Vaginal Dryness: A Complete Guide to Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

As many as 17% of women experience vaginal dryness pre-menopause, and this figure increases significantly after menopause takes place. Embarrassment and a lack of awareness mean that this common issue is not discussed openly, leaving many women in the dark.

You might be wondering what causes vaginal dryness, or how you can prevent this condition from occurring?

Keep reading for a guide on everything you need to know about vaginal dryness.

Causes

First, let’s start with a discussion of what causes vaginal dryness. One of the principal reasons for vaginal dryness is a reduction in estrogen levels.

One of the main changes to the body that occurs during menopause is that the ovaries produce less estrogen. This happens naturally as women age, thus, vaginal dryness often occurs in women going through menopause.

There are also other factors that cause low estrogen levels. These include childbirth, breastfeeding, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the removal of the ovaries, and some anti-estrogen medication.

If you’re affected by any of these, your chance of experiencing vaginal dryness is more likely.

There are a few other common causes of vaginal dryness to know about, that are unrelated to levels of estrogen. Certain allergy and cold medications, as well as antidepressants, can include vaginal dryness as a side-effect.

Finally, Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disease), douching, smoking cigarettes, and not taking enough time for foreplay before sex can also cause vaginal dryness.

Symptoms

Now we know why it occurs, we can examine the most common vaginal dryness symptoms. Most women are aware that something is wrong due to the discomfort they feel in the vaginal and pelvic area.

They might feel pain during sexual intercourse, and even a loss of interest in sex. Light bleeding might also follow sex, as the lack of moisture causes friction.

Women might feel pain during other activities too; you do not have to be sexually active to experience the symptoms of vaginal dryness. Some women feel severe discomfort when sitting, urinating, or going about everyday activities.

Other common symptoms of vaginal dryness include a burning sensation or soreness, as well as itching and stinging. Finally, UTIs are another indication of vaginal dryness, in particular when they do not seem to go away.

Last, the vagina and vulva can look visibly different. Most often, the vaginal lips will become thinner, while there can also be changes in texture and color to vaginal discharge.

Diagnosis

Next, let’s take a look at how doctors and urogynecologists diagnose vaginal dryness. If you experience any of the symptoms discussed above, it’s well worth scheduling an appointment with a doctor to investigate the issues further.

Vaginal dryness is rarely an indication of a serious medical issue, but it can nonetheless worsen the quality of life for many women. When left untreated, vaginal dryness can cause sores and lead to cracking in the vaginal tissue.

Your doctor will most likely ask you the following questions during your consultation:

  • Have you had any previous conditions relating to the vagina or pelvis?
  • For how long have you experienced the current symptoms?
  • What seems to relieve or aggravate your symptoms?

Your doctor might also need to carry out a number of tests to confirm vaginal dryness, as well as to rule out any other possible conditions. This will include a pelvic exam, and sometimes a Pap test. Hormonal tests can also be carried out to determine if you’re experiencing perimenopause or menopause.

Treatment

So, what are the different medications and solutions available for vaginal dryness? The most common vaginal dryness treatment is topical estrogen therapy. This sometimes involves applying a vaginal dryness cream to the vagina. Topical options, meaning they are applied to a specific area of the body, have fewer side effects than taking estrogen pills.

In addition to creams, there are also rings that can be inserted into the vagina. Either you or your doctor can place a soft and comfortable ring into your vagina, which releases estrogen to the surrounding tissues. This needs to be replaced every three months.

There is also a tablet option that is placed in the vagina. This tends to be prescribed once a day for two weeks, then twice a week until it is no longer necessary. 

There are a few natural remedies for vaginal dryness, such as using coconut oil or aloe vera that can act as lubricants. However, it is advised that you consult with a medical professional before deciding on a treatment plan.

Prevention

Last, let’s take a look at the best ways to prevent vaginal dryness from occurring. It might not be possible to exclude the possibility of vaginal dryness entirely, as it is a natural part of aging, but these tips will help to minimize the occurrence.

