No matter what your age, gender, or sexuality, lube is a great addition to sex. And much as the vagina produces its natural lubrication, sometimes it’s just not enough and some artificial lubrication might help to make the experience more pleasurable. But how do you know which type of lube is most suitable for you? There are many factors you need to consider before purchasing lube, even if all of them serve the same purpose. Perhaps you’re not sure how to go about it. Today we look at the best lubricant for women and explore in detail the pros and cons of different types of lube.
What Are The Best Lubricants For Women?
Artificial lubricants can help reduce friction, boost sexual pleasure, and enhance sexual arousal (2). Most lubes are cost-friendly and can be found at the local stores or online.
And while most types of lubricants are safe for use, there may be several side effects. Potential side effects of using vaginal lubricants include skin irritation, allergic reaction, vaginal infections and interference with fertility.
There are many different brands and types to choose from. To help you get a better understanding of each, below are the pros and cons of each type of lube.
This is the most common type of lube. It is said to feel most natural making it great for vaginal sex. It may therefore be considered one of the best lubricant for menopausal women.
There are two main types – with glycerin and glycerin free. The advantage of water-based over silicone-based ones is that they don’t stain fabric and thus need no special cleaning afterward.
To find the best water-based lubricant for women that meets your needs you will need to consider the cost, brand, and also the ingredients.
- Glycerine-free water-based is unlikely to cause irritation.
- Don’t stain fabrics and rinse off easily.
- Safe to use with sex toys and condoms, both latex and polyurethane condoms.
- Cost-effective and can be purchased from any local drug store or supermarket.
- Have a much longer shelf-life
- Dry out relatively quickly so may require reapplication.
- Becomes sticky or tacky as it is absorbed.
- Water-based lubricants with glycerin contain sugar so they may contribute to yeast infections.
- Glycerin-free lube can have a bitter taste and may not be ideal if you like to switch between oral and penetrative sex.
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Silicone-based lube is often regarded as the best “all-round” type of lubricant. It is odorless, tasteless, and smooth. Silicone lube varies in viscosity from smooth to thick. It is the longest-lasting type of lubricant.
This type of lubricant is ideal for anal sex, sex in water, body massage, and skin moisturizing. It is also one of the best lubricant for older women as it is not quickly absorbed into the skin and is long-lasting.
One small study done on women who had breast cancer found that silicone-based lubricant was more effective at reducing vaginal discomfort compared to water-based lubricant (1).
- Long-lasting and doesn’t need frequent reapplication like water-based lube.
- Holds up underwater making them ideal for use in the shower or pool.
- Silicone lubes are hypoallergenic.
- Stains fabric and requires extra cleaning afterward.
- Aren’t recommended for use with sex toys. After use with silicone lube, sex toys should be properly washed as any residue can damage the toys over time.
- Relatively expensive and can be hard to find in the local stores.
Most oils found around the house can be used as lube. The natural options include coconut oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, virgin olive oil, and aloe vera gel.
The synthetic options include petroleum jelly, baby oils, and mineral oils.
- Inexpensive and easy to find.
- Natural oil-based lubricants are great for sensual body massages, sexual play, and oral sex as they are safe to eat.
- Natural oil-based lubricants are also safe for the vagina.
- Synthetic oil-based lubricants are ideal for external masturbation.
- Holds up in the water.
- Are not condom safe as they can cause breakage resulting in condom failure (5).
- Stain fabric
- Clog pores and are harder to wash off compared to water-based lubes.
- Synthetic oil-based lube can irritate the vagina and cause bacterial infections as they contain chemicals and artificial ingredients.
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If you are conscious of the ingredients in the products you use, you might want to consider natural lubricants. It is free of glycerin, parabens, or other synthetic materials that can irritate the vagina.
There are many different types including vegan lube, organic lube, botanical lube and plant-based oil lubes.
Natural lube is great for everybody but is probably the best lubricant for women over 50. This is because it is vagina friendly and doesn’t introduce synthetic materials into your body.
