Dear Dr. Kate: I'm Dry as the Sahara

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Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City and she answers your medical questions here once a week. To ask her your own question, click here.

Dr. Kate,

I need answers to this question or I’m afraid it’ll ruin my relationship. When I’m having sex with my boyfriend, most of the time I do not get wet at all. He says I used to, but now I don’t. Even when I orgasm, sometimes it doesn’t get wet. Sometimes even when he’s performing oral on me. He thinks he doesn’t turn me on anymore or I’m with someone else, but that’s not true. I’m enjoying every second of fooling around with him, so I don’t understand why this happens so often.

— High and Dry

Dear High and Dry,

Lubrication is a tricky beast — we always seem to have either too much of it, or not enough. First thing, you may actually be getting wet, but he’s not always noticing. Vaginal fluid can pool in the back of the vagina, where it’s less noticeable, or it may be drying very quickly (on you or on the sheets). And if he’s using saliva at all during oral sex (and how could he not?), how can he tell what “wetness” is from you versus what’s from him?

But your boyfriend may be accurate in his perception that you’re more dry than before. There are many causes of vaginal dryness:

Overdrying your vulva, from excessive washing or douching

Medications, including:

  • allergy medications used regularly
  • anti-depressants
  • any medication that says “anticholinergic” on the package insert

Low estrogen levels, from:

  • cigarette smoking
  • hormonal birth control
  • really low body weight (along with no periods)
  • removal of your ovaries
  • cancer therapy
  • childbirth
  • breastfeeding
  • menopause or perimenopause

Vulvodynia (as if the pain isn’t bad enough!)

Chronic illnesses like:

  • high blood pressure
  • atherosclerosis
  • diabetes
  • connective tissue disorders (especially Sjogren’s syndrome)

Yes, lack of arousal can cause it, too… but it’s possible to be aroused without much lubrication. (In the same way, you can actually get wet in a situation where you’re not turned on in the slightest.) And orgasm won’t often make you wet, either — medically, it’s a series of muscle contractions that aren’t linked to lubrication.

The most important thing is that you’re enjoying yourself during foreplay and intercourse — if everything feels okay, then nothing is physically wrong. So tell your boyfriend to be happy that you’re so pleased in bed… and to stop using your amount of lubrication as a barometer of enjoyment (or fidelity).

By the way, if you think that more lubrication would make sex more pleasurable for you, don’t hesitate to reach for the man-made stuff. As Em & Lo are fond of saying, lube is not a crutch — in fact, it’s one of the best sex accessories there is! Check out Em & Lo’s quickie lube tips here, or watch this video where Em & Lo chat with Claire at Babeland about lube.


Dr. Kate

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.


  1. My ex-gf was fairly dry too. I see lots of lube in your future. Flavored lube!!!!!!!!!!

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