For at least 2,000 years, humans have been using personal lubricants to enhance their sexual experiences. Historians believe that the Ancient Greeks, known as sexual pioneers, were the inventors of what we now refer to as lube. But in 350 BC, the Greeks didn't have access to modern technology, so they used what they already had: olive oil.

Today, lube options stretch far beyond the condiment pantry. Water-based, silicone-based, oil-based, and all-natural lube options are readily available, and you can purchase lube in different colors, flavors, and scents. Long gone are the days of driving to that sleazy corner sex shop or worrying about running into someone you know at the drugstore. Now you can buy lube online, qualify for free shipping, and have it in your hands before your next hot date.

If you haven't been using manufactured lube, you're missing out. There are many ways it can benefit you during sex (intercourse or masturbation), and we're breaking them down for you. But cisgender women, beware; if you're peeing on ovulation sticks, extra foreplay might be a better option.

Benefit #1: Lube reduces friction

While some friction during sex can be good, too much can cause injury to the vagina, penis, or anus. Health says it can even cause "burns and tears." Ouch! Why would couples risk injury when every variety of lube is at their disposal? Mainly, it's an ego thing. For many years, the stereotype was that lube was invented for dried-up or post-menopausal women. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Greatist says many scenarios can cause vaginal dryness: smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, birth control pills, menstrual cycles, and even intense exercise routines. While some of these scenarios are within our control, the ones that are not can be solved with a tiny drop of lube.

Benefit #2: Lube can help you master "the quickie"

Sure, mind-blowing marathon sex is excellent and all, especially if you've set aside an entire night to enjoy it. But there's also something to be said for the "quickie." You have little time on the clock, but you have to have each other at that very moment. What better time to bust out the lube? While the idea of having a quickie might turn you on instantly, Self says it can still take time for your body to catch up with your brain.

Benefit #3: Lube introduces new sensations

Let's face it: when you're in a committed relationship, it's easy to get stuck in a rut. And even though routines are essential to some aspects of life, they can dampen the excitement in the bedroom. Changing things in your sex life is crucial to keeping the spark alive, and an easy way to do that is by adding new sensations like warming or tingling. These sensations can enhance pleasure in many different ways. In addition, you can even open up your other senses with different scents or tastes. Experimenting with lube in your relationship can be a fun way to change things up.

Benefit #4: Lube can free up your mind to enjoy sex on a new level

People often put too much pressure on themselves to be attractive or thin. Sometimes, that pressure can carry over into the bedroom. We think our bodies should naturally lubricate when we’re turned on, and we might also worry that if we don't naturally lubricate, our partner might take it personally. All that pressure is enough to kill the romance. But why inflict so much stress when we have a precise solution: lube? Lube can help you release your mind so you can enjoy sex instead of obsessing and being self-conscious.

Benefit #5: Lube can enhance foreplay

Kissing, touching, and tickling are fantastic foreplay techniques, but they certainly aren't the only ones that work. For some of us, foreplay can be the best part of sex because getting turned on means that the best is yet to come — pun heavily intended. Lube can be a significant addition to pre-sex activities. Take nipple stimulation, for instance. Shape points out that chapped nipples can be painful, so it's essential to keep the nipples moist during foreplay. Lube can diminish nipple friction while adding unique elements like flavors to nipple stimuli. Clitoral stimulation is also an excellent foreplay technique that can benefit from extra lubrication.

Benefit #6: Lube can enhance self-pleasure

When it comes to masturbation, some of us use our hands, while others like to incorporate toys. And while sex can be fun without climax, self-pleasure is a little different. For most of us, the climax is the sole purpose, and why not make that purpose more extraordinary? Adding lube to your self-pleasure routine can benefit you in all the same ways as intercourse. But toy users beware: using the wrong kind of lube can ruin your expensive toy. Make sure you read labels and adequately care for your favorite bedroom gadget.

While we have established how effective lube can be during sex and masturbation, it's also important to note when it's not OK to use lube.

Drawback #1: Lube can interfere with baby making

Baby-making sex can be fun. Not only are you having sex with a purpose, but you're also connecting on a deeper level. But what if you're still not pregnant after doing everything correctly? There are many reasons why you might not be getting pregnant, but Mayo Clinic says it might be as simple as cutting out lube: "Lubrication reduces the ability for sperm to move spontaneously and actively. This is important, because many sperm need to reach the egg in order to fertilize it."

But what about all-natural lube, saliva? According to Mayo Clinic, saliva can also slow down sperm, causing low motility. If you need more than vaginal discharge during conception, Parents says you can opt for a sperm-friendly lubricant. Check out their list of fertility-friendly lubes here.

Drawback #2: Oil-based lubes can damage condoms

If oil-based lube is your go-to choice, you should avoid them while using a condom. Health says that "oil-based lubes, such as Vaseline, lotion, or coconut oil, can cause microtears in latex or polyisoprene condoms." In addition to breaking a condom, oil-based can also stain your sofa, sheets, or carpet.

Drawback #3: Potential allergies

If you aren't sure what's inside, it's wise to check the label. Some lubes include additives (especially those with added sensation and flavors) that might cause an allergic reaction. The New York Post also warns against glycerin, as it can cause yeast infections.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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