A Dry Vagina: What You Need to Know About Causes and Treatments
No one likes to talk about it, but almost every woman has experienced it.
A dry vagina is not only uncomfortable, but it can lead to painful sex, itching and other problems.
“Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of several conditions,” said Dr. Chappell. “This is one reason why we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us so we can get to the cause and offer effective treatment.”
“Some women think that a dry vagina is just something they have to put up with, but nothing can be further from the truth. Vaginal dryness can affect the quality of your life and even cause painful intercourse.”
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
The main cause of vaginal dryness is a decline in estrogen, the hormone that helps keep your vaginal tissue healthy.
While menopause is the primary reason for a decrease in estrogen levels, other causes can be:
- Giving birth
- Immune disorders, including Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects your glands that make saliva and tears
- Severe stress
- Oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries)
- Allergy or cold medications
- Certain soaps or even certain kinds of laundry detergent
In some cases, diabetes may even contribute to vaginal dryness.
How Do You Treat a Dry Vagina?
When dryness is due to lack of lubrication, you can buy over-the-counter treatments like lubricants and moisturizers. Often, these therapies can alleviate most of the discomfort during sex. However, these methods only provide short-term relief.
Other strategies to address vaginal dryness include avoiding irritants like douching, or using any perfumed soaps or lotions in the vaginal area.
Estrogen therapy is particularly successful in treating vaginal dryness.
Estrogen Therapy for a Dry Vagina
Estrogen therapy includes hormone-containing vaginal creams, rings and tablets.
These treatments release estrogen directly into the tissue to restore the elasticity to the lining. Depending upon your individual situation, systemic estrogen therapy – where estrogen is released into the bloodstream through pills or patches – may be a good option.
It’s important to note that if you have your uterus, you should also take progestin when you are undergoing systemic estrogen therapy. This can help reduce your risk of getting uterine cancer. (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
The risks and benefits are slightly different between local estrogen treatment and systemic estrogen treatment. We would be happy to help you figure out which option best addresses your needs.
Vaginal Dryness and Menopause
While almost half of postmenopausal women have trouble with a dry vagina, an estimated 90 percent don’t seek help for their symptoms.
This not only leads to further irritation, but it also contributes to painful sex. This group of symptoms is referred to as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM).
- Vaginal itching
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- More frequent vaginal infections
- Vaginal burning
- Urinary tract infections
- Frequent urination
GSM can dramatically reduce the quality of life for affected women. While other hallmarks of menopause such as hot flashes tend to decrease in severity over time, but vaginal dryness does not. (Harvard Medical School).
A Dry Vagina Can Cause Painful Sex
While sex should not cause pain or discomfort, thousands of American women have experienced painful intercourse.
In fact, 3 out of 4 women have experienced painful sex at some point. The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia.
Sex does not have to be painful, and at Chapel Hill OBGYN, we’re dedicated to helping you with any sexual condition.
Do not ever feel “embarrassed” to talk to us about your problems. Your sexual health is simply too important.
See Why We’re the Provider of Choice in Chapel Hill and Durham
We’ve helped women of all ages and from all walks of life experience better gynecological health, whether they are here for their first Pap smear, their prenatal appointments or for help with menopausal symptoms.
Please contact us to schedule an appointment. Usually we can schedule it for that same week.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Harvard Medical School. Don’t ignore vaginal dryness and pain
U.S. Library of Medicine. “Vaginal Dryness.”