To Lube or Not to Lube: Experiences and Perceptions of Lubricant Use in Women With and Without Dyspareunia


Kate S. Sutton, MA, Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Humphrey Hall, 62 Arch Street, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6. Tel: (613) 533-3276; Fax: (613) 533-2499; E-mail:


Introduction.  There are few studies examining the relationship between lubricant use and sexual functioning, and no studies have examined this relationship in women with dyspareunia. Vaginal dryness is a prevalent complaint among women of all ages. There is an association between vaginal dryness and painful intercourse; therefore, women with dyspareunia represent a particularly relevant sample of women in which to investigate lubricant use.

Aim.  The aim of this study was to examine differences between women with and without dyspareunia in self-reported natural lubrication and attitudes toward and use of personal lubricants.

Methods.  Respondents completed an online survey including questions on demographics, gynecological/medical history, sexual functioning, and lubricant use and attitudes.

Main Outcome Measures.  The main outcome measures used were the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and questions regarding attitudes toward and use of lubricants.

Results.  Controls scored higher on the lubrication subscale of the FSFI than women with dyspareunia (P < 0.001). Women with dyspareunia reported greater frequency of lubricant use during sexual activity over the last year (P < 0.01). They were also more likely to use lubricant prior to penetration (P < 0.05). The most common use for controls was to enhance sexual experiences. This was also a common answer for women with dyspareunia; however, in this group, the most common reason was to reduce/alleviate pain. Lubricants were rated as less effective among women with dyspareunia vs. controls across all reported reasons for use. Nevertheless, lubricant use was still rated as being moderately effective in alleviating pain for women with dyspareunia.

Conclusions.  Women with dyspareunia have more difficulty with natural lubrication; it is consequently not surprising that they reported using lubricant more frequently than control women. Women with dyspareunia reported using lubricants more often than controls to try to prevent or alleviate pain and reported this as being a moderately effective strategy, suggesting that it may be a useful tool for some women with dyspareunia. Sutton KS, Boyer SC, Goldfinger C, Ezer P, and Pukall CF. To lube or not to lube: Experiences and perceptions of lubricant use in women with and without dyspareunia. J Sex Med 2012;9:240–250.