Make sure to take enough time for foreplay and arousal before having sex. You can also use a water-based lubricant to help get more pleasure if necessary.

You should also avoid using perfumed products, lotions, and douches around the vagina area. The vagina is self-cleaning, so there is no need to use any products on the vagina itself. The vulva can be gently washed with water and unperfumed soap.

Last, try to maintain healthy habits such as not smoking and drinking plenty of water to help maintain moisture levels.

Do You Need Help With Vaginal Dryness?

If after reading this article you think you might have vaginal dryness, help is available. Expert urogynecologists, such as Dr. Lotze and his team, can help identify and remedy a wide range of pelvic health issues.

Get in touch here to schedule a consultation, and begin your journey back to a comfortable and pain-free life.

Natural Remedies for Vaginal Dryness

Are you suffering from vaginal dryness? Vaginal atrophy is one of the most significant complaints made by women going through menopause. It is second only to hot flushes.

Vaginal dryness is a distressing condition that can result in pain and itchiness for women going through it. The considerable discomfort caused by vaginal atrophy can become highly problematic and even lead to a stop in any intimacy within a relationship.

When women go through menopause, they experience several changes in their bodies, including tissue changes. The vaginal mucous membranes start becoming thinner, and the vaginal walls can lose their elasticity. These changes occur due to reduced estrogen and androgen levels brought about by menopause.

Many women can experience significant discomfort due to these changes, including soreness, itchiness, burning sensations, pain, and even bleeding during intercourse. Cystitis is also a condition they can face due to persistent vaginal dryness. If you want relief from vaginal atrophy, there are several lubricants that you can purchase. Additionally, there are a few effective natural remedies for vaginal dryness that can help ease the symptoms.

6 Natural Remedies for Vaginal Dryness

If you are not too keen on using lubricants or you prefer finding a more natural solution to the problem, here are some of the most effective home remedies you can try to address vaginal dryness.

1. Increasing Vitamin C intake

A diet with vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables can be an excellent natural remedy for vaginal dryness. Vitamin C is anecdotally known for improving your eyesight. However, this essential nutrient can also help relieve you from vaginal atrophy. Vitamin C has a crucial role in collagen formation in our bodies. Collagen is essential for strong and healthy skin throughout our body, including the vagina.

Ideally, you should consider adding more vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. If it is not possible to add more vitamin C-rich foods, you can consider taking vitamin C-containing supplements to increase your intake.

2. Increasing Vitamin E intake

One of the reasons for vaginal dryness for women going through menopause is reduced estrogen levels. Increasing your vitamin E intake can help improve estrogen stability in your body. According to research, vitamin E plays an important role in estrogen stability. The result could be improvements in menopause symptoms, including vaginal dryness.

Vitamin E also helps maintain flexibility in our blood vessels, allowing improved blood circulation throughout the body. With better blood circulation, the vaginal tissues can receive adequate amounts of nutrients necessary to enhance the flexibility and moisture levels of vaginal walls.

Vitamin E can gradually affect tissue recovery and ease painful intercourse because it can heal the wounds caused by atrophy. Vitamin E can stimulate the vaginal mucosa and prevent infections. You can purchase vitamin E oil capsules, open them, and squeeze them on your fingers to apply directly to the skin inside the vagina.

You should ask your healthcare provider for advice on how to get the best use out of vitamin E capsules for your vaginal health.

3. Use Sea Buckthorn oil

Sea Buckthorn oil can be another exceptional natural remedy for vaginal dryness. The oil is derived from an orange berry-like fruit that grows on sea buckthorn shrubs. It has long been used in Chinese medicines for its beneficial effects.

The oil is rich in omega-7 essential fats. These fats are an important structural part of the mucous membrane that lines the vaginal walls. You can apply the oil to regenerate these membranes to keep the vaginal tract well-lubricated and healthy.

A double-blind study involving postmenopausal women found that sea buckthorn oil intake can increase the vaginal mucus membrane’s integrity, improving flexibility and natural lubrication.

