When to Choose Lubricated or Non-Lubricated Condoms

Learn When Lubricated or Non-Lubricated is the Right Choice for Condoms

Assortment of Condoms
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When are lubricated condoms the best choice, and when might non-lubricated be better? Lubricated condoms often seem like the smart buy. After all, they provide both lubricant and protection. However, they aren't actually always the best choice. For example, they're often less than ideal if you're planning on oral sex. See the pros and cons of lubricated and non-lubricated condoms.

Lubricated Condoms

Lubricated condoms are the latex condoms you will find most often in drugstores.

Some are lubricated with spermicides, which may be problematic for some people. Others are lubricated with a non-spermicidal personal lubricant. Many people find that lubricated condoms are easier to work with, and put on, than non-lubricated condoms.

There's nothing inherently wrong with using a lubricated condom. However, most lubricated condoms don't actually contain enough lubricant for sex. Therefore, lubricated condoms may not be saving you as much time and money as you think. Ideally, even when using a lubricated condom for intercourse, you'll want to also use additional lubricant. Keeping an additional water or silicone-based lubricant handy can improve your sexual experience. Proper lubrication can make safe sex both safer and sexier.

Using a Lubricated Condom During Vaginal Intercourse

Lubricated condoms are ideal for vaginal sex. However, couples may require an additional condom-safe lubricant.

There is nothing shameful about needing additional lubricant for sex. Not everyone produces an equal amount of lubrication. Furthermore, when using condoms you need to use more lubricant, not less. Condoms cause more friction when rubbed against skin than skin does. You can discover this yourself by rubbing one on your hand.

One thing to keep an eye out for is what type of lubricant is used on your lubricated condoms. Non-monogamous couples should be careful about using condoms with spermicidal lubricant. Evidence suggests that there may be an increased risk of HIV and other STDs associated with nonoxynol-9. It irritates the lining of the vagina and anus, which can increase the risk of getting HIV.

Using a Lubricated Condom During Oral or Anal Sex

Lubricated condoms are fine for oral sex. It's just that they may not be ideal. Why? Because many lubricants taste terrible. In addition, the nonoxynol-9 in spermicidal lubricated condoms can make your tongue go numb. Unlubricated condoms or flavored condoms may be a better option for oral sex.

Lubricated condoms are fine for anal sex, as long as they don't contain nonoxynol-9. However, you will also need additional water-based or silicone lubricant.

Non-Lubricated Condoms

Non-lubricated condoms can be a good choice for some people. First off, they're great for oral sex. No need to worry about the lubrication tasting bad or making your tongue go numb. They also allow people to choose their own lubricant. That good for several reasons. Not only does it mean you get to use whatever type of lube you prefer.

It also means you can use however much you want.

Unlubricated condoms are the chameleons of the latex condom world. They are so useful precisely because of that versatility. For oral sex, they can be used as is, or cut into a dental dam, without anyone needing to ingest lubricant. For vaginal or anal intercourse, they can be paired with the lubricant of your choice.

Unlubricated condoms are particularly useful for people who are sensitive to one or more of the ingredients in commercial personal lubricants. With unlubricated condoms, they can find a water or silicone based lubricant they like. Then they can use however much they choose without worrying about irritation from what is already on the condom.

  • Use During Vaginal Intercourse: Unlubricated condoms are fine for vaginal intercourse. They just need to be paired with a water or silicone based lubricant.
  • Use During Oral Sex: Unlubricated condoms are ideal for use during oral sex. There's no lubricant taste to deal with! However, some people may prefer to use flavored condoms. It's also possible to pair unlubricated condoms with a flavored lube.
  • Use During Anal Sex: Unlubricated condoms are fine for anal sex. However, they should be used with an appropriate water or silicone based lubricant.

A Word From Verywell

There are advantages and disadvantages of using a lubricated or unlubricated condom. Choose the type that will work best and select an appropriate lubricant as well. Wearing a condom is an important way to protect yourself and your partner.

Sources:

Condoms - male. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004001.htm .

Male Condom Use. CDC.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/male-condom-use.html.

HIV Basics - Prevention. CDC.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prevention.html.

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