I’m going to get right to the point. You should probably be using lubrication during sex. Seriously, it makes sex less painful and more enjoyable. Even if you feel that you have enough natural lubrication during sex but you still have pain during intercourse it may be beneficial to try using lubrication. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine stated that most women that had painful intercourse reported using lubrication was a moderately effective strategy when it comes to addressing their symptoms.1 (Only moderately effective? That’s where your pelvic floor physical therapist comes in!)
So, you’re on board to try a lubricant, but which one should you try? There are SO many out there, some better than others.
Right away, I would say steer clear of anything with glycerin, parabens, or fragrances. Glycerin can cause that burning sensation that you feel during intercourse, it isn’t always the culprit, but sometimes it is and changing your lubricant will give you a better idea of what is causing your pain. Parabens are a hot topic when it comes to the safety of its use in products. Parabens are used to extend the shelf life of the produced and it’s also antimicrobial. However they pose risks for other long term side effects, although there is little to no evidence to support it. Lubricants contain small doses of parabens but they do pose a risk of irritation (as do fragrances), so it might be best to avoid them altogether.
It also depends on the situation in which you are using lubrication. Are you suing dilators, toys, condoms? In bed or in the shower? (Yes you can/should use lube in the shower). There are 3 main types of lubricants – silicone, water, and oil. They are all safe to use but some are better in certain situations.
Over all, water based lube is probably the most widely recommended. This is because they are safe to use with latex contraception and silicone toys/dilators. However, water based lubricants tend to dry quicker than silicone based lubricants and sometimes have to be reapplied more frequently. You also cannot use water based lubricant in the shower/bath because it will wash away. If you feel like you need a more substantial lubricant, a silicone-based lubricant might be the one for you. It is safe to use with latex condoms, you can use it in the shower/bath, and it will last longer than water based lubricant. However, you cannot use it with silicone toys or dilators because it will break down the dilator, making it easier for it to hold bacteria. Oil – such as coconut or olive oil is a good lubricant to use if you are not using latex contraception, as it will break down the latex.
There are so many options! Which one should you choose? Talk to your pelvic floor physical therapist, they will help guide you in the right direction. It all depends on your priorities and preferences. In general, silicone lubricants are a good choice because they are the most “slippery”, but it’s a good idea to have a water based lubricant as well if you have a silicone toy or dilator.
1. To Lube or Not to Lube: Experiences and Perceptions of Lubricant Use in Women With and Without Dyspareunia

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