The book “The Sex Book: A Joyful Journey of Self-Discovery” by Leeza Mangaldas provides scientifically accurate, judgement-free answers to even your most seemingly awkward questions about sex and the body.
From anatomy to hygiene, from consent to contraception, from masturbation to orgasms, the author fills many knowledge gaps with her sharp insights, developed over years of researching the physical, social and emotional aspects of sex and sexuality.
Sex education is central to greater gender equality, improved sexual and reproductive health, and a safer, more love-filled world.
Read an excerpt from the book below.
What is lube exactly? There seem to be quite a few types— how do I know which one I should use? – HITESH
Is it really safe to put lube inside the vagina? What about using coconut oil or body lotion as lube—is that okay? – SHARDA
I’ve mentioned lube quite a few times in this book, and I really do think of it as one of the unsung heroes of better sex for everyone. I only started using lube in my late twenties, but I wish I’d discovered it sooner. It’s hard to imagine sex or masturbation without it now. It can make everything so much more comfortable and fun!
A ‘lube’ (short for lubricant) is a substance that reduces friction and makes things move more smoothly.
You’ve likely seen huge billboards at petrol pumps advertising lube for car and bike engines—if only sexual lube was as widely available! While of course they have totally different ingredients and cannot be used interchangeably (you never want to put engine oil on your genitals, obvs!), the principle is the same. Just as car and bike lubes are designed to make vehicles work with less friction and wear and tear, a sexual lubricant (available at pharmacies and online) allows for things to be much more slippery-slidey, wet, smooth and pain-free in bed.
Pain during sex is often the result of excessive friction and insufficient lubrication—and here’s where lube can really help. But even in general, lube just tends to elevate the pleasure and make sex more fun. And, as I said a little while ago, it can make masturbation feel even better too.
Many people think lube is only for vaginal dryness. And while it can certainly help with that, lube can be used on many other parts of the body to great effect too!
You can lube up a finger before touching a vagina or anus; you can lube up your hand before rubbing a penis; you can put lube on your clitoris and on your partner’s lower belly during intercourse to ensure movements feel smoother if you like rubbing and grinding your pelvic region against their body to achieve simultaneous clitoral stimulation alongside penetration.
Most of us already do this stuff using saliva—so even if we haven’t thought about it, in fact, most of us already recognize the need for additional slipperiness. Lube does a way better job than saliva, and it’s also safer! Some STIs including herpes and HPV can be transmitted to the genitals via saliva. You can also get a vaginal infection because the bacteria and enzymes in saliva can sometimes disrupt the vaginal ecosystem. Also, saliva isn’t as effective as lube because it isn’t as slippery, and it dries faster.
You can put lube on your toys; on your genitals or any other body part, or on your condom; on the rim of a menstrual cup for easier insertion—there are many great ways to use lube.
Q Which lube should you use?
There are three main types of personal lubricants available: water-based, oil-based, and silicone-based.
A water-based sexual lube is a good place to start if you’ve never used lube before and you’re wondering which one to buy. Some lubes have a thinner, more liquidy consistency, while others have a thicker, more gel-like consistency—you could try a few different ones to figure out which you like best. Waterbased lube is generally the most easily available type of lube at pharmacies. It’s compatible with all types of condoms and sex toys, it’s easy to wash off and it won’t stain your sheets.
Oil-based and silicone-based sexual lubes dry less quickly than water-based ones, and therefore require less reapplication—so many people like these as well. They tend to have a slicker texture than water-based lubes.
Silicone-based lubes in particular, feel quite unique, because unlike water or oil, silicone does not get absorbed by the skin. A good silicone lube can have a very pleasant, silky feel. It’s particularly great for anal play as silicone lube is extremely slippery and doesn’t dry out—and the anus produces no lubrication of its own, so this is very helpful! It’s also great for sex in the shower or bathtub—it stays put even when exposed to water.
Silicone-based lubes are compatible with condoms—in fact, most condoms come pre-lubricated with a silicone-based lube. However, silicone-based lube is generally not recommended with silicone sex toys, as the silicones can bond together and transfer between products—basically, over time, this can sometimes cause the silicone material of the toy to break down.
Oil-based lubes feel, well, oily. Which can be really nice too—there’s a delicious warmth to oil, and it’s especially suitable if you also like giving each other body massages during sex. Pure coconut oil is an excellent lube—however, it’s important to make sure that it really is pure coconut oil. Many of the hair oil brands that sell ‘coconut oil’ have other ingredients in there too, that are not intended for internal use. Use pure coconut oil or a coconut oil-based sexual lube rather than coconut oil-based skincare or haircare products.
However, bear in mind that oil-based lubes can cause condoms to tear, as oil can cause latex to break down. So remember never to use an oil-based lube with condoms. It’s great for masturbation, and for partnered sex where you’ve both established that neither STIs nor accidental pregnancy are a concern, and therefore there is no longer a need to use condoms.
If you’ve never used lube before, a water-based lube is a good place to begin your explorations. If you discover that you do enjoy using lube though (and chances are, you will—it’s awesome!), it’s worth trying out all three types, as each type offers its own unique possibilities for pleasure!
Most general body lotions, cold creams, balms and moisturizers are intended only for external use on the skin and typically have ingredients that aren’t safe for internal use. Please don’t use these on your genitals—they will most likely cause discomfort. Use a good sexual lube!