Feeling...thirstier than usual? There’s no shame in feeling dry! Vaginal dryness can be physically painful, but it can also negatively impact self esteem, our relationships, sexual satisfaction, and feelings of intimacy with our partner/s.
While it’s uncomfortable to experience (and sometimes even talk about), vaginal dryness is quite common, affecting over half of postmenopausal people in their 50s. But it’s important to remember that a dry vagina can affect anyone, no matter your age, or what stage of life you're in for a number of reasons.
Once you have a better understanding of what’s causing your vaginal dryness, you’ll have a better chance of knowing what to do and use to reduce irritation and overlapping symptoms. So if you’re feeling thirstier than usual, read on to get a better understanding why you might be experiencing vaginal dryness, plus a few tips to help alleviate discomfort.
What makes my vagina wet?
We’re glad you asked! Vaginal discharge is normal and necessary to help maintain a healthy vaginal environment. It is the fluid secreted from tiny glands in the vagina and cervix that helps remove old cells and debris. Another miracle worker, the Bartholin’s glands, are located on either side of the vaginal opening also help lubricate the skin to prevent chafing, dryness, and itching in our vulva.
But sometimes, our lifestyles, medications, and even our moods can disrupt our vagina’s finely tuned ecosystem, throwing off our vaginal pH or hormone balance, which can lead to vaginal dryness.
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1. You’re dehydrated
Humans are up to 60% water, so when you’re chronically dehydrated, your body can’t function as efficiently as it should. In addition to feeling physically and mentally sluggish, you might experience dry skin, dry eyes, and yes, a dry vagina.
Eat Your Water
Improved hydration will increase the amount of fluids available for internal vaginal moisture. But if you’re chronically dehydrated, chugging regular ol’ H2O may run straight through. Eat your water instead! Structured water, or gel water, is abundant in certain fruits and vegetables like aloe, melons, leafy greens, and even fat-rich plants like avocados, coconut, and chia seeds. This delivery of water can help keep you hydrated for longer because it is structured like the water in your cells, so your body can absorb and utilize it more efficiently.
Of course, drinking pure spring and mineral water also supplies necessary minerals and electrolytes, so keep a glass of water around to reach for when you’re thirsty and brew a cup of herbal tea instead of that fourth cup of coffee.
2. Chafing from Clothing, Sex, or Exercise
Chafing is caused by friction between skin-on-skin contact (yours or a partners’) or your skin and irritating fabrics or tight clothing. Repetitive movements like walking, biking, and uhh humping can be physically abrasive on your sensitive vulvar skin.
Soothe & Moisturize
Opt for breathable cotton underwear and change out of sweaty spandex as soon as possible! Let your body heal before diving back in to your walking (or sex) marathon. It might also be worth finding a natural detergent as well, especially for your undergarments as they’re in direct contact with your genitals. We also recommend going commando while you sleep to let your vulva breathe.
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3. You’re stressed
Stress is as physical a condition as it is mental; it activates your sympathetic nervous system, putting your body into fight or flight mode to deal with the immediate perceived threat. But doing so means there’s not enough internal energy left for non-essential activities your parasympathetic nervous system is running, like digestion and sexual desire. Your hormone levels may begin to shift: cortisol rises, testosterone dips. Chronic stress and anxiety also affects the blood flow to your vagina, which can interfere with your natural lubrication and lead to painful sex.
Incorporate Daily Rituals To Alleviate Anxiety
Incorporating small, healthy habits and rituals into your daily routine can have a big impact on your overall physical and mental health. Focus on what you can control — your actions and reactions. Prioritize getting enough sleep, take a moment to breathe, try your hand at journaling to work out your inner dialogue. When in doubt, walk it out. Also, having a conversation with your partner that you're stressed TF out can open up communication and increase your levels of intimacy.
4. Your period products are drying you out
Some of us have been reaching for the same product for years, so it’s easy to forget that our menstrual products and other vaginal care items could be the culprit to vaginal irritation. Before putting anything on or near your vulva, read the ingredients! Many vulvovaginal care items found in the drugstore contain hidden fragrance or other chemicals that cause irritation and it’s worth switching up your product of choice to see if it helps with your overall vaginal wellness. This includes vaginal moisturizers, douches (please don’t even think about doing this...again), lube, and period products.
Switch to organic menstrual and vaginal care items
It’s time to switch it up and try something new! Find a natural period care replacement with organic cotton tampons or reusable pads. A flexible period cup can also help reduce irritation if you’re looking for an even more eco-friendly solution. If your cup is causing discomfort, look into organic cotton pads. Reusable cloth pads are famously gentle, you'll avoid inserting anything foreign into your vagina, and they’re one of the best choices for the environment. Just be sure to wash your pads with fragrance free detergent to avoid further irritation!
Swap out your drugstore lube for a natural alternative and avoid using regular soap on your pubic area — all you need is soap and water!
5. You’re on hormonal birth control
Generally, anything that affects your estrogen levels can cause some degree of vaginal dryness. Hormonal birth control is no exception, although the degree to how much it affects you depends on your body and dosage.
Consider a Different Form of Birth Control
If vaginal dryness becomes a major concern, you may want to talk with your birth control provider about other options. There are many non-hormonal options available like a copper IUD, and learning about how your diet and lifestyle affects your hormones can help you make more informed decisions to figure out the best route for you.
6. You have low estrogen
As the primary sex hormone for people with vaginas, and the hormone responsible for releasing the ovaries that help maintain vaginal lubrication, elasticity, and thickness, low estrogen hinders the vagina’s natural ability to self-lubricate, which can mean a dry(er) vagina and perhaps less of a sex drive.
Everyone’s hormones fluctuate, depending on what life stage you’re in. While low estrogen levels are common symptoms of peri/menopause, they can also be caused by any number of behaviors — regularly taking antibiotics, chronic stress, and hormonal birth control can affect your estrogen levels further. Low estrogen levels are also associated with post-pregnancy, breastfeeding, and any medical procedure that affects your hormones.
Balance Your Hormones Naturally
Your first line of defense is a healthy, hydrated body and brain. Cover the basics by eating and drinking your water, eating a balanced diet, and incorporating small rituals that won’t interfere with your hormones. Eating or supplementing with a probiotic can help maintain a healthy gut, which influences all of the other systems in your body, including hormones, stress levels, and even your immunity!
When to see a professional
Vaginal dryness is common, and it usually goes away on its own. There are natural lifestyle changes and organic topicals that can help moisturize sensitive labial skin to find relief for short-term discomfort.
But if dryness lasts for more than a week, or it’s interfering with your daily life, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a doctor or your trusted healthcare provider.
if you’re experiencing vaginal dryness alongside other symptoms like vaginal itching, swelling, or bleeding after sex, a healthcare provider can help you identify the underlying cause to figure out next steps, as it may indicate something else is wrong.
Bottom line: don’t ever feel embarrassed or ashamed if your vagina is dry. We’re not supposed to be dripping juices all day, everyday, and there’s also no shame in regularly reaching for your tried and true bedside companions to keep your vagina healthier, happier, and W-A-P-ier.
But before you smother yourself in lube or vaginal moisturizer, take a look at what’s inside, so you can determine if the products you’re using, or habits you’re making are helping your body heal itself rather than acting as temporary solutions to treat a larger issue.
Momotaro Apotheca and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on Momotaro Apotheca is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition.