A lot of substances technically qualify as “lubricant” in an abstract sense. After all, the definition of lube is “a substance (such as grease) capable of reducing friction, heat and wear when introduced as a film between solid surfaces.” By that logic, something like Vaseline or petroleum jelly is indeed a lube — but that sure as shit doesn’t mean you should use it for sex.
When it comes to lubes used for sex purposes, you’re gonna want something that meets more rigorous standards than that. For starters, you want a lube that’s safe to use on (and inside) the human body. Next, in most circumstances, you’ll also want something that’s compatible with condoms. Last, but certainly not least, you want one that actually makes sex better.
Vaseline kind of qualifies, but it — and other petroleum jellies — are only intended only for external use (i.e., not in your holes). Of course, that doesn’t stop people from slathering it on before sex, but there are some risks that come from putting petroleum jelly into particular orifices. A 2013 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that people with vaginas were more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis if they used Vaseline as lube for sex. Unlike thinner lubes that are typically water or silicone-based, Vaseline can basically become trapped in the vagina, and with it, infections can breed.
Now onto the butt. In theory, Vaseline is an okay lube for butt stuff. Again, it’s really thick, so it’ll probably make a mess and be impossible to get out of your sheets, but the butthole is a relatively sturdy orifice that isn’t subject to infections as easily as the vagina. If you want to use it for anal, you’ll probably live to tell the tale.
There’s a bigger problem, though, which is that like any oil-based lubricant, petroleum jelly can deteriorate condoms. As such, using Vaseline can make you more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections. If you’re with a partner whom you feel comfortable not using a barrier with, well, go ahead and make all the mess you want. Even Crisco, the vegetable shortening, is known among many as a top-tier anal fisting lube. But if you’re trying to practice safer sex, Vaseline isn’t gonna do it for ya.
As for whether Vaseline makes sex better, that depends on your priorities. For condom-less butt stuff with a partner you’re fluid-bonded with, it’s probably decent enough, especially in a pinch. There are, however, numerous other lubes on the market that are better for the body and for condoms, and also won’t ruin your sheets. Water-based options are most versatile, but silicone-based lubes, which are thicker, longer-lasting and have more “cushion” are a good choice, too (though, they can damage sex toys that are also made of silicone).
Okay, you probably shouldn’t actually masturbate with hot sauce, but you get the idea.