I am a huge fan of lube as a normal part of sex. I have been using it since I discovered it in my teens. It is essential for fisting, anything involveing anal, and is really useful with toys. It should be normalized for everyone to have a bottle or two around the house for solo and not so solo sex.
Until this year lube was not required for me when it came to vaginal penetration. I easilIy got wet when aroused. Very wet at times. It was simply part of the sexual experience for me. Unfortunately, I developed Sjogren’s Syndrome which is an autoimmune condition where your body stops producing tears, saliva and other bodily fluids.
I knew Sjogren’s was a possible tag-along condition I could develop when I was diagnosed with systematic lupus several years ago. I hoped it wouldn’t happen. When it did, I was ready for it- mostly. I was able to get a prescription for eye drops to address the painful chronic dry eye. I have an over-the-counter mouthwash to deal with the dry mouth. I have plently of lubricants for vaginal dryness (a benefit of product testing for this site!). What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional impact of vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness happens to people with vaginas for lots of reasions. It can be health issues (like me), aging, hormone changes (like menopause), medications, or your body lacks the lubricating response for other reasons. There are a lot of sites which address this issue as simply a medical issues: add some lubricant and voila!, problem solved.
Almost no one addresses the emotional and sexual impacts of vaginal dryness. That is what I want to talk about here.
How It Started
For me, I began to notice I was not getting wet when I masturbated. I normally have a decreases level of arousal when I masturbateas compared to sex with a partner, but I would get wet to some degree. Eventually, that response was no longer present. About the same time, I noticed I was significantly less lubricated during sexual play with my partner. It was not totally abscent at first, but it was definitely dimished.
Over time, we added increasing amounts of lubricant to our sexy time. However, constant dryness makes the vaginal canal fragile. I started to bleed after instertive sex, no matter how much lube was used or how gently we played. I just had to plan on bleeding after sex for a few hours.
As much as I know this lack of a physiological response is due to a diagnosed medical conditionand that using lube for sex is totally normal, I still felt bad about my inability to get wet for my partner. Bleeding after sex only served to remind me for hours after intercourse that my body was no longer working like it should be (or at least used to).
Honestly, it made me feel much less sexy. For me, there was something really hot about making out with a partner and lubricating as I got turned on. To feel a partners fingers glide through my wetness was hot! Even when I used to masturbate, getting wet amplified the pleasure. Without the capacity to self-lubricate, I felt I lost a part of my sexiness.
I was not the only one to notice I was getting less wet. My partner asked me what was going on. He natrually made the assumption I was no longer as turned on by him as I used to be. This could not be farther fron the truth, but I understood why he would feel that way. I explained what was happening medically to me and that we just had to add some lube.
He was more than willing to add lube into our regualr routine. However, this takes some practice and reminding him. We got together before this was an issue. He has seen me sick with lupus, which is a condition that goes in phases. There are times when I feel really crappy and times when I am much better. When I feel better, I function closer to what I did when I was healthy. Sjogren’s is not like that. Its here to stay.
Having to remind him for the first several sexual interactions after I told him what was going on made me feel crappy. It was like I failed him. He never said or did anything to indicate he was upset about having to use lube. The feeling was all internal, self generated shame at losing functionality. Nobody tells you that this is going to feel so emotionally bad when you mention you have vaginal dryness, so I am telling you.
It has been a year or so since I started dealing with vaginal dryness. It still sucks. It continues to make it more difficult to feel sexy and get in the mood for anything sexual. While I remain deeply attracted to my partner and enjoy our intimacy, it is a higher hill for me to climb to want to move from hugging and kissing to something more.
I remain determined not to let my sex life fade or become some routine thing where I just go along with it for the sake of the relationship. I still want to enjoy really great sex. I am not going to lie, vaginal dryness makes this a bigger challenge than it used to be.
Female sexuality in western medicine is treated like some sort of mystery that is unimportant to solve. I am still not sure most medical doctors can even find the clitoris without a labled diagram. Vaginal dryness is written off as a “nuisance” to be treated with any basic lube out there. There is absolutely no attention paid to the other impacts that this can have on a sex life. Its frustrating.
I have been exploring a number of lubricants and various dryness treatments. I am hoping to have something good to report out in a review in the near future. In the meantime, if you or one of your partners suffers from vaginal dryness, remember its not something that is just “lube it and forget it.” Its more complex. It takes time and talking.
Addendum: Rachel Rose recently shared this list of drugs that can cause vaginal dryness. You may find it useful.
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