I am dry during sex with the man I love

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We have been together for several years and I still desire him, but am increasingly remaining dry. What can I do?

I still love and desire him, but dry sex is a problem. (Posed by models) Photograph: Jamie Grill/Getty Images

I am increasingly remaining dry during sex with my deeply beloved and desired man of several years. Any advice on how to get into a mental state where I can eliminate the worry of dissatisfying/rushed and hence dry sex would be much appreciated.

Just like male erectile failure, a female arousal disorder can become a vicious cycle. After a couple of experiences when the naturally occurring vaginal lubrication that signals arousal and helps ease penetration fails to occur, a woman can begin to be anxious about it – and fearful of the pain that occurs with dry penetration. The more she worries, the less likely it is that lubrication will occur. Sometimes this cycle can lead to a more serious disorder where vaginal muscle spasms prevent intercourse altogether.

As we age, we take a little longer to become physically aroused. Instead of passively allowing your partner to proceed, ask him to be more patient. Tell him what he might do – in detail – that would help to excite and prepare you more. If necessary, show him exactly how you like to be touched. Never allow him to enter you until you are completely ready. Dry and painful sex is unpleasant for both of you. Using over-the-counter lubricants can sometimes help to reduce the worry and pain, but it is most important to address the cause. Take responsibility for your own sexual experience, and teach him how to listen to your body.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments).

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