Using lubricants may increase your vulnerability to STIs, reports a study set to be published in the January issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
For 2 years, researchers monitored subjects who were engaging in anal sex and found that those who were using lubricant had an 8.3 percent greater risk of catching STIs than those who were laying off the lube.
Lubricants can sometimes irritate the vagina or anus, possibly increasing STI risk, explains Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., research scientist at Indiana University and author of Great in Bed. But the STI itself is not a direct result of the lubricant; studies have shown that specific components of lube (think spermicidal chemicals) are what cause the irritation, says Dr. Herbenick.
To keep you and your partner safe—and your sex enjoyable—check out some of these must-know tips about how to use lube for better sex.
Load Up on Lube. “In some of our work, we’ve found that men shy away from using lube,” say Dr. Herbenick. “But if you don’t use lube and you’re frequently having high frictional sex, that’s going to create tiny tears in the vaginal walls. And obviously that puts any couple at a greater risk for STIs because the tear provides easy access to the bloodstream.” Plus, wetter is better. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, women reported that sex is more pleasurable and satisfying when they use lubricant during the act. Translation: You’re better off using lube.
Avoid Wear and Tear. “Only water-based and silicone-based lubes should be used with latex condoms,” says Dr. Herbenick. Oil- and petroleum-based products can cause latex condoms to break or tear. So before you get down to business, make sure you know what products you’re mixing together.
What’s Your Flavor? Flavored lubricant is best paired with oral sex (Dr. Herbenick suggests Climax Fruit Bomb flavors, or the Great Head brand). But when it comes to marathon sex sessions, silicone-based lube is often a good choice because it doesn’t absorb into the body or rub off as quickly as water-based lubricant, says Dr. Herbenick. Same goes for shower sex—if you’re planning on taking your session to the shower, use a silicone-based lubricant (such as Wet Platinum Premium Lubricant—it’s rated the best lube for the shower by MH) to prevent wear-and-tear on the condom.
Lather Up. Clearly, personal preference will be what determines how much you use. But the easiest way to test the waters is by starting out with a nickel- to quarter-sized dab on the outside of the condom, and if you (or she) wants more, add some more, says Dr. Herbenick. As for lube on the inside of the condom: It’s safe to add a small dab of lube inside the tip of the condom for greater comfort. “However, don’t add too much and don’t lube the shaft of the penis up before putting a condom on, lest you risk condom slippage,” she says.
By,Madeline Haller/Mens Health
Madeline Haller is a Reporter for MensHealth.com. Haller graduated with a journalism degree from Indiana University, with a second concentration in gender studies. She is a lover of all things coffee, fitness, and fashion. Haller is also an avid runner and somewhat obsessed with social media (#oops!).