What causes vaginal dryness during sex?

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Vaginal dryness during sex can make it an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. You may even want to stop being intimate with your partner altogether. However, it’s not an uncommon problem and luckily, there are some things you can try that may help to solve the issue.

If the dryness occurs frequently and becomes very painful, you should seek medical advice from your doctor. 

Why is my vagina dry during sex?

Firstly, you may need to get to the bottom of why your vagina is dry before the issue can be solved. There are numerous possible causes, and we’ve listed the main ones below.

 

Hormones

Oestrogen is an important hormone for women. Though men also produce oestrogen, the levels are a lot lower than in the female body. Oestrogen is mainly responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle, allowing puberty to occur and maintaining bone strength as well as normal cholesterol levels. Oestrogen is also responsible for keeping the vaginal walls lubricated with fluid, therefore, a lack of oestrogen could lead to vaginal dryness.

This fluid is extremely important in order to protect the vagina and keep it healthy. Not only can it protect your vagina from infections, such as Thrush or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), but it also cleans the area and allows vaginal bacteria to remain in balance.

There are a number of reasons why women can experience a decrease in this hormone. Some forms of contraception can be a cause, as can breastfeeding. The menopause can also cause oestrogen levels to drop. Stress could be another reason.

If you think that your oestrogen levels may be the cause of your vaginal dryness, you should speak to your doctor about your options.

 

Medication or treatments

Your vaginal dryness could originate from particular medication or treatment. Some tablets could decrease the natural levels of moisture in the vagina, including certain types of antihistamines and antidepressants. If you believe over-the-counter medication could be the problem, you could try switching to another brand or variety. If you believe your prescription medication could be causing the issue, then book an appointment with your doctor to discuss other options.

Various medical treatments can reduce your oestrogen production too, such as chemotherapy.

Hormone treatments for endometriosis can also lower oestrogen levels in your body. If you’ve previously had a hysterectomy or an oophorectomy, your body will naturally be producing less oestrogen too. All of these things could have an impact on how dry your vagina is.

 

Sex drive

If your sex drive is low, you may find that you’re not getting aroused enough for your vagina to produce sufficient lubrication. You should never attempt to have sex if your vagina is not sufficiently lubricated, as this could lead to tears or rips inside the vagina.

Instead, you should try to spend enough time preparing for sex. This could include foreplay with your partner. It might also be a good idea to discuss what you do and don’t like during sex, as this could have an effect on how aroused you are.

 

Irritants

The vagina is a very sensitive area, and this means that there are numerous irritants that can aggravate the area. These could include chemicals in soaps, washing powder, dyes, perfumes and even certain materials. It may help to wear breathable, cotton underwear and avoid products that are strong in scent or chemicals. 

 

How to increase lubrication during sex

You may find that switching medications or trying to increase your oestrogen levels helps with your vaginal dryness, particularly during sex. If these approaches don’t work, there are other things that you could try. 

You could use a form of artificial lubrication to ensure that sex remains pleasurable for you. A water-based lube is ideal and will work with condoms and diaphragms too. You should avoid using products like petroleum jelly, baby oil, hand lotion or moisturisers. These products could affect the natural bacteria in the vagina and may make you more prone to getting BV or other infections, such as Thrush. 

Alternatively, you can try a natural gentle moisturiser such as a wash foam that’s specifically made to balance the intimate flora in your vagina. This could help to relieve any dryness, as well as other symptoms such as itchiness, strong odours or excessive discharge. 

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