Der Mythos von einer immer-feuchten Vulva

Why hardly anyone goes to an expert for vaginal dryness and what we can do against the condition

In our sixth grade sex education class, we were asked how lust would manifest itself in a man. We all knew the answer, although only a few raised their hands out of embarrassment. The next question was much more difficult for us: What is the expression of a woman's physical pleasure? Our silence this time had something to do not only with the supposedly embarrassing topic, but mainly with our lack of knowledge. Only later, "being wet" became the ultimate sex symbol. But what if it doesn't happen - and we're left high and dry with our private parts?

Every third womxn over 45 suffers from vaginal dryness, statistically every womxn even suffers from it at least once in her life. Especially during menopause, the problem becomes more and more common. But only less than half of them talk to experts. Despite simple ways to solve the problem, less than 4% of patients seek treatment.

But what is the reason?

We can only guess because, as it's usually the case with the "niche topic" of womxn, there are no statistics about the stigmatization of vaginal dryness. We're trying to explain the phenomenon: being super wet often means being sexually aroused. If there is no wetness, we have the feeling that there is something wrong with our libido, that we don't find our partner hot anymore, that it is just a 'low' phase or, in very bad cases, that we ourselves are not 'sexy' anymore. Songs like 'WAP' suggest that a wet vulva is not only an indication of how much you want it, but also how desirable we and our private parts are seen by potential partners.

Those who have not yet crossed the magic menopause threshold are confronted with another prejudice: Being too young for vaginal dryness. At the same time, the topic is hardly communicated, so we often don't realize how many people share the same problem. Therefore, hardly anyone knows that there are simple therapy options. Because vaginal dryness is nothing to be ashamed of, or something we should sit out. Like other issues related to the female* sex organ, vaginal dryness is a normal phenomenon does happens often - no matter how old or sexually active you are.

It is fascinating that hardly anyone turns to experts. But a dry vulva can be incredibly uncomfortable: it itches, burns and causes pain during sexual intercourse. Because being wetter doesn't just mean you're hornier, it also means there's less risk of injury during penetration. When dry, the mucous membranes can get little tears, so there's an increased risk of inflammation and infection. Conversely, a wet vulva is much healthier: the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Sufficient discharge therefore means that its cleansing and protective function is working and you are less likely to be injured.

But where does vaginal dryness come from if not from menopause (alone)?

Vaginal dryness can have many causes: The most common is hormonal fluctuations, which can occur during menopause, pregnancy, breastfeeding, but also within your regular cycle - if you suffer from vaginal dryness, pay attention to whether the problem occurs regularly at the same time of your cycle. Hormonal contraception, especially with progestogens, can also affect your vulva. At the same time, vaginal dryness is a side effect of certain medical conditions: Diabetes, endometriosis, MS or high blood pressure can cause your vulva to dry out.

It's a similar story with cigarettes, alcohol and coffee. They can cause our blood vessels to narrow, thus affecting blood flow and inhibiting the production of our vaginal discharge. Because sufficient blood flow is 'key' to a healthy vulva! And even when we think we're doing something good for it, we sometimes do more harm. With too much (and wrong) intimate hygiene, for example, we tend to ruin the flora of our vulva.

A final reason for vaginal dryness can be overload, because our sexual desire originates in the head and is prone to stress. So if you can't find calm in your day-to-day life, you may not be able to come down (there) as easily after work. More stress means less lust - this can manifest itself in vaginal dryness, a general lack of relaxation and thus also in orgasm-finding difficulties. This is because lubrication during sexual intercourse depends on your arousal.

What can we do about vaginal dryness?

We'll directly continue at the point of relaxation: What relaxes you? Try to listen to yourself and your body a little more. Get into the bathtub, read a book, go to your Crossfit box, do yoga, sort your records, have a long cooking session, or meditate - everyone relaxes differently. If you like to clear your head by working out, you directly beat two causes with one activity, because regular physical activity stimulates blood flow, which in turn leads to the production of vaginal discharge.

Another way to relax are orgasms and masturbation - grab a toy (like the 'Poet' by Smile Makers), your partner, the shower head, or whatever else you enjoy. The blood circulation is stimulated and your mucous membrane remains active. If you have acute problems with vaginal dryness during sex, you can help yourself with erotic reading (perhaps by Berlinable?), films or a long foreplay that is particularly strong on your fantasies.

If it's still dry season in Down-Under, just go for the lube. Less friction means less pain and you can relax not only physically but also mentally. CBD lubricants (like the CBD-infused Intimate Gel by nevernot) can help twice as well: CBD can have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, relaxing, and circulation-enhancing effects. So it is the ideal product to address vaginal dryness. Massage or baby oils also help. But be sure to pay attention to the ingredients and the right PH level. Perfumes, aromas and chemicals can harm your mucous membrane and the optimal PH value for your intimate area is by no means neutral, but acidic! It is best between 3.8 and 4.4. Therefore, lubricating gels with lactic acid (contained in all three nevernot intimate gels) or estrogens are ideal for your vaginal environment. You should also pay attention to the ingredients of the products in your intimate care routine. It's best to wash yourself with clear water or a gentle wash lotion that is adapted to the acidic pH value of the vulva. You can also replace your synthetic panties with cotton underwear and use sanitary pads or Soft-Tampons (our customers report that they help them with vaginal dryness during periods) instead of cotton tampons.

Each case is individual, please consult your doctor as we are not allowed to give medical information.

Nele Tüch
Nele is content and social lead of nevernot and writes articles at the intersections of topics including sexual liberation, feminism, and gender theories.