Vaginal lubrication fluid occurs naturally in the walls of a healthy vagina. The discharge or moisture that's present varies from woman to woman and with age and hormonal changes. The reasons for inadequate lubrication can range from simple dietary and emotional changes to complex medical or psychiatric causes.
The lubrication material may be clear or whitish in color and should have no particular odor if healthy. The substance has the basic consistency and look of a raw egg white or may even look like a partially cooked egg if it is more whitish. The secretion tends to increase with sexual arousal and decrease with age, during nursing, menopause or after a hysterectomy. The appearance, viscosity, color and consistency varies from woman to woman and with time of life, changes in health and even mood. The lubrication material at ovulation tends to be more white and stringy.
Glands ("skenes glands") on the sides of the vulva put out colorless, slick, liquid lubricant when sexually stimulated. The amount and availability of that lubrication depends on levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. Without enough lubrication (sometimes even with enough natural lubrication), synthetic, water-based lubrication such as "K-Y" lubricant or the more naturally based "Sylk" can be used for comfort. The proper amount of the hormone estrogen is especially linked to producing enough vaginal lubrication.
Many things can cause vaginal dryness or inadequate lubrication. Genetically, some women produce less progesterone and estrogen than others. Smoking cigarettes, anorexia, stress, hormonal imbalance, age, menopause, other prescribed drugs and dietary changes can all affect how much vaginal lubrication a woman produces. Other more complicated medical issues that cause a lack of hormones and therefore a lack of lubrication include premature ovarian failure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or pituitary and hypothalamus issues. For these issues and for new mothers who are breastfeeding--or women having cancer treatment--synthetic lubricant and a physician's advice are especially needed. Places such as the Hoffmann Institute have done research on the link between the brain, emotions and production of hormones as well.
Besides synthetic, water-based lubricants, topical estriol vaginal cream can provide stimulation of local estrogen as well as increase moisture and amount of the vaginal walls and urethra. Sometimes, even counseling through past traumatic experiences and sexual repression can also aid in understanding, approach and therapeutic responses to lack of vaginal lubrication and sexual experience in general. Ed Wheat, MD, ("Intended for Pleasure," by Ed Wheat, MD, Revell, 1977) advises taking adequate time, at least 20 minutes to a half hour, for stimulation to secrete enough vaginal lubrication for sexual intercourse. In diet, soy and legume-based foods are also known for help in producing vaginal lubrication. Or it may come down to enough hydration for your system.