Are there contraindications and when to avoid creams for vaginal dryness?

Causes for experiencing vaginal dryness vary from going through menopause to breastfeeding and going through certain medical treatments. Many women will experience vaginal dryness at one point in their life and depending on the cause there are several options for relieving symptoms, both over the counter and in consultation with your doctor. Some treatments do not contain any additional hormone and could be affective for milder symptoms of vaginal dryness.

Menopause, childbirth and medical treatments causes for vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness can be experienced at different stages in life and is very common during and after menopause. Childbirth and breastfeeding can also be times when vaginal dryness occurs but there can be several reasons to why you might experience symptoms like burning, soreness, itchiness, reoccurring urinary tract infections and pain during sex.

Reasons you might experience vaginal dryness include:

  • Menopause
  • Childbirth and breastfeeding
  • Medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
  • Treatments for breast cancer with anti-estrogen drugs
  • Surgical removal of the ovaries
  • Allergy – using antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • The autoimmune disorder Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Stress
  • Douching
  • Lack of foreplay before sexual intercourse
  • Flammer syndrome
  • Limited blood supply to the vaginal area

The reason behind experiencing vaginal dryness is often due to a drop in estrogen levels but can be caused by other factors as well. Not dealing with vaginal dryness could increase the risk of vaginal infections, a loss of sexual desire and a painful experience during intercourse and other physical activities.

Consider medical history and opt for non-hormonal treatments during pregnancy and breastfeeding

To treat vaginal dryness, only ever use products that are adapted for the vaginal area as this area is very sensitive and using the wrong product might cause other issues and side-effects.

Topical estrogen therapy treats vaginal dryness directly in the affected area, a cream or ointment is applied to relieve the symptoms which lets the body absorb less estrogen than when taken as a pill. Topical estrogen therapy is not for everyone and in some cases a better option might be to use a non-hormonal alternative.

Discuss with your doctor if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Have a history of breast of endometrial cancer
  • Experience vaginal bleeding without reason

Treatment options found over the counter and others in consultation with doctor

Lubricants and moisturizers found over the counter

Some of the treatment options are available over the counter and can be used when symptoms of vaginal dryness are milder. These products could be tried as a first step towards relieving your symptoms of vaginal dryness.

Over the counter alternatives include:

  • Moisturizers (effects generally lasts longer than lubricants and can be used every few days)
  • Water-based lubricants (applied before sexual activity to reduce discomfort with vaginal dryness)

Estrogen alternatives your doctor might recommend

There are alternatives which contain the hormone estrogen and which your doctor might recommend if you have tried moisturizers and lubricants and are still experiencing issues. When using vaginal estrogen products, less estrogen is released into your bloodstream than if you were to take it in the form of a pill.

Vaginal estrogen products include:

  • Vaginal estrogen ring (Estring, Femring)
  • Vaginal estrogen tablet (Vagifem)
  • Vaginal estrogen cream (Estrace, Premarin)
  • Vaginal estrogen suppositories (Imvexxy)

Many treatment alternatives available for relieving symptoms of vaginal dryness

Other products include:

  • Prasterone (Intrarosa)
  • Ospemifene (Osphena)
  • Systemic estrogen therapy
  • Topical lidocaine
  • Vaginal dilators

Prasterone inserts contain the hormone DHEA in order to help relieve symptoms of painful sexual intercourse and is used nightly. The pill Ospemifene can also help when you experience pain during intercourse but should not be used by women with a history of breast cancer.

Systemic estrogen therapy might be suggested by your doctor if your vaginal dryness is connected to other symptoms of menopause. There are certain risks involved with oral estrogen and your doctor can explain more and whether this is the right option for you.

The gel or ointment containing the agent lidocaine might help numb and could ease discomfort by applying it before or after sexual intercourse. Vaginal dilators could work as an addition to estrogen therapy and is considered an option when looking for non-hormonal treatments.

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