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If you’re reading this (hello!), odds are you’re feeling self-conscious about your lubrication levels.
So, let’s say it right here, right now: Your natural lubrication levels are nothing to be ashamed of. (Read that again).
Still, if you’re not getting as wet as you’d like to be, you might be wondering W-H-Y.
Here, experts share what to do if your lubrication levels are affecting your love life. Plus, dispel the idea of the perfect lubrication levels.
We believe pleasure is a fundamental aspect of a safe and healthy sex life. That’s why we rely on experienced writers, educators, and other experts to share their suggestions on everything from the technique you use to the sex toy you buy.
We only recommend something that we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched — if you know what we mean. Wink.
Vaginal lubrication does NOT adhere to the Goldilocks clause. There is no such thing as too much, too little, or a ‘just right’ amount of lubrication.
“There is no universal perfect amount of lubrication,” says doctor of physical therapy Heather Jeffcoat, author of“Sex Without Pain: A Self-Treatment Guide to the Sex Life You Deserve.”
“The right amount of lubrication will vary person-to-person,” she says.
The idea that there’s a right amount of lubrication is simply another tool designed to shame vagina-havers for their sexuality and bodies, she says. Ugh.
Of course, there are times when someone’s lubrication levels are symptomatic of an underlying health condition.
“If someone is producing too much natural lubrication outside of sexual contexts, it could be a sign of infection,” says psychologist and sex therapist Megan Fleming, resident sexpert with Promescent, an sexual pleasure retailer committed to improving your sex life.
Typically, low lubrication levels are also accompanied by other symptoms, including:
The good news: There are workarounds for all of these. “Visit your gynecologist or healthcare provider to rule out infection and check in,” suggests Jeffcoat.
Your lubrication levels are impacted by a variety of physical, psychological, emotional, psychosocial, and sexual factors. Including:
- hydration levels
- drug and alcohol use
- stress levels
- activity levels
- time of month
One of the most necessary ingredients for body-made lubricant is the hormone estrogen. “Low estrogen will contribute to decreased lubrication,” says Jeffcoat.
“Menopause, postpartum, breastfeeding, and chest feeding are all times when estrogen levels dip, and therefore times when it’s especially common for people to experience vaginal dryness,” she says.
Ultimately, if the amount of lubrication your body is creating is actively interfering with your daily activities, it’s a problem.
If the amount of lubrication you’re producing is keeping you from wearing certain undergarments or bottoms, using certain menstrual products, participating in certain activities, or having certain kinds of sex, it’s time to chat with a healthcare professional.
Another sign something is off? There’s been a drastic change in how much lubrication you’re producing.
If you’re reading this, odds are you’re looking for a game plan for ending your so-called dry-spell. Well, that’s exactly what’s provided below.
1. Suss out any underlying W-H-Y with your health professional
There are a number of underlying medical conditions that can cause someone to create less lubricant, including:
- vulvovaginal atrophy
- yeast infection
- bacterial vaginosis
- immune system dysfunction
Certain medications can also affect self-lubrication. “Allergy medicines, for example, don’t just dry up your nose,” says Fleming. “SSRIs are also famously known for affecting lubrication levels.”
So, are certain birth control medications.
Your move: Rather than quitting the medications cold-turkey, talk with a doctor or other healthcare professional about whether dryness is a possible side effect.
If it is, you might lean into lube alternatives (more on this below). Or, if the lack of lubrication is greatly impacting your life, you may ask to do a med switcheroo.
2. Don’t give your lubrication levels too much power
Fleming warns pleasure seekers against catastrophizing their lubrication levels.
“It’s common for someone to assume that they’re not, or no longer, attracted to someone or sexually compatible with someone because their lubrication levels are not high,” she says.
But lubrication levels aren’t actually a good indicator of arousal! “The best indicator of arousal is someone telling you that they’re aroused or recognizing an interest in sex within yourself.”
Plus, while lube levels are one physical manifestation of arousal, so is:
- flushed skin
- erect nipples
- engorged genitals
- increased sounds and smells
3. Quit stressing
“They say stress is the libido killer,” says Fleming. “And that stands for lubrication levels, too.”
Why? Because the entire endocrine system is interconnected, when one hormone goes up it can cause others to go down.
Increased stress levels, for example, can lead to an increase in cortisol (coincidentally known as the “stress hormone”).
When cortisol levels increase, it can cause your estrogen levels to drop. This, in turn, can cause a decrease in vaginal lubrication.
“Stress also causes inflammation in the body, which negatively impacts blood flow and the natural arousal process,” adds Fleming.
4. Ramp up pre-penetrative play
“On average, it takes vagina-havers three times as long to self-lubricate and become aroused as it does people with penises,” says Fleming. Yep, you read that right: three times!
“It’s common for people to think they’re not producing enough lubrication when really, they’re not giving their bodies enough time to produce said lubrication,” she says. Mind blowing!
5. Give the boot to any boo who shames you for your lubrication levels
Loves, if a partner is shaming you about how wet (or not) you are, there’s a bigger issue going on here! It’s often a sign that they feel comfortable putting you down, shaming you, and perpetuating harmful (unrealistic) body ideals.
Now, if you really love this person you might decide that it’s worth it to sit down with them and give them a lubrication 101 lesson. (Basically, explaining that your lubrication levels aren’t an indicator of your arousal levels).
However, if they continue shaming you for something your body does, it’s time to show them the door.
6. Invest in some lube!
Wish you were a little wetter? Good thing that’s as easy as squirting some store bought lube into the sitch.
There is NO hierarchy of lube
Despite cultural mumbo-jumbo, body-made lubrication is not superior to store-bought lubrication. Lube is lube is lube is lube.
Fleming recommends incorporating the lube early-on during sexy time.
“The body associates the feeling of wetness with arousal, which can help promote relaxation and arousal,” she says. By adding lube early, you’re encouraging your body to ease into the moment.
Also important to note: Adding the lube early doesn’t not mean skimping on pre-play time!
7. Talk with a healthcare professional about vaginal moisturizers
Different than lube, vaginal moisturizers are vaginal suppositories and creams that are designed to be used daily —not just during penetrative vaginal sex — to increase the body’s lubrication levels.
The purpose of vaginal moisturizers is to help support (via moisture) the delicate tissues in the internal vaginal canal, which can dry out and thin when estrogen levels drop, explains Fleming.
Often used by people living with cancer and cancer survivors, as well as post-menopausal menstruators, vaginal moisturizers are for everyone. If you think you could benefit from a vaginal moisturizer, talk with a doctor or other healthcare professional to find out more.
8. Consider trying sex supplements
There are a number of topical and oral supplements that are marketed as lubrication — and libido — boosters.
Truthfully, the science behind these supplements is pretty limited.
“The VitaFLUX is an oral supplement designed to boost nitric oxide levels, which may promote blood flow,” says Fleming. “Increased blood flow increases arousal and naturally improves natural lubrication levels.”
The Foria Awaken Oil is a coconut oil infused with botanicals and CBD that is said to improve arousal when applied topically. CBD is a vasodilator, meaning it increases blood flow.
The thought, explains Fleming, is that using CBD-based products can promote blood flow to the genitals, and therefore naturally support lubrication levels, too.
You lubrication levels are probably totally (totally!) normal!
But if you’re concerned, give your local clinic or other healthcare professional a ring. They can help you figure out how to increase your natural wetness, as well as share how to add the wet in manually.
Because ultimately, when it comes to sex, wetter is indeed better! But that wetness does *not* need to be body-made.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.