Keep Them Coming: All I want for Christmas is lube

Open The Doors Coaching

Kristen Thomas. // Photo by Nicole Bissey

Often one of the first subjects broached with new clients during sessions is lube use. 

Arousal is seen as little more than penises get hard and vaginas elongate and produce fluid. Arousal and wetness for vagina owners are culturally tied, but studies show that most vaginas don’t give a damn—they get wet whenever they please, not just when their owners are turned on. 

Lube that comes in a bottle is a necessity for all bodies, but not all lubes are up to every task. I did not understand the wonders nor the necessity of lubes until I was a sex coach. Now lube is one of my favorite topics to discuss. When I am at networking events, I have a pocket full of lube handouts. I was even a Lube Fairy at the Pride parade this summer, where I tossed Überlube sample packets into the crowd. 

“I’ve got a lube I use…when needed.” My immediate responses are: What kinds do you have? Why don’t you use a lube every time? Yes, you should have a variety of lube in your collection. And yes, you should be using lube every single time. The kind of lubrication you add matters. Here are some more common conversations I have about using lube.

“I swear I am horny, but why aren’t I wet like I used to be?” 

A multitude of things will influence wetness, like medication, hormones, hydration, sexual stimuli, and what we use as lube. Water-based lubes are plentiful. Water-based lubes won’t stain sheets and are compatible with all toys. Reapplication is likely necessary with this formula of lube. These lubes are readily accessible at retailers and online, but you have to check the ingredients before you buy. 

Water-based lubes sometimes have chemicals in them your body doesn’t like, such as glycerin, propylene glycol, parabens, or warming/cooling agents. Dr. Kelsey Beach, a local pelvic floor therapist, taught me on my podcast about how the ingredients found in lubes either hydrate or dehydrate the epithelial layer of vulvar tissue. The chemicals listed above are designed to make you need more of them, especially the longer you use them. Avoid these ingredients and throw your lube away if it contains them. Good Clean Love and JO are two of my favorite water-based brands to try instead.

Silicone personal lubricants have multiple uses, but it’s also the go-to for anal play. Usually, my gay clients and friends need no convincing to use lube, and we often compare notes on our favorite silicone brands, and I always favor Überlube. It is pH-balanced for vaginal intercourse as well, so it’s what I keep on my nightstand. With my pocket full of samples, I keep the girls, gays, and theys happy wherever I go. Plus, it’s a family-owned company, so you can feel good ordering from them on #ShopSmall day. Swiss Navy is another brand with a dedicated customer base.

“I must not turn them on because they always reach for the lube.”

Your prowess is not in question. There should be zero shame in using lube. Vaginas are sometimes lubricated when we are completely turned off, and they are not wet when we are actually really aroused (Sawatsky, Dawson, & Lalumiere 2018). Lubricating with an external source is simply a step that should be taken to set the conditions to maximize comfort and pleasure and minimize pain or discomfort. Release any judgment you have on yourself.

Oil-based lubes are a great all-natural lubricant that non-lube users seem to enjoy more than the goopy stuff. Try a lube made with avocado or coconut oil. Both taste good, are toy-friendly, and are fine for penetration. But don’t use condoms with oil-based lubes. You need to use the fancy stuff that’s cold-pressed or commercially manufactured as lube, not just the coconut oil you cook with. Be careful with your sheets. 

“We use lube, and I still have pain.” 

CBD lubes to prevent pain caused by tension and tightness in the pelvic floor are everywhere. Foria makes a coconut oil-based CBD product. There are water-based formulas at your neighborhood sex shops or even Target, as well. Apply the lube to the vulva, perineum, and/or anus, as well as just inside the vaginal opening. Using fingers, allow it to work into the area for 5-10 minutes. Focus on outer play that is non-penetrative at first. Try different things like toys, dilators, positions, and props to alleviate pain, if needed. 

“I/she/we don’t need it,” with a smirk. 

Mmm babes… you do so need lube. I did not understand until I was educated on the topic that without proper lubrication: vaginas can get tiny tears during sexual activity, and over time those little cuts and tears form a layer of scar tissue, which will reduce sensation and lubrication over time. I was setting myself up for an unnecessarily uncomfortable situation in the future if I didn’t change my ways and use lube every time, regardless of my perceived wetness. Spit is not lube, so having them go down on you is not the same as the vagina being well-lubed and ready for penetration from the inside.

Place a bit of lube over the vulva before placing the dental dam, and they will have a much better time. You can even put a little flavored lube on the outside for your pleasure, but never use flavored products for penetrating any orifices below the waist. 

Let’s also talk about dental dams for a sec. Barrier protection is a real topic, and it’s not taken seriously enough sometimes with oral, specifically with vaginas. If you or your partner have HPV, if you have herpes, if you’re wanting to avoid fluid bonding with a partner, if you have recently had oral surgery, or if you have sores in your mouth and want to have oral sex—use a fucking dental dam.

I want you to think of lubrication as being like sunscreen. Accept that it’s got to be part of your routine—just use it every time, and you’ll thank me later. It’s not a value statement; it’s not about your age; it’s not because of a malfunction. 

Hopefully I have influenced more than a few of you to grab a new lube soon. Toss some in as a stocking stuffer. Or start with samples before committing to the half-liter pump bottle. There is no singular lube I recommend keeping handy. You will likely want different types for different applications. Find what works best for you. If there’s discomfort after you’ve been going at it, don’t be shy—grab that bottle and reapply. 

And one more time, repeat after me, “Spit is not lube.” 

You can find Kristen Thomas on Twitter (@openthedoorskc) or online. Check out her podcast.

Categories: Culture