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Sexual intercourse has many benefits but even so, it should always be enjoyable. And one of the most important aspects of enjoying sex is adequate lubrication. People often think this may not need any thought or effort. Of course, given enough foreplay and if the woman feels aroused, her body would naturally provide all the lubrication needed. But this may not always be the case - sometimes natural vaginal lubrication can take time, and even then it may not be enough. This can be a result of hormonal imbalance, ageing or even certain medications. 

Having sex without lubrication can result in vaginal tears or cuts from friction. These can hamper sex of course, but they can also cause vaginal pain and make you more susceptible to contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection.

But don’t worry, all hope isn’t lost. Thankfully, there is a variety of lubricants available in the market that can help. 

  1. Benefits of lubricants
  2. Side effects of lubricants
  3. Types of lubricants
  4. What not to use as a lubricant

Whether you feel the need for one or not, lubricants can only make sex better for everyone. There is no harm if you use a lube that suits you and your needs.

Here are some reasons you should definitely consider using a lube:

  • Vaginal dryness: Vaginal dryness is a condition in which the vagina isn’t able to self-lubricate as much as needed. This mostly occurs due to low levels of estrogen in the body, which can happen during and after menopause, while breastfeeding, and post-surgical removal of the ovaries or chemotherapy. Other causes of vaginal dryness can be the use of birth control or contraceptive pills, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, etc. Use of lubricants can make up for the lack of natural lubrication in this case and reduce pain during sex
  • Anal sex or other sexual activities: The vagina self-lubricates. But vaginal sex is just one of the types of sexual activity on the table. When engaging in anal sex, masturbation, oral sex or handjobs, lubricants can come in handy to reduce discomfort and make it more enjoyable. 
  • Spice up your sex life: It’s extremely natural and common for couples to experience a slump in their sex life. If you’ve been together for a while, you might have formed a routine that you may find boring sometimes. Trying something new can help shake you out of this rut and make things super exciting. And sure, it may not be as exciting as a sex toy or game, but lubricants can still make a huge difference in your experience. 
  • Overdrive: When you’re having a lot of sex, you may at one point feel like you’re not producing enough lubrication naturally even though you’re aroused. The brain and the body aren’t always on the same page so this can happen. Using a lubricant can sort this situation out quite easily.

Finding the right kind of lubricant is key to avoiding any side effects from them. 

  • Protection: Some lubricants are safe to use with condoms but others may not be as they can degrade the latex with friction. You may want to pick a lubricant based on your preferred method of protection. 
  • Pregnancy: On the other hand, some lubricants can interfere with fertility as they contain spermicide. If you’re trying to conceive, you should talk to your doctor and ask for a lubricant recommendation. 
  • Allergy: Most lubricants are absolutely safe to use. But to be on the safer side, you can always do a patch test close to your ankle to check if it causes an allergy or irritation. If it does, discontinue use. 

There are three types of lubricants available in the market. 

  • Water-based lubricants: Water-based lubricants are safe to use with latex condoms. But as they are water-based, they can evaporate quickly, leaving you in a situation where you need to reapply it a few times during sex. There are some that contain glycerine and some that don’t. If you’re prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), you may want to avoid the ones that contain glycerine.
  • Oil-based lubricants: Oil-based lubricants last longer than water-based lubricants so you may not need to apply them as often. They are not suitable to be used with latex condoms though as they can cause the condoms to tear. They can be used with condoms made out of other materials like polyurethane which one may use if they’re allergic to latex. 
  • Silicone-based lubricants: Silicone-based lubricants also last longer than water-based lubricants. These lubricants might be a little harder to clean off. These are safe to use with latex condoms but not with sex toys made of silicone as the combination could cause the toys to degrade. 

There is still some hesitancy in buying lubricants openly which is why many people try finding suitable alternatives. Except, these alternatives aren’t all that suitable. Here are some you should avoid using: 

  • Petroleum jelly: Petroleum jelly acts as a barrier on the skin and protects it from loss of moisture. This isn’t ideal for your genitals. 
  • Food: Some magazine may suggest spicing things up with chocolate sauce or some other food preparation. There are several reasons to sidestep this recommendation. Here's one: you don’t know all the ingredients in this chocolate sauce, so you can't know whether or not the sauce will cause skin irritation, infection, or worse, vaginitis. Here's another one, albeit less compelling: think of the mess it will make.
  • Spit: Some people may turn to spit as it’s easily available and just another bodily fluid, right? Well, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to be used as a lubricant. It can promote the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. So you should absolutely avoid this. 
  • Water: Yes, we understand that water is wet but it won’t work as a lubricant. If you’re having sex in the shower or the bathtub, the water might actually wash off the natural lubrication of the vagina also! Try using a silicone-based lubricant - it will take the longest to wash off with running water.
  • Oils: Oils available at home are pretty much the same as oil-based lubricants - they might cause wear and tear of latex condoms which will put you at the risk of unwanted pregnancy or contracting sexually transmitted diseases or infections. 
  • Lotions: Lotions are meant to provide moisture to the skin - by being absorbed by it. That in itself makes it the wrong choice for a lubricant. Some lotions may also contain chemicals that are not meant to be ingested or taken into the body in any way. 
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