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Questions and Answers

What’s Lube? Why do People Use Lube?

satisfied-looking lube cartoon with safer sex gloves

Personal lubricant (also called lube) can make sex more slippery, fun, and safe! People can use lube for many different kinds of sex, like vaginal, oral, anal, mutual masturbation, and masturbation. It comes in all sorts of flavours and varieties, so it can help to try out a few to find out which you like the best.

You can buy lube at most pharmacies, or find a bigger variety online or at sex shops. You can use lube that’s specifically for sex with condoms. Vaseline, baby oil. natural oils, and other things with oil in them can make it more likely that condoms will break or fall off.

Why do people use lube?

Lubricant can make many different kinds of sex feel even better! Slippery sex is often more pleasurable, and it’s also less risky. Lubrication lowers the risk of passing STIs by reducing the risk of “micro-tears.” These are tiny tears inside the vagina or anus that give an opening for STIs to get into the body.

Adding lube inside the tip of a condom before putting it on can help it feel great. Along with adding it to the outside, lube also lowers the risk that a condom will break. You can also use lube with dental dams. These are squares of latex you hold between the mouth and the anus or vagina for safer oral sex. Adding lube to the vagina or anus first can help the dam stick, and feel amazing!

Without enough lubrication, sex can be painful. Vaginas often make natural lubrication when someone’s turned on. But they don’t always get wet enough to make sex feel good. Lots of things can change how wet someone gets. Getting more turned on won’t always make someone more wet, but lube does! Lube can also help reduce pain and discomfort if you want to have sex for a long time.

People also use lube for times when there are less natural fluids involved, or none. Hand jobs, masturbating a penis, or anal sex are some of these. Some people also like using flavoured lube for oral sex. It can also help make a condom taste better.

What are the different kinds of lube?

Water-based lube has a lot of water in it. That means that it dries out after a while. It helps to add more or add water every so often. Water-based lube is easier to wash off. It won’t last if you’re having sex in the shower or bathtub.

Silicone-based lube lasts longer than water-based lube because your skin doesn’t absorb it. It’s great to use in the shower or bath. You do need to wash it off with soap and water, though. Silicone-based lube can’t be used with silicone sex toys, because it will damage them. If you want to use silicone-based lube with a toy, you can cover the toy with a condom first!

Oil-based lube can sometimes give a more natural feeling than silicone or water based lubes. Things like vaseline, baby oil, coconut oil and cooking oils are sometimes used as oil-based lubes.

You can’t use oil-based lube with latex condoms, since it can make the condom tear or fall off more easily. Some oil-based lubes can also cause irritation or infections. Not all oil-based things are safe to go near your privates, even if they’re slippery! Make sure to wash off oil-based lubes thoroughly after you’re done.

What kind of lube should I use?

There’s a few things to keep in mind when you’re picking what kind you want to use:

  • cost
  • how easy it is to get
  • what you want to use it for
  • if you’re using latex condoms
  • if you’re using toys
  • allergies
  • personal preference

You can buy water and silicone based lubes can at the pharmacy, specialized sex supply stores, or online. You can also find samples of  lube for free at health organizations like Head and Hands.

Some people like silicone-based lubes better for anal sex, since the anus doesn’t make much natural lubrication. Some water-based and flavoured lubes have glycerin (sugar) in them. These can cause infections in the vagina or anus, so it’s safest to use them only for oral sex.

Alternatives in Lube

Choosing to use or not use lube is entirely up to you and your partners!

For people with vaginas, a lot of things can change natural lubrication. The first is birth control and other medications. For example, taking testosterone can sometimes cause vaginal dryness. A doctor can give you more information about the side effects of any medications you’re taking. You can also make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking lots of water. It can also help to ask your partner to take it slow and do lots of foreplay. This can include things like kissing your body and exploring different kinds of sex, like oral sex.

Sometimes, people use Vaseline or plant or mineral-based oils (like coconut oil, baby oil, or olive oil) as lube. These can be easier to find and they can feel more like vaginal lubrication. But, they aren’t as effective as as water or silicone based lube. These kinds of things also raise the risk of latex condoms tearing or falling off during sex. They can also increase the risk for bacteria getting trapped in the vagina or rectum. For a more natural product, you can look for lube made with all organic ingredients or one that’s hypoallergenic.

More info:

  • Lube 101 – Scarleteen

    Scarleteen gives a 101 on lube.

  • Understanding Lube (health pamphlet side I)

    PDF version of The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health’s printed pamphlet depicting the form and function of lube. Side A highlights the reasons to use lube, the use of lube and STI transmission/contraception risk, and other online resources. 

  • Understanding Lube (health pamphlet side II)

    PDF version of The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health’s printed pamphlet depicting the form and function of lube. Side B highlights the importance for choosing the right lube and explains the different kinds that exist. It also provides a table of products and ingredients to avoid. 

  • Personal Lubricants – Sex info Online

    This overview looks at different brands and types of lube and helps you find what to avoid and what might work well for you!

  • Kontak

    A program offering free delivery for at-cost sex toys, lube, and safer sex supplies. Run by AIDS Community Care Montreal (ACCM). Website includes depictions of sexuality, but not genitals, and is accessible to all ages.
    *You can also text Kontak at 514-941-SEXE (7393)