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
Urgency to urinate or urinating frequently
Pain or light bleeding during intimacy
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
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
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.
Stress & fatigue
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.
Like any muscle, the vagina needs regular exercise to stay in tip-top condition. The saying "you either use it or lose it" holds true here.
Vaginal massage improve pelvic blood flow which increases vaginal moisture and boost your libido. Without frequent sex, the physical condition of the vagina will deteriorate.
Vagina atrophy sets in whereby the length of the vagina canal becomes shorter. The vaginal walls get thinner and narrower.
Vaginal atrophy is common among post menopausal women
and older women who aren’t sexually active, who might be single, divorced, widowed or aren’t having regular sex with their partners.
Studies have shown that massaging vaginal 3-4 times a week can prevent and ward off vaginal dryness and atrophy - the two common conditions that are associated with painful intercourse for post menopausal women.