Wetter Is Better

If I were stranded on a desert island and could have only one sexual tool with me, I'd have plenty to choose from: ben wa balls, candy-colored anal beads, ice-cream-swirled dildos, strut-worthy strap-ons, buzzing vibrators, and beefy butt plugs. Not to mention s/m gear like restraints, paddles, floggers, canes, nipple clamps, and many others. But the choice for me would be simple. I'd pick the one erotic aid that changed my sex life forever. It's clear, comes in dozens of varieties, and it's lube.

In college, my girlfriend introduced me to the liquid powerhouse as part of our safer sex practice in the early '90s. Since we were using condoms, gloves, and dental dams, lube was—and is—the perfect partner for latex. But latex or flesh, I think lube makes every kind of sex better; after all, the wetter and more slippery all the parts get, the hotter the amorous rite gets. Doesn't everyone want a slicker handjob, a juicier finger fuck, a smoother rear entry, and a moister muff dive? Of course you do. I am still perplexed that there isn't a tube or bottle (or supersize pump) of lube on every bedside table in America.

In San Francisco recently, I got the chance to go inside a place most girls don't even see—a gay male sex club. Upstairs at this two-floor fuck palace was a room full of partitioned cubbies, some with vinyl-covered beds, another with a sling hung on chains. Mounted on the wall in each cubby were soap dispensers filled with something far more useful and appropriate than Dial: water-based lubricant. When I first spotted these perfect pumps, they reminded me of hotels that have dispensers in the shower of shampoo and conditioner. So clean, so convenient, so efficient. That's one of the things I love about gay men—they can be so direct. We're having sex and we need lube.

Their hetero brothers have a lot to learn, however. Many men resist using lube because they feel threatened by anything they perceive as a sexual helper. When a customer at Toys in Babeland chose to buy his wife a sizable vibrator, I suggested he also purchase some lube. He declined, insisting, "Oh, we don't need that. I can turn her on all by myself." This was a common encounter. I tried to persuade him gently, when what I really wanted to say was: Well, the fact of the matter is that she may be plenty turned on, but that doesn't mean she'll be slick enough to take that big vibe with ease. If she's not comfortable, chances are her pleasure will be compromised.

Women are often embarrassed or feel insecure about using a lubricant. We need to assure ourselves that using lube does not mean there is something wrong with us. In mainstream media, lube is marketed only to postmenopausal women, since many experience vaginal dryness. But lube is for everyone.

We are blessed with vaginas that naturally lubricate, but the truth is that some women juice up more than others, and for many women how much they lubricate is not based on desire alone. The time of the month, diet, general health, dehydration, exercise, stress levels, medications, and other factors all affect how damp your panties get. In other words, you could be totally aroused and still experience vaginal dryness.

A little lube is all you need to be ready for action, to make penetration smoother and easier, which will leave you feeling more relaxed and sexy in the long run. Many women still silently endure pain, friction (not the good kind), and irritation from penetration without proper lubrication. And if your partner has a larger than usual basket, well, good for him (or her) but maybe not so good for you. Lube will help you make good use of the average to the ample, rather than feeling overwhelmed and impaled. And as for anal penetration, well, you cannot do it without lube. So anyone wanting to bury the bone in girlfriend's backyard better grease it first.

Remember (okay, it was before my time, but you remember) when all we had was gooey K-Y Jelly? Here are the best things K-Y has going for it: You can find it in any drugstore (and maybe even the in-laws' medicine cabinet) and it will do in a pinch. But K-Y was developed with medical exams in mind, not a rockin' carnal marathon, if you know what I mean. So, just put that K-Y in your natural disaster emergency kit along with the flares and canned food.

Along with the K-Y, many people use vegetable oil, Vaseline, baby oil, moisturizer, or Crisco. Another woman came into the store asking what she could do to give her husband a really good handjob. "We use lotion, but it dries pretty quickly." Not only will lube work better, but it's safer for him to fuck her after she works him with her hand without the risk of sticking lotion in her pussy, where it doesn't belong. Oil-based lubricants like those mentioned are difficult to wash out of the vagina and can be a breeding ground for infection. They also break down latex, so they're not condom-compatible. Leave them in the kitchen and bathroom, where they belong.

Then get yourself to a cool sex-toy store and marvel at the eye-popping number of different lubes to choose from. Silicone-based lubricants are the newest on the market. Brands like Eros, Eros Woman, Wet Platinum, and ID Millennium boast the most slippery ride of your life, and it's true—lubes made of silicone stay wet for a very long time, sometimes longer than you want them to. Because you can't wash them out, you have to wait for the body to naturally flush the lube. They are safe to use with condoms; however, they have been shown to ruin some silicone sex toys.

Nonstaining, easy to clean up, and available in several textures, water-based lubricants are condom-compatible and safe to use. They're made with a variety of ingredients; the main one in most is glycerin. For a thin, liquidy lube that mirrors pussy juice (making it great for vaginal penetration), try Liquid Silk, Astroglide, Probe Light, Slippery Stuff Liquid, Lube de Luxe Liquid, or Eros Woman Water Formulation. For a thicker, gel-like lube especially good for anal penetration, I recommend ID, Maximus, Slippery Stuff Gel, Wet, and Probe Thick and Rich. Don't worry, guys, all of these can be used to jerk off, too.

Flavored lubricants allow you to butter her muffin with everything from mouthwashy mint to lollipop strawberry. Women sensitive or allergic to glycerin or especially prone to yeast infections should avoid the flavors and stick with glycerin-free lubes (like Slippery Stuff, Liquid Silk, and Maximus). Many of the lubricants are also available with Nonoxynol-9 (shown to kill the HIV virus), but many women find that they are sensitive to this chemical and develop irritation, burning, itching, and even infections.

There's a lube out there for everyone, so get over your insecurities and get some.

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