leave a big ol’ mess.
If slippery is more your speed, you might want to try out a silicone lube. Silicone-based formulas are thicker, last longer, and are great for water play—but be aware that these are not as safe to use with other products. While they do work with (most) latex condoms, be careful when using them with your favorite silicone sex toys (the silicone breaks down the toy’s materials and can cause serious damage).
Lately, social media has been touting the benefits of natural lubricants like coconut oil. This trend may seem like a “healthy” alternative to silicone products because they’re organic and made from natural ingredients, but oil-based lubricants don’t work for everyone. The natural sugars can disrupt your vaginal pH-balance, sometimes leading to irritation, and they are definitely not latex- or sex toy-safe.
My favorite option for a water-based lubricant is JO Naturalove Organic lubricant. It has a smooth, long-lasting glide that isn’t overpowering or distracting during sex. It’s safe to use with toys and condoms and, as a bonus, contains chamomile, which actually soothes the vagina instead of causing irritation.
The second issue that likely contributed to your negative experience is using too much—hence your hyperawareness of it during sex. You want to start with a dime-size amount of lube, then add more as needed.
A quick note with regards to postplay cleanup: Even if it’s unpleasant or inconvenient, it’s important to clean the vagina after sex—no matter what. The microbiota of the vagina is very delicate and any lingering fluids can disrupt it, causing itchiness, discomfort, and infections.
The bottom line: don’t give up! The only real way to figure out what type of lube and how much to use is experimentation. You’ll know you have found the right one because it makes everything better. (I promise!)
You won’t become an expert on your first dip into the lube pool, so keep experimenting!
Emily Morse is a Doctor of Human Sexuality and host of the iTunes Top-Rated podcast Sex with Emily. As an expert, author, and star of television and radio programs, she has inspired millions of listeners and followers to make sex a priority, enhance communication, and strengthen their relationships. To learn more or to subscribe to her podcast, visit sexwithemily.com.