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Call it the Goldilocks rule of great sex: When it comes to lubrication, too much or too little can cause your sack session to flop. But when there's just the right amount, it boosts below-the-belt sensations. "Lubrication is your body's way of telling you that you're turned on," says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. "You can't have comfortable or successful sex without it."
Every woman lubricates differently—there's no "normal" amount of wetness—and most women should be able to tell when they're good to go. But if you find yourself bone-dry when you're ready to jump his bones, don't worry: Figuring out the reasons and solutions will ensure that you both enjoy a smooth ride.
High and Dry
About a third of young women say they experience vaginal dryness, according to researchers at Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion. "I've noticed this big trend of younger women who are dry down there," says clinical sexologist Patti Britton, Ph.D. Many of her patients rush through foreplay and aren't fully aroused before they dive right into the main event. Bad move: Getting busy without enough slippage can leave you with soreness or possibly a yeast infection. If your bedmate speeds straight to the big bang, ask him for more teasing. Better yet, playfully institute a "me first" policy, says Britton: "Once your partner gives you your first orgasm with his hand, mouth, or a toy, you'll likely have enough lubrication to make round two more comfortable."
Factors such as stress, low-estrogen birth-control pills, undiagnosed yeast infections, breastfeeding, and certain meds (antihistamines and antidepressants) can also dry things out. "Think of it this way: Anything that can give you a dry mouth can give you a dry vagina," says Minkin.
And if, by contrast, a mere make-out session is enough to open the floodgates (excess wetness isn't common, but it can be uncomfortable and annoying, says Minkin), stash a washcloth nearby to wipe up moisture or try using a non-lubricated latex condom.
"Even if you don't have a problem self-lubricating, using store-bought lube can enhance sex," says Britton. In fact, women who reached for lube during the deed reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction and pleasure compared with women who didn't use it, according to a recent study from Indiana University. The extra slip and slide made sex more satisfying, says lead researcher Debby Herbenick, Ph.D. And more comfortable sex tends to be more sizzling sex.
On store shelves, you'll see lubes made with silicone, water, petroleum, or oil. For most couples, water-based lube is the best bet. It's safe for condoms and easy to rinse off (lingering bacteria can cause dreaded urinary tract infections), and it won't stain sheets. If you use condoms, you definitely need to stay away from petroleum-or oil-based lubricants, since they can erode latex quickly. And women who are prone to yeast infections should look for a lube that doesn't contain glycerin, which contains sugars that promote yeast growth.
Remember: A little lube goes a long way. Slathering too much can decrease sensation, warns Jamye Waxman, author of Getting Off: A Woman's Guide to Masturbation, so start sparingly and apply more if you need to.
Five Hot New Lubes to Try
1. Turn up the heat with K-Y Brand Warming Liquid ($4.49 for 1 oz, k-y.com). It claims to produce a gentle warming (not hot!) sensation. Just double-check your guy's love glove: The liquid is recommended for use with latex condoms only.
2. Flavored lubes like dessert-y BabeLicious ($8, babeland.com) or herb-and flower-infused Good Clean Love ($14, amazon.com), an eco-friendly pick, take the "job" out of a BJ. Since they're glycerin-free, he won't have to rinse off presex.
3. Rub each other the right way with Trust ($40 for 10 oz, trustintimacy.com), an all-in-one massage oil and lube. It has a moisturizing blend of avocado, grapeseed, and apricot kernel oils. But since it's oil-based, you shouldn't use it with condoms.
4. Make bathtime lots of fun with Sex in the Shower Silicone Lubricant ($20, drugstore.com). The slick stuff won't wash away during shower, pool, or tub nooky. Bonus tip: The label can be easily peeled off for added discretion.
5. Oh, baby! If you're knocking boots in order to get knocked up, stock up on Pre-Seed ($20, at Walgreens). Most lubricants (and even saliva) can be harmful to sperm. But Pre-Seed's formula allows your guy's swimmers to travel freely.