Get Pro-Active About Vaginal Dryness
By: Jacquetta Szathmari
The dryness is real but you don’t have to take it sitting down.
Many internal and external phenomena, from reduced estrogen levels to medication, or medical conditions, can result in uncomfortably low levels of vaginal lubrication. Dryness can also easily be caused by too little foreplay, or exposure to irritants in intimate care products.
Regardless of the culprit, a visit to the gynecologist might be in order if your lack of moisture is causing:
- reduced sexual libido
- painful or frequent urination
- cracked or dry skin
- repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- pain during sexual activity
- bleeding or unusual discharge
That said, let’s talk about some of the most common causes of vaginal dryness, how they are treated, and what steps you can take to address them.
Your vagina is an amazing and complex place.
You hear it all the time but it never hurts to marvel at the vagina for its capacity for self-care. The naturally occurring hormone Estrogen is a large part of that.
Estrogen regulates the production of the fluid that lines the vagina and keeps it moist and protected from chaffing and harmful bacteria. Glands in the opening of the vagina create the mucus that is your very personal lubricant. If these glands should become blocked and develop cysts, they cease their function. Et voila- it’s a dry county.
Blocked Bartholin Glands, (named after the 17th century anatomist who is reported to be the first to describe them), are not uncommon and are easily treated by a medical professional. You can help keep these glands healthy and functioning by observing good intimate hygiene.
Estrogen is key.
Biological functions such as childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause can naturally cause estrogen levels to dip. Lower estrogen levels mean less moisture, and the aging process accelerates this natural development. Estrogen levels can also be influenced by medication, such as allergy and cold medications, antidepressants, contraception, or medical treatments such as chemotherapy, hysterectomies or procedures that require anti-estrogen meds. Vaginal dryness can also be a symptom of any immune disorder that robs the body of moisture and causes dry eyes, skin and mouth as well as basic dermatitis.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of your over-the-counter or prescription medications could be causing general dehydration or vaginal dryness. In addition, talk to your care team about the effects of any ailments you are suffering from to see if they could be contributing to your discomfort. (Diabetes, for example, can be tough on vaginal moisture.) Together you can make a plan to alleviate vaginal dryness.
Vaginal douches are not your friend.
If you douche, which you absolutely should not since the vagina is self-cleaning, you may also experience dryness. Douches decimate the vaginal flora that prevents harmful bacteria from moving right in and setting up shop. If you feel the need to douche because of unpleasant vaginal odor, do not ignore what your vaginal is telling you. You may need to see a gynecologist. A healthy vagina smells fine and you should be able to tell the difference.
If you are concerned about vaginal cleanliness, check out our quick primer on intimate hygiene. You have safe and healthy options!
Troubleshoot the problem.
If none of the above are causing dryness, the problem could be external. Still wearing synthetic underwear, and/or washing your panties with detergents containing dyes, fragrances, or other chemical irritants? Both your vagina and vulva, (your vagina’s the front door, if you will), are extremely sensitive and when exposed repeatedly to irritants they can become dry, itchy, parched, and angry.
Let’s not forget other items frequently inserted into the vagina for recreational purposes! Many people are allergic to manufactured ingredients commonly used in condoms and sex toys, (like latex or phthalates). Make sure your sexy aids are made from medical grade, non-porous silicone to avoid any allergens.
Even those without allergies can find that sex toys or condoms require significant lubrication to reduce excess friction than can cause irritation and deplete healthy vaginal moisture. In other words, if you’re using a sex toy make sure to have some lube on hand. Ditto for condoms!
Foreplay is always important.
Another frequent cause of vaginal dryness is not engaging in enough foreplay, or not having sex regularly. Foreplay is instrumental in preparing both the mind and body for sexual activity.
So, don’t be hasty; whether you are alone or with company, take the time to relax and become aroused. Get those juices literally flowing before the action gets internal. Try adding massage or oral play to your sexy time repertoire. Give your vagina the time she needs to get in the mood. A good water-based personal lubricant can work wonders here, too.
Lastly, if you're dehydrated, your vagina will be as well. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and every day. As women, we are supposed to drink a little over 2 liters of water a day (9 cups). It sounds easy, but if you are not a big fan of drinking water it can be daunting to try to consume as many glasses as suggested. Try supplementing your diet with foods that are natural water reserves such as watermelon, cucumbers, lettuce and celery to make up for glasses missed.
Most of all, stay positive. It’s easy to feel like your dry vagina has betrayed you, but there are many solutions you can turn to. Find out what your vagina needs to be happy. Vaginas are an important, but delicate, part of our complex female anatomy. Give your vagina a little attention! You won’t regret it!
This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women's health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacquetta Szathmari is a New York based writer and the founder of Dernier Mile, a boutique consultancy providing last minute and last mile solutions for your content-intensive, logistically complex, and totally unique creative projects.
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