What is Vaginal Dryness?
At some point most women will experience vaginal dryness. It can affect women of all ages but your chance of vaginal dryness increases most often during and after menopause – this occurs between the ages of 40 and 59. Women on hormone replacement therapy, who are pregnant or breastfeeding are also susceptible to vaginal dryness.
Stress and anxiety has also been known to contribute to vaginal dryness and irritation. If the vagina is not lubricated properly, it not only feels uncomfortable but also causes sexual intercourse to be incredibly painful.
As a result, women who suffer from vaginal dryness tend to steer away from sexual intercourse and often experience a drop in libido. Fortunately, there are a number of medications and natural remedies that can be used together with self-care measures to alleviate vaginal dryness.
Symptoms and signs that may accompany vaginal dryness include:
- Pressured feeling
- Urgency to urinate or urinating frequently
- Pain or light bleeding with sex
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
Many factors may contribute to vaginal dryness and these include:
- Medications such as antidepressants, antibiotics, antihistamines and decongestants
- Cancer treatments such radiation or chemotherapy
- Allergens such as fragrances and dyes in toilet paper and laundry detergents
- Drying soaps
- Autoimmune disease such as Sjogren’s syndrome
Vaginal dryness is the primary symptom of lower estrogen levels. Estrogen, a female hormone helps to keep the vagina well lubricated, maintains acidity and tissue elasticity and creates a natural defense against infections. It causes the vagina to thicken but when estrogen levels decreases, the vaginal tissue starts thinning, loses its elasticity and become more fragile.
Low estrogen levels may decrease as a result of:
Diagnosing Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness is based on a pelvic exam as well as the symptoms presented. Certain tests such as a sample of cervical cells or vaginal secretions may be taken and sent for further testing. If you have urinary symptoms, a urine sample may also be taken.
Help for Vaginal Dryness
Natural and holistic treatments have also proven to be quite effective in reducing vaginal dryness. Herbs such as Dong Quai, a very well known Chinese herb helps to support balance of female hormones and to promote hormonal health during the menopause and perimenopause. Other herbal ingredients such as Black Cohosh and Wild yam and isoflavones may also help to relieve vaginal dryness in some women.