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Hump Day: Why Do I Get Dry Sometimes?

Welcome to Hump Day, TrèsSugar's sex advice column. Are you confused about sex? Do you have trouble having an orgasm? Is there something you'd like to try but you're worried it's too weird? Send your questions to TrèsSugar, and our friend Dr. Charlie Glickman from Good Vibrations will offer his sound advice!

Today's Question:

"I get really dry sometimes when my boyfriend and I are having sex. I know all about lubricants, but I'm having trouble guessing when I might need help." To read Dr. Glickman's response,

There are a lot of reasons why women experience fluctuations in how much they lubricate. For some, it’s just part of the menstrual cycle. Some women lubricate more at ovulation, while others say that’s when they’re driest. Lots of women also report that their vaginal lubrication changed when they got pregnant and again, some say that they became much wetter and others say that they got drier. So while we know that changes in hormones can influence it, there’s a lot of variation in how much and in what direction. It’s also worth mentioning that menopause generally reduces how much lubrication your body will produce.

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Lots of medications and drugs also affect vaginal lubrication, even if it’s rarely listed on the bottle or box. For example, allergy medications are formulated to dry the mucous membranes in your sinuses, but they can do the same to the vagina. Anti-depressants, antihistamines, anxiety medications, smoking cigarettes or marijuana, and drinking alcohol can do the same. In general, if a medication or drug makes your mouth or sinuses dry, it could also reduce vaginal lubrication. Unfortunately, most doctors are unaware of these effects or they don’t feel comfortable talking to their patients about it.

I think it’s really unfortunate that we have this cultural myth that vaginal lubrication is proportional to arousal. Many women find that they can be totally turned on while being pretty dry and others might be quite wet while barely aroused. The best thing we can do is learn to separate the two things in our minds.

You say that you know about lubricants, but for the folks who don’t, here’s a little info.

There are pros and cons to the lubricants on the market, and it can take a little experimenting to find one that will work for you. You might also find that a lube that worked great for a long time isn’t working so well anymore. It’s kind of like shampoo or skin lotion — after a while, you might need to change brands as your individual chemistry changes.

Water-based lubricants can be thin and slippery, or they can be thicker gels. They rinse away really easily, making cleanup a snap, but they do dry out after a while. The glycerin-based lubes last a bit longer, but they tend to get sticky when they dry out. You can add a little water or saliva to freshen them up. While glycerin doesn’t cause yeast infections, it can make one worse if you get one for some other reason, so if you’re prone to yeast infections, avoid these lubes. The glycerin-free lubricants don’t get sticky, but they usually don’t quite last as long. They soak in like hand lotion, so adding water doesn’t work; you need to add some more.

Silicone lubricants don’t dry out (so if you spill some on the kitchen floor, be sure to wipe it up) and are hypoallergenic. They’re also waterproof, which is a plus if you want to have sex in the shower but it can make them a bit trickier to clean up and they sometimes stain sheets. They’re also hypoallergenic and have no taste or scent.

Some people like to use oils as sexual lubricants. If you want to give them a try, use something organic and vegetable-based, such as coconut or almond oils. Mineral oils like baby oil or Vaseline actually dry the skin since the body can’t absorb them or break them down. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so it doesn’t go rancid. Keep almond oil in the fridge. And never use oils with latex condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps. Oils will make them dissolve: a condom will break in about 30 seconds if it comes into contact with oil.

A few tips for using lubricants. First, keep the bottle near the bed. You’ll want to be able to grab it when you need it. Second, pump bottles make it a lot easier to add more without fumbling to get the bottle open. Third, if you accidentally get too much lube out of the bottle, don’t put the extra back in. You don’t want to contaminate the bottle with anything that might be on your hand. And lastly, many lube makers offer single-use packets or small bottles. While they cost more per ounce than larger bottles, you can stick them in a pocket or purse pretty easily, not to mention your carry-on bag.

So I think that the best thing for you to do is to keep lube handy and use it when you need it. It takes about 5 seconds to apply and it’ll make sex a lot more fun. And don’t stress about whether it means anything that you sometimes need a little extra slipperiness.

Don't forget to send your questions to TrèsSugar, and our friend Dr. Charlie Glickman will offer his sound advice!

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