I have to be honest – I’m not sure how or why using lube became taboo or difficult to talk about. But it is something that comes up time and time again with my patients, and they’re always concerned.
“Doc, I think there’s something wrong with me?”
“My partner thinks there’s something wrong with me?”
“I’m not as wet as I used to be.”
This typically comes up towards the end of a patient visit, where I always make sure to ask them if there is anything on their minds that wasn’t covered. The most interesting part is, when it is related to lubricant, they lower their eyes and say it in a very hushed tone. They’re conveying a feeling of shame. These patients are people of various ages and backgrounds, but regardless of these differences all of them feel a shared sense of shame when talking about their lack of lubrication during sex.
I usually ask if there are any other symptoms, and sometimes they can tell me other things like feelings of physical discomfort or problems orgasming. But one of the first things that I offer all of my patients who express these concerns is to use lube. It is an easy solution for dryness and it can be used for so many intimate activities. In fact, a 2010 study conducted by Indiana University found that women reported increased sexual pleasure when they used lubricant during all types of sex (masturbation, vaginal penetrative, and anal penetrative) than without lube.¹ We know it works, so we shouldn’t feel shy about using it!
When meeting with my patients, I also like to ask how their partner will feel about using lube, since in some cases they may be unsure or wary. They are concerned that their partner may feel slighted because they are not able to make them as wet or aroused as they have been in the past, or that they will be perceived as being less sexy because they need lube to help make sex more comfortable and pleasurable. These are all perfectly valid feelings but should not cause feelings of embarrassment or insecurity.
Likewise, there are also concerns that have been discussed in sexual health circles. It has been shown that many women feel reluctant to bring up issues they may be having with vaginal dryness during intercourse, and at the same time, many healthcare providers do not feel that they are able to ask the right questions about vaginal dryness or sexual discomfort when meeting with patients. Unfortunately, this often leads to women not getting the simple and effective help they need to improve their sex lives.²
With all that in mind, it’s important to know that using a personal lubricant doesn’t make you any less sexy. Just like condoms or birth control pills don’t make people any less attractive to a partner, lube doesn’t affect your sex appeal. It is simply a product available and used by more than 49 million Americans to make your sex life more pleasurable.3 Just like adding toys or role-playing can make sex more enjoyable, so can lube!
I’m not entirely sure how using lube became a marker of there being something wrong with the sexual chemistry or attraction between partners, but I’m here to tell you that it has nothing to do with that. In reality, we should start thinking of it as a marker of being fully engaged with our sexual partners. It shows that you want to make sure your partner is comfortable and to highlight their pleasure.
Let’s normalize using lube. It can truly be a game-changer, mentally and physically.
- Indiana University. “Effect of water-based and silicone-based lubricant on sexual pleasure of women.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101209074359.htm>.
- Edwards, D, and N Panay. “Treating vulvovaginal atrophy/genitourinary syndrome of menopause: how important is vaginal lubricant and moisturizer composition?.” Climacteric: the journal of the International Menopause Society vol. 19,2 (2016): 151-61. doi:10.3109/13697137.2015.1124259
- Grand View Research. “Personal Lubricant Market Analysis By Type (Water-Based, Silicone-Based, Oil-Based), By Distribution Channel (E-commerce, Drug Stores), By Region, Competitive Insights, And Segment Forecasts, 2019 – 2026.” Grand View Research, August 2019. <https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/personal-lubricant-market>.