Aunt Vadge: dry rough patch on vaginal opening after sex every day

Hi Aunt Vadge, 

Recently I’ve noticed a dry rough white patch on the end of my vagina opening. It’s not on the inside and it doesn’t hurt or itch. But I’ve noticed it’s not going away. Me and my boyfriend have sex a lot. Like every night almost. And I don’t know if that’s what is causing it or what. I know I don’t have any STDs because I got checked recently and my boyfriend lost his virginity to me. So I’m trying to figure out what the problem is, because it’s worrying me. 

Thanks so much.

Dear Worried,

Having sex every day – particularly if you are using condoms – can be a cause of irritation, and this irritation often looks like dry, rough skin – a sort of contact dermatitis. This occurs because the normal barrier function of the skin has been interrupted, which could easily be caused by very regular friction, like sex. Because you are continually contributing to the irritation, it can stick around.

What I would suggest you do is take five days off penetrative sex. I know this can be hard if you like sex every day, but think of it as a good time to learn how to pleasure each other without penetration or touching the vaginal opening, particularly where the dry rough patch is. It needs a break from being touched completely. This means wiping delicately after urinating too.

If the patch is on the dry portion of your inner or outer labia, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) to protect the area and trap moisture in the skin. Vaseline acts as a barrier, keeping the skin hydrated and protected. Reapply throughout the day as necessary. You don’t need much – it will just create a soft, protective layer against further irritation, acting as a gentle lubricant for your underwear and wiping after urinating.

When you wash your vagina, be really gentle and don’t use any skin-stripping soaps. You know these soaps, because once you use stripping soap, your skin sort of squeaks. Either use only a very small amount, or none at all on that area, rinsing with warm water, not too hot. Hot water washes away your natural protective oils faster. You want to keep these natural oils around to get your skin back to normal. Healthy skin has a layer of oil that acts as a protectant.

Your body isn’t magic, and just because you can physically have sex as often as you like, doesn’t mean it won’t be without consequences to your delicate tissues. We are not sex machines, and our vaginas can suffer cuts, abrasions, and funny little irritations that seem to appear and disappear randomly. Having a lot of sex comes with a greater risk of damage, so understanding how that damage is caused and how to prevent it in future will be key to successfully maintaining a healthy, happy vagina.

If the irritation sticks around after a good break, then you’ll know that one of your activities was causing the issue. I would also look at any lube or condoms you are using, and make sure they are all hypoallergenic (so no flavours, colours, irritants,etc.) as this could also be contributing to the problem. If you are not using lube, perhaps it’s a good time (after your five days!) to start.

If the problem does not start to abate after the five days, write back and we’ll talk some more. If it starts to heal up, and it seems obvious that removing the friction of penetration from the equation, wait until it is completely healed – like completely – until you start sex again. Vaginal tissue heals generally very quickly, so you will definitely know after five days if this is the problem.

When you have sex after the five-day break, pay attention to how your partner is penetrating you, and avoid any pulling of dry labia – make sure your labia and vaginal opening is well-lubricated before you put anything inside, including fingers, toys, and penises, every single time. This will help to reduce friction, that, if done daily, could be the cause of your problem.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge