Anyone with a vagina knows it usually feels a bit… well, wet. This constant moistness *cringe* is perfectly normal, and is actually your hoo-ha’s way of keeping itself clean and happy.

So, what’s going on when your vagina starts feeling less like a tropical rainforest and more like the Sahara desert? Well, your birth control could be the culprit of a downtown dry spell.

So, how do you know if your birth control’s to blame? Read on for more about birth control and vaginal dryness.

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Carmen Palma/Stocksy United

Hormonal birth control methods contain estrogen or progestin (synthetic progesterone), which can affect your body’s estrogen levels. Estrogen is vital for keeping your vaginal tissue nice and lubricated. When levels dip, dryness can occur.

Experiencing dryness down there can be uncomfortable AF. In addition to itching or burning, vaginal dryness can also cause:

In a research review, vaginal dryness was one of the potential side effects of hormonal contraceptives. So, whether your birth control involves pills, patches, shots, or the ring, you run the risk of a dry spell if your birth control is hormonal.

This also includes certain intrauterine devices (IUDs). Hormonal IUDs — like the popular Mirena — usually contain estrogen or progestin, making you susceptible to side effects like dryness.

Birth control *is* messing with your discharge if you’re dry. It’s totally normal to notice some changes in your vaginal discharge when taking birth control, including in its:

  • frequency
  • amount
  • consistency

These changes may or may not cause vaginal dryness.

However, if you start noticing new odors, colors, or begin itching down there, talk with your doctor. These may be symptoms of an infection or another health condition.

If your current birth control is causing vaginal dryness, it may be time to switch things up.

Your bod can respond to birth control differently, so some trial and error can often help you assess side effects like vaginal dryness. You just have to see what works for you.

Copper IUDs are are often the best option to keep you feeling damp downstairs. Unlike their hormonal counterparts, copper IUDs don’t use hormones to regulate pregnancy prevention, and aren’t known to cause vaginal dryness.

Birth control isn’t the only reason for vaginal dryness. Menopause is typically top of mind as a dry vag culprit. But, a whopping one-fifth of women between ages 17 and 50 experience vaginal dryness, according to the British Menopause Society.

There are several culprits that can cause a parched vagina. Other vaginal dryness causes include:

  • changes in hormone levels
  • certain medications, including allergy meds, cold meds, and antidepressants
  • regular use of certain feminine hygiene products (… just say no to douches)
  • using products (like detergents) with harsh chemicals
  • health and lifestyle habits
  • mental health, including stress, anxiety, and depression
  • extreme or nonexistent exercise habits
  • breastfeeding
  • aging
  • medical treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation
  • surgery
  • conditions that affect your immune system, like Sjögren’s disease

We get it: When you find a birth control option you love, it can be hard to quit. Thankfully, there are other ways you can combat vaginal dryness.

  • Staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water and hydrating fluids can help keep your body flowin…’ including in those areas where you’re wanting it the most.
  • Lubricants. If you’re feeling frisky, there are a variety of vaginal lubricants that can help make sex more comfy. Just make sure to avoid oil-based lube when using condoms.
  • Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake. These drinks suck the moisture right out of your body, leaving you feeling dry and depleted all over.
  • Tracking your cycle. Birth control may not be the only culprit causing you to feel dry. Knowing your cycle can clue you in to when exactly dryness is happening, so you can pinpoint any and all causes.
  • Don’t use tampons. Tampons can absorb the moisture in your vagina, contributing to dryness. Swap them out for other products, like pads, menstrual cups, menstrual discs, or period panties.
  • Get it on more often. Regular sexual activity (whether with a partner or going solo) can help promote healthy vag tissue and keep the area moist.
  • Take medication. Need to up the ante? Talk with your doc about prescription options, like estrogen creams or tablets that can help get things slippin’ and slidin’ once again.

Hormonal birth control is one of many causes of vaginal dryness. It’s important to listen to your body and not ignore what it may be telling you. Experiencing a bout of vaginal dryness is one thing, but if it starts causing pain, it’s time to call your healthcare professional.

More than just your birth control may be to blame, and your doctor can determine if any underlying conditions or health concerns are at play.