While thumbing through one of my many sex-related books recently I came across a factoid that surprised and, to be honest, kinda nauseated me. So, of course I have to share it. According to The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, the longest lasting (but thankfully least commonly used) naturally occurring human lubricant is nasal mucous. Apparently some people employ it during masturbation. Imagine that.
On second thought, don't.
Fortunately for those enthusiastic masturbators without a nasal mucus fetish, there are a plethora of far more palatable lubrication options available. The most common and least expensive one is, of course, saliva. Our bodies supply this slippery stuff pretty effortlessly in most cases. Naturally occurring lubrication is also secreted by the vagina in women and by the penis as pre-ejaculate in men. But sometimes this isn't enough and that's why modern science has selflessly set about creating an array of gels, lotions, oils and other lubes for our solo and partnered sensual pleasure.
We like to think that our own natural juices are more than ample for any sexual job we might undertake. But there are a number of reasons why that's not always the case. Our age, our health, what we eat, where we are in our menstrual cycle, what medications we take, how much and what kind of sex we're having can all influence the amount and consistency of our fluid levels. If we're menopausal or having anal sex, the need for additional lubrication is especially important. Many men like to use lubricants during masturbation because stroking a dry penis can be uncomfortable, especially if their skin is sensitive.
Throughout history, people have employed a variety of oils, fats, creams and lotions to help reduce friction during intercourse or solo sex, but ultimately they just aren't as desirable as water-based or silicone lubes. Although they last longer and don't get sticky over time, oils and fats remain on the skin long after you're finished using them, can stain cloth, attract dirt and bacteria, and play hell on latex barriers such as condoms and dental dams. Scented products that aren't specifically designed for sexual use can sting and burn tender tissues. Lotions and creams tend to be soaked up by the skin before they've done their job. Because of these factors, "personal lubricants" are probably the most commonly available sex product on the market.
Because they are safe on condoms, the most commonly recommended lubricants on the market are water-based. K-Y Jelly is a classic example of a water-based lube, although it also dries out quickly due to its thicker consistency. People with delicate skin generally have good results from water-based lubes, especially those without Nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that's been shown to cause irritation and, as a result, actually increase the risk of women contracting STDs.
Those with especially sensitive skin, an interest in being sexual in the bath or hot tub, or a desire for an oil-like lubricant that's kind to latex often find that silicon-based lubes fit the bill. I-D Millennium and Wet Platinum are two examples. Silicon lubes tend to be more expensive per-ounce, but since they last longer and don't get sticky as quickly as water-based lubes, the actual long-term cost per use is likely to be less. They also tend to transmit warmth and sensation better. Two cautions: because they're so slippery, extra care should be exercised by men who like to place lube inside of their condoms. Whether it's for intercourse or solo sex (yes, some men like to use condoms as masturbation toys), silicon lubed condoms will be slightly more slippery and thus can come off more easily. Also, if you're going to be playing with silicon toys, such as dildos or butt plugs, silicon-based lubes can damage them. However, if you cover the toys with a condom and properly clean them once you're finished, there's no reason not to use your favorite silicon lube.
Although there are no hard and fast rules about which lubes go with which kinds of sex, certain qualities work best within certain sexual contexts. For instance, super-slick emollient lubes such as Astroglide, Probe, Liquid Silk, or ID work especially well rapid motions associated with vaginal penetration or male solo sex, although they can also dry quickly. A sprits of water refreshes them, however. Because there is so little natural lubrication in the anus and rectum, heavier, more viscous lubes such as Maximus, Embrace, or ForPlay are good for coating the delicate interiors prior to penetration with a penis or toy. Once you're ready for the main show and things have heated up, applying your favorite slick lube will do additional wonders. Jelly lubes can be especially good for anal play due to their consistency and endurance.
Sometimes it's fun to put your mouth somewhere that's had lube on it. Most non-flavored lubes have a fairly benign taste – but they're still not a lot of fun to have on your tongue. Today there is a wide assortment of flavors available in lubes and massage oils. They range everywhere from mild palate pleasers such as strawberry-kiwi, vanilla, melon, apple, grape, and Pina-Colada to some pretty wild and spicy flavors, including some that heat up when breathed upon — specifically targeted toward those who like it truly hot. When applying a flavored lubricant internally, make sure it's sugar-free; otherwise you open yourself up for possible unpleasantness, including yeast infections.
And regardless of what kind of lubricant you're using or what you're doing with it, that's nothing to sneeze at.