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What and When to Tell Patients About Lubricants?


  • Inquire about patient’s use of lubricants if/when the patient expresses any discomfort with intercourse
  • Address misconceptions by educating women about lubricant basics and encourage women to try various lubricants until they find the one that works best for them
  • If a patient is currently using a lubricant during intercourse, it is likely that any experienced pain is due to causes other than vaginal dryness


Use of lubricants can be essential for allowing sexual intercourse to be pleasurable. Given the array of available options on the market, as well as numerous misconceptions regarding lubricants, women often find it helpful when providers educate them about available options and make recommendations. It is important to reassure women, especially young women, that the use of lubricants should not be considered shameful in any way, and that the need for lubricants is dependent on many physiological factors that are not age related.


  • There are significant differences between lubricants, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” product
  • The “classic” lubricants, those which are most ubiquitous and often most popular due to effective advertising, are not necessarily the most effective
  • Lubricants are either water-based or silicone-based and differ significantly from each other
    • Silicone based lubricants last longer, feel silkier and can be used in water, but should not be used with silicone toys
    • Water based lubricants are experienced as “slicker and thinner”, dry up faster and are easier to clean
  • Textures vary from watery to more viscous, or “tacky”
  • Most women prefer those that remain more fluid for a longer time; however, each woman should try various options to determine what feels best for her and her partner
  • Pure coconut oil is a popular, effective and natural lubricant that is easily available
  • If patients are prone to yeast infections, they should avoid glycerin-based lubricants; this includes all flavored lubricants
  • Petroleum jelly (vaseline) should never be used as a lubricant
  • Lubricants should be used on partner’s penis, as well as on the vulva or intravaginally

Learn More – Primary Sources:

Treating vulvovaginal atrophy/genitourinary syndrome of menopause: how important is vaginal lubricant and moisturizer composition?

To Lube or Not to Lube: Experiences and Perceptions of Lubricant Use in Women With and Without Dyspareunia

A Randomized, Double-blind, Crossover Trial Comparing a Silicone-vs. Water-based Lubricant for Sexual Discomfort after Breast Cancer

Locate a Sexual Health Professional:

AASECT-Referral Directory 

ISSWSH-Find a Provider 

SSTAR-Find a Therapist