A Beginner's Guide to Integrating Lube Into Your Sex Life

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Personal lubricant is one of the greatest sexual accessories. However, for a lot of reasons relating to stigma, it often goes underutilized. The right lube can completely change your sex life by decreasing friction, in turn increasing ease and sometimes sensitivity. In fact, you'll probably find sex with a personal lubricant is a lot more pleasurable than sex without.

Using lube isn't difficult, but you should know a few things in order to get the most out of it.

Find The Best Lubricant for Your Type of Sex

Using lubricant is the easy part, choosing the right lubricant is the real challenge. Here are a few tips:

  • If you're prone to yeast infections, avoid silicone lubricants, and lubricants with glycerin.
  • If you have sensitive skin, allergies, or other chemical sensitivities, avoid anything with "paraben" on the label.
  • Thicker lubricants like silicone are easier for use with sex toys and anal play.   
  • Don't use silicone lubricants with silicone toys, they will break down.
  • Don't use oil-based lubricants with condoms, they will break down.

If you're not sure where to start, go to a highly-rated sex shop and ask a clerk what is best for your specific situation. Start out with a small bottle or sample packs, and test on your wrists and inner thighs if allergies are a concern.

Your First Time with Lube

A little bit of lube goes a long way, so you want to start small. If you're using your fingers and hands, put a dime-sized amount on your fingers or in the palm of your hand, and rub your hands together to warm it up. Now touch the area on which you intend on using the lubricant. Pay attention to how this feels different than touching without lubricant. If you're using a water-based personal lubricant, see how long it takes to dry up—you'll want to know roughly the amount of time it takes before you should re-apply.

Where Do You Put It?

You should put lube both on your own body and on anything else you're using. Fingers, sex toys, or a partner's body parts apply here. Only lubricating one side of the sex will work, but not as well as if everyone and everything has a little bit of lube on it. If you're using it for intercourse, go ahead and put some inside yourself as well as outside. This is essential for anal intercourse, but applies to vaginal intercourse as well.

Does Lube Go Inside or Outside the Condom?

If you use male condoms, you can put a drop of lubricant in the tip of the condom before rolling it on the penis. But be wary: the condom could slip off if you overdo it. Otherwise, apply a water- or silicone-based personal lubricant on the outside of the condom. 

Check the Expiration Date

Lube does expire, and your lubricant should have an expiration date on it—it's important to note that date refers to the shelf life of the lubricant unopened. Most lubricants lose their effectiveness after a while, including the ones that have antibacterial ingredients, so if it's old, it's possible that using it could lead to an infection. If you're doubting it, don't risk it.

What About Anal Play?

If there's any kind of anal penetration, lubricant should be involved. The rectum doesn't create its own lubricant like the vagina does, and using lube reduces the risk of tearing the more delicate tissues in the rectum. It's better to use a thicker lube for anal sex; it's more conducive to taking it slow, and some people say it creates a cushiony feeling during penetration. Don't use desensitizing lubricants for anal sex ever, they're dangerous because they prevent you from knowing if the sex is too fast or too much. Above all, listen to your body.

Will It Stain My Sheets?

Most water-based lubricants won't stain sheets, but that's not a guarantee. So use caution (or a big towel) on your favorite sheets. Many silicone- and oil- based lubricants will stain sheets but some companies offer tips on how to get silicone stains out of sheets.