Different Kinds of Lube: Oil, Water, and Silicone-based

Lubes 101: Which kind is the best lubricant for women

We spend a lot of time thinking about what goes into lovemaking – who, what, when, where, and how – but we might not use so much energy thinking about the mechanics of it. One of those things you might not have thought about is lube: why we need them, what kinds there are and which one is the best lubricant for women with different sexual needs?

One of the very first things that happens when a woman becomes aroused is that she becomes “wet.” This wetness is a natural lubricant produced by the vagina, created by the body to assist in lovemaking. The amount produced is not always the same and can vary according to:

  • where the woman is in her menstrual cycle:the amount of natural lubrication is related to estrogen levels which fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, being highest around the time of ovulation
  • age:women who have passed menopause can take longer to become aroused, so it takes longer for vaginal lubrication to start, plus there is usually less of it since they have decreased levels of (or no) estrogen.
  • stress levels:stress caused by anything from relationships to work can decrease libido, focus or blood flow, making it difficult to naturally produce vaginal moisture
  • health status:cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can cause vaginal dryness, as can diseases like diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome (which causes dry membranes in the body)
  • medications:some allergy and cold medications work by drying up mucus, which can also work against vaginal lubrication, as can some anti-depressants

But lubricants aren’t only for helping to overcome vaginal dryness – they’re also fun! Lubes can be used in conjunction with moisturizers to enhance pleasure on-demand. Both women and men say that including lubricants in their lovemaking increases their pleasure.

There are three main types of lubricants: oil-based, water-based, and silicone-based. The best lubricant for women depends on their needs. Here’s a breakdown of what each kind offers.

  • Oil-based lubricants - Baby oil, mineral oils, petroleum jellies or hand creams are easily found around the house, but they can damage the latex in condoms (meaning that they are more likely to break). Also they have no FDA oversight or quality control for lubricant use and can degrade while sitting on shelves. This oxidative damage can, in turn, interfere with embryo development and damage sperm.
  • Water-based lubricants - These are the most common type of lubricant. There are lots of different brands, but ones designed to mimic fertile cervical mucus with lower salt concentration than many leading lubricants are less likely to irritate sensitive skin, have no taste and feel like natural lubrication so it doesn’t interfere with oral sex or other types of sex play.
  • Silicone-based lubricants - This type of lubricant lasts longer than water-based varieties and is usually safe to use with condoms. Premium silicone-based lubes are designed not to dry out quickly and stay slick longer than other kinds of lubricants, plus they can actually leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Remember that since you are going to apply the lubricant to the most sensitive parts of your body, it is important that you choose one that is not harsh on your skin and that will stay slippery for as long as you need it to. If you have never used a lubricant, pick up a couple varieties at the store and try them the next time you have sex. You will be happy that you did!

What do you look for in your lubricants?

Dr. Joanna Ellington (Dr. E) discusses real life issues at her informative blog Sex, Science and Nature. She is an internationally recognized scientist in the area of Sperm Physiology. During her National Institute of Health-funded research into what makes healthy sperm, Dr. Ellington realized that many couples were using lubricants that killed sperm. Dr. Ellington's research led her to invent Pre-Seed's patented "fertility-friendly" lubricant formula that is clinically shown to be safe for couples trying to conceive. Chat with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+