Vaginal lubrication is important for a female's enjoyment of sexual contact.
Lack of adequate lubrication leads to irritation and swelling of the vaginal
tissues on contact with fingers, penises, or sex toys.
Lubrication happens fast, usually within 10 to 30 seconds of the beginning of
Vaginal lubrication has two sources.
The greater vestibular glands, which used to be referred to as Bartholin's
glands, lie between the edge of the hymen and the labia minora. These glands
secrete a small amount of thin mucus lubricant which aids in the lubrication of
the vaginal vestibule. It used to be thought that the greater vestibular glands
produced all the lubricant used by the vagina in sexual contact, but in recent
years we have learned that most of the lubricant comes from another source.
Most of the "wetness" of female sexual arousal actually comes
through the vaginal walls from the tissues which lie directly beneath them.
These tissues become engorged with blood upon arousal and the water content of
the plasma of this blood, as well as some electrolytes and some proteins, is
forced through the vaginal wall tissues in a process called transudation.
Vaginal transudation is unusual in that the vaginal walls are not serous
membranes, the type of tissue through which transudation occurs in all other
cases. This liquid permeates the membranes as small droplets which join one
another quite quickly, forming a smooth coating of the vaginal walls.
Both types of vaginal lubrication begin when a woman is sexually stimulated,
whether this stimulation be physical or mental. Oral and digital stimulation of
the vulva and vagina are thought to stimulate the most lubricant production.
There are several causes of a lack of vaginal lubrication, including:
Lack of interest in sex, or in one's partner.
This can be a permanent or temporary problem, and will only be solved after
resolving the underlying issues. Please note that vaginal dryness does not
always mean you have a lack of interest in your partner though.
If one is dehydrated it is not possible for proper vaginal lubrication to occur.
A good test for dehydration is to feel the moisture level in one's mouth. If the
mouth feels dry it is likely the vagina will also be so.
High stress levels, particularly in women of childbearing age, often lower
the amount of lubrication.
Some women believe that douching will increase the lubrication levels. This
is incorrect. Douching will actually create an atmosphere in which the vagina
feels it is moist enough, and so does not create more wetness. This leads to a
Breast feeding can lower overall hydration levels, at least temporarily, and
this can be reflected in lowered lubrication levels.
Taking some drugs.
Blood pressure medications, oral contraceptives, antidepressants, ulcer medications and
antihistamines can all make it more likely for a woman's vagina to not lubricate
correctly or sufficiently.
Ageing and menopause.
Ageing can change the amount of vaginal lubrication a woman releases. For example, postmenopausal women produce lower levels of estrogen. The decrease in estrogen causes a decrease of vaginal blood flow during sexual arousal, which directly correlates to a loss of vaginal lubrication. Some women overcome this by starting estrogen replacement therapy (after speaking with a doctor)
It has been reported that women who remain sexually active as they enter menopause experience less decreases in vaginal elasticity, thinning and lubrication.
If you are experiencing persistent vaginal dryness it may be of use to you to
try a commercially available sexual lubricant. Many health professionals suggest
a water-based lubricant such as KY Jelly, Liquid Silk, Pleasureglide, Lubifax or
Astroglide. Silicon lubricants are also available, but are more difficult to
clean up and may damage any silicon based sex aids you may use. Petroleum based
lubricants such as baby oil and Vaseline are not recommended as they tend to
irritate the genitals, and diminish the reliability of condoms, diaphragms and
other latex products.