Back in early April, I was invited to Bryn Mawr College to teach my Tied Up & Feminist workshop. The workshop itself is centered around kink, how society perceives kink/BDSM play, and about how we can start to engage that component of our desires.

Before every workshop, I let students submit anonymous questions. I don’t get to answer every single one when I teach, so I’ll be posting the answers here. This set of questions from Bryn Mawr is centered around lube — what it is, why you might want to use it.

Side-note: The questions are all written exactly as I received them.

Q: What’s the benefit of lube for oral/vaginal sex?

A: Oh, so many things. People tend to hold a lot of negative beliefs around lube — that lube is something that only their parents need because they’re old, that you only need after you go through menopause, or that if you need lube, it means you’re not turned on. Or, we believe that people who need lube have something is wrong with them.

The reality is that lube is helpful for anyone, regardless of their gender, age, or the sex act they’re engaging in.

Lubricants used for oral sex are often flavored — like Sliquid’s flavored line — and are most often used when combined with barrier methods. Some flavored lubricants taste really awesome and people may want to use them just for their flavor alone.

Lube — good lube — can be the vagina’s best friend. While some people get wet (and stay wet) easily, many people don’t.

There are a lot of things that can cause someone to not get as wet as they would like to: antihistamines, antidepressants, hormonal birth control, stress, dehydration, breastfeeding, yeast infections, cancer treatment therapies, menopause, testosterone therapy, diminished blood flow to the pelvis, and insufficient arousal, just to name a few. That’s a lot of things.

Using lube for vaginal (or anal) play can increase pleasure, reduce anxiety about lack of lubrication, and reduce the likelihood of experiencing tissue tears and pelvic pain during sex. Lube is essential for anal play because the anus does not self-lubricate, and the anal/rectal tissues are incredibly delicate, but we’ll talk more about that in another post.

The short answer is: the benefit of lube is that it helps things feel better and increases safety.

Q: I have never used lube! How would I start? I don’t even know where to start with that.

A: Lube is amazing! I really believe that everyone should use it during solo and partnered sex. We have this idea that the only people who need lube are people who have something wrong with them, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’ve never used lube before, here are some of my basic recommendations and questions:

  • Will you use it with silicone toys? If so, you’ll likely want to use a water-based lube. Some silicone toys and some silicone lubes don’t play well together, and you don’t want to ruin your toy!
  • Will you use it with a condom? Latex is destroyed by oil, so if you’re going to use lube with a condom, avoid using an oil-based lubricant. Water-based, silicone, and silicone/water hybrids are all fine to use. You can also use a non-latex condom with oil-based lubricants.
  • Are you prone to yeast infections or do you have sensitive skin? I recommend using a lube that doesn’t have glycerin, parabens, or propylene glycol in it. They can all cause irritation (for different reasons). Brands like Sliquid, Good Clean Love, and Uberlube are all great, body-safe, hypoallergenic lubricants.
  • Do you experience chronic vaginal dryness? If you do, Sliquid Satin is a great option. It helps restore moisture, leading to more comfort and less pain. You can use it as lubricant during sex or as a daily vulvar moisturizer.
  • Will you be engaging in anal play? If so, you may want a longer lasting or more cushiony lube. A hybrid, like Sliquid Silk, may be great here.
  • Do you want to use it for oral sex? Flavored lubes can be great, but some flavors can be less mouth-watering. I love Sliquid’s line of flavored lubricants and System Jo’s flavored line.

To apply it, you can put it directly on your genitals or a toy, or you can use your hand. It’s up to you to find what feels best for your body!

Want to learn more about lube? Here are some of my favorite resources:

  • BadVibes.Org — What’s in your lube? — This is a great resource for science geeks.
  • The CSPH — Lube Guide — At the time of publication, this link wasn’t working. I’ll update it as soon as I see that it’s online again

Next week, I’ll be posting the answer’s to Bryn Mawr’s questions about barrier methods, sex after trauma, and starting out with sex toys.