Down There Care Sex Ed

The Lube Lowdown

By Zari Chipman Jillian LoPiano, MD

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Sex? Good! Painful sex? Not so much, Betties.

When aroused, the vagina naturally produces a lubricant to make sexual activity more pleasurable. You may have heard that “wetter is better,” but sometimes our bodies don’t secrete enough to give you that feel-good glide during intercourse. And this type of dryness doesn’t only affect older Betties, contrary to popular belief. It can happen to a Betty at any age.


Using an artificial lubricant can help hydrate your vaginal wall, reduce friction and make sex enjoyable when you’re getting frisky.

Silicone? Oil-based? Water-based? Flavored? Warming? Tingling? There’s no shortage of options when you’re on the hunt for the best lube to give you that WAP (cue Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion). Finding the right lube for you and your partner will require some trial and error in the bedroom, so we’re here to get you started with some safety tips and need-to-knows.


Water-based lubes and condoms are safe to use together and are easy to clean up. The bad news: water-based lube generally doesn’t last as long as silicone or oils. After a while, it’ll become sticky, making it uncomfortable for either you or your partner (no thanks!). The main issue with water-based lubes comes back to their osmolality.

Did you say cosmopolitan? ?

Not quite. Osmolality is the number of particles dissolved in liquid. Water-based lube has a high osmolality, meaning it can pull water out of your vaginal tissues and cause dryness, discomfort, and microtrauma during sex. (Definitely not a cosmopolitan)

Ouch. How can I make sure that doesn’t happen to me?

Put that Google to work and do some research first. Look for a water-based lube with an osmolality of less than 1200msosm/kg, as recommended by the World Health Organization.



Unlike water-based lubes, silicone-based lubes can last longer over time and won’t become very sticky. This class of lubes is compatible with latex condoms, too. Osmolality isn’t an issue since it doesn’t contain any water. If using it with sex toys, keep in mind you might have to do some extra cleanup afterward, as some are not compatible with silicone. This all depends on the materials, so make sure to check the labels!



Oil lubricants really have it going for them. Not only do they last long, but they won’t get sticky.

Coconut oil is the most popular, although there are a number of formulas on the market: virgin coconut, sweet almond, olive, avocado, and Vitamin E oils.

Yes, please!

Buuuuut, here come the cons. Oils and latex condoms are a no-go. If used together, the oil will break down the latex and cause ripping. Additionally, they can get a bit messy and may stain fabric or be difficult to wash out.



Strawberry, green apple, grape, vanilla, cherry cola, and peppermint – Is this candy aisle, or are we still talking about lube?

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there’s a whole category of lubes claiming to add a lil’ flavor to your sex life – literally.

So…is lube safe to swallow?

Water-based, edible lubes are generally A-okay, but safety principles and recommendations still apply, Betties. Take a look at the ingredients before you lap up any lube. Generally, stay away from preservatives, like parabens and glycerin, that can be harmful or contribute to conditions like yeast or bacterial vaginosis.

Got it. And what about those brands that claim to deliver “warming” and “tingling” sensations? Are those safe, too?

Well, that’s a little more complicated. If you’re considering a lube that promotes these sensations, keep in mind most contain ingredients such as capsaicin and menthol that are largely untested and unstudied in the vagina. That lack of information may result in irritation or discomfort instead of a pleasurable sensation and experience! Be cautious before you go wild. Carefully read the ingredients and instructions, and try a small amount to test it before full use.




Betties, we know poor lubrication can really grind your gears when trying to get intimate. And if you’re going through a dry spell, know that it’s natural, and it just might be time to add a lubricant to the nightstand. When choosing a product, consider your lifestyle, sexual habits, preferences, and desires for pregnancy prevention. Then test-drive different types to see what works best for you, so that it’ll be smooth sailing and easy-gliding from there on out.


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