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What is lube?

Learn more about how, when and why you should use lube

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

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Lube is a type of liquid that can be used during sex to help increase sexual pleasure. Lube can be used for anal, vaginal and oral sex as well as masturbation and massage. Using lube during penetrative sex can decrease the risk of pain or tearing, when using it in the shower or water it can help to create less friction and in general helps to enhance sexual pleasure. It is recommended that lube is always used when using condoms as it also helps to decrease the chance of the condom ripping.

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 find the one that’s best for you by trying them out. Some condoms will also come with sample sachets of lube.

Some tips when using lube

  • Put lube outside and all over the condom, and in and around the vagina or anus
  • Apply more lube during long periods of sex
  • Never use saliva/spit as a lubricant; this increases the risk of a condom splitting because it dries quickly
  • Never put lube on the penis before putting the condom on. This can increase the risk of the condom slipping off

Where can I get lube?

  • You can pick up lube in most shops and pharmacies. You'll usually find it stocked in the same area as condoms. 
  • If you are getting condoms from your Student Union or family planning centre also ask them if they have lube
  • Panti Bar in Dublin stocks free lube and condoms for customers 
  • HIV Ireland offer free lube in a pack with a condom


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 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 28th2014
Tags sexual health sex safer sex
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