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Female Sexuality and Cancer


Lubricants for Sex

A gel lubricant can be used when your partner caresses your genitals. Keep the lubricant next to you when you have sex, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to go and get it. If you want, you can warm it up ahead of time by putting it in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds (or by putting the sealed bottle in hot water). Make using lubricants part of your lovemaking routine. Ask your partner to spread it around the clitoris and the opening to the vagina during foreplay. Before intercourse, spread some lubricant over the head of the penis when you’re caressing your partner. If using fingers or a sexual toy, make sure they’re well lubricated too. Before penetration, make sure the penis or object and the opening to the vagina are well lubricated to decrease friction and tightness.

Lubricants are also important for anal sex. If women have severe vaginal pain or have had all (or part) of the vagina removed during surgery, they may want to try anal sex. Some women have orgasms during anal sex because there are sensitive nerve endings near the vagina that might be stimulated. Use a condom and a lots of water based lubricant for anal sex and tell your partner to move slowly. Before you start, make sure you’re as relaxed as possible. Talk to your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t.

Before having sex, spread some lubricant over the head of the penis when you’re caressing your partner. Before penetration, make sure the penis and the opening to the vagina are lubricated well to decrease friction and tightness.

Most large drugstores have a wide variety of lubricants, or you can get them:

  • online
  • at sex positive or adult stores

There are many types of lubricants. Try a few different types to find one that you’re happy with.

What kind of lubricant should I use?

Lubricants that come in pump containers are a good idea because they’re easy to reapply during sex, and you can do it with one hand.

Water-Based Lubricants

  • Water-based products come in gel or liquid form. Gel lubricants work best when they’re thin because they’re more like the body’s natural lubrication. Gels like K-Y Jelly or Surgilube (used by doctors for pelvic and rectal exams) are often too thick and they dry out quickly.
  • Water based lubricants work well for penetrative intercourse, sexual touching, or masturbation, and they’re safe to use with sex toys. However, they can get sticky and need to be reapplied often. Adding a bit of water or saliva can help reactivate them.
  • If you have sensitive skin, water-based lubricants are the best choice. Before you buy or use them, check the ingredients. Propylene glycol and chlorhexidine can be irritating. Water-based lubricants are easy to clean up with water or a warm cloth. Some types of water-based lubricants are: Astroglide, Probe, Slippery Stuff and K-Y Liquid or Silk-E.

Silicone-Based Products

  • Silicone-based products often last longer and feel more natural because they don’t absorb easily into the skin. They work well in the shower or tub because they don’t break down in water. You may need soap for cleanup. Some silicone products may be hard to wash off bedding.
  • Don’t use silicone products with sex toys—it will start to break down the materials the toys are made of. If you’re using condoms, read the product label to see if it’s approved to use with condoms.
  • Many silicone lubricants are hypoallergenic. This is a good option for women who have sensitive skin or are prone to yeast or bladder infections.
  • Silicone lubricants usually cost more than water based lubricants, but you often need to use less, so they last longer. Some types of silicone based lubricants are: Gun-Oil, Pjur, Pink and Sliquid
  • Some silicone lubricants can stain bed sheets.
  • There are also hybrid lubricants that contain both silicone and water-base​

Flavored Products and Warming and Cooling Products

  • Flavored products can be exciting for oral sex, especially for a partner who may be a bit reserved. You may want to taste the product first, because some don’t taste good. Many products contain sugar, so don’t use them if you have a health problem like diabetes, chronic yeast infections, or bladder infections. Scents and flavors can irritate the genitals, so don’t use them if you have sensitive skin.
  • Warming or cooling sensation products can be fun, but only use small amounts. Try a dime-sized amount of the product with a water-based lubricant if you need more lubrication. Some products are very intense, so try it first on an area like the back of your hand or the inside of your forearm.

Natural Products

  • Many women also use natural products like olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil as vaginal moisturizers. Don’t use oils when you’re also using condoms or sexual toys because the oil will break down the condom or toy. Don’t use petroleum-based products like Vaseline, body lotion, or massage oil inside the vagina.

Vitamin E

  • After chemotherapy or menopause, it’s common to have dry skin all over the body. To help with this, you can take 100 to 600 IU of vitamin E by mouth or break ​a capsule and rub the oil into the vulva (outer genitals) and the vagina. Do this every day. If you’re prone to yeast infections, over the counter moisturizers might work better than vitamin E (see below). If you’re having pelvic radiation, don’t use vitamin E until after your treatment is done. ​

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