Dry Sex and HIV Risk

Dry sex, intercourse without lubrication is a prevalent practice in some parts of the world. Women even use treatments to make themselves hot, tight and dry. Some women dry out with substances obtained from traditional healers, while others use detergents, salt, cotton, or shredded newspaper.

Many women willingly insert herbal aphrodisiacs, household detergents, and antiseptics before intercourse to increase friction, despite the pain it causes. Some use leaves and powders to heighten pleasure, whereas some use traditional substances to tighten just before the act. Women use drying agents not only for tightening, but also for self-treatment of STD symptoms such as itching and discharge.

Why is dry sex practiced
One of the reasons may be seen as the passing down of tradition in various cultures with myths to follow. Like, in some world cultures, men believe that vaginal wetness during sexual intercourse is an indicator of a woman's infidelity, and have also associated vaginal lubrication with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the use of contraceptives. In one part of the world a wet vagina is considered to be the result of a curse or bad luck. There is no dearth for beliefs and thus the practice continues.

Both men and women have expressed preference for vaginal dryness and tightness during intercourse for it is believed to increase sexual satisfaction and pleasure for both partners. Hence for them, lubrication is an essential element in pleasurable sexual intercourse.

In some countries, both educated and un- educated women have reported that using drying agents made them feel "like a virgin," and that this enhanced their partner's pleasure. Some herbs are also believed to "heat up the woman's body," causing heat and friction and heightened male stimulation.

For some, the smell of vaginal secretion, is repulsive and they do not like the sound of wet sex.

Dry Sex and HIV
This practice is worrisome given to the increasing number of HIV patients. Research shows that dry sex causes vaginal lacerations and suppresses vagina's natural bacteria, both of which increase the risk of HIV infection. Some AIDS workers believe the extra friction tears condoms easily. Substances used by women to dry out may disrupt the uterine and vaginal membranes and the excessive drying may lead to abrasive trauma during intercourse. Drying agents may cause swelling of the membranes, bruising, stinging and may facilitate small cuts during intercourse, which increases the risk of HIV infection. In addition, intravaginal substances may alter the vaginal pH, which normally serves as a protective factor against HIV acquisition.

Story first published: Friday, February 9, 2007, 14:36 [IST]

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