Ask Emily: How Do I Fix a Literal Dry Spell?

woman's hand on her crotch with water
Dear Emily,

My boyfriend and I have historically had frequent and pleasurable sex, but we’re currently in a dry spell. In between work, stress, and other life stuff, we’re having a hard time getting on the same schedule. 

On top of that, I’ve recently been getting dry when we use condoms. This also makes it harder for me to want to initiate sex! Any advice on how to take me out of this dry spell?


Cat, 28

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Hi Cat, 

I hear you. We’re all stressed these days—and stress and anxiety are two of the biggest libido disruptors. It’s no wonder you and your partner are having a hard time getting on the same “desire” schedule. Stress makes it harder for you both to physically connect, even if you’re really attracted to one another. Throw in some vaginal dryness (also totally common) and the dry spell becomes quite literal.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to A) get you and your partner on a similar sex schedule, and B) have more enjoyable sex. It just takes a bit of creativity, planning, and (my favorite) lube.

Scheduled sex is actually pretty hot.

Scheduled sex gets a bad rap, but it’s way hotter than we’re led to believe. See, scheduling sex gives you a reason to get excited. It’s like vacation—planning a trip to Hawaii doesn’t make it any less exciting. When you plan, you can start looking forward to bikinis and Mai Tais on the beach (if you know what I mean).

Set a date and time with your partner and allow the anticipation to build. Maybe you can even tease each other with some sexy texts throughout the day. Describe what you’re excited to do to him or, if you feel comfortable, send a sexy picture to give him a preview of what’s to come. Even a sultry selfie displaying your cleavage can be a total turn-on.

Treat the scheduled sex sesh like a date by wearing something that makes you feel sexy, lighting some candles, or incorporating something new, like a toy or flavored lube—System Jo has some amazing options!  Also, note that you can schedule sex for whatever time of day works for you both: a scheduled morning sesh can be a great way to kick of a Saturday, or you can opt for an evening after dinner.  The key is to find a time that feels best for both of you.

Spend more time on your arousal.

Oftentimes vulva-owners experience dryness when they’re stressed. I’m not sure of the exact details of how your dryness transpires, but if you’ve been feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed, that may have something to do with it.

Start to do a little bit of investigation and notice the sort of things that turn you on. Do you like it when your boyfriend behaves a certain way? Do you need him to spend a bit more time on your erogenous zone before jumping into penetrative sex? Incorporate some added time into your scheduled sex and tell him that you love it when he takes his time playing with you. Slow teasing, whether it’s hand play or oral, can be really beneficial in stimulating wetness. When your partner goes to put the condom on, keep touching yourself so that you keep the arousal going.

Touch is not the only sense that can get your juices flowing. Many women find that visual stimulation–whether through porn, striptease, or another medium–jump-starts the natural lubrication process. You can also stimulate your sense of hearing by having your partner whisper or talk dirty in your ear.

It’s also totally possible that arousal has nothing to do with your dryness. Hormones, menstruation, and even what you eat can affect your wetness levels. Have you started a new birth control recently? Are you nearing your period? There’s a good chance that the dryness you’re experiencing is temporary or a reaction to something else going on in your life. If this is the case, I’ve got another suggestion.

Remember that lube is your friend.

I recommend lube to people even if they aren’t experiencing dryness because it’s truly that amazing. In fact, vulva-owners are 80% more likely to orgasm when using lube. Regardless of your dryness level, lube makes sex more comfortable. It’s not a solution to the problem—it’s a way of life. Live, laugh, lube.

Put some lube on your nightstand and keep it there. There are tons of great ones out there, just be sure to read the ingredients. For vaginal intercourse, you’ll want either a water-based, silicone, or hybrid lube.

Finally, go easy on yourself. Dry spells happen to the best of us. What matters is that you’re investing in your sexual health and doing the homework to keep prioritizing your pleasure.