Sex Lubes

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Female Orgasm There is a wide variety of sex lubes available today. They're silicon-based, water-based, oil-based, they're creams and gels and liquid, scented and unscented, even flavored. Lubes differ in their thickness, taste and longevity.

Read on to learn more about different types of sex lube. (Or just go straight to the best lubes recommendations.)

Let Female Orgasm.MD unravel the Gordian knot of sex lubes for you. We'll even recommend sex lubes, depending on their intended purpose.

Sex Lubes - The Basics

Sex lubes are all composed of one main ingredient -- the "base." Different types of bases are suitable for different functions.

Water-based sex lubes

Water-based is your all-around best choice. Water-based lubes are condom-friendly and work with all sex toys. Most sex lubes you find will be water-based.

The only downside to water-based lubes is that they dry out faster than silicon-based sex lubes. Check out our recommended water-based sex lubes.

Silicon-based sex lubes

Where water-based lubes dry out over time, silicon stays slippery just about forever. Silicon lubes feel like oil, but they're condom-friendly. You can even use them underwater (think bath tub or jacuzzi!). Silicon lube won't go away unless you wash it off with soap and water, so it's excellent for anal play.

If you put silicon lube on a silicon or cyberskin dildo, get ready to watch your sex toy melt. If you insist on using silicon lubes with these types of material, put a condom over your sex toy first.

We recommend silicon-based sex lubes here.

Oil-based sex lubes

No, no, no! Not only are oil-based lubes non-condom-compatible, having oil in the sensitive vaginal and rectal lining can lead to infection. So don't use your massage oil, baby oil, Crisco or Vaseline as sex lubes.

Sex Lube Ingredients

There are two "problem" ingredients in many sex lubes: nonoxynol-9 and glycerin.

Nonoxynol-9 (sometimes abbreviated as n-9) is a detergent-like additive used to lubricate condoms and in sex lubes. N-9 has been found to kill the HIV virus and therefore is viewed as a favorable ingredient. On the other hand, n-9 causes tiny tears in mucous membranes of the vagina and anus -- which lets HIV and other viruses infect new hosts. Therefore we do not recommend the use of condoms or sex lubes containing n-9.

Glycerin is a type of sugar that's added to lubes to make them taste sweet. Glycerin also has a slippery texture. Many people like sweet-tasting lubes. Unfortunately, many women find that having glycerin in their vaginas can lead to yeast infections. If this describes you or your partner, choose a glycerin-free lube.

"Warming" lubes sometimes contain high levels of glycerin, which can exacerbate the infection issues mentioned above. Other warming ingredients include:

  • Acacia honey, which can also lead to yeast infections.
  • Capsaicin, which makes chili peppers and pepper spray hot
  • Menthol, which feels cool and tingly - and is used in cough drops

If you or your partner are sensitive, then warming lubes might not be for you.

Sex lubes: thick or thin?

Thin sex lubes mimic the feeling of natural vaginal lubrications and are generally the first choice for vaginal sex.

Thick lubes are longer-lasting and therefore better for anal play. Some thicker water-based lubes become tacky or sticky as they dry. Probe is a great thick water-based lube for anal play. Many people choose silicon lube over water-based lube for anal play because it lasts practically forever and doesn't get sticky.

Which sex lube is right for me?

Read our overall best lube recommendations, or go straight to water-based lubes or silicon lubes. A good anal lube has different qualities. And of course, there are some great-tasting flavored lubes available as well.