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Let’s talk about Lube

What is sexual lubricant and why do some people use it?

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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If you want to have comfortable sex then you’ll need to make sure things are, well, a bit slippery, and sometimes people need a little extra help in that department.

Vaginas tend to self-lubricate, meaning that vaginas produce lubricant naturally when they’re aroused or turned on. The fluid secreted from the vagina helps make sex feel more comfortable. However, for some people, the lubricant that is produced is not enough, which can cause pain and friction during sex.

Many same sex couples find themselves in the exact same situation too, so they turn to sexual lubricants to make things easier. Lubricants will not protect against STIs. Some lubes do contain spermicidal gel but to prevent infection always use a condom.

What types of lube are available?

Sexual lubricants are split into three categories: Water based lubes, oil based lubes and silicone lubes.

  • Water based lubricants are safe to use with condoms, but many contain glycerine which can sometimes irritate more sensitive skin.
  • Oil based lubricants cannot be used with condoms. Condoms are made from latex. Oil based lubricants and products like Vaseline & lotions will weaken latex and cause the condom to break.
  • Silicone based lubricants are not absorbed by the skin and tend to last a little longer than water based ones. However, you need to be careful when using them with silicone based sex toys, as they may damage them.
  • Spermicidal lubricant is lube that kills sperm, and reduces risk of pregnancy.

As with any product, different people will prefer different types so it’s important to make sure you choose the one that’s best for you.

Why might somebody choose to use lube?

Well, there are a number of reasons.

  • Lube isn’t just used during sex. Some people like to use it while masturbating.
  • Some couples choose to use lube for mutual masturbation and erotic massage.
  • If you are going through any kind of hormonal change: Going on or coming off the pill and some prescription medications can interfere with wetness. Ask your doctor if you have noticed problems after starting on a new medication. The instruction leaflet that comes with the medicine may also include a list of side effects.
  • Lack of foreplay: A partner may not understand that women need time to warm up before sex.
  • Time of the month: Some women may find that they feel drier during certain parts of their cycle, such as the week after their period or the week before it.
  • Alcohol: Too much alcohol can also have a drying effect for certain individuals.
  • Anal sex: The anus does not produce any lubricating fluids, so you need to use lubrication.
  • Lube isn't just to help with dryness - it also can make sex way more comfortable and fun!

Where is it sold?

You can pick up lube in most shops and pharmacies. You'll usually find it stocked in the same area as condoms.


You can't just use any old household product as a lubricant. Things like vaseline and shower gel are NOT suitable alternatives and may interfere with condoms and other forms of contraception and could also cause irritation or infection. Some lubes contain glycerin, which can sometimes cause yeast infections - so watch out for this!

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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Published November 28th, 2014
Last updated July 14th, 2015
Tags sexual health sex safer sex
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