What Causes Vaginal Dryness?

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What Causes Vaginal Dryness?


If you’ve got a vagina, odds are you will, at some point, experience vaginal dryness; it’s a pretty common problem. Often associated with postmenopausal estrogen levels, it can happen at any age for a number of reasons.   

Vaginal dryness can be uncomfortable and come with vaginal itching or a burning sensation. Additionally, it can make sexual intercourse and using adult sex toys painful and may trigger urinary tract infections (aka UTIs). Since all of that sounds like absolutely no fun at all, today we’re going to talk about vaginal dryness, why it happens, how it’s normal, and what you can do to relieve it. 

Why am I dry down there all of a sudden?

When you suddenly experience vaginal dryness, it can be a bit jarring. Not only do you have to deal with the discomfort, but also you are left wondering why it is happening at all. Honestly, from physical causes to psychological ones, there are so many things that can cause vaginal dryness. Fortunately, for as many causes as there are, there are also many options for relief. So, let’s start off by looking at some of the possible vaginal dryness causes. 


What is the cause of dryness in a woman?

For any AFAB (assigned female at birth) person, vaginal dryness can strike in response to a number of factors:

  • Hormonal changes. This is among the most common causes of vaginal dryness. Estrogen levels can decrease in a menopausal woman or postmenopausal women. Also, hormone levels can decrease after childbirth or during breastfeeding. Additionally, sometimes a cancer treatment can cause low estrogen. Whatever the cause, low hormone levels or estrogen levels can lead to decreased vaginal lubrication. 
  • Medications. So many different kinds of medications, from antidepressants to asthma medications to allergy and cold treatments, can cause vaginal lubrication to decrease. 
  • Irritants. From soaps and hygiene products to lubricants and sex toys, any number of things can irritate the vagina, causing your WAP to go MIA. 
  • Inadequate arousal. If you are rushing right to penetrative activities and not spending time on arousal, the vagina may be painfully dry. 
  • Anxiety. Just in case anxiety wasn’t already enough fun, let’s throw in some vaginal dryness! Emotional and mental factors like anxiety can interfere with the process by which natural lubrication occurs. 

Is vaginal dryness normal?

In short? Yes. Absolutely. It happens to so many people! 

In 2015 the Journal of Women’s Health surveyed 800 women to identify common sexual health stumbling blocks, and vaginal dryness was reported as one of the top two health concerns for women over 60. 

Additionally, as we can see from the list of possible dryness triggers above, it is something that can happen at literally any age. So if you are experiencing vaginal dryness, know that you are far from alone! It happens to tons of people, and there are things you can do about it. Let’s talk about some of them! 


How do you get rid of dryness down there?

If you find your vaginal dryness is consistent or is getting worse, you should definitely talk to a doctor because there are prescription treatment options that can help. In the meantime, there are also home remedies that can help banish some of those pesky symptoms like vaginal itching and vaginal infections. 

Use A Vaginal Moisturizer

Did you know that there are moisturizers designed especially for the vagina? Not to be confused with the kind of moisturizer you would use on your face or body, vaginal moisturizers utilize pH-balanced ingredients to keep the vagina healthy as they moisturize. Using a vaginal moisturizer a few times a week (I recommend doing it before bed) can help keep your vagina moist and relieve vaginal dryness symptoms. This can also keep you clean and is a common tactic for people who want to learn more about how to make your vagina smell good

NOTE: I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT try to moisturize the vagina with any kind of moisturizer or cream that you would use on your face or body. This will only cause irritation and make the whole situation worse. 

Add in Some Water-Based Lubricants

Avoid discomfort from vaginal dryness during sexual activity by adding in moisture via a water-based lubricant! Before any kind of sexual activity, including manual stimulation and toy use, apply a water-based lubricant to the vulva and vagina, as well as to anything that will be in contact with the vulva or vagina (penis, hands, toys, etc.)

Keep an eye on the ingredients in your lubricants because some like glycerin and propylene glycol can cause irritation, which could actually make your vaginal dryness situation worse. 

Engage in Sexual Activity

This might feel paradoxical, especially if vaginal dryness is causing discomfort during sexual activity, but regular sexual stimulation can help improve overall vaginal health. Partner play, solo play with a vibrator or dildo, whatever works for you! Sexual stimulation can cause increased blood flow and vaginal secretions, and this can help relieve vaginal dryness.

Think Outside the Box

So, yes, we just said that sexual activity could be good for vaginal health, but let’s be thoughtful in how we approach it. If you are engaging in partnered sex, don’t jump right to penetration. Take the time to engage in foreplay and do things that make you feel aroused before attempting to insert anything into a vagina. If you’re new to foreplay, check out a complete guide on how to foreplay and how long should foreplay last? Being aroused will help to promote blood flow to the vagina, which can help with self-lubrication and make sex is more comfortable and enjoyable.

Additionally, consider sexual activities besides intercourse that allow for intimacy and sexual pleasure without involving vaginal penetration. This could be anything from massages to mutual masturbation, to oral sex, to kink play. Not only can these activities be sexy and fun, but they can also be a lot more comfortable when vaginal dryness symptoms are kicking up. 

Exercise Your Pelvic Floor

Vaginal dryness can go hand in hand with weak vaginal muscles. The vagina is intricate and there’s a lot of space, muscle, and vaginal tissue in there, which can lead you to wonder, how deep is a woman's vagina? Decreased estrogen levels contribute to vaginal weakness, which can, in turn, contribute to vaginal dryness. Pelvic floor exercises (aka kegel exercises) can teach you how to tighten vaginal walls, strengthen those muscles, and increase blood flow to the vagina. 

Looking for an adult sex toy to combat vaginal dryness? PinkCherry’s got you covered with one of the widest selections on the internet!


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Written By: JoEllen Notte

JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker, sex educator, and mental health advocate whose work explores the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site The Redhead Bedhead as well as for Glamour, The BBC, Bitch, PsychCentral, and more. JoEllen is the author of The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having.

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sunny Rodgers

This content was reviewed for accuracy and relevancy by Dr. Sunny Rodgers.

Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.