December 23, 1999 09:00am
Helping out Mother Nature: Sexual Lubricants
by: Al Cooper, Ph.D.
Q: My wife doesn’t lubricate enough. Am I doing something wrong? What about lubrication products — which is best?
A: It is a common misconception that the amount a woman lubricates is an infallible barometer of her sexual arousal. While lubrication typically increases with sexual excitement, female body responses vary substantially.
A host of physiological, emotional and biological factors contribute to the moisture level of any given sexual encounter. Some woman lubricate a little and some a lot. Other issues are where she is in her menstrual cycle, her age, if she has certain medical conditions, and if she is taking particular medications such as antihistamines (which people don’t realize can dry out more than the nose).
Of course, sexual arousal and interest are very important. This is where what goes on inside each of your heads and your interaction as a couple shifts this issue over to the social-psychological side. Maximal lubrication is not an automatic push-the-magic-button-here-it-is kind of thing.
It’s more about how you push the button, and setting the mood for a button-pushing encounter. Have you asked her about her ideas for a great romantic time? Is it candlelight and roses? Long conversations? Massages all around? You may think you know, but some confirmation and specifics could only help. A common complaint of women is that their guys are more tuned in to what is happening below the waist than above the chin.
WHERE TO BEGIN
If inadequate lubrication is an infrequent problem, start the old-fashioned way. Ask her if she is in the mood. Spend more time on foreplay. Dazzle her with a display of moves designed to delight and arouse.
When nice and easy doesn’t do it and lack of lubrication is a fairly constant concern — either at the start of sexual activity or midway through — you may need a different tact. First, it may be wise to check with your physician in the event that the culprit is an underlying medical condition.
When you get the all-clear, there are a host of fun ways to give nature a little boost. Now that it is the holiday season, you might want to stock up on a sampling of stocking stuffers reviewed below to help provide some holiday cheer! (See Al’s top picks below).
Consider the following factors when selecting a lubricant:
Sensitivity Factor. You don’t want to replace dryness with irritability. Be sure the product is made to be put in the vagina. Those old standbys — petroleum jelly, skin moisturizers, vegetable oils and many massage oils — can lead to adverse reactions or yeast infections that could sideline both of you. If you or your partner experiences sensitivity or irritation, check the label for ingredients like nonoxynol-9, other spermicides or additives. Certain people may have allergic reactions. As a result, it’s a good idea to initially try a small amount of a product.
Ease Factor. Consider price and availability.
Neatness and Safety Factor. Consider whether a lubricant is water-soluble (and therefore condom-safe) as well as its tendency to stain clothes or sheets.
Fun Factor. Now is the time to get adventurous! Do you want something thick and protective, flavored, scented (that might also be a topical aphrodisiac), light and delicate, or hot and tingly? The selections are endless.
If you don’t know of a local emporium that sells sexual products, many can be found on the Internet. If ordered from reputable online sites, the products may be more affordable and you will have minimal concerns about embarrassment.
Al's Top Picks
Below, sex therapist Al Cooper offers a guide to buying a sexual lubricant. Each product is assigned a "slipperiness factor" from one to four stars, with four being the most slippery.
• K-Y Jelly. A good, old-fashioned favorite, it is also one of the least expensive. K-Y Jelly is long-lasting but some find it too thick. Others say it reminds them of the doctor's office or unpleasant medical procedure rather than an erotic experience. It is easily found in most pharmacies and even in certain supermarkets. ****
• Eros. Of all the silicone-based lubes, this one seems the best. The texture is smooth and silky. A little lasts a long time because silicone is not absorbed by the skin -- a key feature for those who view sex as an endurance sport. The downside: You may need to use some soap and water to wash off the residue. The product can be purchased through Adam and Eve at 800-293-4654 or www.adameve.com. ****
• Delube Intimate Gel. This light, colorless, water-based lube was developed by a doctor who has patented it as a topical aphrodisiac. With its vanilla and ginseng scent, it may be a sexual enhancer in more ways than one. Only available through Condom Sense at 888-702-6636 or www.csense.com. ***
• Tasty Loving. This cherry-flavored lubricant has the added dimension of getting hot when you blow on it. Only available through Adam and Eve at 800-293-4654 or www.adameve.com. **
• Sugar-free Wet Flavors. Those who have don't like the super-sweet taste of some lubes may enjoy these. Flavors include Passion Fruit and Seedless Watermelon. The sugar-free formula also reduces the risk of a yeast infection. Available through Condom Sense at 888-702-6636 or www.csense.com. **
• Astroglide. Another popular lubricant, some describe it as light and subtle while others complain that it needs to be reapplied at critical moments. It is widely available through most Web sites (like Good Vibrations at www.goodvibes.com) and places that sell sexual products, even some pharmacies. *
• Saliva. Wouldn't want to leave this list without at least a tip of the hat to this age-old brand of lubricant, development courtesy of Mother Nature. The downside: it tends to be thin and dries quickly. The upside: it is free and always there in the event of an emergency. But how do you get it into a Christmas stocking? *
Al Cooper, Ph.D., is clinical director of the San Jose Marital and Sexuality Centre in San Jose, Calif., and training coordinator of counseling and psychological services at Stanford University’s Cowell Student Health Center in Palo Alto, Calif.