Using Additional Lubricant With Lubricated Condoms

Condoms can be an effective means of both birth control and of protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So if you're already practicing this method of safe sex, good for you! But what else can you do to make your sexual experience even better? Might more lube help? Or if your condom comes pre-lubricated, does that mean you don't need an additional form of lubrication? Are you covering all your bases?

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The Benefits and Drawbacks of Pre-Lubricated Condoms

As mentioned, some condoms are already lubricated with dry silicone, jellies, or creams. This can be a huge plus, as well-lubricated condoms are less likely to break during intercourse, and the additional lubrication can also prevent irritation. There are even condoms made with spermicidal lubricant, so as to act as better protection again an unplanned pregnancy.

Still, non-monogamous couples, or couples who have a lot of sex, should be careful about using condoms with spermicidal lubricant. There may be an increased risk of HIV and other STIs associated with its active ingredient, nonoxynol-9.

Why More Lube Is Better Than Less

Whether or not your condoms come pre-lubricated, it's always a good idea to apply some additional lube yourself. Again, lubricants can help prevent condoms from breaking during use, and may also prevent irritation. And irritation, besides being uncomfortable, can increase the chance of infection.

But you must choose your personal lubricant wisely. If you use a separate lubricant, you should use one that's water-based and made for this purpose. Silicone-based lubricants are also okay to use with condoms. They are more slippery than water-based lubricants, and also last longer, though they can be more expensive. Oil-based lubricants, in particular, are problematic, and must never be used with latex condoms. The oil breaks down the latex and makes the condoms easier to break.​

You should also never use a lubricant that contains oils, fats, or greases such as petroleum-based jelly (like Vaseline), baby oil or lotion, hand or body lotions, cooking shortenings, or oily cosmetics like cold cream. They can seriously weaken latex, causing a condom to tear easily.

They may have other adverse effects on the body, as well, though there hasn't been as much research in this area. One reason is that the results of research conducted on the effects of various lubricants on our bodies is limited to in vitro studies, and is sometimes conflicting. In addition, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees medical device safety, has only slowly evolved its oversight and classification of personal lubricants, and this system is still not perfect. And the FDA clearance of medical devices is not nearly as stringent as the approval process for drugs.

When choosing which personal lubricant to buy, it can help to look at the ingredient list. And if you're still not sure which personal lubricant to choose, ask your pharmacist.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Barrier methods of birth control: spermicide, condom, sponge, diaphragm, and cervical cap. March, 2018.

  2. Haddad LB, Polis CB, Sheth AN, et al. Contraceptive methods and risk of HIV acquisition or female-to-male transmission. Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2014;11(4):447-58. doi:10.1007/s11904-014-0236-6

  3. Edwards D, Panay N. Treating vulvovaginal atrophy/genitourinary syndrome of menopause: how important is vaginal lubricant and moisturizer composition? Climacteric. 2016;19(2):151-61. doi:10.3109/13697137.2015.1124259

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Condoms. Reviewed October 22, 2015

  5. Auteri S. What you need to know about ... personal lubricants. American Society of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. May, 2015.

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.