In a recent post, we talked about vaginal dryness and how this can cause pain and discomfort during sex. Many women and couples use a personal lubricant to help enhance sexual pleasure and moisten genital tissues to make sex more enjoyable.
There are different types of lubricants on the market and it can be hard to know which lubricant is right for your situation. Certain types can interfere with contraceptives so it is important to know about the different types before choosing one.
Lubricants are divided into three main types: oil-, water- and silicone-based; each one has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Oil-based lubricants - Avoid oil-based lubricants if you are using latex condoms, diaphragms or sex toys as they can break down the latex. Common oil-based lubricants: Vaseline and vitamin E oil. These lubricants work well for those in monogamous relationships who don’t need to use a condom or diaphragm and aren’t using latex or rubber sex toys. Some people enjoy the oily, greasy feeling but they are messy and can be difficult to clean up. Be sure you and your partner are not allergic to vitamin E oil before using.
Water-based lubricants - These are the most popular lubricants as they are safe to use with condoms, diaphragm and sex toys. Most people find this type of lubricant to be non-irritating but some can contain glycerin which can cause yeast infections. Water-based lubricants also come in a variety of edible flavors and some offer a warming sensation. Commonly used water-based lubricants include K-Y Ultra Gel and Liquid Silk. These lubricants can dry up fairly quickly or can feel sticky.
Silicone-based lubricants - These lubricants are safe with latex condoms, diaphragms and non-silicone sex toys. When using sex toys, be sure they don’t contain silicone as it can cause a silicone-on-silicone reaction. They last longer than water-based lubricants but are more difficult to clean up and can be hard to get out of bed linens and clothing. Some silicone-based lubricants double as a massaging gel. Silicone can cause irritation in some women.
No matter which lubricant you decide to try, you may want to try a small amount on the inner labia to make sure there isn’t any irritation. If you do feel any burning, wash the area immediately and wait until the irritation has cleared up before trying a different type of lubricant. Have fun, experiment with different flavors or try warming or cooling sensation lubricants.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.