We at Bustle love giving you tips for how to tap into your sexual potential and troubleshoot when things aren’t going your way in the bedroom. But what about finding solutions to those stressful sexual health situations that inevitably crop up when you’re getting down? Emma Kaywin, a Brooklyn-based sexual health writer and activist, is here to calm your nerves and answer your questions. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. This week’s topic: reasons why your vagina is suddenly drier.
Q: Lately, my vagina has been suddenly dry. This isn’t normal for me — I’m usually not the wettest (unless I’m turned on of course!) but this feels different. Like, sandpaper dry. It’s super uncomfortable, and I’m not sure what to do. What could be causing this? Do I have to go to the doctor or can I fix it myself? Could it be reversible or is this my new normal?
A: Your vagina is naturally lubricating, which you may know from dealing with normal vaginal discharge on the daily. A healthy vagina is coated with lubrication that your body makes for itself. These natural juices are made in the glands by your cervix and they drip down to coat your vaginal walls. This lubrication keeps your vagina healthy by moving dead cells and other unwanted things (like bacteria) out. Note that this is different than how your body makes the sexual lubrication that happens when you are turned on. That wetness comes from your Bartholins glands, which are at the entrance of your vagina.
If you don’t have your natural everyday lubrication, your vaginal walls will feel dry. Dryness can also lead to other unpleasant feelings including itchiness, burning, mild bleeding, and pain during sex due to chafing or tearing of the vaginal lining, and frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Sudden vaginal dryness can happen for a number of reasons. But the good news is once you figure out why your pussy is parched, you can fix it! So just what are those potential culprits for your southern desert?
You’re Taking An Antihistamine
Lots of medicine can make your vagina dry. One of these medicine classes are antihistamines, which are generally found in allergy and cold medications. You probably didn’t read the side effects before you took this medicine, and even if you did, chances are vaginal dryness isn’t listed on that tiny little bottle — but it’s a real reaction your body can have to this medication.
You Started Taking An Antidepressant
Another medicine type that can cause vaginal dryness is antidepressants. Not all of them have this side effect, but some antidepressants do. Actually, certain antidepressants can impact your vagina and sex life in a bunch of different ways, decreasing libido and making it harder to orgasm. If you notice any of these side effects, you might want to talk to your doctor about changing up your medications.
You’re Taking Anti-Estrogen Medication
Your natural vaginal lubrication is maintained in great part by the hormone estrogen. If your levels of estrogen are low, your vagina is going to be dry. Low estrogen levels are the reason why dryness happens so often to folks during menopause, because estrogen levels drop at this point in life. Your estrogen can also be made to drop with anti-estrogen medications, which you might be taking to treat your endometriosis or uterine fibroids (if you have either of those medical conditions). If you’re on these meds, you might be experiencing a suddenly dry vagina.
You Started Taking The Pill
Estrogen is likely also the reason why oral birth control can result in vaginal dryness. Low libido is a side effect of the Pill that your gynecologist might have told you about, but a lesser discussed side effect is a lessening of natural vaginal lubrication. The good news is that if this is happening to you, there are lots of other contraceptive options (including other pills) to try that might not have the same reaction in your body. Your gynecologist will help you find the right fit for you.
You're Taking Asthma Medication
The final class of meds that have the side effect of a dry vagina are some asthma medicines. If you have asthma and are taking medication for it, that might be the reason for your dry vagina. Luckily, not all asthma meds have this side effect, so you definitely have the opportunity to maintain your lung health without sacrificing your vaginal happiness.
You’re Allergic To Chemicals In Your Soap
Did you know that lots of people are actually allergic to the things they put in or around their vaginas? There can be harsh chemicals in douches, soaps, and lubricants that can cause tons of vaginal problems, such as yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis — and vaginal dryness. Using natural products without these intense chemicals can clear up the problem in no time.
You Just Smoked Lots Of Cigarettes
Smoking actually has tons of negative consequences for reproductive health. For instance, did you know that smoking cigarettes messes with your circulation? That’s why smokers have such cold hands and feet. This is relevant to reproductive health because if your circulation isn’t great, it can make your vagina dryer. This is more relevant to chronic smokers, but if you went out with that one friend of yours last night (you know the one I’m talking about) and ended up smoking far more than you’re used to, that could be a reason why your netherbits aren’t feeling great this morning.
What about smoking marijuana, you ask? The jury is still out (probably because there isn't really enough well-funded research on the health impacts of cannabis products) — some research has found that smoking weed not only gives you cottonmouth, but "cotton vagina" too! However, some professionals have debunked these findings, because the reason your mouth gets dry when you smoke something is different than why your vagina gets dry. So does smoking weed make your vagina dry? We need more well-funded research to know for sure.
You Just Drank A Lot
Alcohol dehydrates your body, which you may have noticed from your need to slam a tallboy of water when you come home after a night of heavy drinking. This dehydration can affect your vagina, leading to less lubrication. If you’re planning to drink alcohol (particularly before you want to have sex), make sure you drink lots of water so you don’t get too dehydrated. Your vagina, not to mention your head, will thank you.
Stress can wreak havoc on your reproductive system. It does this in great part because it lowers your immune system. This might be the reason that if you’re stressed, you may notice that your vagina feels itchy, burning, or dry. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s a good idea to figure out what helps you personally calm down — because everyone’s different. De-stressing is one of the most important things you can do to protect your overall health, including ensuring your vagina stops feeling so dry!
The Bottom Line
The good news is that just because you woke up with a dry vagina this morning, that doesn’t mean this is your new normal. You will have to do some sleuthing to figure out your particular cause for vaginal dryness. Working with a trusted doctor or gynecologist can help a lot. But once you know the culprit, you can fix it! And in the meantime: lube, lube, lube. No one should have to experience the discomfort of a dry vagina when there are so many personal lubricant options on the market.
If you notice that your dryness isn't going away or that you aren't getting wet when you're preparing to have sex, a more long-term reason for vaginal dryness may be the culprit. For instance, anxiety and depression are main reasons why it's hard for people to get wet during sex. If this sounds like you, definitely seek the help you need! There's no reason to be embarrassed or to suffer in chafing silence.
Images: Pexels; Giphy