Lubrication Education

A common complaint of women, especially those who have gone through menopause, is that they no longer produce as much vaginal lubrication as they once did. This can make sex uncomfortable or even painful – and nothing shuts down sexual feeling faster than pain! Dryness can also lead to vaginal irritation, vaginal infections or urinary tract infections.

Posted on | Harry Fisch, MD | Comments ()

A common complaint of women, especially those who have gone through menopause, is that they no longer produce as much vaginal lubrication as they once did. This can make sex uncomfortable or even painful – and nothing shuts down sexual feeling faster than pain!  Dryness can also lead to vaginal irritation, vaginal infections or urinary tract infections. 

The hormonal changes of menopause aren’t the only cause of vaginal dryness. Here are some others:

  • Normal hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Nursing
  • Emotional stress or unresolved issues between you and your partner, which can turn off the juice at the wrong moment
  • Use of certain medications (i.e. some antihistamines, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs)
  • Personal care products such as bubble bath, scented soaps and lotions, and douching, all of which can disrupt the natural chemistry of the vagina

Although estrogen in a variety of forms can help ease vaginal dryness, many women would rather avoid hormone-based treatments. By far the easiest solution to vaginal dryness is the use of a high-quality lubricant, both for sex and simply to ease day-to-day dryness. For daily non-sex-related dryness, apply a small amount of lubricant to the outside or inside parts of the vagina to increase comfort. For use during sex, try gently massaging a drop of gel onto the clitoris and/or vulva. The male partner can use the lubricant as well, which is especially helpful if he is using a condom.  Use as much or as little as needed to achieve pleasurable, sensual intercourse.

There are dozens of types of lubricants on the market, and, believe me, they’re not all high-quality! Some contain hormones. Some are oil or petroleum based (which can destroy condoms, are difficult to wash off, and may stain). Some contain anesthetics. And many simply don’t work as promised (they dry out quickly or simply aren’t “slippery” enough). Water- and silicone-based lubricants may be the best ones to use. Those  that contain niacin and L-arginine may increase sexual pleasure quicker by increasing blood flow to the region.

A word of caution: any type of personal lubricant can interfere with sperm and reduce a couple’s chances of conceiving a child. If you want to get pregnant and have a problem with dryness, I suggest using only completely natural lubricants such as saliva, canola oil or egg whites.

Here are some other tips for boosting your body’s natural lubrication:

  • Don’t smoke (it lowers estrogen levels)
  • Don’t overindulge in alcohol (it dehydrates you)
  • Drink plenty of water

Above all, if you’ve never used a lubricant before, don’t be afraid to try something new! Many couples I know find that using lubricants enhances their experience in ways they didn’t anticipate.

Blog written by Harry Fisch, MD
Dr. Fisch is the director of the Male Reproductive Center in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist and microsurgeon...