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Everything You Need to Know About Lube

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“The wetter the better.” It’s a sexual cliché you’ve heard more times than you can remember. And while it doesn’t take a genius to realize that lubricated parts are going to result in smoother sailing between the sheets, also realize that your natural wetness doesn’t always live up to how turned on you are.

Vaginal dryness can occur for multiple reasons—whether it be a medication you’re taking, an illness, or simply getting older, says sex therapist Tiffanie Henry, Ph.D. Simply put, sometimes might be mentally ready for sex, but your lady parts are trying to play catch-up. (The reason, in fact, may be one of these 6 Culprits of "Down There" Dryness.)

This is where lube comes in. Not only can adding some extra grease make sex less painful, it can also make it more enjoyable. In fact, according to research from Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion, over 50 percent of women who reached for slippery assistance claimed the lube increased their pleasure and made sex more comfortable. (But it's only one of 8 Reasons Why Sex Hurts.)

To simplify your search for the best possible match, here are a few pointers to ensure that you’re bringing the right bottle to bed. First, know that there are three popular types of lube: water-, silicone-, and oil-based. And ingredients and quality aside, there are two major differences: texture and function.

“Water-based lube starts out slick and is easy to wash off, but it can get sticky throughout sex,” says Erin Basler-Francis, content and brand manager at The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, a non-profit sexuality education and advocacy organization in Rhode Island. The stickiness is easy to fix by adding a bit of water, rather than intuitively slathering on more lube (which will just result in a stickier mess).

“Silicone stays nice and slippery, but requires soap and water to wash off,” says Basler-Francis. So it may not be the best solution if you aren’t able to rinse off immediately after.

Oil-based lubes are typically creamy and slippery, which is great for external use—like for a back or penis massage—but can irritate the walls of the vagina, warns Basler-Francis. (Is Coconut Oil the New Lube?)

“Like with most sexual things, lube is a highly personal choice based on one’s body chemistry and preference,” says Basler-Francis. You won't know what works best for you and your partner until you try them out—but did you really need another excuse to get busy?

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