Q: About two months ago I started a new anti-depressant medication. While it has really helped my mood and overall mental health, I have noticed a few changes during sex that I think might be related to the new medication. The main issue I have been experiencing lately is a lack of vaginal lubrication which can sometimes make any kind of sex uncomfortable. I have been thinking about using some lube to help but don’t know where to start—what should I know about lube before buying some? Any advice is appreciated!
A: Thanks so much for your question. First, I want to emphasize that here at the SHRC we are not medical professionals and cannot provide medical advice. However, we can offer some info on lube and choosing a lube that is right for you. That said, research does suggest that for folks with vulvas who are on certain medications—antidepressants (SSRIs) included, vaginal dryness—or a lack of natural lubrication produced by the vagina is a relatively common side effect. Luckily, personal lubricant—or lube, as it is more often known, is a really great tool.
As is with many aspects of sex and sexuality, there is still misinformation around lube and who it’s for. The reality is, lube is for everyone who has sex—any kind of sex. A common myth falsely equates sexual desire, or being turned on, with vaginal wetness (or lubrication). I.e., the idea that if you “can’t get wet”, you must not be in to whatever sexy situation is at hand. However this is false. It also carries harmful misinformation on the flip side—suggesting that just because someone experiences vaginal wetness, they must be interested in sex. This is absolutely not true – as always, informed, enthusiastic, and ongoing consent is vital for any sexual encounter.
I highly recommend lube to any and every person and body who is having any kind of sex. Lube helps to make things more slippery, reduce friction, and increase overall comfort during sex! Lube is used for many reasons—the most common include making sex more comfortable, fun, pleasurable, and to decrease pain or friction.
There are three main categories of lube, and they refer to the main ingredient or base: water-based lube, silicone-based lube, and oil-based lube.
Water-based lube is the best type of lube for vulva and vaginal use and is great for solo sex and partnered sex. Water-based lubes are commonly found in drug stores, grocery store pharmacies, and sex-shops alike. These lubes are great for everybody and won’t cause irritation to the vaginal flora in the way silicone or oil lubes may. They are latex-compatible, and come in many different viscosities (thickness), flavours, and sensations.
Silicone-based lubes are super long lasting. Like their name suggests, they contain silicone which helps them to be extra slippery and have extra staying power. They are great to use in the shower or tub, and are safe to use with latex condoms. Silicone lube is also great for anal sex, because of it’s superior lubricating qualities. The important thing to note about silicone lube is that you can’t use it with silicone toys (the vast majority of good-quality sex toys are made from silicone) as it will damage the toy. It is also worth noting that because it is so long-lasting, it may cause vaginal irritation for some folks.
Finally, it is worth discussing oil-based lubes but they wouldn’t be recommended for your situation because they are not vulva/vagina-friendly. Oil-based lubes refer to things like hand lotions and coconut oil—things that we often already have on hand and are not created specifically to be used as lube during sex acts. Oil-based products are long lasting, and are great
for hand-jobs on a penis, but should be avoided when using with vulvas/vaginas (they irritate the vaginal microcosm and don’t easily flush out of the system) and should not be used with condoms (oil can break latex condoms).
I would recommend you start out with a water-based lube because of their versatility and affordability. The SHRC carries both water-based and silicone-based lube. Plus, we have tons of FREE sample packs of water-based lube if you want to try before you buy!