What is the Best Lubricant for Sexual Intercourse?

Chafing! Just hearing the word gives me that little OUCH feeling. In movies you often see characters getting down to business and very seamlessly getting into the act without ever needing or bothering with lubricants. This might make us think that if we use lube when we’re having sex there’s a problem with us. This is 2024 and we’re here to help you make sense of it all. In one recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, 1,000 participants were asked about their history with lube. 65% of women said they’ve used lubricants in the past while for men that number is even higher with 70% reporting the use of a personal lubricant! So don’t hesitate… If you need it, use it. It will make things more fun, pleasurable and safer in some cases.

Lube is one of the easiest, most affordable, and most popular ways to make sex more comfortable - and, dare we say, more pleasurable. The right lubricant can reduce friction, increase sensation, and in some cases, even prevent condoms from breaking. But which type of lube is right for you? With tons of ingredients, textures, and brands to choose from, let this blog be your guide to finding the best option. 


Understanding Lubricants

There are different kinds of lubricants. It’s important to understand the differences between different types of lubricants and how they differ from good old saliva.

Different Types of Lubricants

There are four main types of lubricants to consider: silicone-based, water-based, and oil-based.  Each one has its benefits and potential drawbacks depending on how you intend to use them.


  • Silicone-based lubes are known for being long-lasting and generally don't need to be reapplied often. They're waterproof, making them suitable for use in showers or pools. However, silicone-based lubes should not be used with silicone sex toys as they can damage the material.
  • Water-based lubes are versatile and tend to be non-irritating. They're compatible with all condom types and sex toys. These lubricants are easy to clean up but may require reapplication as they can dry out quicker. Many prefer water-based lubes for their natural ingredients and the fact that they are often glycerin-free and paraben-free.
  • Oil-based lubes provide a long-lasting and creamy texture, but they may stain fabrics and are not safe to use with latex condoms as they can cause them to break.
  • Add ‘hybrid lube’. (i.e. cake’s tushcush formula)

When choosing a lube, checking the ingredients list is important as some people may be sensitive to certain additives. Look for options that are free from irritants and include natural components too.

Lubricant vs Saliva

We get it, saliva is natural, accessible, and free. Sadly, it’s rarely s the best choice for *sexual intercourse.* Saliva can dry out quickly, which means it often needs to be reapplied frequently….#awkward. It also doesn't provide the same level of hydration and long-lasting lubrication as specially designed lubricants. Unlike saliva, commercial lubricants are specifically formulated to address dryness, reduce friction, and enhance pleasure. TL;DR: saliva may be ok in a pinch, but it’s just is not an ideal substitute for a quality personal lubricant.

Selecting the Best Lubricant

So now you know that different activities and personal sensitivities require different types of lube. Read about best options for anal sex, vaginal sex, and sensitive skin or allergies below, or take our quiz to find the best formula for your needs

Best Lubricant for Anal Sex

For anal play, a lube with a thicker consistency provides a cushion-like barrier which can aid in reducing discomfort. Silicone-based lubes are often recommended for their long-lasting properties and do not need to be reapplied as often. Water-based lubes, while not as long-lasting, can be hydrating to help prevent tears, plus, they will not degrade anal toys made from silicone. Combining the best properties of each formula, a hybrid anal lube can offer both hydration and duration. 


Best Lubricant for Vaginal Sex

Vaginal sex benefits from a lube that complements the body's natural lubrication. A water-based lube is typically recommended for a few reasons. Water-based formulas preserve the body’s natural pH of 4.5, helping to support vaginal health and prevent infection. Plus, they are compatible with all materials, including latex condoms and various sex toys. 

When choosing a lube for vaginal use, look for a glycerin-free and sugar-free formula with gentle, natural ingredients to prevent possible yeast infections and irritations. 

Best Lubricant for Sensitive Skin and Allergies

Individuals with sensitive skin should keep an eye out for keywords like  “hypoallergenic”, “fragrance-free”, and “unflavored”to avoid allergic reactions or skin irritation. It's essential to look for products labeled as suitable for sensitive skin and those that contain few chemical additives. Silicone and water-based lubes that are free from irritants like parabens and propylene glycol are often a safe bet. Natural lubricants, which could contain ingredients like aloe vera, can be particularly soothing.



Using Lubricants With Contraceptives and Toys

When it comes to contraceptives like condoms, and even sex toys, it’s important to  be mindful of compatibility.

  • Latex Condoms: One of the cardinal rules of lube: always avoid oil-based lubricants with latex condoms. Why? Oil-based options can deteriorate the latex, increasing the risk of breakage. Water-based or silicone-based lubricants are much safer choices because they are less likely to compromise the integrity of the condom.
  • Silicone Sex Toys: Anotherrule of thumb is to not mix silicone lube with silicone toys. The silicone-based lubricant can break down the surface of silicone toys, leading to damage and potentially create a breeding ground for bacteria. Stick to water-based lubes for these toys.

