When it comes to our bodies and how they work, we want them to always be responding. Whenever we ask them to. And when things don’t go our way, we want quick fixes. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If something can lessen our suffering or frustration, why shouldn’t we take immediate advantage of it? If science has an answer for it, and if we can easily find the solution, we don’t waste a second and get a doctor’s prescription, or drive to the drug store in the middle of the night.
And yet when it comes to vaginal lubrication we expect our body to always be good to go. If we’re turned on, we shouldn’t need extra lube. And we take it as a personal failure if that’s not sufficient. The “we” in the last sentence being ALL of us. We, women, because we’ll blame ourselves and assume that it’s our fault, and that there’s something wrong with us. But men as well, because they tend to think they’re doing something wrong, and that they’re not good enough if we’re not an everlasting spring. There’s so much shame around using extra lube and not being moist enough. Yet there’s no shame if our eyes don’t produce enough lubrication and we use some Visine instead. We wouldn’t go: “Oh, her eyes are so dry when she’s with me, why am I not sufficient enough for her, why does she need to use any eye drops”.
A lot of things can affect a woman’s vaginal moist, and it doesn’t only happen to menopausal women. What can be causing your vaginal dryness?
- The pill and other hormonal contraception. If you are on any form of hormonal birth control (the pill, shots, the implant, hormonal IUDs) that’s going to change the thickness of your cervical mucus and could cause vaginal dryness. Given that a lot of women start taking the pill even before losing their virginity, for a number of girls dryness is status quo.
- Your menstrual cycle. Your body’s ability to self-lubricate changes throughout your monthly period. You are probably going to be very dry during your period and the days leading to it. If you’re using tampons, that’s going to additionally make you sore to the extent that intercourse can be quite painful a couple of days after you’ve had your period.
- Being dehydrated overall. Not drinking enough water throughout the day is bad enough as it is, but is a borderline health hazard during sex when you’re going to get aroused, sweat, and even get a fair amount of exercise. Pro tip: drinking plenty of water is really important for oral and anal sex as well; in general, keep a bottle or glass next to your bed.
- Alcohol, cigarettes, or just having smoked some pot. All these substances can make you very dry. While the effect of cigarettes come with longer term use, alcohol and weed can make you dry right away.
- Lack of sleep, fatigue, stress. Have you noticed how tired and terrible your skin looks like when you’ve under-slept or stressed? Lack of rest and time for regeneration affect your private tissues as well.
- Douching. Vaginal douching is not only causing you dryness, but also disbalancing your flora (the good bacteria and microorganisms that keep your vagina healthy and prevent infections), and your pH.
- Allergy and some cold meds. One of the side-effects of antihistamines is that they can cause intimate dehydration. The effect is temporary and only lasts while you’re on the drugs.
- Childbirth and nursing. Your postpartum body is going to lack the progesterone and estrogen needed to produce lubrication and your hormonal levels are going to remain low while you’re breastfeeding.
- Menopause. The post menopausal body isn’t producing enough estrogen either and the elasticity of the vaginal walls is decaying as well.
- Lack of or too little foreplay. Not giving your body enough time to get aroused and skipping foreplay can make sex so much less enjoyable, and even painful.
- Bad over-the-counter lubricants. The most popular lube brands, and the ones you can find in the any drugstore or grocery store, usually contain glycerin and propylene glycol. These ingredients are really heavy and bad for your body. They will make things slippery during use, but what they actually do is they deplete your cells’ own water supplies and leave them really dry and prone to tears.
Whether you’re 21 or 51 there’s nothing wrong in “fixing” what’s temporarily or more permanently not “working”. Using a sexual lubricant makes sex tenfold more enjoyable. It decreases the risk of damaging the gentle mucous membrane of your vagina or your penis, and helps prevent friction burn and discomfort. It also reduces the risk of STI transmission: both because micro tears on your tissue make you more susceptible, and because the lack of proper lubrication highly increases the risk of condom breakage and failure.
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