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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Lube: the sexual shoehorn sliding into something good

Published: September 15, 2006
Section: Opinions

Q: Why use lube? My girl doesnt need any help in that department!

Wet Willy

A: Well Willy, Im glad you brought this up. A lot of folks take offense at the suggestion of adding a lubricant to their normal sexual repertoire. Many assume that lube is needed only by those whose bodies arent up for the job, or those who arent satisfied by their partners. But lube isnt always about needing, its about wanting;

wanting a smoother, safer, sexier ride.

Bodies are different, and vaginas lubricate naturally to different degrees. Lubrication levels can be affected by outside influences, like stress and dehydration. Even an extremely aroused woman can appreciate and enjoy a little outside help. Besides, lube isnt just for vaginal penetration. It greatly improves manual and oral sex and is absolutely essential for anal sex. And dont forget, lube isnt only for people with partners. Masturbation is about loving yourself, so why miss out on the benefits of lube? No matter what kind, sex is great. Why not make it feel even better?

Humankind has always known that lube is a great pleasure enhancer. Centuries ago, olive oil was a popular choice. Technology and medical knowledge have improved since then. Before modern footwear, people wrapped their feet in cloth or leather, or went barefoot. And yes, people still walk around barefoot today. But you could walk a lot farther, and more comfortably, in sneakers.

Shoes are also important because they are a safety device, protecting your feet from broken glass and subway grime. Lube, too, is a safety device. Condoms are amazing, wonderful, and important safer sex products, but occasionally they do break. The natural enemy of the condom is friction. And the natural enemy of friction is lube. Simply stated, using lube greatly reduces your chance of breakage. Also, friction can cause micro-abrasions, and micro-abrasions can increase your risk of contracting and transmitting STDs. And lets not forget, lube can also prevent irritation and pain.

But once you decide to slick things up, you need to choose your lube. Today there is a plethora of options available. KY Jelly and Astroglide are the Keds of lube brands. Everyone knows them, you can find them everywhere, but they arent exactly known for their quality. KY and Astroglide were not developed for sex. They were created for the medical industrynamely, to insert probes and specula into bodily orifices. They are not designed to be long lasting or particularly sensual. For this reason, SSIS prefers other brands.

Glycerin is a common ingredient in lubes like Astroglide and KY, but can often cause yeast infections or irritation. Most lubes carried at SSIS, however, are glycerin-free. They are also biostatic, meaning they actively discourage infection.

The Merrells and New Balances of the lube kingdom are the water-based, glycerin-free Maximus and Liquid Silk. Liquid Silk resembles the bodys natural fluids, while Maximus has a thicker, gel-like consistency. All water-based lubes are safe to use with latex condoms. They do eventually reabsorb into the body, so reapply or add water as necessary.

A bottle of silicone-based lube is like a good pair of Tevas. Silicone-based lube (also safe with latex condoms) are the wettest and wildest of all the lubes. Wet Platinum is a great option and Pjur Eros is the Marc Jacobs rainboot of high-end silicone lubes. They are thin and stay wet longer than water-based lubes since they dont reabsorb into the body as quickly. In fact, one criticism is that they last too long. Our suggestion? Dont use it for a quickie before class.

And if youre into Birkenstocks and hemp sandals, you should definitely try Oh My! Lubes, made with all-natural ingredients. Oh My! is naturally sweet tasting, but also has a great line of flavored lubes to try. SSIS favorites are Blueberry Cheesecake and Pina Colada. And for once, the aftertaste is a good thing! Oh My! Lubes are made with hempseed oil and grapefruit seed extract. They are glycerin-free and biostatic. (Be careful with other brands of flavored lubes, since they often contain sugars and should not be used for penetration. Oh My! is the exception.)

Like a certain shoe can give you blisters, not all lubes are right for everyone. We recommend trying a bunch before buying a bottle. You can do this by buying one-time-use packets at SSIS and other sex boutiques.

So remember, lube isnt about deficiency and it isnt about ability. Its about pleasure, comfort, and safety. Wetter is better, and at SSIS its pretty damn cheap.