Why vaginal dryness happens and what you can do to alleviate discomfort.
WAP (aka “Wet Ass Pussy”) by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion took the world by storm, from politicians giving their unsolicited opinions to Tiktok dances dedicated to the song. As a sex blogger, I enjoyed hearing those lyrics for weeks on end because it showed that people were openly discussing vaginas.
However, as much as I enjoy the song, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes the horniness of my mind and the lubrication of my vagina aren’t on the same page. I can’t even begin to list the number of times where my soul craved sex, but even as the tingly sensation transferred from my thoughts to below the belt, my vagina said “no macaroni in a pot or a bucket and a mop for you, sis.”
As it turns out, these things happen and it’s common for the vagina to experience dryness for a vast range of reasons.
Potential causes of DAP aka vaginal dryness
Birth control and other medications that impact your hormones
Amanda Howell, MS, MPH, health education & communication specialist, and expert in reproductive health & family planning says, “Vaginal dryness related to birth control can be tricky. Many methods work by inhibiting ovulation. This mechanism is achieved by increasing levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and reducing androgens like testosterone.” Howell adds that testosterone plays an important role in vaginal lubrication and libido no matter the gender.
“Certain birth control methods with low levels of estrogen can also negatively affect vaginal lubrication (estrogen is responsible for tissue lubrication), which is why it’s important to talk to your medical provider, explain your concerns, and work together to find a method that works for you.”
Hormonal changes throughout your menstrual cycle
Depending on the time of the month, vaginal secretions change in consistency. Howell explains that estrogen and progesterone are low during one’s period, so discharge or lubrication may be low at this time. “In the week following the bleed, estrogen begins to rise. The cervix will start to produce more fluid and you may notice sticky or creamy discharge and increased vaginal lubrication.” she affirms.
“Estrogen peaks about 1-2 days before ovulation. Cervical mucus will become clear and resemble raw egg whites. Discharge can increase 10-20x more during this part of the cycle. (WAP!) Post ovulation, progesterone rises and inhibits the secretion of fluid causing a sticky or dry phase which can translate into lower levels of vaginal lubrication.”
“Decreased levels of reproductive hormones, like estrogen, during menopause can lead to vaginal dryness. It’s important to work with a medical provider to address concerns and figure out which treatment is right for you,” Howell continues.
One survey found that more than half (56%) of postmenopausal people experience vaginal dryness.
“Lastly, stress can be the ultimate libido killer. Chronic stress can cause increased levels of cortisol, which can lower testosterone and tank libido,” Howell adds.
When it comes to sex, there’s an underrated connection between the mind and body. Oftentimes, we think we aren’t fully aroused because there’s something inherently wrong with us; in reality, there could be a mental roadblock hindering us from fully letting go.
Additional causes of vaginal dryness:
- cancer treatment such as chemotherapy
- immune system disorders
- surgical removal of the ovaries
- smoking cigarettes
- harsh ingredients and/or perfumes in your soaps or any creams applied to your vulva or in your vagina
- not being turned on, low sexual desire
There are countless factors that can contribute to vaginal dryness and it can be quite uncomfortable and even painful. Fortunately, there are many ways to increase vaginal moisture, so let’s get into it!
How to get that WAP aka treat vaginal dryness
Utilize extra stimulation throughout the entire body.
The more physical and emotional stimulation your body receives, the more blood flow increases to the vagina, and that surge in fluid leads to more vaginal lubrication.
Mickie Woods, Sexologist and Founder of Sex Talk, says, “Foreplay can start hours, weeks, months, or even years before a sexual encounter ever takes place. When thinking of ways to upgrade this experience with a partner, ask yourself: What tweaks can be made between us and our environments to enhance our feelings of connectedness? What could I do to help my partner feel the most comfortable? The most safe? Or the sexiest version of themself?”
“Reflect on all 5 senses and the greatest areas of influence towards arousal. One’s arousal is directly impacted by their feelings towards their partner, but also by their feelings towards themself. My card game, Sex Talk, is essentially foreplay in a box and a great way to discover what truly gets your partner off. Whether it’s years in advance or during the moment, foreplay is sexiest when you know your partner is considering you every step of the way.”
Add lube to sexual activity.
The results of a 2013 study published in the National Library of Medicine indicated that the use of lubricant was associated with higher ratings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction in both masturbation and sexual activity with a partner.
Irma, certified sex educator and founder of Dirty South Sex Ed, is also quite the advocate for using lube during sex and specifically recommends silicone-based Überlube.
“It feels natural, as if it were my body’s lubrication, and it doesn’t dry up as fast as a water-based lube, nor does it leave me sticky. It’s also a multipurpose lubricant meaning you can use it for chafing or to tame frizz!” Irma enthusiastically states.
“When it comes to masturbation, I tend to use water-based lubes due to most of my toys being made out of silicone materials, but for anal plugs, I use überlube to keep things slippery. For water-based lubes, I actually don’t have a particular favorite but lean towards products that are paraben and glycerin free.”
Irma also stresses the importance of understanding that lube is beneficial for people of all ages and stages of life, further explaining that “there’s no such thing as too much lubrication, even for folks who do not think they “need” lube. It’s useful because it helps reduce friction between everyone involved, which avoids micro-tears if any of them have a penis or pain and irritation for those with vulvas.”
Additional go-to methods to improve vaginal moisture:
- Track your turn-on triggers. Create a journal or take mental notes of the factors that contribute to your stimulation. Do you feel most turned on when after you’ve watched erotic imagery? Do you feel most turned on when you’re eating food that can easily be incorporated into sex? Are you more or less horny depending on the weather or time of day? Whatever you are experiencing, pay attention to those discoveries.
- Have sex in the morning. According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, the clitoris also engorges and lubricates after a good night’s rest, similar to a penis’ morning wood.
- Drink more water. The famous saying, “You are what you eat,” can not only be applied to food, but to the drinks you consume as well. If you don’t drink enough water, for example, your body will be more prone to dryness. Though it won’t magically make your vagina turn into a slip n’ slide overnight, staying hydrated will help you feel more rejuvenated pre-sex (and post-).
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