For many women, buying a personal lubricant at the drugstore or market can be an embarrassing and bewildering experience. You turn to your left and a man is buying a pack of condoms—you look to your right and a woman is buying a pregnancy test. And who really wants to spend the time perusing the ingredients of each bottle? When I ask women what brand or type of lubricant they use, the majority have no idea. That’s because they leave it up to their partner to buy it or they grab the first thing they see on the shelf and make a mad dash for the cashier. What many people don’t realize is that there are several types of lubricants that a woman can choose from and each one fulfills a different need.
Here are some helpful tips to consider when purchasing your next bottle:
- If you are experiencing vaginal dryness and really want to kick up the moisture factor during sex, think about a silicone-based lubricant. This type of lubricant is just as safe as the water-based option, but provides longer-lasting moisture. It’s perfect for postmenopausal women, breastfeeding women, or women experiencing vaginal dryness from birth control pill use. Great news for individuals into “water sports - it’s water-proof, as well! Silicone-based lubricants are readily available online or at most drugstores and grocery stores and can be used with latex condoms.
- The most widely available lubricant is the water-based version. They tend to be slightly less expensive than the silicone-based lubricants. They do dry up a bit faster, so keep a spray bottle of water next to the bed to reactivate the lubricant on the genitals. Water-based lubricants are also safe to use with latex condoms.
- If you are prone to yeast infections or vaginal irritation, I recommend a glycerin-free version of either the water- or silicone-based lubricants. These can also be found in most pharmacies.
- Oil-based lubricants, such as olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil can be a great option for a monogamous couple that does not need to use latex condoms (the oil can break down latex and make it less effective). It’s also a good choice for women who have an allergy or sensitivity to the ingredients in the water- and silicone-based lubricants. I generally do not recommend Vaseline, baby oil, or mineral oil as a sexual lubricant as they can lead to vaginal inflammation and infection. My one exception to the rule is when a couple is trying to get pregnant. Mineral oil is a great lubricant option as research shows it doesn’t have an impact on sperm movement.