Lubricants

27 May 2011

Lubricant (also called 'lube') is essential for better, and more comfortable and safer anal sex. 

Lubricants

For better and safer sex

Lubricant (also called ‘lube’) is essential for better, more comfortable and safer anal sex. We explain why you need lube, what lube to use and how to use it. We will also tell you what not to use as lubricant.

What is it?

Lube is a smooth, slippery liquid or jelly used for comfortable and safer anal sex.

Why do I need it?

Lube is needed for anal sex because, unlike a vagina, your anus is dry. Dry sex causes friction which can damage the lining of the anal canal and therefore increase the risk of HIV or STI transmission. Lube makes your anus smooth and slippery, like a vagina, so that a penis can enter you far more comfortably.

Because lube makes your anus more slippery and smooth, it also means that a condom on your partner’s penis is less likely to tear or break. Using the right lube thus makes sex both better and safer for both of you.

What lube should I use?

You should only use any water-based lube. Examples of water-based lube are K.Y. and Assegai.

It can be expensive to buy water-based lube so Health4Men distributes free water-based lube sachets (packets) – see the back of this sheet for our contact details!

In addition, you can have fun making your own water-based lube:

  • If you have a fridge, buy a box of instant jelly – strawberry, pineapple or whatever flavour you fancy – and mix it according to the instructions but use only 1/3 of the amount of water so that it sets thicker than usual. This makes a fun and yummy lube!
  • Use low-fat, unflavoured yoghurt as lube. A raw egg white can be used as lube; don’t use the egg yolk.

What lube should I not use?

Never use substances that contain any oils as lubricant for anal sex! Lubes that contain oils are a no-no for two reasons:

  • Oil causes condoms to perish – they become weak and are far more likely to break, and
  • Oils remain inside your anus where they go rancid (bad) and collect bacteria and dirt.

A few substances that contain oils and must never be used as lube are:

  • Vaseline
  • Body lotion (such as Dawn)
  • Hand cream (such as Nivea)
  • Cooking oil 
  • Butter 
  • Margarine (such as Rama)
  • Baby oil
  • Olive oil
  • Aqueous cream
  • Hair conditioner
  • Hair gel or hair food

Some people use saliva (spit) as lube. This is not recommended, although it doesn’t contain oils, because it is not slippery enough and can make sex uncomfortable and cause a condom to tear.

Obviously you must never, ever use semen (cum) or pre-cum as lube! Remember that HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread through semen and pre-cum!

How do I use lube?

Keep your water-based lube and condoms handy when you’re going to have sex; if you’re going out, keep a few condoms and sachets of lube in your pocket. Before anal sex apply lube to the opening of the anus and gently rub it into the opening of the anus. Make sure there is plenty of lube on and just inside the anus. Also apply lube to the outside of the condom once it is rolled down over the erect penis. (Do not apply lube to the penis before putting on the condom – this could make the condom slip off.) Now you’re ready to enjoy anal sex!

If the sex carries on for quite a long time, or if the sex is feeling a bit dry, stop the sex and apply more lube. This will also give you a chance to make sure that the condom is still intact.