Vaginal Dryness


Dra. Charley Ferrer

Vaginal dryness is one of those embarrassing female problems we typically don’t speak of and often don’t even share with our closest friend. Some women are even too embarrassed to speak of it with their physicians until the situation becomes intolerable and too painful to continue overlooking. As women, we’re used to taking care of everyone else at the detriment of our own health. Often, we’re so far at the bottom of our priorities list, we do a disservice to our bodies and suffer needlessly.

It’s estimated that approximately 80% of perimenopausal women (women in their 30’s and up) experience vaginal dryness. This percentage is higher for post menopausal women. Vaginal dryness is caused by low or declining estrogen levels in a woman’s body which leads to a thinning and drying of the vaginal walls. Vaginal dryness can range from minor discomfort to debilitating pain, if left untreated. It goes without saying that vaginal dryness causes pain during intercourse contributing to the reasons women avoid sex which then spirals into loss of libido and low sexual desire. Let’s face it, why have sex when it merely causes pain. Though vaginal dryness is often a symptom experienced by women in their 30’s and up, women of any age who have had a hysterectomy, are breastfeeding, or have diabetes can also experience it as well. 

Vaginal dryness occurs when the Bartholin’s glands which produce the lubrication needed for intercourse are not functioning properly.  These glands are located along your vaginal lips and during stimulation secrete a thicker lubricant which allows for smooth insertion of your partner’s penis, finger, or even an adult sex toy such as a dildo or vibrator. This lubricant has a natural musky smell, often referred to as the “smell of sex” which attracts your mate and let’s him know you’re getting excited.   

Don’t think for a second that vaginal dryness is only caused by an imbalance in your body or low estrogen levels that come with age, breastfeeding, or illness.  It can also be caused by guilt, shame, even fear. These feelings can lead to psychological problems such as low sexual desire, anorgasmia (inability to be orgasmic), dyspareunia (pain during intercourse), and depression—just to name a few. Addressing these issues for yourself can resolve your problem immediately. If you are too embarrassed to speak to your partner or friends about any guilt or shame that comes up, seek out a therapist or Sexologist in your area.  My book, Para La Mujer Sensual, is another alternative which offers valuable information and addresses many issues which prevent women from embracing their full orgasmic potential.  It also discusses the other issues to enable you to derive more pleasure out of your sex life and your relationships.

What can you do?

Now that you know what it is, how can you get rid of it to enjoy yourself and derive more pleasure from your love life? Amazingly enough there are several measures and natural remedies that you can take immediately which can relieve your symptoms significantly or eliminate them all together.

Something as simple as increasing the amount of water you drink daily can drastically increase your vaginal lubrication and decrease or eliminate vaginal dryness altogether.  By drinking ten 8-oz glasses of water a day you re-hydrate your body enabling it to produce the lubrication it needs to make sex fun and exciting once more. Water isn’t just for dieting anymore it’s for sexual health as well.

Dieting is another remedy as well as a culprit in vaginal dryness. Women need a balanced diet and YES we need fat in our diets! A low fat high carbohydrate diet is not the best diet formula for women and actually deprives women of the nutrients her body needs to help produce estrogen. If you do continue with such a diet regime, ask your physician or nutritionist about high quality nutritional supplements which can help your body obtain all the nutrients it needs. 

Hormone replacement therapy is another treatment for vaginal dryness and your physician is the best person to speak to about the risks involved. There are also other natural alternatives which may be available to you and have fewer side effects. 

Exercise is an important factor in helping to balance your body naturally and enable it to produce sufficient lubrication at any age. I’m not suggesting you run five miles a week or do two hours of aerobics daily, but perhaps taking the stairs instead of the elevator when going up a few flights. How about walking for 15-minutes a day? Take your lover with you as this will give you some time alone with him without constant interruptions and who knows, you might just find a dark corner somewhere for a little naughty fun.  And remember, the more you exercise, the more energy you have to be sexual.

