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What Men Should Know


Lubricant (also called lube) is a smooth and slippery jelly or liquid that is used to make anal sex more comfortable and enjoyable. If used correctly it also makes anal sex less risky for getting or passing on HIV or other STIs.

Why do I need lube?

Lube is needed for anal sex because, unlike a vagina, the anus is dry. Lube makes the anus smooth and slippery, like a vagina, so that a penis can enter it far more comfortably. Dry anal sex can be painful and can damage the soft lining of the anal canal, which will increase the risk of transmitting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). By making the sex smoother, lube also helps ensure that the condom doesn’t break.

There are many reasons to use lubricant for anal sex, but if you use the wrong lubricant your condom will be likely to break.

Bad lube

Regular male condoms (that fit over your penis) are made from latex. Any oil will damage (weaken) latex and make the condom likely to break. The following substances all contain oil and cannot be used with a condom:

  • Vaseline
  • body lotion
  • hand cream or lotion
  • baby oil
  • cooking oil
  • butter
  • margarine
  • aqueous cream
  • hair lotion

Some guys use saliva (spit) as lube but this is not ideal because it isn’t slippery enough and dries out too quickly. Never use semen (cum) or precum as lube because these can spread HIV and STIs.

Good lube

You should only use a lubricant that won’t damage the condom. Waterbased lubricants are all fine to use with condoms. When you take a condom out of the wrapper it is already covered with water-based lube (even if this feels like oil, it is made with water).

You can buy water-based lube (such as KY or Assegai) at some chemists. If you can’t afford to buy lube you can get lube for free at clinics or your friendly outreach teams that do HIV testing .


Silicon lube is expensive but it can be used with latex condoms. It cannot be used with sex toys that are also made from silicon.

How do I use lube?

Condoms and lubricant should be freely available when you have sex; you shouldn’t have to look for them when you need them. If you’re going out keep a few condoms and sachets of lube in your pocket.

Before anal sex gently rub some lube into the opening of the anus. Make sure there is plenty of lube on and just inside the anus. Once the condom has been rolled down over the erect penis apply lube to the outside of the condom. Now you’re ready to enjoy anal sex!

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