I'm a Columbia alum and still turn to Alice for my sexual health questions. My boyfriend and I have been having sex with lubricant for over a year now, and I'm concerned that I'm somehow addicted to it. I don't seem to produce enough wetness on my own, even after foreplay. I'm not sure if it is due to using the pill/patch (tried both this year) or if my body has just become so used to artificial lubricant that it doesn't produce its own anymore.
It's really a problem when travelling or trying to be spontaneous ... any suggestions? Thanks!
— Addicted to Lube
Dear Addicted to Lube,
It's great you've found the website helpful. Thanks for sending your question! No research seems to indicate that it's possible for women to use too much lube or that the body could become "addicted" to it and refuse to juice up on its own.
There are many factors that can affect someone's level of natural lubrication. Hormonal contraceptives are one. Some women find that hormonal contraceptives decrease their libido and/or arousal, which can lead them to produce less lubrication. (You didn't mention any decrease in libido, but anything that inhibits arousal will probably make you produce less moisture.) Because different contraceptives contain different levels of hormones, you might try switching to a lower dose version or looking into a non-hormonal contraceptive like an IUD or a cervical cap.
Diabetes, depression, and stress are other factors that can affect sex drive, and many women experience vaginal dryness related to menopause. High blood pressure or certain medications, including over-the-counter allergy medications, can also cause vaginal dryness. You didn't say you used condoms, but some people say that those can make things feel dryer, too.
One way to maintain the health of your body's circulation system and help keep the natural juices flowing is to exercise regularly. Keeping your blood vessels in working order means your genital tissues can more easily fill with blood. This forces tiny drops of plasma through the vaginal walls, creating the wetness you feel down below. In addition, building up your pelvic muscle tone through Kegel exercises (see Kegel technique) may be useful for this same reason. It also probably wouldn't hurt to make sure you're well hydrated before sex, and spending plenty of time on foreplay, as you mentioned, is a great way to start things off.
And, there's nothing wrong with increasing slipperiness with artificial lube. Water-based lube is best; oil-based lubes are another option but are not safe for use with condoms. Add a drop of water-based lube on the inside of a condom to increase pleasure for the penis. (Too much here can cause the condom to slip off, so save the liberal applications for outside the condom.) Glycerin found in many lubes can be irritating to some vaginas, so if you're feeling itchy, you could try something without glycerin.
For traveling or spontaneous use, you might consider those mini pouches of lube. Not only are they cute, they're so portable! With one of those in your pocket, you needn't be without lube under any circumstances... in an elevator, on an airplane, or in the woods. You don't have to let lack of lubrication limit your spontaneity.Alice!