You’ve never had a problem getting wet before but now your privates feel like the Sahara, don’t panic—you’re not going through early menopause. Fact is, there are many reasons why younger women experience vaginal dryness, and the problem is a lot more common than you’d think. Still, it’s not something you want to blow off. It’s important for your hoo-ha to be moist, and not just because lubrication makes s*x feel more pleasurable. Vaginal wetness keeps tissues healthy and even serves as a line of defense against infections and STDs, says Alyssa Dweck, an ob-gyn in Westchester, New York, and co-author of V Is for v**ina. Use a water-based vaginal lubricant in the meantime as you suss out what’s leaving you dry.
1. Your Body Craves More Foreplay
The typical rom-com s*x scene goes from locking lips to full-on intercourse in about 30 seconds. In the real world, we call b.s.—most women need at least a little more direct stimulation before they’re wet enough for penetration, says Dweck.
2. You’re Stressed Out
Stress takes the blame for a lot of health issues, and you can add vaginal dryness to the list. If it doesn’t temporarily kill your libido outright, feeling anxious or pressured can make it harder to get turned on. Once the stress lifts, your juices should start flowing.
3. You’re on Cold Meds
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Over-the-counter cold and allergy formulas contain antihistamines that dry out the mucus membranes in your nose, as well as your v**ina. Not all women experience it, but it can happen, and things will moisten up again once you stop dosing up.
4. Your Birth Control Pill Is Messing With You
One little-known side effect of oral contraceptives is reduced vaginal lubrication. And unlike some other side effects that happen when you first go on the Pill, this one probably won’t clear up in a few months. “I’ll usually advise my patients to use store-bought lubricant, or if it’s really uncomfortable, consider going off the Pill and trying another type of birth control.
5. You Just Had a Baby
Giving birth (and breastfeeding, too) does a number on your body and changes your s*x life in unexpected ways, including lowering levels of estrogen—the hormone responsible for maintaining vaginal lubrication. A few months post-birth, when your regular cycle returns and you stop lactating, the slippery stuff will be back.