Hey kittens, for #TBT we’re featuring a column that originally went up in February of 2009.
Question to the Sexpert:
“I’ve heard that anti-histamines can reduce a woman’s vaginal lubrication abilities. Is this a myth? If so, it’s one that keeps me from taking them as often as I should. Are there any other medications I should be aware of that may cause dryness in the nether regions?”
Unlike the myth that douching with soda after sex can prevent pregnancy or the myth that getting women off is really difficult and complex, this actually has truth to it. Antihistamines and decongestants are prime offenders in the war on adequate vaginal wetness.
Vaginal dryness is not something to be taken lightly: it feels painful and itchy and makes any kind of sexual contact a thoroughly masochistic affair. While every vagina is different and “normal” levels of lubrication vary as widely as tastes in music (“You like the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem too? Awesome. What else do you like? How about the Jonas brothers? They’re totally kickass!”) there are clearly happy mediums where genital contact is most comfortable.
Woohoo vaginal secretions! Vaginal secretions are endlessly fascinating (to me anyway, but then I didn’t major in Economics). They’re naturally acidic (between 3.8 and 4.5 pH) and contain a whole lot of ingredients (everything from pyridine and squalene to ketones and aldehydes). They are one of the few vectors through which sexually transmitted infections like HIV can pass and yet, are largely composed of water. If you’re dehydrated by anything you take, be it antihistamines or caffeine, your hooha is going to have to deal with the repercussions.
Lubrication levels can be affected by nearly anything: time of the month, overall health, diet, arousal, frequency of sexual activity, etc. But here are some easy tips for keeping the lady downstairs well stocked in fruit juice.
GUYS WITH POPPED COLALRS AND OTHER THINGS TO AVOID
Antihistamines, decongestants (they dry up the mucous membranes), various birth control methods (including Depo Provera,Ortha Cyclen) some antidepressants, Xanax, beta blockers and, as mentioned before: caffeine. And while I wouldn’t suggest going off of them to prevent vaginal dryness, many cancer treatments have this side effect.
Anything you might be allergic to, laundry detergent, perfumed soaps or toilet paper, tampons, douches, bubble bath, anything with artificial scents or colors that might come in contact with your situation. As if you needed another reason to stop smoking: cigarettes can dry you up too.
STATES OF BEING:
Menopause is another likely culprit, as is breastfeeding, low libido and some immune disorders. Anything that lowers estrogen rates will give you some trouble.
BUT WHAT CAN I DO? SOLUTIONS FOR VAGINAL DRYNESS
- Drink lots of water. Remember that part where I said it was mostly composed of water? Yeah, drink more of the stuff that makes up the stuff that you want.
- Get more estrogen: whether through hormone replacement therapy or eating more soybeans or taking a vitamin E supplement
- Exercise (but not excessively), have sex more often and get enough cholesterol in your diet
- Reduce stress in your life, address issues of emotional intimacy with your partners and get plenty of foreplay before anything goes near the entrance to the vagina.
- Switch out tampons, replace with pads or menstrual cups
- Use artificial lubricants (avoid Vaseline and other oil-based ones), especially with condoms. Or consider a more long-term vaginal moisturizer.
- It’s worth noting that while arousal and lubrication are not perfectly synched- it’s possible to be mad turned on and not wet and vice versa- it’s a good reminder to make sure you’re legitimately aroused before plunging objects into yourself.
If an arid vagina is long term or is accompanied by itching or discharge, go talk to a doctor and get this business sorted out.