Lubricants while sex
A lubricant is a substance used to control or reduce friction during intercourse. Lubricants help to minimize the risk of injury. Lubricants can make sexual activities more enjoyable and fun. Some alternatives to artificial lubricants can be used but personal lubricants should be avoided because they can be harmful, for example, glycerine.
Benefits of using lubricants during sexual intercourse
Lubricants can enhance pleasure during sexual intercourse. Lubricants are not only used when genitals are dry but it can also be used anytime during sex to accelerate pleasure because it comes in different flavours and creates a cooling or warming sensation wherever applied. Some lubricants can also help in delaying ejaculation, making things stay hot and steamy for a long time.
Lubricants are an ideal option for anal intercourse because, unlike the vagina or penis, the anus does not secret natural fluid. So applying lubricant during anal intercourse can be a more pleasurable experience.
Lubricants reduce friction so the risk of injury reduces and if contraceptives are being used, then lubricants make sure that condoms do not break or fall off. Hence, increasing the protection against STIs including HIV.
When to use a lubricant
The vagina is a natural lubricant, however, sometimes it does not produce sufficient fluid. So the artificial lubricants replace the natural vaginal secretions, making the vagina feel lubricated.
People choose to use a lubricant when:
They experience vaginal dryness due to menopause
Hormonal changes leading to vaginal dryness during pregnancy or postpartum
They experience vaginal dryness due to medication
Their vagina does not produce enough fluid after a long session of sexual activity
They experience pain or itching in their vagina due to dryness of vaginal tissue.
How to use a lubricant
OTC lubricants and moisturizers should be used by following the directions on the box.
Always take a patch test before using the product and if you do not find anything unusual, then gradually increase the amount until the vagina feels comfortable. Some people believe applying lubricant several times provides the best results.
Experimenting with different lubricants can be a fun activity for some people because they can pay attention to how their body responds to each one. If the genitals feel itchy or sore after using a lubricant, this could indicate the risk of an allergy or sensitivity to an ingredient of the product.
People should only try estrogen-based creams but before that, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional to get a clear idea of what type of product will be suitable. Estrogen-based creams can take some time to show results but it will be worth the wait. Also, it is important to follow the instructions written in the product and not exceed the dosage that the healthcare professional would suggest.
3 types of lubricants
Water-based lubricants: Generally, people who prefer well-rounded lube go for water-based lubricants. These do not damage condoms or sex toys. Also, water-based lubricants are the safest option for intercourse as well as masturbation. But there is one drawback of water-based lubricants and that is, it dries out real quick. However, reapplying can help out with this disadvantage.
Silicone-based lubricants: Silicone-based lubricants are also suitable for sexual intercourse because they do not damage condoms. But one should not use sex toys while using silicone-based lubricants because they can damage silicone products.
Oil-based lubricants: Oil-based lubricants are safer than other lubricants only if people engage in sexual activity without using any method of contraception because oil-based lubricants can damage sex toys and latex condoms, leading to an increased risk of pregnancy or infection.
Alternative lubricants to avoid
People believe glycerin, vaseline, soaps, etc will make a good lubricant but they are unaware that these liquids can lead to infection and irritation.
Vaseline: A study found that females are more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis if they use vaseline as a lubricant. These liquids are only suitable for external use, so they should be avoided for penetrative purposes.
Lotion and soap: Usually, lotions and soaps contain perfumes and preservatives such as parabens which can irritate the genitals and lead to infections. It is recommended to use mild soaps/lotions that are free from chemicals.
Butter: If the genitals are not cleaned properly after using butter as a lubricant, it may start to spoil and rancid causing infections due to bacterial growth.
Spit: Saliva can be a good lube alternative during oral sex. However, saliva can trigger infections because there is a risk that STI, gonorrhoea and vaginal yeast infections could pass through saliva.
Baby oil: Baby oil can damage the contraceptives and increase the risk of poisoning and rectal infections.
Most commercial lubricants are safe for the majority of people but they can increase the risk of allergic reactions, skin irritations, yeast infections, etc. Clinical vaginal dryness cannot be treated with artificial lubricants because they do not increase estrogen or revive thinning vaginal tissue.
For people who do not get relief from vaginal dryness when they use artificial lubricants, then they can use estrogen creams. Remaining hydrated, masturbating before intercourse, and spending more time on foreplay can also help in improving the lubrication.