As a urologist, the importance of lubricant has been quite clear from the beginning – catheter placement, operative cases, and pelvic exams all go more smoothly (pun intended) with lubrication. In fact, one of my former attending surgeons would memorably exclaim, “Lots of lube!” at the start of every case.
As I went further through training and into practice, differences (some subtle, some not) between various types of lubricants became apparent. Sexual medicine providers are “lube enthusiasts” — we love lube, and here’s why:
Sexual medicine providers are “lube enthusiasts” — we love lube
Having a variety of lube on hand for patients to sample is important. Lube is not a “one size fits all.” As with most things, there are personal preferences to consider, including the use, price, and comfort. There are different lubes for different purposes. I think the sample-size lubes are perfect for travel (though some also manufacture travel-size vials). In our practice, we not only give lube samples out like candy, but we also use high-quality lubes for things like pelvic exams.
Lube is not a “one size fits all”
Some people may be confused or embarrassed when it comes to choosing and purchasing a personal lubricant. Having a good sex-positive store or clinic to consult is ideal. However, many lubes are available for purchase online. This is nice for anonymity but doesn’t allow you to feel, see, and touch the lube before purchase. Uberlube and Good Clean Love are a couple of our favorites.
There are all sorts of fun uses for lube, inside and outside of the bedroom, for solo and partnered activity. I encourage people to use lube not just in the genitals or for insertion in penis-vagina sexual activity but also to use it on other erogenous zones like the nipples, clitoris, or for anal play.
Using lubricants with sex toys and aids is also a good practice. Keep in mind: silicone toys will often require the use of water-based lubricant. The use of water-based lubes helps prevent the breakdown of the silicone toy surface material. Water-based lubes compared to silicone based lubes are absorbed or dry up relatively quickly. When using water-based lube, I always encourage people to use it like sunscreen – Reapply often! It is important to find a lubricant that will not irritate your skin or pull moisture out of already dry tissue.
Water-based lubes compared to silicone based lubes are absorbed or dry up relatively quickly
Silicone lubes tend to be a little smoother and silkier and are a good choice for sexual activity when not using silicone toys. They are safe to use with condoms and tend to be hypoallergenic as well. They can also be used all over the body. Because of its superior “staying power,” silicone lube will be a little tougher to wash off after use and may leave stains on bedding or clothing, though some high-quality lubes, like Uberlube, will come out with regular laundering.
With all lube, I recommend avoiding perfumes, flavors, or “warming” as the ingredients needed for these lube characteristics can irritate genital skin, particularly for mature vulvar skin.
Another consideration when it comes to choosing a lube is the packaging. Is it beautiful or kitschy? Will it be difficult to use in the moment? In the dark? Will it require two hands? I love lubes that come in a pump with small, manageable volumes dispensed. For some, using a lubricant may diminish sensation, so “a little goes a long way .” Avoid lubes that become messy and sticky or come in packages that are difficult to close or open. Screw-top bottles are a disaster! Some of our favorite lubes that seem to “check all the boxes” are Uberlube and Good Clean Love.
There are other natural lubricants used for a variety of purposes. Did you know coconut oil can be used not only for cooking but makes for a great personal lubricant as well? It has a pleasant scent and taste. It should not, however, be used with condoms.
Lubricants also have non-sexual uses. Uberlube, for example, is also marketed as a hair product to “tame, detangle, smooth and condition” and a body lubricant for sports such as long-distance running and cycling. I find it helpful to have a good lubricant on hand for the removal of tight rings or for getting rubber bands out of hair.
Lubricants also have non-sexual uses. Uberlube, for example, is also marketed as a hair product to “tame, detangle, smooth and condition”
I hope this has helped you grasp an oftentimes slippery topic (pun, again, intended) and has given you some ideas about using lubricants for sexual and non-sexual uses.
Now, go forth lubricated!
Elizabeth A. Phillips, MD
Centracare Urology – Vice-chairperson
Centracare Sexual Medicine
2351 Connecticut Ave. S.
Sartell, MN 56377
Phone: (320) 259-1411