- Doesn’t cause irritation.
- Uses organic ingredients which are friendlier to the environment of your vagina.
- More expensive compared to traditional lube.
- May have a shorter shelf-life.
Warming lubricants contain extra ingredients such as menthol, glycerol, or capsaicin that creates a warming sensation.
This may be one of the best sex lubricant for middle-aged women as it provides enhanced sexual feeling.
- Believed to enhance sensation and lead to more intense orgasms.
- Are ideal for body massages or erotic stimulation.
- Can cause an uncomfortable burning sensation in some women.
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Benefits Of Using Lube
Lube can be used by anyone, from women of reproductive age to perimenopausal and menopausal women even if your body produces natural lubrication.
Lube can be used for penetrative sex, anal sex, and masturbation. Some are even great for oral sex especially natural oils such as avocado oil.
Just as the name suggests, lube provides extra lubrication. This reduces friction during sex, reducing the likelihood of injuries or vaginal tears (3). This may also mean that the condom is less likely to break if the lube is condom friendly.
For Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness can occur for many reasons and can cause discomfort during sex. Using lube can help relieve the discomfort, and reduce burning or chafing (3).
Vaginal dryness commonly affects women who:
- Take certain meds including antidepressants
- Are dehydrated or don’t take enough water
- Are in perimenopause or menopause
- Are undergoing chemotherapy treatment
- Have an autoimmune condition such as Sjögren syndrome
- Use hormonal contraception
- Are lactating
- Smoke cigarettes
Can Enhance Pleasure
Some types of lubricants such as warming lubes are designed to enhance sensation during sex (2). Lube also comes in different flavors and can help spice things up. Lubricants also help sex feel natural, especially when using condoms.
Ideal For Anal Sex
Unlike the vagina, the anus doesn’t provide natural lubrication during sex. Applying lube during anal sex can make the experience more pleasurable and pain-free. So always have some lube on hand in case you want to switch from vaginal to anal sex.
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What To Consider When Buying Lube
Lubes have different qualities. You might want to look around for one that best suits your needs before settling on one.
Before buying lube consider the following:
- If you are prone to vaginal infections: Stay away from lubricants with glycerin or preservatives like parabens as these can cause infections.
- If you are dealing with vaginal dryness: Water-based and warming lubricants may not be good for you as they dry up relatively quickly. Use silicone-based lube instead.
- If you are trying to get pregnant: Go for a lubricant that says “sperm-friendly” or “fertility-friendly” on the packaging. Studies show that some lubricants can negatively affect sperm motility (4).
- If you are using a condom: Some lubricants can cause breakage. So if you intend to use a condom, go for water-based or silicone-based lubricants instead of oil-based lubricants.
- If you are going to use sex toys: Always go for water-based lube to avoid damaging your sex toys.
- If you are going to play in the shower or pool: Use a lube that holds up in water such as silicon-based or oil-based lube.
The Bottom Line
Vaginal lubes are a great addition to your solo sex sessions or sex with a partner. They help spice things up, reduce friction and boost sexual arousal.
The best part is that there are many different types and brands of lubes to pick from. You will need to factor in the activity you’ll be doing, if you have any allergies, and choice of ingredients used.
Never compromise quality for cost. There are many quality inexpensive lubes you can purchase. Also remember that your comfort and safety are the top most priority.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A randomized, double-blind, crossover trial comparing a silicone- versus water-based lubricant for sexual discomfort after breast cancer (2016, link.springer.com)
- Association of lubricant use with women’s sexual pleasure, sexual satisfaction, and genital symptoms: a prospective daily diary study (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Lubricants for the promotion of sexual health and well-being: a systematic review (2022, tandfonline.com)
- The effects of coital lubricants on sperm motility in vitro. (1998, academic.oup.com)
- The impact of lubricants on latex condoms during vaginal intercourse (1994, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)