Anal lubricant: A ‘Non-Friction’ Love Story


By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

This topic is a fun one, so we’re going to *dive straight in.* But, as you’ll soon find out, that’s the exact opposite of what you should do! 😉

Lubricants, lubes… there are so friggin’ many of them out there! You’ll often see articles about the “17 Best Anal Lubricants“ (or something like that), and there are just too many to choose from. Heck, most of us can’t decide between two restaurants for dinner. How are we supposed to choose from a bunch of seemingly identical gels? We just want to know what’ll work best! 💦💦

Let’s warm up with the basics and then work our way in…

Friction vs. Stimulation

Why do we even need anal lubricant? 🤔🧐 We’ve got erogenous zones all over our body—areas that are pleasurable to stimulate. Our genitals are a given, but outside of that, the anus is full of nerve endings, making it feel good when touched, tickled, and rubbed.

But(t)! 🍑 Anal play can cause both stimulation and friction, and there’s a huge difference between them. One feels great, whereas the other can cause pain or even injuries.

What causes friction?
● Tightness: The anus is, on a structural level, tighter than a vagina.
● Lack of lubrication: Unlike a vagina, the anal canal doesn’t self-lubricate.
● Texture: Things used to create anal friction have different textures. Condoms and sex toys are usually made of rubber, which can have more texture than the skin of a penis!
● Tension: The anus has a muscle that must relax for penetration to be comfortable.

All four combine to create an environment that, if approached incorrectly, can do more harm than good. In fact…

You should be avoiding friction.

If you don’t use anal lubricant, you’ll be going in dry. The tissue around and inside the anus is incredibly delicate, which can result in a common injury– the dreaded anal fissure (an incredibly painful tear in the skin). 😓

Beyond that pain, you can also experience hemorrhoids, skin tags, anal infections, or an infected tunnel. (Which has the unfortunate honor of being called an anal fistula-- sounds like a fun sub-species of vampire, but, you know, isn’t). 🧛‍♂️

It’s super crucial to know that when you tear the skin in any of these areas, you are literally *opening* yourself up to a host of infections, including STIs (and HIV).

Here’s how to avoid unwanted friction:

You want to use lube. Lube and more lube. Lots and lots and lots of it. 💦💦💦💦💦💦💦💦

It’s actually a win-win situation! Wet and slippery intercourse is not just more comfortable, it’s also more pleasurable.

We’ll be getting into the best types of anal lubricant below, but as a rule of 👍🏾, you want to choose a thick and long-lasting lube. When it comes to anal sex, if you feel like you’re using too much, you’re probably using just enough!

The best anal lubricants!

Alright, we’ve done the studying, now let’s get into it. We’ve got three types of lubes to choose from:

Water-based lubes 🌊 These have the advantage of not damaging condoms or sex toys and are suitable for vaginal penetration or masturbation. They’re free of parabens, glycerin, silicone, and oil, so they can be used for all sorts of sexy stuff. But for anal… well, we’d suggest…

Silicone-based lubes 💦 These have a thicker consistency than water-based lubes and are a leading choice for booty pleasure enthusiasts worldwide. They require less lube and last longer than their water-based counterpart. They're also great for shower sex 🚿 as they don't wash away easily. BUT(T)! And it's a huge but(t): you shouldn't ever use silicone-based lube with silicone-based sex toys. ✋🏾 They can break down the rubber over time; no one wants that (sex toys are expensive, y'all). Last but not least, we’ve got…

Hybrid lubricants 💦+ 🌊 Those lab-coated geniuses 👩‍🔬 have combined water-based and silicone-based lube. The result? A gel free of alcohol, glycerin, dyes, parabens, gluten, and fragrances! And, it's safe for use with latex AND polyisoprene condoms.

Which lubes should you avoid?

Imagine that our crush came over for the first time, the mood’s right, the consent is there, everything’s going great, we reach for the lube, and… it’s expired.

Expired lubes are bad for you, your partner; they’re bad all around! And yes, lube does expire! 🤦‍♂️

We also want to avoid numbing lubricants. These contain benzocaine or lidocaine. (Yes, that's the same stuff the dentist uses if you need a filling!) While those substances might desensitize your backend, they also keep you from feeling if something's wrong ~down there~. So, you can't tell if you need to say, "Hey, stop, I'm in pain." 😫 This'll make any sort of microtears in the anal skin worse and can lead to injuries you don't want to get!

And, both last AND least, there are oil-based lubricants. 🧴 These aren’t safe to use with latex condoms, and oils increase the chances of a condom tearing during sex.

In fact, here’s a quick list of some desperate ideas we might’ve considered at some point but should absolutely, avoid, with a capital DO NOT USE:

● Butter
● Baby shampoo
● Baby oil
● Hair gel
● Soap
● Shampoo
● Mayonnaise
● Honey
● Vegetable oil
● Water
● Yogurt

The list really does go on and on. If unsure, don't use it, and stick to a hybrid-, water-or silicone-based anal lubricant.

In the end… (get it? 😂)

Ah, yes, the dreaded, but VERY important, aftercare. 🥰 Once the fun is done, your behind will probably be a little more sensitive than usual. Our suggestion? Run a soothing, warm 🛁. Throw in some Epsom salts, put on a little Al Green, and just relax. Any discomfort from anal sex should go away soon. If you’re still feeling a little tender, take ibuprofen—it’ll help if you’re experiencing inflammation.

After a few hours or so, if it hurts to go number two, you should inspect any stool for blood. 👀 A little can be expected, but if there’s excessive pain, bleeding, or discharge, you may want to contact a physician.

The same goes for any pain that lasts a few days after having anal sex. Go see a healthcare provider 👩‍⚕️ to make sure everything’s fine and nothing’s been injured. Also, ensure you don’t have more fun 😉 before fully healing.

Got any lingering questions? We’ve got the deep dive right here. Check out our articles on anal health and pleasure and all things lube. If you’re looking for more ways to diversify your sex life, check out our blog on spicy sex 🌶 right here.

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