Vaginal lubricant is a gel-like product used in the vagina to ease vaginal dryness. It may be principally used during sexual intercourse, when vaginal dryness can be uncomfortable or even injurious to the interior of the vagina. Alternately, some women use lubricants at other times if dryness is felt on a regular basis.
The occasional bout of vaginal dryness is common to all women, and as women age, it becomes an increasing issue. Especially in the years leading up to and after menopause, failure to use a vaginal lubricant can make intercourse uncomfortable and may lead to a decline in sexual interest. Long before menopause, vaginal dryness could still exist arising from high stress, from specific times of the month, especially around menstruation, or from illnesses or use of certain medications, like some antidepressants and birth control medicines.
There are three basic types of vaginal lubricant, but usually only two of these types are recommended. Water-based lubricants are among the most frequently recommended, and some of these can be picked up at local drug or grocery stores. Silicone-based lubricants are a little harder to find at local stores, though they’re easy to find online and in stores that sell sexually-based products. Both of these are considered safe for use with latex condoms, and some feel silicone-based lubricants are superior because they tend to provide longer lasting lubrication. Many feel water-based lubricants are excellent performers and work fine for the average sexual experience.
The third type of vaginal lubricant is oil-based, and these are never recommended for use with condoms, as they will degrade latex condoms. Additionally, it is not suggested that people design their own lubricants with moisturizing creams, cooking oils, or products like petroleum jelly. These too may render condoms ineffective, and they also increase risk of vaginal bacterial infections.
There is an increasing market for vaginal lubricants that enhance sexual pleasure, and a number of mainstream companies have released them. These may contain mild skin irritants like menthol that warm the skin or make it feel tingly. People with sensitive skin could find these products irritating, so reading the ingredients and having some sense of likely skin reactions makes good sense.
Most women want to know how much of a vaginal lubricant to use and when, and this answer is highly individualized. Many lubricants are best used during or right before sex and foreplay. People can go by recommended amounts for use, adjusting amount to what feels right for each encounter.
Another way to approach the issue of vaginal lubricants may be necessary if vaginal dryness is causing extreme discomfort at all times. While a little dryness is expected, chronic dryness especially before menopause occurs might be symptomatic of other issues like low hormones. Women might want to discuss medical methods for treating chronic dryness, which might include using hormonal creams or suppositories.