Studies show that at least one in five women suffers from vaginal dryness, a condition that is exactly what it sounds like. It can be caused by a myriad of things—stress, lack of foreplay, or an antihistamine you're taking, just to name a few. But the good news is that it can also be treated in a number of ways, ranging from "things you have in your pantry" to "things you need to get from your doctor." Here are 10 ways to combat routine dryness.
Lube, obviously.Somehow, despite this website very strongly advocating for lubricant for basically forever, people are still not talking about lube enough. Everyone who has sex should be using lube, even if dryness isn't an issue. There are more types of lube than you or anyone could count—water-based, vegan, silicone-based, the list goes on. If you need help finding one that works best for you or are concerned about allergies, your doctor can offer recommendations.
But choose lube wisely.
If you're using latex condoms, you can't use oil-based lube. Oil-based lube destroys latex condoms and renders them ineffective, so use a water- or silicon-based lube instead.Continue reading below ↓
Try more foreplay.There truly is no such thing as too much foreplay. "If there's not enough foreplay, someone may be less lubricated and kind of dry," Dr. Rebecca Brightman, an ob-gyn in New York City, said. You should feel comfortable asking any sexual partners you have for a bit more foreplay—there's absolutely nothing shameful or bad about needing extra attention to get things revved up down there. You deserve it, so try any of these, or whatever feels good to you.
Put a pause on hair removal.Dr. Brightman said pubic hair tends to provide a natural buffer that keeps the skin on the vulva moist, and some women find that removing the hair leads to dryness around the vulva and vagina.
Or if you just gotta remove your pubic hair, moisturize the skin.You shouldn't put this inside your vagina, but Brightman recommends Aquafor for use around the vulva if you find hair removal is leaving your skin dry.
Out of lube? Use these things from your pantry.Brightman said coconut oil, olive oil and vegetable oil are all safe for use as natural lube, meaning they're perfectly fine to go inside and around the vagina. "If someone finds that it's irritating they should stop," she said. "But the vagina has a way of cleaning itself out in general, and I don't think anything like that would alter the [vaginal] pH so much that it'd be problematic."
Switch allergy meds.A lot of allergy and cold medications that contain antihistamines cause vaginal dryness. You can talk to your doctor about what other options might look like for you.
Consider a topical hormone cream.Brightman said women nearing menopause, or women who are currently breastfeeding, often need a bit of extra help to ease vaginal dryness, and your doctor may recommend using a topical estrogen cream to help out.
Check for skin conditions.Just like you can get eczema and psoriasis on the rest of your body, you can get it on your vulva, Brightman said. Either your gynecologist or dermatologist can examine for skin conditions on the vulva and vagina and prescribe something that will help. A lot of creams for these conditions can only be used on certain body parts, so don't just slap the steroid cream you use on your legs on your vulva without asking a doctor first.
If there's any itching, redness or discharge, head to the doctor.Brightman said yeast infections commonly cause dryness, and if that's the case, you can either get an over-the-counter yeast infection medication, or go to your doctor to be diagnosed (just in case).
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.