Personal lubricant, often simply called lube, is a liquid or gel used during sexual play to reduce friction between body parts or any part of your body and a sex toy. Besides reducing friction, lube can also increase pleasure and reduce pain or discomfort during penetrative sex, masturbation, or sex toy play. Whether you’re engaging in sexual activity with a partner or alone, lube often creates an overall more satisfying experience by keeping you lubricated and your vaginal or anal tissue soft.
Importantly, using lube doesn’t mean your body isn’t functioning as it should. Sure, the vagina naturally creates its own lubrication, but there are tons of factors that contribute to producing less than usual or situations where you’d benefit from adding more. For example, menopause, aging, metabolism, hormonal changes, birth control, and the side effects of other medications all have the ability to impact your body’s natural lubrication levels and increase vaginal dryness.
“While natural vaginal lubricant is produced during periods of arousal, people who menstruate often find that this amount of lubricant is insufficient for making sex as enjoyable as possible,” shares Jess Barra, FNP, nurse practitioner for sex and wellness site Favor.
Even if you already produce plenty of natural lubrication during periods of arousal, you may want to keep some lube handy anyway—you’d be surprised how much more pleasure it can add to sex.