• Lube 101 Definitions

    Ball Gag

    In BDSM, a ball gag is a sex toy consisting of soft ball and head straps. The wearer puts the ball into his or her mouth, then uses the straps to prevent it from coming out of place. This can be erotic for both partners – the gag provides a visual stimulus while limiting the submissive partner’s speech, adding to a sense of submissiveness or helplessness.

    Most ball gags are made from silicone, plastic, or rubber. Because the gag can prevent the wearer from breathing normally through the mouth, these toys aren’t recommended for people with respiratory issues or medical conditions that might increase the risks of asphyxiation. Partners should agree on a non-verbal signal to use in place of a safe word (this will allow the submissive partner to indicate that he or she wants to stop sexual activities).


    Inflammation of the prostate. Prostatitis can be caused by bacterial overgrowth, but this is not always the case; inflammation can also occur without any type of infection. Some of the most common symptoms of the condition include difficulty urinating, burning during urination, painful ejaculations, and even erectile dysfunction. Symptoms vary depending on the exact cause of the condition.

    Physicians sometimes recommend prostate massage to relieve the symptoms of prostatitis. However, this depends on the cause of the condition. People with prostate inflammation should consult with their physicians to choose effective treatment plans.

    Bacterial prostate infections are not thought to be sexually transmitted.


    Stands for Ultra Realistic 3.0, a trademarked sex toy material with a soft, lifelike feel. UR3 is a type of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) that does not contain any phthalates. It is hypoallergenic and considered suitable for people with skin sensitivities.

    UR3 can be cleaned with sex toy cleaners or with warm water and a very mild soap. Because it is porous, it is very important to clean it after every use. UR3 toys often ship with a “renewal” powder, which is commercially available; this powder helps the toy to retain its soft, hyper-realistic feel. Users should store UR3 toys in plastic bags or in dedicated storage cases to reduce the chances of microbial growth.

    UR3 is commonly used for male sex toys. It is compatible with water-based lubricants, but silicone- and oil-based lubricants can permanently damage the material.


    A type of synthetic rubber that is extremely flexible and durable. Neoprene is used to make some sex toys and accessories, particularly accessories associated with BDSM (bondage, dominance, and submission).

    Unlike some other rubbers, neoprene is made from tightly woven microfibers, and it cleans easily with soap and water. Neoprene allergies are very rare, but they can occur; common symptoms include redness, irritation, and itching.

    Apart from sex toys and accessories, neoprene is used to make diving suits and sportswear.

    Penis Pump

    A device that applies even pressure to the penis by creating a vacuum. This can give the user an erection, and with enough pressure, the pump can increase the length and girth of the penis.

    Penis pumps consist of a cylinder, usually made of plastic or glass, and a pumping mechanism, which may use air or water to create the necessary pressure. Many pumps also have gauges to allow users to monitor progress from one session to the next.

    Penis pumps are sometimes recommended by physicians as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, especially for patients who have poor blood circulation due to diabetes or another disease. When used appropriately, pumps are safe, but excessive pressure may cause pain. Men with blood disorders such as leukemia should check with their doctors before using penis pumps.

    Safe Words

    A word used during role play and BDSM to immediately end the activity.

    By choosing a safe word, the submissive partner is able to take on his or her role completely, saying words like “no” or “stop” without actually compelling the dominant partner to stop. Safe words are often unusual words or phrases, as this allows for an unambiguous signal – the safe word isn’t likely to come up naturally, so when the dominant partner hears it, he or she knows to stop.

    Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

    A material commonly used in hundreds of different applications, including the production of sex toys. In its purest form, PVC is a hard, brittle substance. However, chemicals are often added to PVC to create a softer, more durable surface.

    PVC is usually considered to be a body-safe material. It is compatible with all types of lubricants. Phthalates are often added to PVC, which has led some users to question the overall safety of the substance (see “phthalates” for more information).

    Anal Probe

    In a sexual context, “anal probe” refers to toys that are designed for rectal use. They are typically used for partner play, as opposed to dildos and plugs that might be used for solo anal masturbation. Probes are available in a variety of styles, including designs created specifically for male prostate stimulation.


    In BDSM and roleplay, domination refers to the act of exercising control over a submissive partner (often referred to as the “sub”).

    The dominating partner (or “dom”) may take control in a variety of ways, and doms and subs will sometimes switch roles. Many couples create a safe word or take other steps to clearly set limits before engaging in any role playing; see “Submission/Submissive/Sub” for more information.



    Pubococcygeus (PC) Muscle

    A muscle in the pelvic floor. The pubococcygeus contracts during orgasm, and strengthening the muscle can allow for longer, more intense orgasms in some individuals. The muscle also controls the flow of urine, a stronger pubococcygeus can lower a person’s chances of urinary incontinence.

    Kegel exercises can strengthen the PC muscle, and both sexes can benefit from a stronger pelvic floor. See “Kegel exercise” for more information.

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