What is vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness can also be referred to as vaginal atrophy, a condition where the vaginal walls are thinning.
When the moisture that normally coats the inner walls of the vagina thins out, this can cause moisture to reduce and thereby you might experience vaginal dryness. The moisture is necessary to lubricate and reduce friction during sexual intercourse and to provide a beneficial environment for sperm.
Vaginal dryness symptoms
The most common symptom with vaginal atrophy is dry vaginal walls, but you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Irritated vaginal tissue
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Loss of arousal and interest in sexual intercourse
- Discomfort during urination
- Discomfort during activities
- Light bleeding
- Re-occurring UTI´s
- Change in the appearance of the vagina; thinner lips
It's common to get one or more of these symptoms during different periods of your lifetime as estrogen production is subject to change. The most common occurrence is during menopause, but you may also experience symptoms during periods of high stress while breastfeeding or during medical treatment.
When can vaginal dryness occur?
Vaginal dryness is common amongst older women but can occur at any age for several reasons. A common reason for experiencing vaginal dryness is due to a decrease in the hormone estrogen, which at normal levels helps keeping the tissues of the vagina lubricated.
The hormone levels can drop for many reasons, where some of the more common reasons are due to:
- Childbirth and breastfeeding
- Contraceptive pills
- Medical conditions or treatments such as cancer therapy, chemotherapy, surgical removal of the ovaries and anti-estrogen medications
- Severe stress and depression
Other factors can also have an impact and contribute to vaginal dryness. Allergy and asthma medicines containing antihistamines and antidepressants is one example, another is using certain soaps and perfumes that aren’t adapted for the sensitive skin around the intimate area and a third reason is Sjögren’s syndrome.
Not feeling aroused during sex is another reason for vaginal dryness and is also a reason for why you might experience pain, which is not something you should get used to. Try spending a little more time during foreplay with your partner to increase lubrication and arousal. Read more about vaginal dryness and sexuality here.
Mental aspects and self esteem
As a result of experiencing various symptoms of vaginal dryness, it can also have an emotional impact that should also be considered. Both self-confidence and sexual confidence can be disrupted, and many women feel embarrassed by talking about the issue with their partner, making the problem worse.
Discomfort around your intimate area can cause strain between you and your partner if you don’t address the issue. Not every woman is the same and not everyone will have the same experience but it´s important to talk to someone about what you’re going through.
Can vaginal dryness be treated?
There are various options when it comes to treating vaginal dryness. Some options include changing smaller things in your everyday life, such as:
- The type of underwear you use – cotton is preferable
- Avoiding perfumed soaps
- Taking more time for foreplay during sexual intercourse
- Avoid douching
Other treatment options are available are available to help relieve your symptoms:
- Vaginal gels and cleansers
- Pessary containing dehydroepiandrosterone
- Local estrogen
- Lubricants and moisturizers suitable for the sensitive skin around the intimate area
Problems linked with vaginal dryness impact quality of life negatively. However, there is a solution.