Vaginal dryness can be a concern for women of any age, although it affects older people more commonly, especially after menopause.
Normally, a thin layer of transparent fluid lubricates the vaginal walls. Estrogen contributes to the maintenance of that fluid and the health, thickness, and elasticity of the vaginal lining.
A decrease in estrogen levels decreases the amount of available moisture. It can occur at any age and is caused by a variety of different factors.
It may appear to be minor discomfort. However, a lack of vaginal moisture might have a significant effect on your sexual life. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments available to relieve vaginal dryness.
Causes of Vaginal Dryness
It is typically caused by a decrease in estrogen levels. As menopause approaches, estrogen levels begin to decline.
Estrogen is produced by the ovaries, and estrogen is responsible for the development of female body characteristics such as breast size and shape. Additionally, it plays a critical function in menstruation and pregnancy.
Estrogen contributes to the thickening, moisturizing, and health of the vaginal tissues. As concentrations fall, the lining becomes thinner, drier, and less elastic. Vaginal atrophy is the term used to describe these changes.
Causes of reduced estrogen levels include:
- surgical removal of the ovaries (which can trigger menopause)
- childbirth and breastfeeding
- treatments for cancer, including chemotherapy and radiation
- anti-estrogen drugs for treating breast cancer or endometriosis
Other causes of vaginal dryness include:
- Sjögren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder that attacks cells in the body that produce moisture)
- Allergy and cold medications
- Certain antidepressants
- Not enough foreplay before sex
People with vaginal atrophy and vaginal dryness may experience:
- vaginal itching
- pain during sex
- discomfort during physical activity
- a higher risk of vaginal infections and urinary tract infections
If the dryness is due to a fall in estrogen levels, they may also have:
- lower levels of natural vaginal secretions
- a tightening of the vaginal opening
- a narrowing of the vagina
When To See The Doctor
Many women suffer from vaginal dryness, but seldom bring it up with their doctors.
If vaginal dryness has an adverse effect on your lifestyle, particularly your sexual life and connection with your spouse, consider consulting your doctor. Living with inconvenient vaginal dryness does not have to be a natural part of aging.
Treatment of Vaginal Dryness
Sexual activity on a regular basis, whether alone or with a partner, can aid in the management of vaginal dryness.
During arousal, blood flow to the vaginal tissues rises, which helps stimulate moisture production.
Appropriate foreplay and excitement prior to sex can assist in overcoming vaginal dryness and enhance the enjoyment of sex.
Topical Estrogen Therapy
Topical estrogen therapy is the most often used treatment for vaginal dryness caused by low estrogen levels. These act as a substitute for some of the hormones your body is no longer producing. This helps alleviate vaginal discomfort but does not provide as much estrogen to the bloodstream as oral hormone therapy does.
There are natural oils that you might attempt to relieve vaginal dryness. You might also try using natural oils like grape seed, olive, sweet almond, sunflower, or coconut.
Another possibility is to extend the length of foreplay preceding intercourse. Vaginal moisture levels are associated with arousal. Discuss with your partner how you can enhance these experiences outside of intercourse.