How much thought have you put into your lubricant?

Playful and fun, lubes offer lovers novelty and heightened sensitivity. Just a drop or two on your fingers or erogenous zones makes the skin-on-skin action suddenly so much more slippery and seductive.

Whether you are with a partner or by yourself, your choice of lube can intensify any sex session. Deciding which one works best for you can be difficult. There are so many lubricants, and they are sold at so many places: drug stores, sex stores, retail stores and online.

Lubricant can prove helpful when lovers are dealing with the following issues:

— Menopause;

— Post-pregnancy dryness issues, including those triggered by breast-feeding;

— The effects of oral contraceptives or other medications;

— Too much alcohol consumption;

— Sex acts involving friction, which can be painful or cause tearing.

Sometimes, a woman can be totally aroused, but in need of a little assistance. Lovers also like to use lube during self-pleasuring, foreplay and erotic massages. Offering variety, a lubricant gives sex toys a friendlier feel, because it acts as a substitute until the body’s own juices start flowing — making for more pleasure, especially during safe sex.

With lubricants, lovers are able to realize greater sexual satisfaction, often reaching orgasm more easily.

But some lubes are better than others. Here are the major types and what you need to know when selecting a lube:

Water-Based Lubes

Regarded as the most user-friendly and the gentlest for those with sensitivity. Water-based lubes are appealing because they are:

— The most recommended, easy to find, and affordable;

— Odorless and tasteless;

— Easy to clean up and don’t stain;

— Able to be “rejuvenated” with just a few drops of water or saliva when dry;

— Safe to use with condoms, diaphragms and other safe-sex products;

— Able to be used with all sexual enhancement products, and during all types of sex.

Water-based lubricants lose their appeal with some people because they dry more quickly than other types. The most commonly sold lubes are ones that contain synthetic glycerin (for a sweeter taste), which may cause irritation or yeast infections.

Examples: Astroglide, KY Liquid/Jelly

Lubes without glycerin or vegetable-derived glycerin should pose no problem. Plus, they’re thicker and last longer than lubes with glycerin.

Examples: Maximus, Liquid Silk

Silicone-Based Lubes

Offering a slicker texture, silicone-based lubes are preferred by some lovers because they:

— Are long-lasting;

— Are safe with latex products and can be used during all types of sex;

— Don’t wash off when used in water;

— Last three times as long as water-based lubes, and a little bit goes a long way;

— Don’t cause skin irritation;

— Are odorless and tasteless.

The primary drawbacks of silicone-based lube?

— They are more expensive than other types and harder to find;

— They are likelier to cause irritation;

— They can leave stains (although these typically wash out);

— They must be cleaned with soap and water;

— They are not recommended for oral pleasuring;

— They can have a “numbing” effect for some people;

— They cannot be used on silicone toys (unless they are covered with condoms).

Examples include: Eros, Wet Platinum

Oil-Based Lubes

Long-lasting, cheap, and easy to find, oil-based lubricants, like petroleum jellies or lotion, are an easy way to avoid chafing during manual stimulation. They are, however, known for their disadvantages:

— They cannot be used with latex products and contraceptives (they break down condoms);

— They leave stains, make cleaning difficult and necessitating a shower after use;

— They may cause irritation.

— They cannot be used internally.

Natural oil-based lubes, like vegetable, olive or vitamin E oils, are super for genital massages and safe for all sorts of sex play not requiring safe sex. However, these do stain fabrics.

Flavored Lubes

Often bypassed by lovers, flavored varieties are nice because they can be used with latex and sex toys and are ideal for oral pleasuring.

However, flavored lubes tend to dry quickly, can stain sheets and are a bit too sticky for some sexual acts. They can also irritate one’s genitals, especially since most contain glycerin.

When scoping out lubricants, be aware of any that contain lidocaine or benzocaine. While made to reduce discomfort during oral or anal sex, these ingredients work by dulling pain. When a part of your body is numbed, it can’t tell you that something is wrong (i.e. you are tearing).

Be sure to test a small area of your genitals before applying more lube. If you find that you don’t like a lubricant, for whatever reason, don’t abandon such eroticism. Keep things fresh by experimenting with different types. With hundreds of choices at your disposal, you’re sure to find one that gets you hot.

Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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