4. Adding Red Clover to your diet

Reduced estrogen levels in menopausal women can cause decreased libido, vaginal dryness, and painful sexual intercourse. There is another natural remedy for vaginal dryness that can increase estrogen levels. Red clover is a herb that belongs to the legumes family of plants.

The herb is known to be rich in isoflavones, known to be beneficial for female hormone levels. These phytoestrogens are plant molecules with a similar structure to estrogen. They can mimic natural estrogen in the body to help our bodies regain the hormone balance.

Adding red clovers to your diet can help you increase your estrogen levels and reduce symptoms of vaginal atrophy and irritation.

5. Agnus Castus herb

Agnus Castus is another herb used widely to treat female hormone problems. The berries of this plant contain flavonoids known to affect estrogen receptors in our bodies positively. They are considered to regulate hormone levels indirectly.

The herb is also known as an adaptogen. It means that Agnus Castus can raise estrogen levels when they are low and reduce estrogen activity when it is too high. This normalizing effect can help you regain the balance in your hormone levels, possibly improving symptoms related to vaginal dryness.

6. Adding Flaxseeds to your diet

Flaxseeds are derived from a plant known for its health benefits. It is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and plant lignans. The chemical structure of the plant lignan compound is similar to the estradiol hormone. These compounds can have an estrogenic effect.

Lignans are phytoestrogens that can bind to estrogen receptors in our body to increase the production of compounds that regulate natural estrogen levels. Several studies have observed the beneficial effects of flaxseeds on vaginal atrophy in menopausal women.

A study found that flaxseed showed beneficial effects on hot flash frequency and intensity. It also showed estrogenic effects, showing promising signs of its effectiveness in addressing menopausal symptoms, including vaginal atrophy.

Are You Seeking Help for Vaginal Dryness?

Vaginal dryness can be quite uncomfortable. Depending on how bad it is, vaginal atrophy can affect your quality of life. We can provide you with all the help you need to regain the natural lubrication and an improved overall vaginal health.

Peter Lotze understands the unique requirements of each patient. You can learn more about what you can expect during your first medical visit with us. Once you are satisfied, you can contact us to schedule an appointment so we can provide you with the most suitable solution for your vaginal health.

 

Top 6 Natural Treatments for Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is something most women will experience at least once in their lifetime. It’s often nothing to worry about and certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.

However, vaginal dryness can be uncomfortable and often painful. It’s not an easy condition to live with but fortunately, there are many remedies that can improve it. If you’re looking for a natural treatment for vaginal dryness, take a look at the information below.

What Is Vaginal Dryness?

You may first notice vaginal dryness because it starts to become uncomfortable. Vaginal dryness happens because of a decrease in the hormone estrogen. This naturally happens around the time of menopause and after.

After menopause, dryness can happen because of other conditions. Medications and immune disorders could also play a part in triggering vaginal dryness. In this instance, it’s important to talk to your doctor about what’s happening. You may need to adjust your medications or use topical creams to avoid pain.

Why Does Vaginal Dryness Happen?

The most common reason for vaginal dryness is a decline in estrogen. Estrogen is responsible for keeping the lining of the vagina thick and elastic but when levels of the hormone drop, the lining becomes thin. Estrogen is also what balances the acidity levels and lubrication of the vagina.

Estrogen levels can drop significantly at different points in a woman’s life. They’re expected to drop at menopause but they can also drop during childbirth, while breastfeeding, and after menopause.

Some women may also experience dryness if they smoke regularly, have their ovaries removed, have been treated for cancer, or have an immune disorder.

Medications are also known to cause vaginal dryness. If you’re currently taking cold medications or have recently suffered from allergies and needed to take medication, you may experience some vaginal dryness. Antidepressants have also been linked to vaginal dryness, along with cancer treatments, like chemotherapy.

Treating Vaginal Dryness

The sooner you treat menopause dryness, the more comfortable you will be. However, hormone replacement isn’t always the best option. Women who have had cancer treatment or have suffered from some form of disease may not qualify for hormone replacement.

