Lubricants: why is this needed and how to choose the right one?

In these times of abundant sexually transmitted infections, all of us need to step up our safer sex practices. Adding the use of lubricant to your safer-sex arsenal is another step you can take to help reduce the spread of disease. Check out the tips below to learn how lubricant can help improve the effectiveness of condoms and other barriers in preventing STIs.

Lubricant reduces irritation

The top layer of skin of the penis, vagina, and anus acts as a protector against many sexually acquired infections and diseases. Irritation and microscopic tears in the skin of these areas can be a route into the body for certain STIs, such as HIV. Using lubricants in these areas makes them slippery helping reduce irritation and tearing that can occur during sex. When you reduce irritation and tearing you are helping prevent potential routes into the body for many STIs.

Lubricant increases his sensation

“I add a drop or two of lube – just a little bit – to the inside of his condom and that really makes a big difference for him.”

Have you ever heard that having sex with a condom is like taking a shower while wearing a raincoat? Some men have an aversion to condoms because they miss the sensation of wetness while wearing one. Lubricants can go a long way in solving this dilemma. Before putting on your condom, add a few drops of latex friendly lubricant to the reservoir tip on the inside of the condom, then role the condom onto the penis as usual. The amount of lubricant men prefer varies, so experiment with more or less lubricant until you find what feels best to you.

Lubricant saves condoms

Using lubricant also helps keep condoms from breaking. Dry sex increases the friction and strain on condoms thus increasing the likelihood of condom breakage. Using a latex friendly lubricant on the inside and the outside helps keep condoms intact. An intact condom goes a long way in preventing numerous STIs.

Lubricant keeps dental dams in place

A dental dam is a small square of latex that helps prevent the transmission of STIs when performing cunnilingus or anilingus. Plastic wrap (non-microwavable is best) can be used for the same purposes; plus it’s cheaper, and covers a larger area. The tricky thing about using dental dams and plastic wrap is that they might not stay in place, they might bunch up, or they might accidentally flip overexposing the oral sex performer to the very STI s/he is trying to avoid. Lubricants can go a long way in solving this harrowing problem. Simply coat the entire pubic and vulva area or the anal area with lubricant and place the plastic wrap (or dental dam) on top. The lubricant will cause the plastic wrap to stick to the area thus helping keep it in place.

Choosing the right lubricant

There’s a menagerie of sexual lubricants out there, so how do I choose the right one? It can be confusing, but if you let your intuition guide you, a little information can go a long way. Here are some pointers.

Water-based lubricants

This is an excellent “catch-all” choice. They don’t harbor bacteria and don’t tend to irritate the body. They also don’t break down latex or silicone sex toys. It’s also safe to use with latex condoms, and diaphragms. Rejuvenate water-based lube by adding a few drops of water or saliva if it gets dry or tacky when in use.

Silicone lubricants

This variety of lubricants is great to use for sex in the water because water washes away natural lubrication made by the body. Silicone lubricants are a great choice to use with latex products. Glycerin-free lubricants don’t break down latex and are safe to use with condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps.

Oil-based lubricant

These lubricants you’ll find in the kitchen or medicine cabinet, such as vegetable oil or Vaseline. Many commercially made lubricants also contain oil, such as most massage oils. Oil products coat the walls of the vagina interrupting the vagina’s natural self-cleaning cycles. Oil can also hold bacteria in the vagina or anus causing an overgrowth and potential infection. If you are a person that suffers from vaginal or anal bacterial infections or don’t want to risk it, oil-based lubricants are not recommended. It’s also could cause a chemical reaction with condoms and latex sex toys causing them to break down and fall apart.

Flavored lubricants

Flavored lubricants can be lots of fun adding pleasure and novelty to oral sex. Flavored lubricants are a great idea if enjoy oral sex, but you haven’t yet developed a taste for your freshly showered lover’s genitals.

A word of caution: any product that contains sugar should not be used on or in the vagina. Sugar disrupts the natural and healthy bacterial balance in the vagina and can easily cause yeast infections in women. A sugar-free flavored lube is just as fun without this potential side effect. Check the bottle to make sure that your flavored lubricant is latex friendly.

Have some fun

Let’s have some fun when choosing a lubricant. Many stores display samples of their sexual lubricant options and have knowledgeable staff. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, try some on your skin, and even give them a taste. You’ll learn a lot and be happier with what you take home.


This article is written by licensed urologist Dr. Lorie G Fleck who is a highly qualified specialist. If you have any questions you can ask us through the feedback form and Dr. Lorie G Fleck will answer you within a working day. We care about every patient.

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