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Suffering Through Sandpaper Sex? 3 Secrets to Juicier Lovemaking

If your lady bits are painfully dry, here’s help to make sure you’re screaming for all the right reasons. Plus: Amp up your pleasure with this game-changing hack.

We’ve all been there before: You’re about to get it on and — record scratch — your girl isn’t giving what she’s supposed to be giving. You know, like that racy Cardi B song featuring Megan Thee Stallion. What’s up with your natural lube being a no-show? And why is this happening way too often now?

Vaginal dryness is more common during perimenopause and after menopause. “As the reproductive portion of a woman's life starts to come to a close, estrogen levels drop because it's not necessary for you to make eggs anymore,” says Nicole E. Williams, M.D., founder of the Gynecology Institute of Chicago and author of This Is How You Vagina. Estrogen helps keep your vagina well lubricated and aids in sexual intercourse, she says.

So, declining estrogen levels can mean vaginal dryness that causes discomfort or pain during sex. Some women also experience a chafed or burning feeling during day-to-day activities.

Menopause isn’t the only reason for vaginal dryness. Some other causes: medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines and hormonal birth control; childbirth or breastfeeding; vaginal infections; and stress.


Whatever the circumstances, you’re not stuck with sandpaper-like sex. Here’s how to add more slip and slide.

Lube up

Lube is the secret sauce that makes sex better, even for people not experiencing dryness. “We have a lot of nerve endings in the vulva and vagina, and lube can make them more sensitive to touch,” says Tanya M. Bass, Ph.D., a sexologist and certified sexuality educator. She breaks it down like this: Rubbing your dry hands together might feel good. But if you apply lotion and then rub, it feels way better. The same for lube and your (and your partner’s) parts.

Water-based lubes, like Astroglide Liquid and Good Clean Love Almost Naked Organic Personal Lubricant, are easily accessible, versatile and work well. A heads-up though: Water-based lubes evaporate quickly, so you’ll have to reapply if you’re going at it for a while.

That’s why Williams recommends silicone-based lubes. “They stick to the vagina better than water-based lubes, so they last longer,” she says. Plus, silicone lubes are great for shower play. Some options to consider are Überlube and Sliquid Silver. We all know cold lube, whether water-based or silicone, can be a mood killer. Heat your lube to amp up pleasure. There are warming lubes on the market, but their ingredients can cause irritation for some people. To heat up regular lube, Bass says rub it in your hands or put the bottle in a cup of warm water for a few minutes. A word of advice: Don’t try to shorten the heating time by putting it in the microwave. That can cause uneven heating (and you don’t want to scorch your nether regions).

Add moisturizer

Vaginal moisturizers are to lube as shea butter is to lotion. With lotion, you may be ashy again an hour later, but with shea butter, moisture may be more long-lasting because it’s really filling and getting into your pores, says Tamika K. Cross, M.D., an ob-gyn at Serenity Women's Health & Med Spa in Pearland, Texas. Vaginal moisturizers are used every few days and provide continuous moisture. They also typically have ingredients like vitamin E and aloe, which can be soothing, Cross says. Check out Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer or Hyalo Gyn. And if you’re wondering, yes, you can use lube with vaginal moisturizers.

Get a prescription


If you still feel you need a little something more, talk to your health care provider. “They may be able to recommend OTC products or give a prescription that can help, which could do wonders for your sex life,” says Cross.

Vaginal estrogen, a prescription treatment, is inserted directly into the vagina. It rejuvenates the vaginal tissue, improving its lubrication, thickness and elasticity, says Cross. Estrogen creams, inserts and tablets are usually used every day for the first two weeks and then twice weekly. Another option, an estrogen ring, is replaced every three months. Only a small amount of vaginal estrogen is absorbed into the bloodstream.

In addition to the moisture solutions above


  • Gently let your partner know to take it slow. Allow enough time for arousal and lubrication.
  • Have more sex. Getting it in frequently helps boost pelvic blood flow and lubrication.
  • Try not to let vaginal dryness cause you to be anxious or lose your sexual self-confidence. The brain is the biggest sex organ, Bass says, so if it’s not relaxed, your body (vagina included) won’t be either.

Most importantly, know that you have options and can, once again, have good, wet, pain-free sex.

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