Vaginal dryness is a common condition that can affect women of all ages for various reasons. However, most women don’t see it as a health concern, and the problem remains to be a silent one.
Vaginal dryness doesn’t only cause discomfort but can also disrupt your sex life. Nevertheless, you’re certainly not alone. Seeking help from your health care professional can let you cope with its symptoms to a great extent.
This blog aims to answer all your questions regarding the symptoms and causes of vaginal dryness and lists five effective ways to deal with it.
What is Vaginal Dryness?
Vaginal dryness is a common problem, mostly caused by a drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that is responsible for keeping the vaginal walls lubricated, supple, and elastic with a layer of moisture. With low estrogen production, the cells of these walls no longer release adequate vaginal secretions or moisture, leading to dryness in the vagina.
Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness
Though vaginal dryness may appear to be a minor issue, it can still trigger some painful symptoms in your body. In addition to stress and uneasiness, the following are the most common signs of vaginal dryness:
- Vaginal itching
- Pain during sex
- Discomfort during physical activity
- A higher risk of vaginal infections and urinary tract infections
Causes of Vaginal Dryness
A lot of reasons can contribute to decreased estrogen production in women that in turn leads to vaginal dryness. Sometimes it’s natural, while other times it may occur as a side effect of certain medical treatments. The most prominent vaginal dryness causes are as follows:
- Breastfeeding and childbirth
- Birth control pills
- Cancer treatments including chemotherapy and hormonal therapy
- Medications, including anti-estrogen medications, antidepressants, and antihistamines
- Removal of the ovaries
- Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder that can cause dryness throughout the body)
Menopause & Dryness
Estrogen in a woman’s bloodstream, plays a key role in keeping the vagina moist and protecting its skin. As menopause approaches, you undergo various hormonal changes in your body and a fall in estrogen or progesterone levels is very likely to happen. This may lead to thinning of your vaginal walls and ultimately, menopause vaginal dryness, which is called vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis. It is characterized by and can increase the risks of chronic vaginal infections, painful intercourse, and urinary issues among some women.
5 Ways to Treat Vaginal Dryness
Irrespective of what causes vaginal dryness, the experience can be irksome and agonizing for most women. Fortunately, there are several treatments (both over-the-counter and prescribed) and lifestyle changes that may help you combat vaginal dryness and reduce its aftereffects.
Here are 5 best ways to treat vaginal dryness:
Avoid strong or perfumed soaps or lotions near the vagina
Some intimate hygiene products, soaps, or lotions that contain strong fragrances and dyes, can may disrupt the balance of good bacteria in your vagina. This disturbs the naturally self-cleansing mechanism in your vagina and contributes to vaginal dryness.
Estrogen or non-estrogen oral therapies
You may try using oral therapies to compensate for the lower estrogen levels in your body. These therapies help in treating a variety of postmenopausal symptoms including vaginal dryness.
These include oral medication in the form of pills. As prescribed by your doctor, you may use estradiol tablets or ospemifene (estrogen agonist tablets) to make vaginal tissues thicker and more elastic.
Lubricants or vaginal moisturizers
Sirona Lube-tube is a water-based and glycerin-free lubricant cum moisturiser that eases vaginal dryness without disrupting its natural pH. It also proves to be effective in reducing discomfort during sex, even making it more pleasurable.
Local estrogen or DHEA inserted directly into the vagina for long-term moisture
Another way to counter the effects of vaginal dryness is by using local estrogen therapy. This refers to the treatment directly applied (in the form of creams and ointments) to the vaginal area. In addition to creams, estradiol vaginal rings can also be inserted directly into the vagina for 90 days.
Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe you to take dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA (a type of hormone) in the form of a vaginal suppository as an alternative to estrogen therapy for long-term moisture.
Indulge in sexual activities regularly
Indulging in regular sexual activities increases blood flow to the vaginal tissues and stimulates vaginal moisture. You may try to increase the sensations of arousal by adequate foreplay and thereby overcome female dryness.
Vaginal dryness is a common problem associated with inadequate estrogen production in most cases – especially during menopause. Even though certain lifestyle changes and nonprescription treatments can work at times, this condition can often be overlooked by many women.
If untreated, it can be a source of discomfort for quite a long time. Therefore, we have explained how to increase vaginal moisture by some over-the-counter methods to help you treat the milder symptoms through this blog. It’s highly recommended to discuss with your health care professional and decide which of the above treatments would help in your case.
Have you experienced vaginal dryness? If yes, how did you ease it?
Tell us in the comments.