Reducing your stress is paramount. Make it part of your new year’s resolution to start taking time for yourself.  Start with as little as 15-minutes a day and work your way up to one hour a day where you honor yourself and your body. Whether that’s by taking a bubble bath, having a manicure or pedicure, sitting on a park bench and feeding the pigeons, or laying in the backyard and watching the clouds float by, honor the fact that you deserve to be taken care of as well. Amazingly, most women can never “find the time to take care of herself since she’s always putting her family and others first.  Thus, you have to “make the time” and selfishly guard it.  Selfish is not a bad word!  Look at it this way, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t have the energy to take care of others the way you’d really like to—with love and energy.

Quickies & Pre-mature Penetration

No discussion on vaginal dryness is complete without addressing Quickies and pre-mature penetration. Though you may want to rip each other’s clothes off and allow the wildness and passion to take over, you may find that penetration is difficult or too painful to fully enjoy that deliciously abandoned sexual play. In these instances, ensure to use artificial lubrication. You don’t need to carry a large bottle of lubricant with you; they make individual packets that you can slip into your purse or back pocket. I always carry my “good girl case” with me wherever I go. My “good girl case” holds a condom, a lubricant, and a piece of gum. Having your own “good girl case” doesn’t mean you’re looking for sex or that you’re a “puta”, it merely affirms what you are—a mature woman who takes care of herself—and yes, her lover as well.  

Aside from Quickies, pre-mature penetration is another cause of vaginal dryness. This occurs when you are not sufficiently aroused prior to penetration. Never suffer through this type of “forced” penetration! Communicate your needs with your partner. A good lover wants you to enjoy yourself just as much as he is. Thus, let him know if you need more stimulation and where. Masters and Johnson, the famous American sex researchers, noted that though younger women can easily lubricate within seconds, more mature women took up to five minutes or more to achieve sufficient lubrication for penetration. Like fine wine, older women take a little longer to ripen to their full potential which gives them more time to enjoy those erotic touches, those naughty words whispered into their ear, and those long delicious kisses. 

Lubricants

Lubricants are God’s gift to men and women. Not only do they come in multiple flavors including cherry, pina colada, chocolate, grape and banana but they also come in different textures such as water-based and silicone. Sugar based lubricants, like the flavored ones, shouldn’t be used inside the vagina as they can cause yeast infections. However, they are great fun to use on the outside of the vulva (or penis) and then lick off during oral sex.

For vaginal dryness, you’ll want to use either the water-based or silicone lubricants during penetrative intercourse. The silicone lubricate is thicker and last longer making it great for prolonged thrusting. The water-based lubricant works just as well, however, you may need to reapply it if you’re engaging in prolonged thrusting. 

Massage oils, cooking oil, hand lotions, and butter should never be used inside the vagina! Not only does it alter the natural Ph balance of your vagina, it can cause severe problems as well. Also, these lotions and oils can cause an allergic reaction for both men and women. Vaseline and baby oil should never be used in conjunction with a condom as it breaks down the condom.  And condoms with Nonoxynol 9 should never be used as Nonoxynol 9 has been found by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to cause severe allergic reactions in some women and microscopic tears in the vagina making women more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections. 

Replens and Senselle are two types of vaginal moisturizers available which help keep you moist throughout the day. Though they provide moisture to the vagina, you may still need to additional lubrication when engaging in penetrative sex. Like taking care of your skin with moisturizers and lotions, as women get older, they need to pay more attention to their vaginal symptoms and if it gets dry, moisturize it as well.

You’re mental and physical health are important and so is your sexual health. Embrace all of yourself to enable you to a health passionate live at any age. As with any other issues regarding your physical health, consult your primary care provider to ensure the measures you’re considering are the right ones for you.

Live with passion,

Dra. Charley Ferrer

Dra. Charley Ferrer is a Clinical Sexologist and Life Coach who helps individuals and couples reclaim their divine sexuality. She is the awarding winning author of Para La Mujer Sensual, and The Latina Kama Sutra (El Kama Sutra Latino: Guia para Citas, Sexo y Placeres Eroticos).   Contact her at ferrerinstitute@aol.com   or visit www.thelatinakamasutra.com for a copy of her books.