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Do I Need Lube? Lube Shaming

byWanda Chin
“Do I need lube?” It’s a question often thought, but seldom asked. I’ve personally heard many a male friend say – “Oh, we don’t need lube ‘cause we’re young”.

“Do I need lube?” It’s a question often thought, but seldom asked. I’ve personally heard many a male friend say – “Oh, we don’t need lube ‘cause we’re young”.


This perspective, emblematic of broader societal attitudes, reflects a troubling misconception regarding the role of lube in intimacy.

For some, using lube is wrongly equated with sexual incompetence or a deficiency in natural bodily functions, particularly among women. Such misconceptions perpetuate a phenomenon known as "lube shaming," where individuals feel stigmatised for using lube.

Implicit in this stigma is the notion that vaginal lubrication alone should suffice as a measure of arousal and femininity, dismissing the complex interplay of physiological and psychological factors in sexual experiences. Consequently, people may refrain from incorporating lube into their intimate lives, fearing judgment or embarrassment from their partners.

Yet, this reticence only serves to perpetuate the cycle of stigma surrounding lube use, inhibiting open dialogue and inhibiting the pursuit of mutually fulfilling sexual experiences.

Lube floating in a clear liquid

Okay, so, do I need lube or not?

Time in the bedroom is all about you, your partner, and both of your needs. We’re hesitant to tell anyone what to do or how to play. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the science. The data. The fancy statistics from people and institutions with authority.

A woman squeezing a tube of lubricant.

The use of lubricants has been proven to increase sexual health and wellbeing, and that’s not just for women who are experiencing Vaginal dryness (dyspareunia) or menopause (by the way, dyspareunia affects women of all ages!). A study was done by the Centre of Sexual health Promotion in Indiana on 2,453 women. The studies showed that women indicated lubricant use made sex feel very pleasurable and more comfortable (65.5%).

Lubricant use can help to reduce pain and the likelihood of vaginal tearing. In addition to also reducing the risk of condom breakage, a good lube can also help provide better protection against various STIs due to less microtears associated with sex. Moreover, it can help with the sensation of sex with condom use.

Using lubricants not only improves the comfort of sex, but it increases women’s ability to orgasm, shorten the time to get to the “big O” and also the quality of orgasms and general pleasure.

If the data is so clear, why do we still ask, or wonder “Do I need lube?”

More importantly, if the studies overwhelmingly promote the benefits and preference for the use of lubricants, why is ‘lube-shaming’ still a thing? Why are so many of us ashamed to ask our partners, friends, selves, or the internet, “Do I need lube?”

Like most things in life, it's complicated.

Many of these studies seem to have been done on older, established couples who often exhibit greater communication within their partnerships compared to their younger counterparts.

These studies also predominantly focus on the physical aspect and advantages of vaginal lubrication, rather than delving into the intricate emotional dynamics preceding or accompanying it.

If you look at studies on sexual dysfunction, you might also notice that the female vaginal response is frequently portrayed as a complication rather than a manifestation of desire, pleasure, or emotional intimacy with one's partner.

Fahs et al (2017) have tried to look into the psychology of sex by asking 20 American women how they would describe their feelings towards getting wet vaginal lubrication and noted that more than half had anxiety about the phenomenon, either being too dry or too wet.

Regardless of the fact that their partners might be nonchalant about their ‘wetness’, women still worry about it and how it will affect the session as a whole.

Nonetheless, in the interim, we advocate for embracing the practical benefits of lubrication—a simple yet effective tool that can enhance comfort and pleasure in intimate encounters.

So, next time you wonder: Do I need lube? Ask your body, first.It often has a lot to say.

A woman holds a scrunched tube of Bed Intentions Lubricant against her navel
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1

1. Rosen RC, Althof SE, Barbach LG, et al. Female sexual wellbeing ScaleTM: responsiveness to interventional product use by sexually functional women. J Sex Med. 2010;7 (7):2479–2486.
2. Lubricants for the promotion of sexual health and well-being: a systematic review
3. Indiana University. "Studies About Why Men And Women Use Lubricants During Sex." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091109090431.htm>.
4. World Health Organization. Use and procurement of additional lubricants for male and female condoms: WHO/UNFPA/FHI360: advisory note. Geneva: WHO; 2012
5. Fahs,B. (2017). Slippery desire: Women's qualitative accounts of their vaginal lubrication and wetness. Feminism & Psychology, 27(3), 280-297. To access, click here.

While acknowledging the strides made in understanding the intersection of psychology and sexual wellness, Fahs et al openly concede that there remains ample ground to cover.

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