Lubricants 101

Vaginal dryness and soreness can be one of the most uncomfortable side-effect of menopause, not only physically but emotionally too. You might find yourself delaying or avoiding intimacy because of pain and embarrassment, causing both you and your partner to feel depressed and disconnected from one another One of the easiest ways to address this problem is the use of sexual lubricants, which can reduce your discomfort and enhance sexual pleasure for both you and your partner - but if you have never used them before, how do you know what product is best for you?

In recent years, the lubricant market has expanded dramatically. Gone are the days of walking into the drugstore and only having a choice between a few different brands of essentially the same lubricant. Now there are whole shelves devoted to lubricants and while having more choice has its benefits, it can be overwhelming - especially when you may be feeling self-conscious about even standing in that part of the store. That's why we've prepared this primer for you - read on to learn about the different types of lubricants on the market so you can shop with confidence.

There are 5 main types of sexual lubricants on the market today: water-based, silicone-based, oil-based, organic, and specialty. 

Water-based – These are the most common and well known lubricants. They’re condom safe and compatible with all toys. Water-based lubricants are easily found, are the most economical, mimic natural lubrication, are easy to clean up, and absorb into the skin or evaporate (so you may need to reapply). The potential downside of water-based lubricants is that some contain glycerin. This can cause problems for women who are prone to yeast infections as the glycerin converts to sugar when it is absorbed by the body, and sugar feeds yeast. If this is a concern for you, check the ingredients and choose brands with little or no glycerin.

Silicone-based – These are water-based lubricants’ much more slippery cousins. Because silicone-based lubricants don’t absorb into the skin or evaporate, they stay slippery until you wash them off. They are usually thicker than water-based lubricants, are safe for most toys, do not contain glycerin or parabens, and are unlikely to cause irritation to sensitive skin. The potential downsides to silicone-based lubricants are cost, as they’re more expensive than water-based lubricants, and the fact that they need to be washed off.

Oil-based – These fall into the category of "grab what’s handy" lubricants: baby oil, petroleum jelly, vegetable oil, and even olive oil will all work in a pinch. Since they are not specifically made as sexual lubricants, may irritate sensitive skin, and can degrade latex condoms, they should be used with an abundance of caution.

Organic – Many consumers are looking to eliminate chemicals from their lives, especially those absorbed through the skin or put in the genital area. Organic lubricants are designed to use fewer ingredients, and contain no artificial ingredients. Like many other organic products, they come with a higher price tag than their non-organic counterparts. While organic lubricants used to be found only in health food stores and via online retailers, they have become more mainstream in recent years and can now be found in most drug stores.

Specialty – These are the newest types of lubricants, and the ones that are often advertised on late night television commercials. Some specialty lubricants contain compounds such as menthol or capsicum to create a pleasurable heating, cooling, or tingling sensation. They work alone or in combination with a partner lubricant. They should be introduced with caution as some women may find them irritating on sensitive skin. The other main category of specialty lubricants is the flavored type. These come in a wide variety of flavors and may also contain heating ingredients. Flavored lubricants can contain sugar or glycerin and should be avoided if you are prone to yeast infections.

With all the different types of lubricants on the market, it’s well worth taking the time to experiment to find the best lubricant for you and your partner - your body and your relationship will both thank you for it.


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