(Editor's Note: Dr. Fulbright is a Sexual Health and Relationship Ambassador who works closely with Astroglide personal lubrication products. While much of her advice highlights these products, the information is applicable to other personal lubricants with analogous chemical compositions.)
Whether you plan to have sex, rub one out, or simply stimulate those hot spots just aching for more action, lube will make the moment more slippery, smooth, and sensual. You never know when you will want - or desire - lubricants to maximize pleasure or to field lifes drier moments; compliments of menopause, breastfeeding, medications, and other such matters. Choosing which type of lube to use can have you feeling overwhelmed like a kid in a candy store each goodie looks so sweet but it's often hard to pick which will satisfy your needs. In many cases, your treat comes down to personal preferences, your needs, the type of sex session youre hoping for, and a bit of guidance on the pros and cons of each.
You crave action:
If soak-the-sheets sexy is what youre after, then you'll probably want
water-based liquids or gels. Liquid lubes offer a slick, natural feel, but they often require several reapplications. The gel forms provide "stay where you put it" power, but they are not quite as slippery. Water-based lubes are also great for some bottoms up sex play, hand jobs, as well as minimizing the chance of breakage when using a condom. Another advantage of water-based lubes is that they clean up easily and won't stain your sheets.
You want water play:
Whether youre taking action to the shower, bath, or Jacuzzi, you're going to want to bring some lube to replace the natural lubrication the water removes. For water play you'll want to use a silicone based lube like, Astroglide X Silicone, as these products don't break down in water. Silicone based lubes will help you stay wet longer than water-based formulas and they're great for pre-game sensual body massages or post-sex rub downs. In taking the action to dry land, apply these long-lasting lubes for friction-free marathon sex sessions. However, read the caution statements on any type of synthetic lube. Many will break down silicone sex toys and even condoms. For this reason, these lubes are often best for long term monogamous couples who don't use condoms. Another difficulty with these lubes is that they can be more difficult to clean off of yourself or your sheets as they are water resistant.
You have sensitive skin:
Some people have greater skin sensitivities than others. In making sure the only responses you have in the sack are sexual, look for lubes made with fewer additives, especially those that are glycerin- and alcohol-free, like Astroglide Natural. For women who are prone to yeast infections, they should avoid glycerin. Alcohol-free formulas are also less likely to cause irritation. And going green with a botanical formula made of plant extracts makes for a soft consistency that isnt sticky.
You long to heat things up - literally:
There are plenty of lubes that can add some extra spice to your sex life. Some are flavored to make oral sex taste better. However, some flavored products include sugar and may cause yeast infections if used for vaginal penetration. There are also desensitizing gels for anal sex or lubes that can create a warm, tingling sensation, like Astroglide Warming.
You have a date - with yourself:
You know youre not supposed to use oil-based lubes when practicing safe sex since it can break down the latex contraceptive (note: oil-based lubricants are safe with polyurethane condoms). But when you're alone, all bets are off. Its not unusual for guys to use oil-based lubes like massage oils, lotions, Vitamin E, or Vaseline. Women, on the other hand, may invite infection using such products, since these throw off vaginal pH-levels. Be aware that oil-based lubes can cause irritation. Its always best to use a personal lubricant product meant for self-pleasuring purposes.