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
- 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!