Vaginal dryness is a very common problem and affects more than half of women after the menopause, however some women may experience problems with vaginal dryness before the menopause.
Vaginal dryness is a painful condition which can impact on quality of life and relationships.
Despite the high number of women experiencing problems related to vaginal dryness, it is still a silent problem that many people feel embarrassed to talk to their partners, friends and even doctors about. Only a quarter of women with these problems actually seek treatment.
Symptoms of vaginal dryness may include:
* Soreness, itching, or burning of the vagina
* Painful intercourse
* Light bleeding after intercourse
* Mild vaginal discharge
What causes vaginal dryness?
A number of factors may contribute to vaginal dryness, including:
Low estrogen vaginal dryness is most often caused by a decrease in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that helps keep the tissues of your vagina lubricated and healthy.
Many factors can cause a drop in estrogen levels, such as:
* Menopause or perimenopause (a transition time before menopause)
* Surgery (Hysterectomy)
* Heavy exercise
* Cancer treatments
* Anti-estrogen medicines
Certain soaps, lotions, perfumes can disrupt the natural balance of chemicals in your vagina, leading to dryness.
Other medicines allergy, cold, and asthma medicines that contain antihistamines can have a drying effect on the body and contribute to reduced vaginal lubrication.
Certain antidepressants may also lead to a reduction in vaginal secretions.
Anxiety Stress and anxiety can affect sexual desire and may lead to vaginal dryness.
Sjogren's syndrome, this rare autoimmune disease can cause dryness in the eyes, mouth, and vagina.
Low sexual desire, a low libido or other sexual problems may give way to dryness, and conversely, the dryness may worsen libido.
Local estrogen - this is available in the form of small tablets inserted into the vagina with an applicator, vaginal rings or vaginal dryness can respond well to local estrogen treatments, they can also help greatly with discomfort and pain during sex, correct the vaginal pH and regulate bacteria. Unlike conventional forms of HRT, the effects are local therefore the risks are reduced:
* Avoid perfumed soaps.
* Use creams to treat skin irritation.
* Lubricants and moisturizers can be useful, particularly for women who are not suited to estrogen.
* Take more time during sexual intercourse giving the Bartholins gland time to produce the maximum amount of lubrication before intercourse.
Vaginal dryness is an embarrassing condition but it needs to be addressed and it is well worth discussing your symptoms with your doctor and also your partner.