Here's a quick compatibility guide:

Product

Water-Based Lube

Silicone-Based Lube

Oil-Based Lube

 

Latex Condoms

✅ Safe

✅ Safe

❌ Avoid

Silicone Sex Toys

✅ Safe

❌ Avoid

Depending on manufacturer's guidance

Other Toys (Glass, Metal)

✅ Safe

✅ Safe

Depending on manufacturer's guidance


When selecting a lube for sex toys, it's not just about preserving the material of the toy, but also ensuring a smooth experience. Water-based lubes are generally a solid option for all types of toys and are easy to clean up. Remember, the right lubricant not only enhances pleasure but also plays a key role in maintaining the lifespan of your sexual health products. Always check the label for compatibility advice, and when in doubt, water-based lube is the safest bet.

Health and Safety Considerations

When selecting a lubricant for sexual intercourse, you can’t ignore health and safety. 

Many people are sensitive to potential irritants or have common sensitivities to ingredients like parabens or glycerin.

  • Parabens: Preservatives that can mimic hormones and have been linked to health concerns.
  • Glycerin: Can lead to yeast infections due to its sugar content.

Lubricants that contain such ingredients may irritate the skin of the vulva or other genital tissues.

Another common concern is the risk of infection. Products that include sugars can potentially promote yeast infections, so choosing a sugar-free formulation may help mitigate the risks. Other products may disrupt the natural flora of the vagina, leading to other infections like bacterial vaginosis.

Lastly, consider whether the lubricant you’ve chosen is  easy to clean off your skin and out of fabrics. If not properly cleaned, residue from lubricants can harbor bacteria, causing irritation or contributing to an imbalance leading to infections.

Finally, lubricants should be compatible with condoms and other barriers  used to prevent STIs. For example, oil-based lubes can degrade latex condoms and should be avoided when using such protection.

Quick Checklist for Safe Lubricant Selection:

  • No sugars: Avoid glycerin if prone to yeast infections.
  • Paraben-free: When possible, choose products without parabens.
  • Compatible with condoms: Ensure it doesn't degrade the form of protection used.
  • Non-irritating: Be aware of personal sensitivities to ingredients.
  • Easy to clean: Consider how easy it will be to wash off skin and fabrics.

User Experiences and Personal Preferences

When discussing lubricants for sexual intercourse, it's as much about the quality and type of the lube as it is about the individual's personal preferences. Each option caters to different needs, from exploring new sensations to prioritizing convenience and comfort.

Exploring Different Sensations

Individuals often seek different sensations to enhance their sexual experience. Those looking to add a warm or tingling sensation to intercourse might opt for specialty lubes that provide these effects. Flavored lubes can also introduce an element of playfulness and taste, particularly during oral sex, with options that are food-grade and safe for consumption. It's however important that these lubes are checked for compatibility with individual health needs, as some may cause irritation.

Comfort and Ease of Use

For many, comfort is key. A personal lubricant that is easy to wash off, doesn't stain sheets, and leaves no residue can greatly improve the experience during and after intercourse. During menopause, for example, women often prefer water-based lubes that provide moisture without irritation. Conversely, shower-friendly formulas may be preferred by those who enjoy water play, as they do not dissolve immediately upon contact with water. The ease of use directly affects the willingness of a partner to reach for it; inconvenience could potentially disrupt the mood.

Whether a person prefers a lubricant to enhance their own or their partner's experience during sex or masturbation, personal lubricants come in a variety of textures that cater to these specific user experiences. Personal preference shapes the choice, ensuring both parties feel comfortable and the chosen lube complements the intended activity.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top recommended lubricants by gynecologists?

Gynecologists often recommend water-based lubricants as they are gentle on the skin and less likely to irritate the vaginal lining. Some may also advocate for natural oil-based options, provided they do not interact with latex condoms or other barriers.

Are there specific lubricants recommended for men?

Lubricants for men often include those that provide a long-lasting effect without irritation. Silicone-based lubricants can be a popular choice for their durability and compatibility with condoms.

What's the best water-based lube available?

The best water-based lube the "best" water based lube is the one that meets your needs, whether that's organic and natural ingredients, a non-irritating formula, beneficial ingredients like hydrating aloe or cannabis extract.

How does lubricant affect sperm viability?

Certain lubricants can negatively affect sperm viability and motility. Couples trying to conceive may want to opt for fertility-friendly lubricants that are specifically formulated to not harm sperm.

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