Debby Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, and colleagues studied over 2,000 heterosexual women and found what many will find obvious: women love lube.
Women who participated in the study used one of six lubricants and most reported that using silicone or water based lubricant improved sexual experiences. Over 70% of events were more pleasurable and comfortable, according to the women, who were of a range of ages and a little over half married. Typical complaints regarding intercourse such as vaginal tearing or genital pain were not associated with lubricant use.
An interesting study, given that many women may not consider using lubricants. I would have liked to see results from women of varying sexual orientations, and of a larger sample set. Still, it's a good reminder that there are products out there that can better sexual experiences for women while still being safe.
Lubricants have come a long way, and can be flavored, contain spermicide, or be made of different substances. There are three main types of lubes on the market:
Water-based lubes are safe to use with condoms, dental dams, diaphragms and other latex products. The majority of users find water-based lubricant to be easy to use and easy to clean up. Some women may contract yeast infections from the lube because it contains glycerin, but those numbers are small. Find that your lube is drying out? Add a little moisture to the mix and it'll be smooth sailing.
Oil-based lubes like Vaseline or lotion are typically used for masturbating males, and aren't recommended for intercourse because they break down latex (broken condoms = yikes) and may lead to infections on the vagina.
Silicone-based lubes are also safe to use with condoms and other latex based products, but can be used in water without being washed away. That opens up some possibilities; the down side? It can be harder to clean up.
Talk to trusted individuals and your partner about lubricant and make sure that if you're using latex condoms or other latex contraceptives, that you are not using oil based lubes!