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- What is Vaginal Dryness?
- What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
- Diagnosing Vaginal Dryness
- More Information on Vaginal Dryness
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:
- Menopause, perimenopause or postmenopause
- Hysterectomy or surgical removal of ovaries
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Cancer therapy which includes radiation therapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy
- Hormonal contraceptives
- Immune disorders
- Stress & fatigue
- Cigarette smoking
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.
More Information on Vaginal Dryness
There are some helpful ways to alleviate the discomfort of
vaginal dryness and these include:
- Use an unscented, hypoallergenic soap – non alkaline and pH-balanced
- Avoid substances that may trigger an allergic reaction such as scented soaps, bubble bath, laundry detergents and toilet paper
- Increase your water intake by drinking at least eight glasses of water daily
- Have sex regularly to encourage more lubrication
- Communicate with your partner by talking about your sexual preferences, what you like and what you do not
- Learn to be intimate, as an alternative to sex – try holding each other, sensual massage or touching
- Wear cotton underwear