For many sex-positive people out there, using lube during sex can seem like a no-brainer. So it may be surprising that for an experienced person like me, I once feared— even despised— lube based on negative assumptions and past encounters. With time, and with gradual acceptance, I, too, learned to love and value lube as a great tool for enhancing my personal pleasure during sex. The journey to get to that acceptance, however, was not so smooth.
So gather ‘round, friends; here is my story.
When I was much younger and learning the ways of the sexual world, lube seemed synonymous with massage oil, which would make me think of cheesy romantic foreplay sessions, silk bed sheets and dark mood lighting (I was so naive). The idea of slathering myself with an oily substance made me think less of pleasure and more of how uncomfortable and distracted I would be feeling wet and sticky. Instead of feeling aroused, I thought of myself, at best, laughing or at worst, gagging.
Years later, as I was in the midst of getting down with a guy, he brought out some organic coconut oil and without asking, scooped a handful in his fingers and rubbed it throughout my labia. I was stunned, to say the least, but allowed him to proceed having penetrative sex with me. (Now I’m much more aware that coconut oil is absolutely not safe as a lube on vaginas, as it will mess up one’s vaginal pH. But more on that later.)
I wasn’t close enough with the fella who lubed me up to feel comfortable discussing my objections with him (yup, real naive), so after that I felt offended at the thought of being lubed up for sex. As I explained to a friend later, lube signified a partner’s impatience to focus on my needs and ensure that I was moist enough to have penetrative sex. It underlined an avoidance of learning what I wanted, and made me feel like the sex was centered on his pleasure, not mine. While the whole event was a masterclass of inexperience and lack of communication on both our part’s, the coconut oil really stayed with me.
Another fear I had with lube was what it would do with my vagina’s pH. When I started becoming more sexually active as an adult, I developed the human papilloma virus (HPV), so I became incredibly paranoid and careful about what would enter my vagina, or focused on cleanliness after every play session. Looking back, I see that as a normal response, since lack of education about aftercare and precautions during sex led me to HPV in the first place. But my carefulness made me too careful, to the point of not even wanting to experiment with lube. Friends would recount their experiences trying CBD lube and how great it felt, but I was dead serious that I didn’t want to mess up the pristine state I kept my vagina in. Add the coconut oil incident, and lube just never seemed worth it.
My breakthrough with lube happened when I had started seeing someone who was incredibly generous with communication during sex. He was slightly older than me, so he was more experienced, and he’d listen to my worries and concerns without judgement. When I began to discuss experimenting with anal sex, he explained that lube was immensely vital to the process, so I agreed to use it. He was right; thanks to the lube, and thoughtful communication throughout, my first experience with anal was so painless and pleasurable, I’d sometimes reflect it was better than my first time having sex ever— cue the harmonic chorus singing “Hallelujah”!
I began to read multiple blogs by sex educators about how lube is an essential item to prevent friction during sex and maximize pleasurable sensations as well. Despite being aroused, many women or female-bodied people could experience dryness, especially as they age. For these instances, lube is simply the best way to go. I’m now a firm believer in lube, and it’s been such a game changer in my personal life that I not only use it during partnered sex, but also when I’m masturbating with or without a toy.