What You Need To Know Before You Buy Vaginal Lubricants

How To Choose the Best Personal Lubricant for Your Lifestyle

Young woman browsing beauty products in store
PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images

The use of vaginal lubricants are well worth considering if you're experiencing lack of physical arousal / vaginal dryness during sex. Being well lubricated can decrease the risk of vaginal tears and irritation, which can, in turn, reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). If you're using a condom, lube can also help cut down on the risk that the condom will break.

With so many lubricants on the market, however, how do you know which one to choose?

Water-based? Silicone-based? Glycerin-based? Scented or warming? Which one will work best for you?

Water-Based Lubricants

Water-based lubricants are usually the best option, especially if you're using a condom and/or are prone to yeast infections. Silicone-based lubricants are also okay to use with condoms. People sometimes choose a silicone-based lubricant over water-based options because they can be more slippery, and can also last longer, especially in the bath or shower. They can be more expensive, though, and can also break down sex toys made with silicone.

Oil-Based Lubricants

Oil-based lubricants in particular are problematic, and must never be used with latex condoms. The oil breaks down the latex and makes the condoms easier to break.

You should also never use a lubricant that contains oils, fats, or greases such as petroleum-based jelly (like Vaseline), baby oil or lotion, hand or body lotions, cooking shortenings, or oily cosmetics like cold cream.

They can seriously weaken latex, causing a condom to tear easily. They may have other adverse effects on the body as well, though there hasn't been as much research in this area.

When Does Vaginal Dryness Occur?

You may have heard that vaginal lubricants or moisturizers are only for women going through menopause.

Vaginal dryness is a common byproduct of this time in a woman's life, when her estrogen levels naturally drop. However, normal estrogen fluctuations throughout the course of a woman's life can also often cause vaginal dryness, creating the need for extra vaginal lubrication. Vaginal dryness often occurs during:

  • menstruation
  • pregnancy
  • childbirth
  • nursing
  • times of emotional stress
  • when using a condom

Do Medications Interfere With Vaginal Lubrication?

Several drugs can cause a loss of vaginal lubrication including:

  • Lo/Ovral
  • Ortho-Cyclen
  • Depo Provera
  • Halcion
  • Xanax
  • Ativan
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Beta-blockers
  • Prescribed and over-the-counter cold and allergy medications

Further Reading

How Does Lubricant Use Affect STD Risk?  If you're having penetrative sex, whether it's anal sex or vaginal sex, lubricants are a good idea. They reduce friction, making repeated penetration less likely to cause microscopic damage, or even tearing, of the vaginal or anal canal.

How To Use Condoms and Prevent Condom Failure. No form of birth control is perfect.

Not even condoms, which can break and tear during sex. In fact, 2-5 percent of all condoms tear when you use them. This can generally be prevented by making sure you're using them the right way.

Everything You Need to Know About Condoms. What they are, how they work, and more.

Should I Use Additional Lubricant with My Lubricated Condom? Condoms can be an effective means both of birth control and of protecting against sexually transmitted Infections (STIs). But what else can you do to make your sexual experience even better? Are you covering all your bases?

Continue Reading