Q&A: Dry Vaginal Lips, Preventing Dry Itchy Vagina

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QUESTION: How can I stop from getting so dry on my vagina, like in between the lips? I get very dry to the point that it can hurt. What can I do?

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It’s difficult to know exactly which part you’re talking about, because women and men use such a variety of words when it comes to talking about women’s genitals.

Female Genitalia

The vagina is technically the term for the birth canal, or the inside part where a penis or fingers may be inserted, or where a woman inserts a tampon. The word vulva, on the other hand, refers to the external genitals of women and includes parts such as the labia majora and labia minora (also called the outer vaginal lips and inner vaginal lips), as well as the clitoris, clitoral hood and opening to the vagina.

Women’s labia – also called the lips – sometimes become dry because of certain skin conditions or hormonal conditions that a woman may have, or else they may become dry if her skin is very sensitive to laundry soaps, bath soaps or other products she may be using on her genitals. Still, other women may find that their labia rub up against each other when they walk, and that may cause chafing or discomfort.

Check With A Healthcare Provider

Consider checking in with a healthcare provider who can take a look at your genitals and give you some feedback about what may be causing your feelings of genital dryness and discomfort.

Even though women often think about seeing a gynecologist for everything related to their genitals, sometimes dermatologists are particularly good choices too for genital skin issues because they specialize in the health and medical conditions related to skin, including genital skin.

Recommended Reading

You can learn more about the vulva and vagina, and related health and comfort issues, by reading The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health by Dr. Elizabeth Stewart. Another book that includes a good deal of information related to women’s genital health is Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, and which is available in both English and Spanish.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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