Winter always makes my skin so dry; my lips get chapped and everything feels rough and almost parched. Like many of you, I'm taking care of my skin and I regularly apply lotion. We're conditioned to do that ... but what about our most delicate and sensitive of tissues?
First, Everyone Is DifferentThe 'menopause is awful' blogs and articles portray us as all dried up, describing virtual deserts in our vaginas. While that is absolutely not the case for every woman, there will come a time when you're not as wet as you want to be. It could be due to menopause or it could be because you're not as aroused as you need to be.
Just as with other traits that vary from one woman to the next, vaginal lubrication varies as well. Some of us have more natural lubrication than others. Some of us retain more lubrication after menopause than others. But just as you put lotion on your skin, if you experience trouble with natural lubrication, there are ways to deal with it.
There Are Many Causes of Vaginal DrynessAccording to the North American Menopause Society, "the reduced production of estrogen beginning in perimenopause can affect your sexual function directly, such as through vaginal dryness."
Some reports say that 40-55% of post-menopausal women will experience dryness, but there’s really no way to predict or to verify the real figures. Dryness can occur for a variety of reasons:
- Some sexual health experts say that dehydration can contribute to dryness, as can the use of antihistamines.
- Lack of arousal contributes to dryness during sex. When we are aroused, there is increased blood flow to vaginal and genital areas. Blood flow to the vagina helps produce natural lubricants. If you’re not very aroused, you will most likely be dry. (Here’s the full scoop: How to Know When Your Body is Aroused.)
- Menopause-related dryness.
Solutions to Vaginal DrynessAre there solutions to vaginal dryness? In most cases, yes.
Use Lube, Lots, All the Time
Regardless of your level of personal lubrication, every woman should be using lube for sex play and intercourse. The delicate tissues associated with female genitals can be easily irritated from friction. Imagine a massage without massage oil! Toys and body parts glide and insert smoothly with the use of lube - and it just feels so much better. Try it out in solo play if you don’t believe me. If your partner isn’t a fan, show him or her how lube can enhance the experience.
See Your Doctor
Very mild dryness is something you can deal with on your own with the use of a high-quality lubricant. If sex becomes painful due to vaginal dryness and nothing else has worked, you should consult your doctor. She can prescribe a vaginal moisturizer which is inserted into the vagina. In more extreme cases, a low dose vaginal estrogen therapy can be prescribed.
Use It or Lose It
If you want to keep your vagina in good shape, you also need regular sexual arousal. You don’t need penetrative sex with a partner to achieve arousal. Solo women can use self-pleasure to receive the same benefits. Sexual arousal is the same in men and women. With men, you can see a penis become engorged with blood. A woman's arousal isn't quite as visual, but the same thing happens; the clitoris becomes enlarged and other tissues swell during arousal. The labia may become plumper, skin tone changes as blood flows to the surface (like blushing does to facial skin), and the vagina changes in response to desire. Along with regular sexual stimulation, Kegel exercises tone and strengthen pelvic floor muscles and bring increased blood flow to the vaginal area. This is vital for keeping tissues moist and supple, and helps keep the vaginal walls from thinning and tearing. Stronger pelvic floor muscles can also lead to better orgasms. Use it or lose it! (Learn more in For Better Orgasms, Flex This Muscle.)
Allow Time for Arousal
As for sexual arousal, don't rush into sex. Take time with your partner or take some time beforehand to become aroused. Activities will vary from woman to woman for arousal. You may need more stimuation from your partner such as anticipation, caressing, or kissing. Discover whatever you need to get your blood pumping and juices flowing. (Learn more in Why Great Things Happen When We Take Our Time In Bed.)
If you only act on one recommendation from this article, go out and buy a new lubricant. In fact, you might consider two lubricants. Get one for use with condoms and silicone toys and one to use at other times. My favorite is coconut oil followed by a good organic water based lube for those times when I’m using my favorite sex toys or with condoms.