Your guide to lubrication
Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Lubrication is a crucial part to sharing good intimacy. The following article reviews commonly asked questions and considerations for using and purchasing lubricants.
Do I need lubrication?
Yes. Without any form of lubrication, sex will feel extremely painful and can cause physical and emotional damage (a woman who has experienced physical pain from non-lubricative sex can develop a mental block against penetration in the future).
A purchased product is highly recommended for newlywed couples learning about sex (see further notes below). However, most couples will not always need a purchased product, as our bodies produce natural lubrication:
Women may have cervical mucus (only present during ovulatory phase), arousal fluid (often present after sexual arousal), and/or menses – which all have lubricative properties.
A man’s pre-ejaculatory fluid can also serve as a lubrication. Semen can become a helpful lubrication if the couple is attempting post-coital female orgasm.
Saliva can also be used as a natural lubrication. Saliva can be transferred through oral stimulation of the husband’s penis and/or the wife’s external genitalia. In a pinch, saliva can also be used in manual stimulation: the husband and/or wife can transfer saliva from mouth, to fingers, to genitals. (Doctors generally don’t recommend saliva for manual stimulation as a regular practice, however, as saliva isn’t the most lubricative option and can increase risk for vaginal infection. If STIs are involved, a doctor should be consulted about the possibility of transmission during oral to genital contact).
How can women better produce arousal fluid?
The time of a woman’s cycle greatly impacts her ability to become aroused. When she is ovulating, she is much more likely to be easily aroused. Studies also find her arousal curve increases in the day(s) before her next menses begins.
Extended foreplay can help produce arousal fluid: prolonged skin-to-skin contact, intimate kissing, manual and oral stimulation. (If the couple is comfortable with it and the wife has recently bathed/showered, oral stimulation of her genitals can be exceptionally helpful in generating arousal. It generally needs to be built up over time/foreplay.)
If the wife isn’t mentally in the mood to begin physical foreplay, she can ask to take some time away to relax with a shower or bath, mood music, etc.
Known factors that can increase vaginal dryness: antihistamines (found in allergy medicines), stress/anxiety, breastfeeding/postpartum, menopause, cancer treatment.
Why might we need purchased lubricant products?
Purchased lubricant products can help with both foreplay and penetration. If a woman isn’t able to produce enough natural lubrication during foreplay (due to the time of a woman’s cycle, other factors), lubricant will be necessary during penetration.
Newlyweds who are new to sex can benefit from lubricants as they better understand each other’s arousal curves.
Women who are not in the ovulation phase of their cycle can benefit from lubricants. It is more challenging for women to be sexually aroused in their non-fertile periods. The sensation of lubrication can help her become more aroused.
Because a husband will not be able to manually stimulate his wife if she is completely dry, lubricants can help create a slippery, more arousing sensation during foreplay.
How do we use lubricants?
To ease the cold sensation that can come with a lubricant, first warm it between your fingers before touching genitalia.
During foreplay and/or just before penetration, one/both partners will rub lubricant on the entirety of the man’s penis, around the woman’s clitoris, labia, and just inside vaginal opening.
Have an unwanted towel/cloth handy to wipe hands clean and place under your bodies during intercourse (silicone and oil-based lubricants can cause stains).
If you are feeling any friction during penetration, take a pause and apply more to penis and vaginal opening (and/or participate in more foreplay: kissing, manual, oral stimulation).
If using coconut oil: Use a spoon (not your hands) to remove it from the jar. Using your hands can cause bacterial growth and lead to infections. Use your hands to soften/melt the coconut oil before applying to genitals.
What kind of lubricant should we purchase?
Every couple will find a product that works best for them! There are three basic categories for lubricant. Read the pros and cons and experiment with a few until you find one that you are comfortable with. It is worth it to invest the money into finding a product that works for you.
Note: some of these lubricants do not work with condoms, but the following considerations have been written with the assumption that condoms aren’t being used (following Church teaching).
Pros: Doesn’t cause stains (easily washable), easily obtainable in local grocery/drug store, generally lower cost.
Cons: Gets sticky with friction, needs to be re-applied throughout sexual activity.
Considerations: Many water-based lubrications contain features that can increase the risk of yeast infection. (Medical professionals recommend avoiding products with glycerin and/or high levels of osmolality.) Water-based lubrication can inhibit sperm, and therefore cause challenges for achieving pregnancy. Searching for “organic water-based” lubrication may be helpful.
Pros: Lasts longer than water-based, can be used in shower.
Cons: Can cause stains in fabric (clothing/sheets), more difficult to clean off yourself.
Considerations: You can use a grease-fighting dish soap on stains. Pre-treat directly on stain or soak in dish-soapy water for a day. Wash with hot water. (When searching the Internet, look for “vaginal silicone lubricant” or you will see results for WD-40).
Pros: It doesn’t come with other additives that may cause irritation. It can be a more subtle purchase in your basket of weekly groceries.
Cons: Can cause stains in fabric (see notes for silicone lubrication).
Considerations: It has been popular in last decade to promote unrefined coconut oil (avoid “refined.”) While many couples swear by coconut oil, others have found it causes them vaginal infections (see notes on “how do we use lubricants?”). Alternative oil options include sweet almond oil and jojoba oil.
Be aware of the following:
Avoid: Any/all products that contain fragrance, flavors, warming, etc. These are unnecessary features that come with medical concerns. Also avoid petroleum jelly (i.e. Vaseline) – it is not designed for internal use.
Water should not be used as a lubrication – it washes away the body’s natural lubricant and ultimately causes dryness. (This means that sex in the shower or pool/etc requires menses, cervical mucous, or a non-water-based lubricant to achieve comfortable penetration.)
If you are noticing burning/itching/irritation you are likely allergic to it. If you are dealing with recurring vaginal infections, your lubricant might be the culprit.
I’m feeling overwhelmed by all of the options.
Ask your friends and family members what they use. This doesn’t have to be an awkward question.
Try purchasing one of each type (water-based, silicone, oil) and see what seems best for your marriage.
If you have a history of skin sensitivity, try adding “organic” to your search. Check out this list of recommended products.