How To Have Better Sex When You Have A Dry Vagina

Photo: Aquarius Studio / shutterstock
woman with dry flowers covering vagina
Sex

Vaginal dryness is a common problem for many women. According to research, as many as 1 out of 5 women ages 18 to 50 experience vaginal dryness during sex.

So, no, it’s not something that only happens to women during and/or after menopause. In fact, there are many factors that can contribute to vaginal dryness from allergy medications, to antidepressants, to soaps and other body cleansers that don’t jive with the vagina’s pH balance, to stress, to something as simple as not drinking enough water.

If those mucus membranes aren’t sufficiently producing natural lubrication, the vaginal tissues will be affected and, in turn, you can end up with vaginal dryness — something you may not even be aware of until you have sex and it hurts to do so.

Because vaginal dryness is something many women are bound to experience throughout their life, at one point or another, it’s important to realize that it’s normal, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, there are remedies for it and, most importantly, you’re not alone!

That's what Kindra wants to change: the stigma behind the confusing world of your body's natural hormonal shifts. They are dedicated to helping you find immediate relief and long-term moisture repair to manage vaginal dryness with a science-backed and safe approach.

RELATED: 10 Foods That Are Surprisingly Great For Your Vaginal Health

Despite being a common occurrence, the problem with vaginal dryness is that it can mess with your sexual desire for any and all sexual activity. If sex is painful, then the desire to have it decreases.

For some, this can be emotionally and mentally frustrating.

When we have sex our bodies release hormones, such as oxytocin, that work together to provide for a happy body and mind. Taking that away can feel like a loss, because it is. Although water-based lubricants can help, it only provides minimal relief in the moment.

Sadly, research by Harvard University found that about 90% of women who experience dryness don’t seek treatment, either due to shame or not being comfortable enough to talk about it with their doctor.

Although the reasons for vaginal dryness run the gamut, here are the most common.

13 Common Causes of Vaginal Dryness During Sex

1. Menopause

When we think of vaginal dryness, menopause is usually the first reason that comes to mind.

The average age for onset of menopause is 51 years old, but the majority tend to be somewhere between 45 and 55 when they start “the change.” 

This transition, also known as perimenopause, can last as many as seven to even 14 years, and includes symptoms like hot flashes, weight gain, depression, disruptions in one’s monthly menstrual cycle and, of course, vaginal dryness — all of which can be attributed the shift in hormones in the body.

However, it should be noted that not every woman will experience the exact same or even all of these symptoms.

When a woman begins the menopausal transition, her estrogen levels start to fluctuate, with a marked decline over time. As this hormonal change continues, the vulva and vagina tissues lose their elasticity, vaginal tissues become thinner (vaginal atrophy), and dryness tends to follow for roughly 50% of menopausal and post-menopausal women.

Because the dryness is the result of the drop in estrogen levels, it doesn’t go away unless a woman uses estrogen therapy or other remedies to treat it.

One of those remedies is Kindra's Daily Vaginal Lotion & Applicator, designed to treat dryness and painful sex. Use promo code TANGO15 to receive 15% off your first order or subscription.

2. Pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding

Both during pregnancy and after childbirth, when a woman is breastfeeding, the hormonal changes can lead to vaginal dryness.

During pregnancy, it’s the estrogen levels that are transitioning within the body. During breastfeeding, it’s the drop in estrogen levels that can cause the dryness.

3. Birth control pills

When a woman is on the pill, it lowers her levels of testosterone, which is necessary for natural lubrication in the vagina.

4. Immune disorders

Certain immune disorders, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, can cause vaginal dryness (as well as dryness in other organs), because the immune system goes after the secretory glands in the body. When these glands aren’t allowed to do their thing — secrete — dryness can occur.

5. Some cancer treatments

Depending on what type of cancer someone has, there can be a variety of treatments that are used to kill the cancer and its chances of metastasizing.

