Better Sex in 10 Seconds—Guaranteed

The hottest sex is often the best-lubricated.

Posted Oct 31, 2011

It takes just 10 seconds to demonstrate that sexual lubricants enhance lovemaking:

  • Close your mouth and dry your lips.
  • Run a finger lightly over them, paying attention to how this feels.
  • Now, lick your lips.
  • Run a finger lightly over your moistened lips.
  • Notice any difference?

If you found that caressing moist lips felt more sensual, sexual lubricants can help you enjoy more pleasurable lovemaking, immediately.

Don't take my word for it. In a recent study, researchers at Indiana University's Kinsey Institute asked 2,500 women to rate their lovemaking with and without a lubricant. The women declared that added lubrication made sex substantially more enjoyable.

In the finger-on-lips exercise, the lubricant was saliva, the world's most popular sexual lube. It's effective, always available, and free. But saliva is more watery than slippery, and it dries quickly. To enhance sexual pleasure, most people find that commercial lubricants work better.

Sex guides often overlook lubricants, mentioning them only in passing for older women experiencing menopausal vaginal dryness. But in the Indiana study, lubricants enhanced lovemaking for women of all ages. Lubricants also help men. They enhance masturbation, and before donning a condom, if you place a drop on the head of the penis, you may well notice more enjoyable intercourse.

Sex researchers have largely ignored lubricants. In their landmark "Sex in America" survey, University of Chicago researchers asked nothing about them. However, the survey asked women if they'd suffered vaginal lubrication problems during the previous year. Almost 20 percent said yes. This suggests that millions of Americans are unaware of lubricants, which, in seconds, often eliminates this problem.

In the 1960s, pioneering sex researchers William Masters, M.D., and Virginia Johnson described vaginal lubrication as the hallmark of initial arousal in women, paralleling erection in men. They maintained that the vagina produces lubrication quickly as women become aroused.

While this is true for many women, many others—perfectly normal women—are slow to produce natural lubrication, and when they do, they don't produce much. Then, starting as early as 40, menopausal vaginal dryness begins to become a problem. By the time women turn 50, extra lubrication can enhance lovemaking for most.

Meanwhile, porn stories typically imply that every woman's vagina overflows at the wink of an attractive man's eye. "When he kissed me, I soaked my undies!" Actually, it's just as likely for women to feel erotically aroused and not produce much lubrication. Possible reasons include individual differences, aging, the menstrual cycle, stress, jet lag, extended lovemaking, and drugs. Among them are alcohol, cigarettes, antihistamines, cold formulas, birth control pills, marijuana, antidepressants, and anything that causes dry mouth.

Four types of lubricants are available over-the-counter at pharmacies: water-based, oil-based, petroleum-based, and silicone-based. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Most lubricants are water-based. They're widely available, inexpensive, and safe to use with latex contraceptives. They don't stain bed linen and during oral sex, it's safe to ingest small amounts. But they don't work as whole-body massage lotions, and during extended lovemaking, water-based lubricants may dry out. Either apply more or refresh them with water or saliva. They rinse off easily with just water.

Oil-based lubricants include vegetable and nut oils, and Crisco. The former can be used on the genitals and as massage lotions. Crisco is a popular lube for anal play. Oil-based lubes are safe to ingest but not safe to use with latex contraceptives. Recent evidence shows that oils weaken latex. In addition, oils may feel greasy and may stain bed linens and clothing. They require soap and water to wash off.

Petroleum-based lubes include Vaseline and baby oil. These lubricants destroy latex and should never be used with condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps. Don't use petroleum lubricants inside the vagina either. They are difficult to wash out, may cause irritation, and change vaginal chemistry, increasing the risk of infection. They should not be ingested, and they may stain bed linens.

Silicone lubricants were introduced in the 1990s, a personal adaptation of the industrial lubricant, WD-40. They feel silky and are not messy. They retain their slickness longer than water-based lubes. They don't damage latex and are safe for use on the vulva, clitoris, and penis, and in the vagina and anus. They do not stain bed linen or clothing. It's not clear how safe they are to ingest, so it's prudent not to.

Don't apply lubricants directly to your lover's genitals. Right out of the container, they may feel cold and jarring. Apply a small amount to your hand, rub it between your fingers to warm it, and then caress your lover with lubricated fingers.

If you use condoms, be careful with lubricants. They increase the risk of slipping off. Have intercourse gently and when the man withdraws, one lover should hold the condom onto the base of the penis.

Wetter is better. The hottest sex is often the best-lubricated. Many sex therapists recommend lubricants every time for everyone. And as the Indiana study shows, lubricants make lovemaking more enjoyable, in as little as 10 seconds.


Hebernick, D. et al. "Association of Lubricant Use with Women's Sexual Pleasure, Satisfaction, and Genital Symptoms," Journal of Sexual Medicine (2010) epub ahead of print.