Q&A: Is My Lubricant Making My Vagina Dry?

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QUESTION: My fiance and I have been sexually intimate for quite a while. In the last two or three days, I've been fairly uncomfortable. My vagina feels dry, almost kind of chapped, and irritated during sex. We always use protection, and I was just at the gyno two weeks ago, so I know I don't have an STI or yeast infection. We use lubricated condoms, so is it possible that I'm allergic to the lubricant on the condom? Someone also told me that the lubrication on the condom could be causing my body not to produce vaginal fluids like it would normally. Is that true?

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dry cracked woman bathroom sign

Photo: seaweed lady (Flickr)

Most Americans—more than 60 percent—have used lubricant during sex.

I’ve never heard of lubricants causing the vagina to stop producing vaginal fluids and can’t imagine any reason that would occur, so you can probably chalk that up to being a sex myth. Here’s why.

Vaginal lubrication

Vaginal lubrication is basically the product of a woman’s experience of sexual arousal.

When a woman becomes sexually excited, blood flow increases to her genitals. As blood flow increases, some clear fluids seep from the blood stream and through the vaginal walls, which makes the vagina “sweat” and do what we call lubricate.

This process continues to happen whether or not people use lubricants during sex.

In fact, it’s very common for people to use lubricants. Most Americans—more than 60 percent—have used lubricant during sex. Some people use it only occasionally and others use it frequently.

As for condoms, lubricated condoms are far more popular than non-lubricated condoms. The lubrication can help sex with a condom to feel more comfortable and pleasurable. The lubricant can also help the condom to stay safely in tact so that it doesn’t break with all the friction that sex sometimes entails.

Several Possible Causes

But let’s get back to your vagina.

Just because you didn’t have an STI or a yeast infection when you were at the doctor’s office two weeks ago doesn’t mean that you don’t have an STI or a yeast infection or some other vaginal infection during the past few days.

I’m not saying that you do; I’m just saying that it’s possible. Vaginal infections, including yeast infections, are pretty common and if your symptoms continue then you might check back in with your healthcare provider.

If you’ve recently switched medications, or types of birth control, it may be that this is at the root of your vaginal symptoms, too.

Again, if your symptoms continue, check in with your healthcare provider.

It’s also possible that you’ve irritated your vagina in some way, such as by rushing into sex before you were well lubricated, having particularly rough or vigorous sex, or having sex soon after a warm shower or bath when your vagina was more dry.

If this is the case, you might steer clear of vaginal penetration for a few days and give your body to heal.

When you resume sex, try to spent at least 10 or 15 minutes in highly arousing foreplay before you engage in vaginal penetration such as fingering, sex toy insertion, or intercourse. This may give your body more sufficient time to lubricate on its own for more pleasurable sex.

You can learn more about vaginal health and sexual pleasure in Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva and in The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Vulvovaginal Health.

Next Question:Maximizing Sexual Pleasure Through Masturbation

I am a young female without a sex partner, so I would like to know how to achieve my most intense orgasm during masturbation.

Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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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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