Chemotherapy, a common cancer treatment, can lead to a loss of estrogen production. Without estrogen, the body goes into a menopausal type of state, causing vaginal dryness and thinning of the vagina. It’s a common side effect of chemo.

RELATED: What Is Means When A Woman Has Pain In Her Vagina (AKA 'Lightning Crotch')

6. Medications

Although antidepressants are notoriously linked to affecting the sex organs, it might be surprising to learn that antihistamine and asthma medications are also on the list.

These medications have a drying effect on the whole body, not just the vagina, but because of how they treat the ailments for which they’re prescribed, the vaginal lubrication is affected.

Anti-estrogen medications, which are sometimes used as hormone therapy for breast cancer patients also, true to their name, suppress estrogen production leading to dryness.

7. Surgical removal of the ovaries

Because the ovaries are the hub of estrogen, the removal of them, for any reason, can lead to a drop in vaginal moisture. This ovary insufficiency, naturally, will result in dryness if hormonal therapy isn’t used.

8. Hormonal changes due to your menstrual cycle

Since so much of vaginal dryness is based on hormones and hormonal changes are inevitable throughout one’s menstrual cycle, if you notice dryness during different times of the month, this is completely normal.

It’s just estrogen levels bouncing around, and when they’re lower than usual, things can get dryer than usual.

9. Cigarettes and alcohol

When it comes to vaginal health, cigarettes and alcohol can play a negative role. Nicotine can affect cervical mucus while alcohol, which is dehydrating (hence the reason people get hungover), can result in vaginal dryness.

Both vices together can make your vagina double down on not being able to lubricate itself naturally.

10. Douching

Important fact: the vagina cleans itself. Despite douching products being on the market, they’re absolutely so unnecessary and do more harm than good.

The chemicals in them can cause yeast infections, as well as irritations, in general, because they knock the pH balance out of whack. The effect they have on vaginal dryness can be so severe that you can actually feel it, even without having sexual intercourse.

11. Stress or depression

Stress, anxiety, and depression can throw off the pH balance in the vagina due to the cortisol that’s released.

Cortisol can increase glucose in the blood, which can disrupt blood flow to all parts of the body, vagina included. When this happens, some women will experience vaginal dryness.

12. Rigorous exercise

If you’ve ever felt irritation in your vagina after vigorous exercise, you’re not alone. Also known as “sports vagina,” exercise in which there’s a lot of sweating can cause anything from a yeast infection, to a urinary tract infection, to bacterial vaginosis.

These infections, if not treated, can do a number of the vagina’s natural functions, like lubrication. So while exercising is great for you, mentally and physically, if you’re not showering or letting your vagina breathe in a dry environment, you can experience some issues.

It should be noted that while yeast infections do lead to vaginal discharge, which is often a sign that someone has one, it’s not the same as natural vaginal lubrication.

13. Product allergies

Whether it’s body washes or detergents, allergic reactions are always possible anywhere on the body. If that part of the body happens to be the vagina, you can bet that your vagina will respond in a way to let you know it’s irritated. One of those ways is becoming dry.

RELATED: What Men Think Of Each Of The 8 Different Types Of Vaginas

Although there are many ways to combat vaginal dryness, one essential way is reaching out to your doctor if it persists.

There’s no shame in having a dry vagina, and being honest and upfront with your doctor is the best way to put an end to the issue. They can prescribe hormonal therapy or suggest over-the-counter products that will help.

But there are other methods that you can try at home.

7 Ways to Treat Vaginal Dryness at Home

1. Regular sexual activity

When the vagina is aroused, blood flows directly to it, engorging it and allowing it to properly function. One of those proper functions is vaginal lubrication in preparation for sexual intercourse or other sex play.

Keeping things nice and moist with regular jaunts can help vaginal health stay on track.

2. Masturbation

Similar to regular sexual activity, regular masturbation is also a good way to keep vaginal tissues healthy and lubricated!

3. Longer foreplay

For some, vaginal dryness can come when you're not aroused enough.

