Oh, lube. My favorite sex comrade. You're like the pit bull of sexual pleasure: You have such a bad reputation but, really, you have a heart of gold and just want to be loved.
Ignore the bad rap it's got as solely a solution for women who can't get wet enough (Really? Really?). Lube can fill a myriad of needs—whether that's keeping your marathon sex-binge going that little bit longer, making your vagina a bit more slippery, or introducing you to some fun butt play (Why not?)
Bottom line, lube is freaking fantastic. If you haven't yet stocked up on a bottle but are in the market, may I—as a Certified Lube Lover—provide you with some things you might want to know? Here goes.
1. You are not broken if you use lube (and neither is your partner).
It drives me crazy that some women really feel that way. Using lube doesn't mean that your vagina isn't functioning. If anything, using lube makes you a connoisseur of sex and the ambassador of your own pleasure! You are exploring your body, gaining knowledge of that mystical creature known as the orgasm.
So if anyone tells you that something is wrong with you or your body because you love lube, then they—not you—have some other issues going on. And if your partner is saying that to you, drop 'em. Seriously.
2. It's a must if you want to try anal.
Your bum needs lube. I'm not saying you must partake in anal, but if that is something you and your partner want to explore—or you already explore the back side on a regular basis—stock up on lube. This is imperative for your pleasure. You want a lube that will last (I prefer a silicone lube).
There's a vast array of options for any type of lube, which can feel overwhelming at first. I highly recommend taking a trip to your local sex toy shop and talking to the employees, since there's a good chance they know what's up. In general, it's a great environment to talk to someone about your specific needs when exploring your body—like talking to a therapist, but for your private parts.
3. Don't use oil-based lubes with condoms.
Want to use baby oil or petroleum jelly? In the Guide to Getting It On—one of my personal favorite sex ed books, covering everything from anal to nipples to sex after giving birth—author Paul Joannides, PsyD, instructs readers to not. Do. That. With. Condoms. It can deteriorate the latex in a condom and cause it to break. Not good. So if condoms are your only form of birth control, think wisely. If the condom breaks, that can increase your risk of STIs or pregnancy—and those are two things I would like to keep out of my vagina at the moment (well, I always want STIs out of my vag, but I'd maybe be OK with a baby at a later date…maybe).
4. Don't use silicone lubes with silicone sex toys.
They can cause your silicone toy to break down—part of buying a vibrator 101. That said, silicone lubes are great for water play, as water-based lubes obviously wouldn't work with that.
5. ...But silicone works with condoms.
Silicone-based lubes last longer than water-based lubes (which work with both condoms and sex toys.) Water-based lubes seem to be a popular type of lube, but they also have a tendency to dry out more quickly, so you might need to reapply it during your sex-a-thon.
6. Popular forms of lubes could cause infections.
If you are prone to yeast infections or any other non-fun infections down there, pay heed: A 2013 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology revealed that women who used products that aren't really supposed to go in their lady parts (like some oils or Vaseline) had higher rates of yeast and various bacterial infections, most probably because these products messed with their pH.
Oh, you might want to stay away from glycerin, too, which is found in a handful of popular ingredients, including many water-based lubricants—because nothing can put the brakes on your sex life like a nasty yeast infection or a case of bacterial vaginosis, a smelly infection. Dr. Mary Marnach of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Reuters glycerin can lead to both. So if you want to use a slippery friend during sexy time while using condoms, read the ingredients.
Oh! And fun fact from The Guide to Getting It On: Glycerin is also an ingredient in laxatives, which means lubes with that ingredient may not bode well with anal sex...if you catch my drift. (I'm talking about poop. It could cause you to poop.)
7. When all else fails, just spit.
Ever spit in your hand right before giving a handy? I do and I always feel awkward (especially when I get the line of saliva that just won't break, and then I am swiping it away with my free hand, and then I lose my balance, and, well, I think you know where this is going), but that penis always thanks me for the slicker ride. Spit is relatively cheap (free), organic, and always ready at a moment's notice. However, spit will dry out quicker, so it's not the best option if you're looking for a longer, uninterrupted frolic with a penis/sex toy/fingers...or whatever you wish! Provided it's safe, of course.
8. There's no catch-all for what lube works for you.
Of course, when it comes to your body and your orgasm, research (and trial and error) is key, but remember: Everyone's experience is unique. One woman may be into one brand, but maybe you'll prefer another, just like one woman may love to do it doggy style and another prefers missionary. All you can do is try and see what puts you on the fast track to crazy pleasure.
This article originally appeared on Redbookmag.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.