Go back to
Home » My Kolkata » Lifestyle » The slippery side of intimacy — the know-how on cutting back friction

Intimate Details

The slippery side of intimacy — the know-how on cutting back friction

Coconut oil? Flavoured lube? Sexuality educator Karisma Swarup gives a comprehensive guide to lubricants

Karishma Swarup | Published 27.11.23, 05:43 PM
All you need to know about getting the perfect slip and slide

All you need to know about getting the perfect slip and slide


My wife is aged 37 and I am 43. She sometimes complains about finding sexual intercourse uncomfortable. We try to do lots of foreplay before sex, but even then, sometimes when I touch her vagina it is completely dry. I have noticed she finds sex more uncomfortable the days she is dry. She said her friend suggested using coconut oil, but we are not sure whether to do this or not. Please advise.

— ‘Slippery Sushil’


Dear ‘Slippery Sushil’,

Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss this matter. It cannot always be easy to admit we need help with sex, or that our bodies are not doing what we want them to do. Gold star to you for ensuring you spend lots of time on foreplay; keep doing this!

Wetness is an important way to reduce risk of unwanted friction, burns and tears. Cutting back on friction can also be an important way to maximise pleasure.

Our bodies aren’t always in sync

Sometimes our bodies don’t always respond to sexual stimulation in the same way that our minds do. We can be completely turned on, hot n’ heavy, but our bodies just aren’t going through their whole sexual response cycle (sexual response could include blood rushing to the genitals, penis or clitoris erections, getting wetter, and so on). While this happens about approximately 10 per cent of the time for people with penises, it can be as common as 50 per cent of the time for people with vulvas.* Depending on the time of the month, the cervix may be more inclined to get lubricated or wet (for example, around ovulation). Additionally, with age and menopause, vaginas can be less wet than before.

Lube is your friend

Luckily, your issue is so common that it also has a common solution! You buy some simple lubricant to deal with dryness. Lubricant is a gel-like slippery substance that can make intercourse slippery-slidey for you. You may have seen a small quantity in condom packets when you open a lubricated condom.

The real MVP: water-based lube

Water-based lubricants are extra special because they do not spoil condoms or silicone massagers. They may require reapplication, but they are usually safe with any other material.

There are 3 types of store-bought lubes you should know about — water-based, oil-based and silicone-based.

Sharing my personal recommendations here:

  1. KY Jelly: This is a super cheap, unflavoured water-based lubricant that is also used for other medical reasons and can be easy to buy without an awkward conversation. It will be available at your corner chemist shop as well.
  2. MyMuse has a great range of all-natural luxury lubes, they have water-based, oil-based and silicone-based options to explore
  3. That Sassy Thing also has a good aloe-based water-based lube

Condoms and oils are enemies 

Your wife’s friend is not super far off when she suggested using oil. However, if you are using condoms to prevent pregnancy or STI transmission, it is important to note that any oils, oil-based lubricants or other oily products can break down condoms. This includes edible oils, Vaseline (petroleum jelly) and store-bought oil-based lubricants. Oils can also degrade silicone massagers! While using these on the penis for stimulation is okay, I’d suggest washing off well when you are done to avoid a build-up. And in general, avoid internal use for the vagina since it is much harder to wash oils down there.

Jury’s still out on coconut oil 

Having said that, some people do find a lot of success with using organic oils like coconut oil for vaginal stimulation (like fingering, masturbation, etc). Again, this would not work if you need to use a condom. Some doctors vehemently do not recommend this because smells and flavours from the oils can bring on yeast-infections in the vulva. However, from anecdotal evidence and based on new-age companies testing this out, coconut oil can be great for solo-play or sex when you don’t need to use a condom. I’d recommend using organic, less-scented oil if possible.


  1. An organic oil like Nirmal’s cold pressed coconut oil
  2. An oil-based lube like Leezu’s Coconut Self Love Oil

Leave the flavours out 

If your wife has a sensitive vagina — or to be safe in general — it is advisable to keep strong, sweet smelling, flowery smelling scents away from the vagina to avoid yeast infections. This includes all sweet food flavoured lubes and condoms like strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. These can be good for penis stimulation, but keep them away from the vulva!

Non-store bought lubes

I get asked a LOT about what household items we can use as lube. We are quite limited in our options because of the flavours constraint, and since we have to maintain a delicate pH balance of the vulva. However, two ‘natural’ lubes are saliva and menstrual blood. These do put you at risk of STI transmission, but can help facilitate the slidey feeling when you are not worried about STIs (for example, if you and your partner have both gotten tested and are monogamous). Few people with vaginas can feel sensitive to saliva as well, so really I’d recommend a patch test for anything you decide to use with a lot of trial and error.

Still uncomfortable?

If there have been sudden changes in vaginal dryness, if using lubricants does not help, or if it is accompanied by any other sensations — burning, itching, rashes, bumps, sores — then I would recommend speaking with a doctor. Good luck!

* Emily Nagoski, unwanted arousal: it happens, 2014

Karishma Swarup is a Kolkata-born and raised sexuality educator, Instagrammer (@talkyounevergot) and works at a global consulting firm. She busts myths about sex, pleasure, intimacy, orgasms, periods, and all things related to sexual health.

If you have a question you would like Karishma to answer, send an email on with the subject line ‘Questions for Karishma’ or DM/comment on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Last updated on 27.11.23, 05:48 PM

More from My Kolkata