On average, it takes women at least 20 minutes to become aroused — far longer than it takes men. If the vagina is fully aroused, then it’s not as lubricated as it could be, which could lead to painful intercourse.

If you’re not getting aroused as fast as your partner, then it’s time to slow things down and engage in longer foreplay.

4. Use a daily vaginal moisturizer

A brand worth investigating is Kindra. Kindra offers estrogen-free, plant-powered products that help relieve women of common peri/post-menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, disrupted sleep, irritability, anxiety, and achy joints.

Their products are also made by women for women, so you know they know what they’re doing.

Kindra’s Daily Vaginal Lotion & Applicator treats vaginal dryness, low libido, and painful sex. It also supports short- and long-term relief, and repairs the skin moisture barrier, a common experience among women as estrogen is depleted.

In fact, users reported 95% improvement in vaginal dryness, 93% boost in lasting hydration, and 80% boost in natural lubrication.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

Receive 15% off your first purchase or subscription when you use promo code TANGO15!

The moisturizer can be easily inserted by applying two-to-four pumps of lotion onto the applicator, then inserting it about one inch or less into the vagina and applying in the area surrounding the vaginal opening — an area with marked irritation and discomfort.

If you’re afraid you’re putting it in the wrong spot, don’t be; the applicator is designed for precise placement. The lotion can also be applied to the vulva, if dryness is an issue there, too.

Once you’re done, wash both your hands and applicator, and store it in a dry place until you’re ready to use it again.

5. Pelvic floor exercises

Also known as Kegels, pelvic floor exercises benefit the body in many ways. Not only do they keep the vagina healthy and lubricated, but they can also lead to stronger and longer orgasms.

6. Avoid certain hygiene products

As mentioned above, the vagina cleans itself. It really does. So stay away from any hygiene products — douching, especially — if you want to keep your vaginal pH balance on the up and up, and irritation faraway.

7. Enhance your diet with supplements

Daily supplements in capsule form are another way to stave off vaginal dryness as well. Kindra has three supplements to help get your vagina back on its way to being healthy and putting dryness to bed.

The Core Dietary Supplement

This supplement treats symptoms associated with low estrogen levels, including low circulation, low libido, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and mental clarity.

Results show that women taking the supplement had a 65% decrease in hot flashes, 45% decrease in vaginal dryness, and 48% improvement in memory lapses.

The Sleep Enhancing Dietary Supplement

Interrupted sleep is major main issue among women experiencing menopause.

This supplement addresses disrupted sleep and night sweats, and includes stress-reducing ingredients to improve circulation, calmness, and better sleep.

The Energy Boosting Dietary Supplement

The energy boosting supplement treats fatigue, hot flashes, night sweats and brain fog with antioxidants, leading to healthy circulation, and mental clarity.

Get 15% off your first purchase or subscription when you use promo code TANGO15.

RELATED: 10 Amazing Things You Never Knew About Your Vagina

How to Know Which Vaginal Dryness Treatment is Best for You

If you’ve been experiencing vaginal dryness but aren’t sure where to start in regards to finding the right treatment, Kindra has provided a simple way to get the answers you need.

Kindra's quick, 10-question quiz helps tailor a custom plan for individual needs.

Simply provide answers to prompts and questions about your period, birth control, mental wellness, any physical ailments, and your level of discomfort, and Kindra determines which course of action to take.

When to See a Doctor

It’s important to keep in mind that not all vaginal dryness issues can be remedied with supplements and lotions. In some cases, dryness can be the sign that there’s something else going on in the body.

If your vaginal dryness persists or gets worse, don’t hesitate to see a doctor and get professional medical help.

-Created in partnership with Kindra

RELATED: 8 Signs Your Vagina Is Unhealthy (& What To Do About It)

Amanda Chatel is a NYC-based sexual wellness writer who’s been covering all things sex- and sexual health-related for a decade. Her work has been featured on Shape, Hello Giggles, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Glamour, Forbes, Bustle, Huffington Post and more.

YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.