Lube is one of those things that you don’t necessarily think about until you need it… which, if we’re being honest, tends to happen mid-romp, when all of your own juices have dried up and things start to get painful. If your insides just clenched up reading that sentence, well, #same and I’m sorry, but it’s also proof that the way we talk—and think—about lube needs to change. Instead of looking it as something we “need” in moments when our bodies stop performing on their own, why not think about it as a way to make sex more fun, regardless? Because according to sex therapists, there are a whole lot of different reasons, and ways, to do just that.
First things first: the purpose of lubricant is, well, to lubricate. In other words, it’s used to reduce the friction and irritation between bodily tissues, whether that’s vulvur, vaginal, penial, or anal. “This reduction in irritation allows ones body to feel pleasure—If you are experiencing negative association with pain and sex pleasure is very difficult,” explains certified sex therapist Brier Jirka, LMHP, CST. “Lubrication also allows a couple or individual to not have to think about if they are lubricated enough and their mind can focus on the sensations, not the ‘am I wet enough" thoughts.”
There are a few things worth knowing when it comes to picking out lube. The most common ones are either water based, silicone based, or oil based. “We suggest women who have a history of yeast or bacterial infections to start with water based, it does become tacky after awhile and will need to be reapplied or reactivated with saliva,” says Jirka. “Silicone lubes should not be used with silicone toys due to it actually has a negative interaction with the silicone on the toy and can erode it.” And oil based lubes run the risk of breaking condoms, which can obviously present problems as far as pregnancy and STD prevention goes. “All can be very pleasurable for women just depends on the kind of sexual play you are engaging in,” says Jirka. Love Wellness offers its own aloe-based, pH balanced, all-natural lube—called “Sex Stuff”—which is vagina and condom friendly.
And lube, in general, can simply make things more fun. Research has shown that using lube can lead to higher levels of arousal, pleasure and satisfaction, and a study of 2,453 women found that 70 percent of participants reported that their sexual experiences were enhanced by using it. In other words, sign me up.
As Brooklyn-based sex therapist Carolanne Marcantonio, LMSW, so aptly puts it, “the frosting on top of a cupcake,” whether you think you “need it” or not. Here, sex therapists share six reasons to bring it into the bedroom—whether or not it’s a “necessity.”
With a new partner to take the pressure off
No matter what the situation, those new partner nerves can get into your head and (I know from experience) make it challenging to keep things going down there. Thankfully, lube is there to help. “I highly recommend to my clients that they use lubricants with new partners no matter if they can on their own since it can again take away the stress of being lubricated enough,” says Jirka. Plus, ya know, slipping and sliding around with someone new can be a whole lot of fun.
As a way to spice things up
New relationships aren’t the only ones that can benefit from a little lube action, because different products can allow couples to have different sensations and experiences—which can help spice things up after you’ve gotten into a sort of sexual routine. “So many couples need to explore new ways to feel sensations as we age or as we are in long term relationships and lubricant can be a great option to explore,” says Jirka. “Sex is about exploring options and finding new ways to enjoy sexual play and lubricants offer so many options. Explore with different kinds, brands, and taste. the options are endless.”
With any sort of anal sex
Unlike with your sex, there isn’t any sort of natural lubricant that happens with anal sex, so lube is an absolute must in these situtions. “With anal play we do not suggest any play without a lubricant for pleasure purposes but also overall health,” says Jirka.
In an erotic massage
Lube isn’t just meant for those down-there areas—it can be used pretty much anywhere else on your body, too. “I suggest the couple engage in an erotic massage to apply lubricant to the body,” says Jirka. “Its a great way to build up blood flow to the areas needed and can be a great way you connect to their partner.”
When you masturbate
Let’s be clear: you don’t need a partner on-hand to experience all of the awesomeness that lube has to offer. Light some candles, grab a bottle and your favorite tools, and treat yourself to some seriously moist—and relaxed—Os’ on your own.