This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
Vaginal dryness can be uncomfortable, itchy, and painful, especially during sex; while it is most common during perimenopause and post menopause, vaginal dryness can affect women of all ages. Keep reading to learn more about vaginal dryness and how to alleviate its symptoms.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness, also known as vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis, usually happens due to a lack or a drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen is the hormone that helps keep the vagina lubricated and maintain its elasticity; when estrogen decreases moisture and lubrication in the vagina.
Vaginal dryness can also happen because of:
- Birth control pills
- Smoking cigarettes
- Some antidepressants
- Anti-estrogen drugs
- Not being fully aroused during sex
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Using scented and toxic feminine intimate washes and other products in or around the vagina
- Sjögren syndrome, an autoimmune condition that can cause dryness in the eyes, mouth, and the vaginal tissues
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What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness
The most common symptoms of vaginal dryness are:
- Frequent (UTIs)
- Vaginal irritation or redness
- Peeing more often than usual
- Light bleeding after intercourse
- Pain or discomfort when having sex
- Soreness, burning sensation, or itchiness inside or around the vagina
How to Treat and Alleviate Vaginal Dryness
- Use water-based lubricants during sex: water-based lubricants provide proper hydration during sexual intercourse and do not usually dry out the vaginal canal like petroleum-based or oil-based lubricants. When buying a water-based lubricant, please avoid water-based lubricants with glycerin and parabens; these ingredients can cause vaginal irritations, such as BV and yeast infections.
- Vaginal moisturizers: Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers like the Kushae Protective Skin Balm can increase vaginal moisture and relieve vaginal dryness. The skin balm calms, repairs, and protects irritated skin to combat dryness and chafing. It can also soothe the vaginal canal and anus after sex to relieve irritation due to painful intercourse.
- Estrogen therapy: if hormonal changes are causing vaginal dryness, your OB/GYN may recommend hormone estrogen therapy. Estrogen therapy helps increase estrogen levels to relieve vaginal dryness; it may also balance the vaginal pH and regulates bacteria in the vagina. Estrogen therapy includes creams, rings, and tablets that can help restore moisture and elasticity to the vaginal tissues.
- Avoiding irritants: Certain feminine hygiene products, such as scented soaps, douches, and harsh detergents, can irritate the vaginal area and worsen dryness. When choosing feminine hygiene products, always opt for gentle, non-toxic, and fragrance-free hygiene products and detergents that further irritate your vagina.
- Stay hydrated: staying well-hydrated can help maintain overall body hydration, including the vaginal tissues. Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to support vaginal moisture.
- Sexual arousal and foreplay: engaging in prolonged foreplay and sexual arousal can stimulate natural lubrication and reduce discomfort during intercourse.
- Have more sex or masturbate more often: Lack of regular sexual intercourse or masturbation can lead to vaginal dryness; having more sex with your partner or yourself can help improve blood flow and lubrication in the vagina.
When to see a Doctor
Please consult a doctor immediately if vaginal dryness is getting in the way of your daily life or if you have tried the remedies mentioned and still experiencing pain and discomfort. Your doctor can determine the cause of your vaginal dryness and the proper course of treatment for you.