There’s a pernicious and persistent myth about lube: Many seem to think it’s only meant for people with problems — vagina problems, that is.
It’s true that lube is a lifesaver for women undergoing hormonal changes (peri-menopause, menopause, etc.) that cause dryness. Lube is also helpful when on any medication that reduces the body’s natural lubrication. But it’s also true that even the healthiest vagina dries up during a normal menstrual cycle. Yup — every month.
There’s a weird and wildly misplaced swagger that seems to accompany the phrase, “No lube needed.” Men seem to think this is proof of their virility — “My girl doesn’t need any lube because I turn her on SO MUCH.” Dudes, I hate to break it to you — our relative wetness down there is not about you.
A very brief primer on vaginal secretions
First a bit on your vaginal fluid, the kind you produce without the benefit of sexual stimulation.
A normal menstrual cycle begins with bleeding on day 1, followed by the follicular phase. Our hormones are at their lowest right after we bleed, increasing as we get closer to ovulation at mid-cycle. Very generally, estrogen is the hormone that propels our juiciest time of the month. As estrogen builds up in the system in a healthy menstrual cycle, our vaginal fluid goes from watery to an egg white consistency — making us most fertile right before we ovulate. (If you pay attention to your cycle you might also notice that you’re horniest at this time — nature’s way of making you want to make babies.)
After ovulation when our bodies produce progesterone, we get stickier and drier, then we get our period and it starts all over again. The takeaway is that some of us are just naturally wetter than others, and we’re all wet/not wet, depending on where we are in a given cycle.
After menopause, this monthly cycle will shift considerably — many women will experience at least some dryness, especially if they’re not taking any kind of estrogen replacement.
But with arousal-based lubrication, this all has to do with blood flow. When you’re turned on, more blood flows to your vagina, triggering something called the Bartholin’s gland to produce fluid. This is not the same cyclical fluid mentioned above — it’s a lot more slippery. How much fluid you produce will vary across your cycle, your mood and across your lifetime.
For some women, more foreplay helps to produce more fluid. Others can get super wet really fast, just by thinking about sex. There is no right and wrong, there is no good or bad —we’re all different and the only thing that matters is how well you know your own body.
Step up your lube game
No matter how much fluid you produce naturally, why wouldn’t you want to have even more slip in your sex? Having lube on hand can help if it’s the driest day of your cycle, or if you’re down for some “wham bam thank you ma’am” sex without the benefit of enough foreplay. Lube is also great for solo sex — not just for P in V sex.
Here are four brands to start with. Like I say in my book Eco-Sex, there’s a lot more to your K-Y than meets the eye. These brands are pre-approved for your health, safety, sustainability and pleasure.
1. Sustain Organic Lubricant
From the awesomely enviro- and woman-friendly producers of Sustain Condoms comes Sustain Natural Lubricant. The organic, aloe vera-based formula feels just like your body. It’s vegan, gluten-free and not tested on animals. Best of all: Ten percent of the profits go to women’s health initiatives. It comes in unscented and lavender, and is compatible with latex condoms. (Side note: Their condoms are also amazing.)
2. Blossom Organics
This Portland-based brand was one of the first in the industry to embrace organic, natural lube. Back when the only choices were chemical-laden formulas like Astroglide and K-Y, Blossom began producing its glycerin-free Natural Moisturizing Lubricant, compatible with latex and polyisoprene condoms. Flavored with stevia, it’s sweet and odor-free. You can also try their super fun Pure Pleasure Arousal Gel (for clitoral stimulation) and Warm Sensation Lubricant. And when I say you can, I mean you should.
Want some cannabis in your lube? Now you’ve got some (if you live in California or Colorado). The first of its kind, FORIA is a personal lubricant designed for female pleasure. This is far more than just a lube — it’s a euphoric experience. The combo of cannabis and coconut oil was created to help anorgasmic achieve orgasm, and to help women with normal sexual response achieve an even more intense orgasm. Note: FORIA is not latex-safe, so don’t use it with condoms.
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to order any of the above options, make sure to read the ingredient labels on the lube available at your local pharmacy. Avoid glycerin (it strips the vagina of moisture), parabens, petroleum and “fragrance,” a broad term that can disguise dangerous chemicals. Aloe and water-based formulations are best.
Whatever you do, just make sure you’ve got some lube in your night table drawer or in your purse — you never know when you’ll need a little bit of extra slip.