Almost every form of sex involves friction - from penetration to oral stimulation to solo play. It is the rubbing, tugging and stroking of the body and genitals that often gives us the greatest pleasure.
Why Everyone Deserves Lube
But with friction of any kind comes the need to add a smooth and comfortable layer of protection that makes, what could be uncomfortable, feel delicious and delightful. This protective layer is most often some form of lubrication - whether made by the body or added from an external source.
Many people feel some level of stigma or embarrassment attached to purchasing lube. They might think that it sends the message that they aren’t turned on enough, that their body doesn’t work the way it should, or that their needs for sexual comfort are too high.
The reality is that adding additional lubrication to almost any sex act can be beneficial for everyone.
Why You Deserve Lube
Wanting or needing more lubrication than the body can produce on its own is not only normal, it is wise.
Studies have shown that using lube for solo and partnered sex results in significantly higher levels of sexual pleasure and satisfaction. In addition, lubrication helps reduce the risk of micro-fissures (tiny tears), which increase the risk of STI transmission. By not using additional lubrication we are often giving ourselves less enjoyable sexual experiences, as well as putting ourselves and our partners at a higher risk for infections.
Lube is often depicted only in partner penetration scenarios, but can be enjoyed in many more ways. Masturbation, with a hand or toy, for all genders, can be made more comfortable and pleasurable with a great lube. Manual sex (when a partner uses their hands) also benefits from a lubricated touch.
Whether partnered or solo, penetrative or external, added lubrication is only going to amplify the experience.
The Kinds of Lube
There are three main forms of lubrication - each with its own pros and cons:
The most common is water-based lube. Water-based is light and absorbs easily into the skin. It is the best kind if you are looking for a silkier feel and want something that adds to the body’s natural lubrication.
The downside is that it often has to be reapplied because of its absorbency.
The second most widely used is silicone-based lube. Silicone does not absorb into the body so it will last for a long time and is ideal during penetrative sex where the body does not offer its own lubrication, such as with anal sex.
Lastly, some people choose an oil-based lube. The downsides are that if you are using an edible or natural oil (like coconut or olive oil) they can easily grow bacteria or spoil, they eat away at latex so you can’t use them with barrier protection, and they are the most likely to cause irritation.
No matter what kind of lubrication you decide on make sure to avoid additives that can be toxic to the body. Read the label of each bottle you are considering purchasing and make sure it does not include: Chlorhexidine gluconate, Parabens, Cyclomethicone, or fragrances.
Bring the Lube
Whatever kind of lubrication you prefer, remember that there is no shame in needing and enjoying lubrication during any sexual activity.
The benefits of using lube are immense.
Bringing lube to any sexual activity should be as common and normal as packing barrier protection. Safer and more pleasurable sex is nothing to be ashamed of and something we all deserve.
Dr. Laura McGuire (they/them or she/her) is an internationally recognized consultant, survivor, researcher, seminarian, and author of the book Creating Cultures of Consent (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021).
Dr. McGuire is a certified full-spectrum doula, professional teacher, a certified sexual health educator, and a vinyasa yoga instructor. Their experience includes both public and private sectors, middle schools, high schools, and university settings.
They currently are earning their Masters of Divinity at Earlham Seminary where they are studying the intersections of Judaism, trauma-informed care, and restorative-justice in faith settings. Dr. McGuire lives in the United States, where they work as an adjunct professor at Widener University and consultant at The National Center for Equity and Agency.