Vaginal Lube: How To Apply It And Everything You Need To Know
There are a few different ways to apply a personal lubricant to a female but each method is dependent upon its intended use.
(Editor’s note: for our purposes, the term “female” and “woman” encompasses both binary and non-binary women.)
Here’s how to apply lube vaginally, and what you should know:
- You can apply personal lubricant directly onto the genitals or with your fingers from the container
- Lube can also be applied with an applicator before sex or at the beginning of the day to help support vaginal flora and ease discomfort caused by dryness
- Before you put any product on your genitals, it is a good idea to patch test it on another area of the skin, such as your inner elbow, to watch for an allergic reaction or signs of sensitivity
- Additionally, always read the label to make sure the lubricant contains safe ingredients you are not allergic to or sensitive to
Applying almost any type of personal lubricant to a vagina is easy — and we’ll tell you exactly how to do it whether you’re using it on yourself or a partner.
How To Apply Lube For Women
There are a few different ways to apply a personal lubricant if you’re a woman.
- You can apply lube with your fingertips, spreading it on and around your vulva or inside of your vagina before sex play or to relieve temporary dryness.
- Or, if you’re looking for long-lasting comfort or relief from irritation, you can provide more hydration to your vagina by applying the lubricant using an applicator that is inserted vaginally.
You’ll likely find an applicator included with your lube if you’re using a fertility or estrogen lubricant, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Applying Lube Without An Applicator
Most lubes for women tend to come without an applicator, so the most common way to apply a lubricant is with your fingertips.
Generally speaking, a little bit of lube goes a long way. Start with a small amount, a fingertip’s worth, and add more as needed.
Lube should be applied wherever you need it — on or around your vulva or inside the vagina before penetration occurs if it will.
When it comes to vaginal lube, a good rule of thumb is to always start with less and apply more as needed.
While an overabundance of lube isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you may feel overwhelmed by lubrication in excess, especially if you’re just warming up.
Additionally, too much lube can actually reduce the amount of sensation you feel.
If this occurs, the excess lube can be wiped away easily with a small hand towel, just note that lubes made from silicone or oil may stain the fabric.
Applying Lube With An Applicator
Fertility and estrogen lubricants generally include small plastic applicators to distribute the product more deeply into the vagina.
If you’ve ever used a vaginal suppository (such as a yeast infection treatment), then you are likely familiar with what a lube applicator will look like.
It is a thin, plastic tube that resembles a syringe and works just like a tampon.
Usually, your lube will screw into the plastic applicator, allowing you to fill it with the desired amount of product without spilling a drop.
Once it’s full and ready, the applicator is then inserted vaginally.
Using one hand to hold the applicator in place, you’ll gently press the plunger to expel the product.
Once the end of the plunger makes contact with the rest of the applicator, all of the lube has been released into the vagina and you can remove the applicator.
If the applicator is of the single-use variety, throw it away.
If it is meant to be reused, follow the provided instructions for care, cleaning, and storage.
Why Do Women Use Lube?
While all lubes can be used for sexual activity, that is not the only reason why a woman might use a lubricant.
Dr. Susan Milstein, a human sexuality educator on our medical review board, said, “Lubes aren’t just for sex. If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness your doctor may prescribe this for you, even if you’re not sexually active with a partner.”
Women might use lube to soothe irritation, relieve dryness, or make penetration more comfortable.
“Vaginal dryness can be a result of some cancer treatments and certain medications,” Dr. Milstein added.
Some lubricants are designed to promote fertility or aid those suffering from a lack of estrogen, which often occurs during breastfeeding or menopause.
Additionally, lubricants can help sex toys or vibrators perform better.
This is particularly true of clit-sucking vibrators, as a personal lubricant allows them to “latch” onto the clitoris with greater ease.
What Types Of Lubricants Do Women Use?
There are three main types of lube that women might use: water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based.
The best lubricants for women are made using safe ingredients with a formula that is kind to the skin and that won’t harm vaginal (or anal) health.
Water-based lubes are compatible with all sex toys and condoms, making them the most versatile lube option. They tend to be lightweight and mimic your body’s natural lubrication.
Silicone and oil-based lubricants are usually much thicker in consistency, making them perfect for extended sex sessions or play in the water, such as in the bath or shower.
If you’re a vagina owner and you’re not sure which type of lube will best suit your needs, the chart below will point you in the right direction.
|Lube Type:|| |
|Oral Sex||Yes||Yes||Not usually|
|Vaginal Sex||ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable||Yes||Yes|
|Anal Sex||ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable||Yes||Yes|
|Condom Types||All||All||Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only|
|Sex Toy Types||All||All but silicone||All but latex|
|Does It Stain?||No||Yes||Yes|
|Sex Toy Types|
|Does It Stain?|
Beyond those basic formulas, several other types of lubricants are designed with women in mind:
- Estrogen lubricants (also known as vaginal estrogen) contain added hormones to support those dealing with dryness due to a hormonal imbalance. These may be applied daily for continuous comfort and are prescription-only.
- Fertility lubricants contain hydroxyethylcellulose, which supports sperm viability and a healthy vaginal environment that promotes conception. These are applied before sex, often with an applicator.
- Vaginal lubricants of the general variety may range widely in ingredients and can be used in all kinds of sexual situations. They are typically applied directly to the vulva or vagina before penetration and during intercourse.
- pH-balanced lubricants are designed to reset or maintain the normal pH balance of a healthy vagina to promote its comfort, health, and wellness. These may be applied before or during sex, or used daily to ease discomfort or irritation.
Generally speaking, you can apply vaginal lube using your fingers, though special lubricants (such as vaginal estrogen or those intended to promote fertility) may require the use of an applicator.
“Lube doesn’t have to be applied by the person themselves, a partner can apply it for them,” Dr. Milstein, the medical review board member we spoke to earlier. “Couples can work it into their sex play to make applying it more of an experience!”
Lube serves many purposes for women — it’s not only great for sex but it can relieve dryness, discomfort, and irritation if you’re prone to those.
Luckily, lubricants are available in many formulas to suit your needs — no matter what they might be.
If you’re not sure what type of lubricant to try, read through our Everything Lube guide or take our lube quiz to find your perfect match.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Everything Lube hub, an in-depth and evolving resource that comprehensively explores all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.