Women that do qualify may find that there are side effects to the treatment. These can include weight gain, nausea, headaches, fluid retention, and a higher risk of blood clots or breast and ovarian cancer.

So, are there alternative treatments for this problem? The great news is there are a few things you can do yourself to ease vaginal dryness.

1. Water-based lubricants

These can help to add moisture to the vaginal lining and often last hours at a time. They’re ideal if you’re finding it difficult to have sex comfortably.

2. Vaginal moisturizers

These can give relief for up to three days after use. They’re specifically designed for addressing dryness and it only takes one application every 72 hours.

3. Soy products

The soy compounds in soy products can produce the same effects as the hormone estrogen. Adding soy to your diet could give you some sought-after relief.

4. Black cohosh

This is a supplement that has been linked to relieving menopausal symptoms. There’s no scientific evidence to suggest this is correct but many women have found the supplements useful.

5. Wild Yam

You can also find wild yam in supplements. These are meant to bring on relief of menopausal symptoms but the evidence is lacking.

6. What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

If you don’t find that natural remedies work for you, you may want to consider HRT. This is something that your doctor can prescribe for you and it can be given in tablet form. It works to replace the estrogen your body has lost by providing a synthetic alternative.

Visiting Your Doctor

Perhaps you would prefer to use alternative treatment methods because you don’t want to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. However, your doctor will have experience of treating your symptoms and you can be sure your doctor will be discreet.

If you’ve come to the point where your vaginal dryness is causing you pain and hindering your lifestyle, it’s time to seek professional help from a healthcare provider.

During your doctor’s appointment, your doctor may ask you some questions. Although you may feel uneasy about answering them, it’s important to remember your doctor has heard it all before. Tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking in case an alternative needs to be prescribed.

Pelvic Examination

Your doctor may also want to perform a pelvic examination. During this examination, your doctor will press your abdomen firmly, while inserting a lubricated finger into your vagina. This will allow her to determine any obvious cause of dryness or abnormalities.

If you have additional symptoms, your doctor may recommend a pap smear or other tests to rule out conditions like cancer or vaginal infections. Once your doctor has the results, you’ll be able to discuss a treatment plan you’re happy with.

You should always consult with your doctor if you plan on taking supplements or drastically altering your diet as natural treatments. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Natural Treatment for Vaginal Dryness: Your Options

Your options in natural treatment for vaginal dryness are limited but that doesn’t mean they won’t help. When taking supplements, it can often take up to three months to see any change, which could be too long if you need immediate relief.

If vaginal dryness is starting to continually bother you, it’s time to get some advice from your doctor and think about all your options, including hormone replacement therapy.

For more information on your options for treating vaginal dryness, take a browse through our website or contact us with any queries.

How to Help Vaginal Dryness: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Did you know 50 percent of postmenopausal women will experience vaginal dryness? 

But it isn’t just older women who get it. Vaginal dryness can affect women of any age and disrupt their daily life. 

Despite how common it is, many women don’t know how to help vaginal dryness. Instead they just ‘put up with it’ out of fear of embarrassment. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. While vaginal dryness is common, it’s also very treatable. Check out our guide to find out what you can do to help with vaginal dryness. 

What Is Vaginal Dryness? 

Vaginal dryness is the result of a lack of lubrication of the tissues in the vagina.

A healthy vagina will have a thin layer of moisture that lubricates the walls. This allows sperm to survive for sexual reproduction. It also helps reduce pain during sexual penetration. 

This natural lubrication helps keep your vagina clean and removes any dead cells. It can also ward off yeast infections, such as vaginitis. 

Vaginal dryness can also be a sign of low levels of estrogen. Although this is not the same for every case. 

It is common for older women to have vaginal dryness and also experience pain during sex. Many women choose to ignore vaginal dryness. But it’s important to tell your doctor so they can provide treatment options. 

