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Lubrication for love, lube 101

There's all manner of things that would be difficult if not impossible to achieve without lubrication, and this also applies when we are talking about sexual intercourse, and masturbation with toys. Proper use of a personal lubricant will reduce the likelihood of pain or injury due to friction, but not all lubes products are created equal, there are several varieties with different properties and caveats.

In straight-ahead, vanilla heterosexual intercourse, there are 2 partners, 1 male and 1 female. As we all know, the female party is usually equipped with a vagina. In most situations, the vagina is able to do a wonderful job of lubricating itself, however there are occasions where some help from manufactured lube is required, it's amazing how much friction flesh on flesh contact can generate!

There can be physical and health issues that can result natural vaginal lubrication that's either insufficient in quantity, or that comes on a little too slow, or both. Some women find that for whatever reason, their natural lubricant isn't "thick" or viscous enough.

Some women need intense foreplay to build up the "mood' required for natural vaginal juices to flow, and in some cases the only lube needed to speed up the process is a bit of saliva. Women have found that with the right lube, the sensation is so sensual, that their vagina and it's natural juices catch up quickly!

Choices, choices ...

There are a few different kinds of lube, and many manufacturers. The main types of personal lubrication for sex are: water based, petroleum based and silicone based.

Water based lube

Water based lubricant is one of the most common, and is readily available in pharmacies. A water based lube is safest to use with sex toys and condoms, as it won't harm synthetic materials, or cause them to degrade.

Many sexual lubrications with a water base incorporate a scent or flavor into the product, which can be a nice touch, assuming you like the artificial flavor. Usually a sweet, fruit based flavor is used, like cherries, grape, strawberry or orange.

The downside of a water based lubrication is that it can and will absorb during sexual activities, and may need to be reapplied during some longer love sessions.

Petroleum based personal lubricants

Petroleum based lubrication is also easy to find. The most common name is petroleum jelly, you are probably familiar with the brand name, Vaseline. These can cause condoms and some sex toys to break down, and it's not recommended for close proximity to oral sex activity. The petroleum product itself is safe for use in the body, but it can be messy, and hard to clean up. It can also stain sheets, because it's so oily.

These are not recommended for use with condoms. Some latex and petroleum doesn't mix, better safe than sorry!

One characteristic of these lubes is that some feel like they become more slippery with use. Where a water based lube may "fade" as it absorbs, and a silicone lube will stay fairly constant - the petroleum based lubes can develop a lighter viscosity feeling as they warm up. This makes them good for anal lubes, as they offer extra viscosity when it's needed initially, and lighter, smoother lubrication once things get going.

Silicone lubrication products

Sex lubes with a silicone base are perhaps the highest quality, longest lasting and of course, most expensive option. They are wonderful lubes for staying power, as the lube doesn't absorb during intercourse like a water based lube, and the viscosity remains fairly consistent, unlike petroleum lubes.

The caveat is that you must be careful not to use a silicone based lubricant with your silicone sex toys. Using silicone on silicone products can cause your toys to break down and fall apart rapidly, and you don't want that!

A note on edible erotic oils and K-Y warming liquid

Most sex toy shops carry products that are advertised as "edible erotic massage oils". These should not be confused with true massage oils (which have no need for being erotic) and personal lubricant. While some of these edible oils do bring something worthwhile to the table as an erotic and exotic substance to play with in the bedroom, most are next to useless as a lube for penetration.

You also have no idea in most cases whether or not the massage oil is condom safe.

Some of these "oils" are based mostly on water and sugar, with a little bit of edible oil product and some artificial flavor added. These are mostly intended to be used on the genitals to enhance oral sex. Because these "edible erotic massage oils" rarely have much in the way of lubricating abilities, it's best to just use them for external stimulation and foreplay. They can become quite sticky due to the high sugar content, and can actually make things a bit uncomfortable in some cases.

There's also a fairly mainstream product available called "K-Y Warming Liquid. While K-Y is traditionally known as a lubricant, this product is very different from their usual water based lube, which is an extremely thick, viscous gel. The K-Y warming liquid is quite a bit thinner, and is made primarily to use as a stimulating liquid for foreplay. It contains a chemical compound that's intended to create a feeling of gentle warmth on the genitals, just like a very diluted version of a topical solution for sore muscles, like A535 or BenGay.

While I give K-Y points for advertising this sex related product on fairly prime-time slots, I think it's not that warm. I personally found the K-Y warming liquid to be so mild that I could barely detect any heat at all, however there are other products on the market that do the trick.

Application and use ...

With personal lubricants that are widely available in pharmacies, groceries and online, you can apply a couple of spoonfuls worth of lube and be almost instantly ready for comfortable intercourse, regardless of whether the vagina cooperates by lending some of it's natural fluids or not.

It's often a good idea to apply lubricant to both the vagina (or anus) and the penis (or sex toy). This will provide adequate lubrication where the majority of friction occurs during penetration, as well as deeper inside the orifice.

How much lube to use will depend on the individual, but usually you can start with a little and use more if you feel it's needed. A teaspoon or so per person should do, roughly a couple of quarters sized globs. Coat the circumference of the penetrating object (penis, dildo or vibrator) thoroughly, to ensure there's no unlubricated areas to "stick" or hang-up, causing discomfort.

How the personal lube is applied can be important if it's one partner applying it to the other. Try to make it erotic, don't just squirt a cold glob of goo all over your lover and expect her to appreciate it! A good tip is to apply some lube (not too much) to the fingers or palm, and let it sit there for about 30 seconds or so, giving it a chance to warm up a bit. This can make a difference, even if you live in a warm climate, for some reason lubricants just feel cold.

If you are using lube to facilitate use of a dildo or vibrator, you will want a sex toy compatible water based lube. Using a condom will make your toy easier to clean off afterwards, but that's a personal decision.

Related Read: Anal Lube - this thicker lube is specific to anal sex.

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