Finding the right lubricant is a lot like finding the right skincare products. As we age, we have to explore options to see what our bodies like best because the skin of our genitals changes and tends to become more delicate and sensitive.
If it’s happened to you, you’re not alone and there is nothing to feel embarrassed of. Women of all ages are using lube to make sex more fun or more comfortable.
“Vaginal dryness is a very common symptom of menopause. Approximately two-thirds of postmenopausal women who haven’t taken HRT suffer from changes in the vagina and bladder linked to low oestrogen,” explains Dr Clare Spencer co-founder of My Menopause Centre.
Once you’ve ruled out with your doctor that the cause isn’t anything more serious, the problem could be as simple as adding a little extra moisture — down there. A lubricant can truly be your best friend during intimacy as it helps to reduce friction, ease penetration and stimulate the senses.
How to find the right lube
There are many types and they range from pleasure-enhancing, non-staining, odourless, perfumed, and even flavoured options. Ideally, you want something that’s safe as certain ingredients contained in lubricants can be unnecessary or harmful to apply to the outside of the condom as well as your vulva.
“You typically want to seek a lubricant that better clings to the walls of your vagina”, advises Dr Shirazian Taraneh Shirazian, MD, a board-certified gynaecologist at NYU Langone, who specializes in menopause, and director of Global Women’s Health in NYU’s College of Global Public Health. “In other words, something that isn’t going to wash away quickly or needs to be continuously applied, although it’s totally okay to reapply as needed. This translates to silicone-based lubes and those that contain hyaluronic acid“.
When looking at products, in particular, don’t get mesmerized by cool packaging or buzzing words. Instead, choose lubricants that are certified organic, free of petroleum, glycerin, parabens, and harsh ingredients, better if 100% vegan, gluten-free, not tested on animals and condom compatible.
Here are the most common types that might give you back your confidence, and enjoyment, between the sheets.
- Water-based lubricant
If you have sensitive or irritable skin, water-based lube is the way to go. It can be used safely for self-gratification, foreplay stimulation, and intercourse and it won’t leave stains. However, it does absorb into the skin, so you may need to reapply. They’re also available over the counter, and they’re compatible with latex condoms.
- Silicone-based lubricant
It’s hypoallergenic and longer lasting as it requires less to be applied. You can use silicone-based lube in showers and water. However, it can stain and be harder to rinse off, which can cause vaginal irritation.
- Oil-based lubricant
It provides a slippery feel and lasts a long time. Often including ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and almond oil, it might also have a moisturising effect. However, this type of lubricant does have its downsides. They might break down condoms and their greasy texture makes them difficult to wash off, exposing you to infectious bacteria and skin disorders.
How about natural lube?
The safest and most effective lubricants are believed to be those that have similar properties as natural vaginal secretions.
However, selecting a natural lube alternative can be challenging. Natural ones may include household items, such as yoghurt and oils, aloe vera or commercial products that manufacturers label as natural, but doctors discourage people make and use their own natural lubricants because these may sometimes damage condoms or alter the pH in the vagina.
Just because your body is changing that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to still have amazing sex. That’s where lubricants can come in handy.
According to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, “Lube doesn’t have to be the last resort for when things have gone a bit dry – you can use it at any time during sex and can seriously enhance the pleasure for everyone involved“
It might just take a little experimenting for you to figure out which ones work best with your body. Brands like Durex, Coconu, Hanx and Good Clean Love provide several options among lubricants for women to make sexual intercourse fun. However, if you prefer opting for natural ingredients, it’s best practice to do a skin test first.