Vaginal Dryness Causes 

The most common cause of vaginal dryness is a drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that is responsible for maintaining the reproductive system. It also maintains female physical characteristics, such as breasts and public hair. 

Estrogen helps keep the vagina moist. It also maintains the thickness of your vaginal lining.

When there is a drop in estrogen levels, you will experience reduced lubrication. This will be especially noticeable during sexual activity. 

Women will produce less estrogen as they age which leads to menopause. 

But menopause is not the only reason behind low levels of estrogen. Other causes include: 

  • Childbirth and breastfeeding 
  • Antihistamines 
  • Antidepressants 
  • Stress and anxiety 
  • Cigarette smoking 

Chemotherapy and radiation can also cause a sudden loss in estrogen production. As with some types of perfumed lotions and douching. They can cause dryness and irritation in the vaginal area.

Vaginal Dryness Symptoms 

There are some telltale signs that you are experiencing vaginal dryness. You may want to pay closer attention to your body if you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms: 

  • Burning or itching sensation 
  • Vaginal dryness after sex 
  • Frequent urge to urinate  
  • Vaginal discharge 
  • Pain and discomfort during sex 

These symptoms may cause a low sex drive, which is often associated with vaginal dryness. 

Vaginal Dryness Treatment 

The good news is that there are multiple treatments available for vaginal dryness. These include over-the-counter water-based lubricants or vaginal moisturizers.

If you are still experiencing discomfort, your doctor may recommend vaginal estrogen therapy. It is a safe treatment that is very effective for vaginal dryness. It can help maintain your estrogen levels and treat several vaginal health issues. 

Vaginal estrogen can come in many forms. This includes creams, suppositories, oral tablets, and a ring. The ring is inserted into the upper part of the vagina that provides a low, continuous dose of estrogen.

Treatment will differ from person to person. If you’ve had breast cancer, your treatment will tend to involve a non-hormonal option. This may include moisturizers and lubricants especially if you had hormone-sensitive breast cancer. 

Prefer a more natural-based solution? Check out the many effective natural remedies that you can try at home.

How to Prevent Vaginal Dryness

Avoid using moisturizers such as face and hand creams in and around your vagina. Don’t use douches, and steer clear of perfumed soaps and body lotions. 

Take time with foreplay before engaging in sexual intercourse. This is to make sure you’re both relaxed and aroused. Apply a water-based lubricant to you and your partner to enjoy sex more.

Just be sure to use a lubricant that does not contain petroleum jelly or glycerin. This will irritate your vagina more.

Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen vaginal muscles that have weakened due to lower levels of estrogen. This will also help increase the flow of blood to your vagina. 

When to Seek Medical Help 

There might come a point when you will need medical intervention. Visit your doctor if: 

  • It’s affecting your daily life 
  • Bleeding after sex and between periods 
  • Experiencing unusual discharge 
  • Frequent urinary tract infections 
  • Urinary incontinence 

Sometimes over-the-counter treatments aren’t enough. It could be time to visit your doctor if you have tried several treatments but to no avail.

It’s important to know you don’t have to put up with these symptoms. Left untreated, vaginal dryness can cause painful sores, infections, and cracked vaginal tissue. 

Make an appointment as soon as you can to get some well-deserved relief. 

What Should You Ask Your Doctor? 

It can feel nerve-wracking discussing vaginal dryness with your doctor. So it helps to be prepared to make the process less daunting and more productive. Here are a few tips: 

  • Make a list of your symptoms 
  • Know what medication you’re taking 
  • Be clear about how it is affecting your life 
  • Take a friend for support 

Just remember, a doctor has heard it all before. Their only concern is how to best help you.

Learn How to Help Vaginal Dryness Today

Is vaginal dryness affecting your daily life? 

Vaginal dryness can be uncomfortable but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying life. Knowing how to help vaginal dryness is the first step to getting relief.  

And now it’s time to get your life back on track. 

Dr. Lotze and his friendly and trusted team are here to help you find the best treatment plan. So, let one of our trained urogynecologists in Houston help you. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation today!