When it comes to sex, “getting wet” doesn’t refer to getting busy in the shower or having sex on the beach. Instead, it’s about natural vaginal lubrication, also called arousal fluid.
If you have a vagina, you probably know that it’s totally normal for vaginas to be at least a little bit wet. Every day, the glands on the walls of your cervix create a clear mucus that takes bacteria and dead cells away from your body — your vagina’s way of cleaning itself. This discharge is white or clear, and if you’re not on hormonal birth control, it varies throughout your menstrual cycle, becoming thinner, clearer, and stickier around ovulation.
What is arousal fluid?
The lubrication your body produces when you’re turned on is different from your everyday vaginal discharge. This kind of lubrication is primarily coming from your Bartholin’s glands, which are located on either side of your vaginal opening, instead of the glands on the walls of your cervix. Your Skene’s glands, which are located near your urethra and also contribute to squirting, might also add some lubrication, too (though not all researchers agree on this). Additionally, your labia will get wet — that’s because when the blood rushes to your genitals, your vulva starts to “sweat," producing extra moisture.
How can I get turned on?
The best way to “get wet” is to spend a lot of time getting turned on before you begin any penetrative activity. Kissing, making out, dry-humping, dirty talk, and other forms of foreplay will help you get aroused and get wet.
However, many people don’t produce enough lubrication to make vaginal penetration feel good, even if their minds and bodies are extremely turned on. This is called arousal nonconcordance, and it’s particularly common for people with vaginas.
“Arousal nonconcordance is a mismatch between how turned on a person feels and how their genitals are behaving,” sex educator and author of Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski previously told Refinery29. “It's nearly universal; almost every woman will, at some point, experience it, just as almost every man experiences erectile issues.”
There are a ton of factors can lead to decreased lubrication, including using hormonal birth control, breastfeeding, taking medications like antihistamines or antidepressants, smoking cigarettes, or even not drinking enough water.
What if I can't get wet?
While arousal nonconcordance might be frustrating, there’s an easy remedy: lube. As Ina Garten says, if you don’t make your own, store-bought is fine. And even for people who produce a lot of lubrication naturally, adding some store-bought lube can make sex feel even better.
As Nagowski said, “How wet is wet enough? Wetness where? And when? The amount of wetness most bodies create is just not enough for penetration that lasts more than a few minutes, so really everyone engaging in penetration should use lube.”
What kind of lube is best?
The right lube for you will depend on personal preference and your sex life: Some types of lubricant shouldn't be used with latex condoms, for example, because they can increase the risk of the barrier breaking. A safe place to start is with a water-based lube. They're not the slipperiest out there, so you may have to reapply — but they're typically safe to use with condoms and sex toys (just read the bottle to be sure).