Horror stories of a men’s inability to perform sexually have always served as cautionary tales: beware of whiskey dick, E.D., micropenises, jackhammering, and so on for eternity. It seems like there’s a minefield of male sex flubs out there, and because of this, the burden of blame often gets placed on the penis-ed gender when performance mishaps strike.
I myself believed I would never find myself in such an embarrassing situation. In my naive confidence, I believed my magical vagina could erect even the most timid of dicks. I was 103 percent sure that if there was any problem, it would be with the man's dick, not my pussy.
But when I experienced severe vaginal dryness during a hookup for the first time ever, I felt like I finally got a taste of the mortification men can feel.
You see, even though a girl can’t get limp dick or E.D., she can get dry vagina, something which often leads to really, really, really bad, awkward sex. It can also leave the owner of said vagina and her partner in penetration feeling humiliated, subpar, and entirely unsexy.
As I lay in bed after my dry vagina incident, which was reminiscent of the kind of bad sex you have at band camp with a clarinet player, a thousand questions ran through my mind: was something wrong with me?
There definitely wasn’t anything wrong with him. The man in question was surely attractive. His dick was spectacular, and I was totally turned on. Yet, I couldn’t get wet.
This being my first experience with dryness, I wondered if I had some strange vagina disease. Maybe I’d get my own TLC special, “The Girl With The Desert Vagina.” Maybe I’d have to use lube for the rest of my life like a post-menopausal divorcee named Nancy.
Nancy owns a parakeet and collects shells.
Looking into my issue though, it turns out my fears were entirely irrational … but not uncommon. Vaginal dryness is something any woman can experience, and it can be caused by several factors, all of them beyond my control and none of which qualify me for a TLC special.
Though it isn’t always the case, an unsexy, undesirable partner is usually the reason a woman has trouble getting wet. On the other hand, a mouth-watering hunk of sexmeat is typically credited with the super-soaking of vaginas. It’s no secret that women’s orgasms are 99 percent mental, so if she isn’t turned on by what’s in front of her, or excited at the thought of being ravished by her partner, chances are her vagina will not comply.
Lack of foreplay is another cause of vaginal dryness, but I can say with certainty that it wasn’t the issue I had. Sexual stimulation, be it visual or physical, can be a big component of a vagina’s self-lubrication, but it isn’t the only component.
Another big reason behind a sandpaper pussy is hormones. Just like everything else pertaining to our genitalia, hormones are in control, and in this case, we have estrogen to blame. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a decrease in estrogen levels can lead to a decrease in vaginal lubrication. Most often, this happens in the few days before your period, just after ovulation, but it also occurs during menopause, pregnancy and any other physiological event characterized by a drop in estrogen.
Even if your estrogen levels are totally normal, there are still plenty of other non-hormonal factors that can affect our self-lubing processes as well. Oftentimes medications we take (like oral contraceptives) or hygiene products we use (body wash, soap, etc.) can have side effects that dry us out.
Even douching, a process intended to better our vaginas, can be harmful to its lubrication. According to Women’s Health, vaginal dryness and irritation (as well as various infections) can be caused by douching, which is practiced by 25 percent of women aged 15 to 44. That’s 25 percent of vaginas regularly undergoing a process that, instead of prepping them for tip-top sex, is actually prepping them for Sahara desert misery.
In addition to cutting down on douching, your vagina could also benefit from cutting down on alcohol. A lot of women may feel they need a little inebriation inspiration before jumping into bed with a guy, but keep in mind that getting your buzz on could mean a total buzzkill in the sheets. Dr. Laura Berman of Everyday Health explains that “Alcohol can decrease your sensations and lead to a dry vagina.” Dr. Abigail San, clinical psychologist and alcohol expert, agrees, saying that after drinking alcohol, “Women may experience reduced lubrication, find it harder to have an orgasm, or have orgasms that are less intense."
So much for alcohol making sex easier.
Some women also report vaginal dehydration after smoking weed, but that claim hasn’t been backed up with empirical evidence. Many other women also report the inverse effect of increased lubrication when they’re high, so … jury’s out on that one.
If all of those reasons don’t add up for you like they didn’t for me (I was turned on, not on medications, not in a weird place in my cycle and not drunk), well, that leads us to the final, and perhaps most obvious factor in vaginal dryness caused my dry spell: stress. The silent vagina killer.
Like any twenty-something living paycheck to paycheck in a big city, I experience a normal amount of stress. At a particularly trying time, it seemed my stressors spilled over into my sex life, and I was so consumed by them, subconsciously, I couldn’t block them out when trying to get it on, which is what I’m guessing lead to a physical block in the bedroom.
Stress management is key to several physical and mental health issues, and vaginal dryness can be added to that list. It’s a bit ironic that stress is the cause of an incident that stressed me out so much, but at least I now know there is nothing wrong with me or my vagina.
Interestingly, researchers have found that when you eat certain foods high in phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen) like apples, cherries and legumes, vaginal lubrication levels stay more consistent. Women with diets high in these compounds experience get wet easier, get wet more often, and report higher levels of lubrication that women with less balanced diets.
But, in the case you psychotically refuse to eat plants or you need a quicker fix for dryness than a dietary change, there’s literally no shame in using lube whatsoever. As I discovered, the extra two seconds it would have taken to lube up would have been infinitely less awkward than the 20 minutes of vaguely painful dry sex I had to deal with. Plus, now that I know that my wetness level has literally nothing to do with my sexual capability or that of my partner’s, I feel a little bit less like a middle-aged Nancy when I have to use lube. Coconut oil is a great option because of its natural warmth and silkiness, but silicone or weed lube works great too.
Now that I know all this, I’m relieved. I am a little sad I won’t be starring in TLC’s “The Girl With The Desert Vagina” though, but I’ll live.