Good Lube, Great Sex
Why is lubrication key to pleasure?
by George M. Johnson
Whether you are gay or straight, at some point I’m sure that you have had a sexual encounter with a person who doesn’t understand the importance of lubrication—actual lube, something I’ll get into in a few. The statements of “I like to feel the friction” totally disregard the comfort of the receiver that should come as part of the package of having enjoyable sex. But just like sexual partners, all lube isn’t good lube and it’s important that you are making an investment in what works best for you.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I am an avid Twitter user and, in the world of Twitter, you can see conversations ranging from Beyoncé to the Kama Sutra. Often though, you will see this belief from various parts of the community around “wetness,” the ability of one’s own body to produce natural lube. But there is a real need for education around how the body actually functions versus what you have seen on your various XXX sites. To be very clear, lubrication is a necessary part of sex, and not just for sexual comfort or pleasure. But even more so, for protection against injury and making the body more susceptible to STIs.
Whether we are talking about the vagina or anus, there is a lot of soft tissue in those areas. Tissue that could easily be damaged if not properly lubricated during sexual intercourse. For starters, when you are using a condom, lube helps reduce the amount of breakage. As we all know, condoms are not 100-percent effective, so taking proper measures to increase effectiveness is an important factor for those who are using them. Condoms also create an additional layer of friction, so proper lubrication can help against rubbing and tearing during intercourse.
Now let’s discuss this “friction,” a topic for those who use and don’t use condoms. Although the friction may feel better and give more sensation to the head and shaft of your penis, for the person receiving you could be causing real issues later on. And for those receiving who like a little pain, this isn’t the way to go about accomplishing that. The more friction in either the anus or vagina, the more you are prone to create little cuts, tears, and at worst “fissures,” which could lead to infection and bleeding and even a condition that requires surgery.
In addition to tears setting you up for future discomfort, they also make you more vulnerable to acquiring STIs as well as HIV. HIV is transmitted through pre-cum as well as semen and vaginal secretions. Although lube does not prevent HIV, it reduces the chances of having a tear which could become an easy opening for STIs and HIV to enter the body. Lube makes sex safer whether you are using condoms or not.
Recently, I realized that the last few sexual encounters I had weren’t as comfortable as they had been in the past. As someone who has engaged in anal intercourse for more than twelve years, I know pretty well the ins and outs of how to have pleasurable sex, no pun intended. It was in that moment I realized that the brand of lube I had been using wasn’t the best for that type of intercourse.
All lube is not created equal. And I’m sure that even though we may know this, it is very easy to just think that lube is lube when you are in the moment. There is a reason stores have so many brands of lube (much like condoms) because they each have a different quality. Silicone-based lube is always going to be the best on the market. It is imperative that you test the silicone against your skin to see just how slick it is, and if it dries out, as we all know our skin is different.
Baby oil, other types of oil and lotions, should not be used as lube. They are not meant for that purpose and could cause infections because of added perfumes and chemicals. Spit is also not lube. Although HIV cannot be transmitted with the use of spit, other STIs have been known to be passed through saliva. None of these lubrications are compatible with condoms, either.
At the end of the day, it is important to find what lube works best for you. As I stated before, there are silicone-based lubes, which provide for longer periods of intercourse with less drying out—although it can stain sheets so you might need a towel. Silicone lube ranges in prices with the higher-priced lubes tending to not dry out during longer sessions. Water-based doesn’t last as long (it dries out) so you may need more of it, but you don’t have to worry as much about clean up. All-natural lubes exist as well for folks allergic to certain chemicals.
Sex should be fun, but also pleasurable and based in preventing the transmission and acquisition of STIs. Much like the conversation around disclosure, around condom usage, and consent, use of lube should be a normal part of sexual activity. Get yourself some good lube and have yourself some fun.
George M. Johnson is a journalist and activist. He has written for Entertainment Tonight, Ebony, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News, and several other major publications. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @iamgmjohnson.