Lack of Vaginal Lubrication: What Causes It?

05 July, 2020
Did you know that stress disorders and depression could negatively affect your vaginal lubrication? We'll tell you everything you need to know about it in this article.

Although normally a lack of vaginal lubrication or vaginal dryness is associated with menopause, the truth is that it can appear at any time in a woman’s life. The causes are many and varied.

Although it’s common to associate it with certain conditions or hormonal imbalances, the truth is that it can also be caused, surprisingly, by emotional disorders, such as stress or anxiety.

Let’s dig deeper.

Lack of vaginal lubrication

The wall of the vagina produces a natural lubricant (mucosa) that helps keep it hydrated. Likewise, the vaginal microbiota or flora, a series of microorganisms that protect and keep it healthy, also inhabits this part of the genitals.

However, when the hydration or flora are altered, it causes what is vaginal dryness, that is, the flow decreases, causing a lack of lubrication of the vaginal tissues.

A woman covering groin with hands with "?" sign over them.
There are some conditions that change the balance of vaginal flora, causing a lack of vaginal lubrication.

Normally, this dryness isn’t a bad thing. However, it may be a symptom of some type of condition, so you should go to the gynecologist and explain the situation.

On the other hand, vaginal dryness or lack of lubrication can cause pain during sexual intercourse, so it can affect a woman’s quality of life and her intimate and personal relationships.

Likewise, it can also produce a feeling of tightness, itching, or irritation, so it’s better to try to solve the problem to avoid having to endure all these discomforts.

Most common causes

Hormonal changes

Woman holding birth control pill packet.
Some hormonal changes, like menstruation, menopause, or periods like lactation, change the estrogen balance.

According to the National Library of Medicine of the United States, estrogens are hormones that keep the vagina hydrated and healthy. For this reason, if your levels drop, you’re likely to get vaginal dryness.

Precisely for this reason, a lack of lubrication is usually associated with menopause, since this is a phase in which your body’s production of estrogens drops sharply. However, in addition to menopause, there are other factors that could cause a reduction in the production of estrogens:

  • Ovarian cycle and menstruation
  • Some drugs or hormones used to treat breast cancer or infertility, for example
  • Certain antidepressants and antihistamines
  • Surgery to remove the ovaries
  • Chemotherapy
  • Other phases such as lactation, or just after delivery

Stress and depression

Stress and depression are enemies of health and well-being in many different ways. Additionally, both can cause a lack of vaginal lubrication.

Indeed, these problems can cause a decrease in sexual desire in women and, consequently, a lack of vaginal lubrication. For this reason, it can become an obstacle to pleasurable sexual relationships.

Vaginal infections

Woman in bed with vaginal infection.
Vaginal infections change the balance of microbiota, causing less natural lubrication.

An infection can also cause a lack of vaginal lubrication. Thus, microorganisms such as Candida albicans or Gardnerella vaginalis, among others, can cause sensitivity, irritation, inflammation, and reduction of vaginal lubrication.

In this case, it’s important to consult your gynecologist right away in order to start treatment.

We recommend you read: Vaginal Yeast Infections: Causes and Solutions

Diabetes

Especially in the case of diabetic women, whose glucose isn’t properly controlled, it may cause a lack of lubrication, as reported in this study carried out by a team from the National Institute of Endocrinology (Cuba).

This is because damage to blood vessels can limit blood flow to the walls of the vagina, decreasing lubrication and sexual arousal.

Sjogren’s syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease caused by the infiltration of leukocytes into the exocrine glands. For this reason, people who suffer from this syndrome usually experience a lack of saliva and itching or feeling of grit in the eyes.

Likewise, the Arthritis Foundation states that this condition can also cause vaginal dryness. For this reason, if you notice other symptoms such as dry mouth and eyes together with the lack of lubrication, you should see your doctor.

Excessive use of vaginal soaps and lotions

Woman holding loofah over groin in shower.
Excessive use of soaps can change the natural state of the vagina. Make sure you use them wisely and use the right type.

Although it may seem strange, excessive hygiene in the vaginal area can cause dryness. In effect, it can affect the balance of flora, causing it to be disturbed and not properly lubricated.

Once you return to regular hygiene practices, the lubrication usually returns to normal levels, improving your symptoms.

You might be interested in: 6 Habits That Cause Vaginal Yeast Infections

Consult your gynecologist

Now you know some of the factors that might cause a lack of vaginal lubrication. In any case, you should consult your gynecologist so that they can find the exact problem and start treatment.

On the other hand, there are many female lubricating gels on the market. These products, without a doubt, can help you to relieve discomfort and feel much better during sexual intercourse.

  • Waetjen, L. Elaine, et al. “Factors associated with developing vaginal dryness symptoms in women transitioning through menopause a longitudinal study”, MenopauseOctober 2018 – Volume 25 – Issue 10 – p 1094–1104
  • Leiblum SR et al. “Vaginal dryness: a comparison of prevalence and interventions in 11 countries”, J Sex Med. 2009 Sep;6(9):2425-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01369.x. Epub 2009 Jul 13.
  • Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing (2019), “Don’t ignore vaginal dryness and pain”, https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/dont-ignore-vaginal-dryness-and-pain