Nearly everyone understands the purpose of a condom is to protect against STIs and unplanned pregnancy. But fewer folks can explain the purposes of lube, despite the fact that bottles of personal lubricant sit right next to condoms in most drugstores.

Far more than a goofy sidekick to condoms, lube has the power to halt painful sex in its tracks, make anal possible, maximize pleasure and even increase condom effectiveness.

Reasons to love lube

Besides the obvious benefit of smooth, sexy friction, people use lube for all sorts of reasons. Adding a drop of lube to the inside and outside of a condom improves sensations, keeps the condom from drying out and prevents breakage. Lube provides the wetness essential for anal play, since the anus is not self-lubricating. Without proper lubrication, tiny tears can occur in the anus or vagina, increasing risk of infection.

Lube also provides the perfect solution to those who suffer from vaginal dryness, according to a 2012 study. People of all ages can experience insufficient lubrication for multiple reasons, including hormonal changes during menstrual cycles, medication side effects, menopause and chemicals in soaps or perfumes. Even dehydration can hinder natural lubrication.

Those interested in adding a little zest to their sex lives can use flavored lubricant for oral sex on penises, but be wary of use in orifices — the sugars can cause infections.

Lube can improve every sexual activity, from hand jobs and masturbating to good ol’ intercourse. Silicone lubricant also makes shower sex possible, since water washes away natural (and water-based) lubricants. Start with a dime-sized dollop and warm it between the fingers to get started — if that isn’t enough, grab more. Those seeking a slick full-body experience can even use lube as a massage oil. Every thrust will feel smoother and more pleasurable!

Alix DeBroux/The Badger Herald

How lube is misunderstood

Despite lube’s countless benefits, misconceptions prevent many from enjoying its offering of better, wetter sex. A common fallacy is that arousal should lead to plentiful wetness, and that a lack of lubrication indicates dysfunction or lack of attraction. But plenty of people don’t gush like a geyser when turned on.

Embarrassment over hurting our partner’s ego prevents people from seeking out a slippery solution. To make matters worse, these myths are perpetuated by porn’s lack of the wet substance, despite a plethora of lubed-up orifices. Porn stars undoubtedly use plenty of lube, but they also use plenty of editing to create the illusion of endless wetness.

Society often tries to tell us that sexual activity should occur organically between nothing but bodies. It’s a romantic notion, but this ideal harms our opportunity for demanding magnificent sex using helpful tools. While lack of lubrication isn’t necessarily a deficit, using it doesn’t mean someone is incapable of proper arousal.

Lube can be used alongside natural juices to enhance the glide of skin on skin in wonderful ways. Be proud to use lube — those who neglect it are missing out.