What is lube?

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

Lube is a type of liquid that can be used during sex to help increase sexual pleasure and comfort. Lube can be used for anal, vaginal, sex using hands 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.

When should I use lube?

Lube can be used during any sexual activity to help reduce friction and increase pleasure. If you are experiencing pain or dryness during sex, using lube can be a great way to make sex more comfortable. 

You can use lube when: 

  • Masturbating and using sex toys 
  • For anal sex, as the anus does not create lubricant like the vagina 
  • Vaginal sex 
  • Massage 
  • Oral sex 
  • Sex with hands (fingering, wanking) 

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 ​​or polyurethane. 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 are therefore a great option for people who have sensitivities to other lubricants. However, you need to be careful when using them with silicone-based sex toys, as they may damage them
  • Spermicidal lubricant is the lube that kills sperm and reduces the risk of pregnancy. However, it is no longer commonly sold because the chemicals used to kill sperm also can greatly irritate and damage the walls of the vagina

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.

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 and masturbation
  • 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

Can I use homemade lube?

You should not use household products 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. Trying out different types of lube is the best way to discover which ones work best for you. 

Need more information?

Would you like more information? Maybe you would like to talk through your own situation? Get in touch through our online chat system for 16 to 25 year olds – Monday to Friday 4pm to 8pm.

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