Whether you’re 19 or 91, it can happen — Vaginal dryness knows no age, even though we’re often told this is something that is strictly experienced by women experiencing menopause, or because we’re “not into it.” Estrogen creates a thin, clear layer of fluid in the walls of the vagina that keep it healthy, moisturized, and elastic. When you notice a drop in estrogen levels, this will reduce the amount of that clear fluid moisturizing your vagina, therefore, causing dryness. It’s really that simple.
Menopause, of course, can cause this drop in estrogen, but there are many more reasons women of all ages experience dryness. Not engaging in enough foreplay before sex, certain antidepressants, anti-estrogen medications (usually used to treat endometriosis or uterine fibroids), birth control, childbirth and breastfeeding, and allergy and cold medications all are known to cause dryness. If you’re experiencing dryness that is affecting your quality of life (again: sex shouldn’t hurt!), talk to your doctor ASAP.
Regardless of the reason, vaginal dryness is uncomfortable, and can result in painful sex, intense itching, and burning. Here are seven ways you can bring it to a halt:
1. Estrogen therapy
If your vaginal dryness is severe enough, a doctor might recommend adding some estrogen back in your body through estrogen therapy. There are multiple ways they can do this, from inserting a ring that will release estrogen into the body, inserting a tablet, or applying a cream into the vagina. Yes, it sounds gross, but you’ll feel so much better.
2. Vaginal moisturizers
You can buy vaginal moisturizers over the counter at your local grocery store or Target (when you’re there buying, well, basically everything else). They’re easy to use (just follow the directions!), and they’re an easy long-term option for providing moisture.
3. Skip the wax
Not only will you save some precious coin, you might feel A LOT better. Pubic hair provides a nice buffer between the skin and your partner, allowing the skin on your vulva and vagina to stay a little more moist (sorry everyone).
4. Avoid drying products
Harsh scented soaps, bubble baths, lotions, and douches all cause more harm than good! These are generally too harsh and drying for the skin on the vulva (some of the most sensitive on your body). Instead, invest in natural, unscented washes and moisturizers.
5. Engage in more, better foreplay
Sometimes, you’re just not doing enough beforehand. So, make sure you’re spending adequate time preparing your body for intercourse. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner to give you a lil’ extra attention — the whole experience will be better for both of you.
Now that you’re spending more time on foreplay, you can focus on having better foreplay. Not all foreplay has to be sexual, so make the room feel romantic (candles, music, the whole thing!), give each other a massage, or play a fun game. Foreplay doesn’t have to be the same thing every time. Change up your go-to’s every now and then to prevent anything seeming too routine.
6. Add some lube to your sex box
This stuff is magic, people!! There are too many options to not be using lube, even if you don’t deal with dryness. You can get them water-based, silicone-based, vegan, oil-based — the list goes on. You can even make your own lubes at home using coconut oil. If only Frankie Bergstein of Grace and Frankie’s Yam Lube was the real deal. Make sure if you’re using latex condoms to toss aside the oil-based lube, as the oils and latex don’t mesh well together.
Also, if you don’t have your own little sex box of treasures, you’re doing your entire night stand wrong.
7. Switch your allergy meds
Certain allergy medications can cause dryness due to their antihistamines. Your doctor should be able to point you in the right direction of a different allergy solution.