New Data on Women’s Use of Lubricant During Sex

Our research team at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion has just published a new study about lubricant use – actually, the largest ever study of lubricant use among women during sex – in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Given how mainstream and easily available lubricants are in the US, one might think there had been more scientific research on their use, but sadly this is not the case.

The primary findings, in a study of more than 2400 women, are that the use of both water and silicone based lubricants was associated with higher ratings of pleasure and satisfaction during sex (as compared to no lubricant) and genital symptoms (itching, pain, burning, etc) were only rarely associated with lubricant use. Also, contrary to commonly held opinion about lubricants, the use of a water-based lubricant was linked to more positive outcomes than the use of the silicone based lubricants we tested.

Which lubricants were tested?
Astroglide, Just Like Me, KY Liquid, Pure Pleasure, Sweet Seduction and Wet Platinum.

How was the study conducted?
It was a double-blind prospective daily diary study that involved random assignment. Specifically, women were recruited into a study, randomly assigned to receive lubricant A, B, C, D, E or F. Although we as the researchers selected the six lubricants to be studied, we didn’t know which lubricants were linked to which letters and neither did the women using the lubricants until every single woman had completed the study. We also didn’t tell our colleague who conducted the statistical analyses which letter was which lubricant even after we found out.

Does this mean that all women should use lubricant?
No. But it does provide some data about lubricant use and its associations with pleasure, satisfaction and genital symptoms. Pleasure and satisfaction ratings were still high even with no lubricant use, they were just significantly higher (statistically speaking) with use of lubricant. Many women and their partners may benefit from lubricant use during masturbation, vaginal intercourse or anal intercourse (the behaviors we looked at). However, we certainly know from other research that couples who are trying to conceive may find that many common lubricants, and even possibly saliva, may interfere with sperm movement. As such, if you are trying to conceive, you may be better advised to spend more time in foreplay to enhance your own natural vaginal lubrication rather than using a store-bought lubricant.

You can find the article on the Journal of Sexual Medicine’s web site. You can also read the full text of the Indiana University press release about the study, which is far more detailed, here. This was a fascinating, highly detailed study to be a part of and if you have questions about it, please contact us.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.

  • Kate

    What fabulous research, Debby! I’m so pleased to see more being published about the benefits of lube. Yesterday, a tweet about this publication popped up on my twitter feed from an Australian colleague. I love the interconnectedness of the sexual health world:)

  • Jh

    very interesting and helpful study!

  • http://www.SlumberPartiesbyJudyLH.com PartiesbyJudyLH

    Thanks Debby! As a consultant with Slumber Parties I always express to my clients the “benefits” of using lube. Thanks to your study I’ve got some stats to back that up.