The Journal of Sexual Medicine recently released the results of a study that examined the role lubrication – the bottled kind – plays in the bedroom.
A team of six men and women conducted a five-week diary-style study via the Internet, resulting in feedback from almost 2,500 women who shared their pleasure (and displeasure) while using one of six different water- and silicone-based lubes.
The women involved had anal, vaginal and solo sex and reported ratings of sexual satisfaction as the various lubes were added to the mix. The results found women experienced a significantly greater rate of sexual satisfaction when lubricant was brought in, and respondents often preferred the feeling of water-based to silicone during anal sex, which is interesting while not completely unexpected.
There's a lot of talk about lube. I've overheard one woman tell her friend she doesn't need lube because she's not old. Another said she juices up all on her own and wouldn't dream of squirting anything unnatural into her vag. And my own sister once threw away a high-end bottle of German-made lubricant I sent her and her husband, and announced to him that they didn't need lube because they weren't “kinky sex freaks.” (This I found out over beers with the beau following the gift's disposal.)
These are common misconceptions that I, in my line of work, don't often come across. Having lube around is as common and regular a part of the process as keeping a towel and glass of water by the bed. Entire departments on Amazon.com, Drugstore.com, in adult shops and even at Target are devoted to “sensual lubrication,” and it's not because there's some kind of wide-spread vaginal defect.
Lube, regardless of its source, is what makes sex feel good. Less friction and easier/faster/smoother penis/object insertion makes for little-to-no chafing and irritation, which then makes for a happier post-O-face glow.
Try giving your beau a deep – but dry – massage and compare it to a session using lotion or oils. Ask him which felt better.
Now back to the drugstore shelf. How on earth are you supposed to choose a lube that's right for your lady parts when they all claim to offer different magical effects? Cooling for icy tingle. Warming for sensual sizzle. Organic, body-safe and all-natural formulation.
Well at the end of the day, lube comes in two basic forms: water and silicone. Water is the thicker, gloppier texture that the ladies might be familiar with from annual gyno visits – it's the cold thick goo the doc uses when inserting that duck-billed speculum. Silicone is significantly thinner, offering a less goopy, gliding feeling and is less common in the mainstream lube circuit.
Water-based lube offers a thicker “barrier” between the inserted object and the vaginal wall, while silicone is noticeably less so. It's sort of the different between feeling slippery when wet to silky. They both feel good.
But because of its components, water-based lube often becomes sticky and needs frequent reapplication, especially during more vigorous action. (Faster play makes for higher friction, which leads to heat and evaporation, leaving the rest of the lubricant's ingredients behind while the part responsible for the slickness is gone. For those of us sick of reaching to the bedside every 5 minutes, silicone is a great alternative.
There's less to evaporate in silicone-based lube, even in the most hardcore action, and it will keep doing its job for longer. It's a significantly different feeling, one hard to describe using adjectives, so it's simply a task of using both and comparing which feels better to you.
When it comes to anal sex, that extra slippery barrier between penis/phallus and the sphincter can turn the “I hate anal” chick into the “Let's do it” lady. Many companies make a cleverly labeled lubricant specifically for anal sex, a thicker formulation than most regular lubes and almost always water-based. (Save for a few.)
Insertion is often slower and less vigorous (not always, I know) than vaginal which results in less frequent re-application, and the slippery texture will make the process that much smoother.
Hence my lack of surprise when the respondents in the above-mentioned lubrication study revealed their preference for water-based lube when going up the butt.
Now what's with all these cooling, warming, tingling, paraben-free/glycerin-free/sugar-free buzz terms? Some of these sensation-altering ingredients might give that extra edge you're looking for, but beware of the ingredients responsible for doing so. You read the labels on food before you eat it…why not also read the back of the bottle before you squirt it all over yourself?
The “cool” sensation that many cooling lubes offer is more often than not caused by the addition of menthol. Just enough feels like a sexy snowman blowing icy breath onto your clit, but when it makes contact with the sensitive skin inside the vagina, that cool might turn to a burning feeling fast. But if you can't get enough of that sensation, shop around for brands that use menthol-ternatives, like peppermint essence.
Same goes for warming lube. The tingly “heat” you feel often is the result of capsaicin, derived from chili peppers, or peppermint, so be careful where you put it and monitor your own sensitivity.
As for parabens and glycerin – are they all evil? No. Some lube brands may make it appear as though if one or both touch your vag it'll shrivel into an infection-ridden mound of frown-faces, but the percentage of women who actually have reactions to these ingredients is nominal.
But that doesn't mean those companies don't have a point. If it's going in your body, why not use products that use plant-based alternatives to some of the chemicals we so often find in our body products?
However on the practical hand, if you go through a jug of lube each week, or simply don't want to spend extra bucks on the one branded “ORGANIC,” sticking to generic isn't going to kill you. It probably won't give you a yeast infection, either.
But keep in mind: If you're having sex for reasons other than multiple orgasms and procrastination, be sure to select a lube that won't interfere with the vagina's acidic pH level and create even higher hurdles for those poor sperm during their quest for the egg. Again, it's all about ingredients and with some research and (hopefully) educated sales clerks, you can find formulas made for conception.
But me, I'll stick to organic water-based for any kind of orifice entry. And if I'm rolling solo, dab a little of the cooling lube on there. It makes all the difference when the ceiling fan sends slight breezy winds down south.