Dear Dr. G,

I am a 27 year-old man who is sexually active.

My girlfriend and I have intercourse on a regular basis, usually around two to three times a week.

The sexual experience was so intense that even the slightest foreplay would get my girlfriend aroused.

However in recent months, my girlfriend found that even prolonged sexual stimulation did not get her aroused enough and as such, intercourse became painful.

She thinks this can be caused by dryness in her vagina, and is not helped by me being circumcised.

Therefore, my girlfriend suggested we should start using lubrication to smoothen the friction between the sheets.

I am shocked, as I often assume her natural wetness would be sufficient but she is clearly no longer sufficiently aroused to enjoy sex without the lube.

I really don’t know much about personal lubrication and would love to put Dr. G on the spot to find out more.

How many types of personal lubrication are there and how does one choose between one type or another?

Is it true that circumcised men always need lube? Do women really need lube at such a young age?

Are these not for postmenopausal women?

Look forward to your answers

Warmest regards

Lubricating Larry

Personal lubricant – also known as lube – are specialized materials used to reduce friction during sexual activities. This can be vaginal or anal penetrative intercourse, masturbation and even applications to sex toys to ease penetration.

A 2015 estimate revealed that the personal lubricant market is valued at USD$400 million and expanding rapidly.

When it comes to sex, one can always expect that wetness is key for enhanced pleasure. It is natural to associate lube with vaginal dryness in menopausal women or circumcised men without the natural sliding foreskin. Instead, regardless of gender, age or sexual acts, less friction and smoother skin can always result in more pleasurable sex.

An Indiana University study involving 2,453 women aged 18 to 68 found that lubricant use during sexual activities alone or with partner contributes to heightened sexual pleasure. The women i the study have the average age of 32.5 and were primarily heterosexual (85%) and married (56%). The study revealed that in more than 70% of cases, the participants indicating using lube is more pleasurable and comfortable.

There are generally four types of personal lubricants. These include water-based, silicone-based, oil-based and novel lubes. Water-based personal lubricants are water-soluble and are the most widely utilized personal lubricants. The viscosity of the water-based products can be altered according to the concentration of cellulose or gel-forming hydrophilic ingredients. The water-based lubricants are generally versatile, safe to use with condoms and pH balanced. They can also be washed off easily and do not stain the sheets. Some may find the lube a bit sticky, and they absorb into the skin and evaporate, therefore water-based lubricants have the tendency to dry out during sex.

Silicone-based lubricants do not contain water. As the liquid is not absorbed by skin or the mucus membrane, they last longer than water-based lubricants. Silicone is also an inert material that is suitable for sensitive skin. Not all silicone-based lubricants are certified as being latex-safe, so there is some risk of disease transmission. Such lubricants are also not recommended for use with sex toys and other products made from silicone, as they can erode the surface and disintegrate the toys over time.

Oil-based lubricants can be natural or petroleum-based. Natural products such as coconut oil is popular choice as it is clinically safe as a skin moisturizer. Although oil-based personal lubricants can be used for sex and sensual massage, such lubricants can result in breakage and slippage of latex condoms due to a loss of elasticity. Therefore, the oil-based lube is not recommended for use with condoms.

Novel lubricants are also emerging in the market lately. Anal lubricants that contain numbing agents to relieve the discomfort of anal intercourse have become more popular for such practice. Warming and cooling lubricants that contains capsaicin and peppermint are sold for a “hot and cold” effect during sex.

Also, novel lubricants with flavours such as strawberry and chocolates are also serving the market to enhance oral sex.

It is natural to associate the need of personal lubrication with vaginal dryness and dry circumcised penises. When it comes to sex, no matter what one enjoys, less friction between the skin tends to be more comfortable and pleasurable.

Wetness is not the only indication of the degree of arousal, and therefore needing a personal lubricant does not mean there is less arousal and interest in a partner, but just that extra desirable comfort and pleasure. Couples worrying about the use of personal lubricant, often put Dr. G on the spot for advice.

His view is: “Always know the worth of water in sex, the wetter the better!”

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