As a younger woman, vaginal dryness couldn’t have been further from my mind. Vaginal ‘wetness’ was something that was a norm for me, something my sexual partners appeared to enjoy and to be brutally honest, it was something I quite enjoyed too. It contributed to my sexual self image. I just never imaged it would be otherwise.
When I was in my early 30’s, a friend and I who talked about anything and EVERYTHING where discussing all things sex and she informed me about the post menopausal vaginal dryness she was experiencing, as well as how she was handling it. I was a little surprised but didn’t give it too much thought as menopause felt like a life time away. Not something I had to worry about!
However, following the birth of my daughter when I was 37 I did experience vaginal dryness. The shock. The horror! My sexual self worth took a real beating as I didn’t know why this was happening. I felt like I wasn’t the partner I wanted to be to my husband (whom I might add wasn’t concerned at all). This continued for long months before I was told that it can be quite normal when breastfeeding. I could hardly believe that many of my friends might be experiencing this too and yet no one talked about it. I kept thinking how useful it would have been to know this post birth, to expect it as just a part of the many changes that happen to a woman and in a relationship after having a baby. Gradually as my daughter breast fed less and stopped night feeding some natural lubrication returned and with it an easier (for me) sexual connection with my husband. Now I am again pregnant and have been enjoying the natural lubrication that comes with that… until… oh no, vaginal dryness is back! I hoped it would wait until post birth, but it seems it is normal during pregnancy too!
So, what’s the deal? Why does vaginal dryness occur?
Basically, vaginal dryness or wetness is due to hormonal changes, mainly oestrogen. Oestrogen is responsible for maintaining these mucous membranes. Other factors leading to dryness can be dehydration, wearing synthetic underwear. It has NOTHING to do with how attracted you feel to your partner, how into sex you are or are not, or how you are feeling about yourself.
So, what can be done about it?
Firstly, make sure you are well hydrated which is especially important during pregnancy or if your breastfeeding anyway. Secondly, talk to your partner about it – it’s a really good chance to share how you are feeling about your changing body and your changing needs. It is nothing to be embarrassed about or feel ashamed of (yes, I am telling myself this too!). Thirdly, use a good quality lube. Some women I know swear by organic coconut oil. Personally my external skin finds coconut oil drying so im not going to put it on my vulva. Good quality ‘personal lubricants’ can be bought from supermarkets now, as well as chemists and adult stores. DO NOT use Vaseline or petroleum jelly, these are not good for your most sensitive areas. It is important to provide your vagina, vulva and clitoris with a lube that works for you. Sex (whether penetrative or manual or otherwise) without ample lubrication can cause vaginal tearing and increases the chances or yeast infections. Treat your vagina like the sacred powerhouse that it is!