Vaginal (eek) dryness: 8 natural remedies to get you well-lubricated again

We've talked about vaginal dryness here before,

about all of the everyday things that can contribute to the "ouch" you feel when all you really want to say is "awwwyeahh." While there are plenty of personal lubricants out there -- from Astroglide to K-Y to Replens -- some people prefer natural remedies and others just don't care for the goopiness that lube can leave behind. Regardless of whether or not your nightstand is stocked full, it can't hurt to explore ways to naturally boost your lubrication.

Why you might be feeling...well, privately parched

Vaginal dryness is often associated with menopause and hormone replacement therapy. However, younger women also suffer from it, with the most common cause being oral contraceptives. This could be because birth control like the pill regulate estrogen levels all month long. Without the natural hormonal highs and lows, the body's response to sexual desire (which often shows up in the form of lubrication) can change.

Chemotherapy, stress, douching, breastfeeding, antihistamines, antidepressants, and some prescription medication can bring on vaginal dryness. It can also be a symptom of a more serious medical condition or emotional issue, so be sure to consult your doctor if this is a concern to you. Also call your doctor if the dryness is accompanied by burning, itching, or pain, or if the dryness worsens or isn't alleviated by simple lubricating remedies.

How to take good care of your nether-regions, naturally

1. Drink plenty of water and other fluids. It makes sense, doesn't it? Not only will this holistic approach help treat the dryness down there, you will get many other whole-body benefits of being well-hydrated.

2. Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking attacks estrogen, which helps the vagina stay healthy and lubricated. Add this medical complication to the long list of reasons to quit.

3. Choose herbs and supplements that may treat dryness.According toHealth Journal, Drs. Andrew Weil and James Duke are proponents of dong quai, an herbal remedy for women's sexual and reproductive health issues. Fennel and fenugreek are also often recommended for vaginal dryness (as well as for milk production in breastfeeding mothers). Dr. Weil himself recommends chasteberry, black cohosh, and vitamin E. Vitamin E can either be taken or applied directly to the skin as a lubricant. He does warn that some people are sensitive to direct application of vitamin E, so to observe your own body's reaction carefully.

4. Choose foods high in phytoestrogens -- soy, apples, nuts, flaxseed, celery, alfalfa, and whole grains.

5. Choose
personal care products with no or lower chemicals that may irritate your body. Pay particular attention to the labels on your soaps, lotions, bubble bath, laundry detergent, toilet paper, tampons or pads, and other personal items. Fragrances and other common chemicals found in these kinds of products can irritate delicate tissue that line the vagina.

6. Whip up a batch of your own lubricant to have (ahem) on hand. You can buy plenty of personal lubricants in bottles, but if you are concerned about the consistency or ingredients within the product, you can always make your own. Here is a recipe created with women facing fertility issues in mind, but would certainly work for any DIYer out there.

7. And then there's always spit.
It might sound startling but patient oral stimulation by a partner will not only provide some immediate natural lubricant (from their mouth to your body), but may also really get things going for you so you produce more of your own internal lubrication.

8. Have sex! Regular sexual activity and stimulation will increase the blood flow to the area, which will help boost your lubrication.

Is vaginal dryness an issue for you? What has helped you get your hoo-hoo to a happier place?

* I know, I know. Hoo-hoo -- not an official term. But let's be honest, this is a topic women generally don't want to discuss. I'm not trying to be flippant or 6th grade here, just lighten up an issue as you would in a conversation with your girlfriends. Now back to remedies and relief.

[photo credit: Getty Images]