While it can be difficult for many women to talk about and might feel like an embarrassing subject, vaginal dryness is a common problem. If you are going through this, it is essential to have an honest discussion with your doctor. This can help pinpoint the reasons behind it and discover suitable treatments to stop it from affecting your overall quality of life, including your sexual health.

What is vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness is a common condition that affects women of various ages and is often associated with hormonal changes. These hormonal changes include the decrease in estrogen levels that occur:

  • During menopause
  • During pregnancy
  • When breastfeeding
  • As a side effect of certain medications.

Vaginal Dryness Causes

Generally, vaginal dryness occurs after menopause, but it can also happen in the years leading up to it. After menopause, the production of estrogen by the ovaries decreases, and estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining vaginal lubrication, elasticity, and thickness. 

Low estrogen levels can result in:

  • Thinning, dryness, inflammation of the vaginal walls;
  • Vaginal atrophy.

Decreased estrogen and vaginal dryness can also occur during other stages of a woman’s life, such as:

  • During breastfeeding;
  • With the use of contraceptives;
  • During chemotherapy treatments involving anti-estrogen drugs.

In addition to hormonal causes, vaginal dryness can also be caused by non-hormonal factors. These may include:

  • Using aggressive cleansers with improper pH levels;
  • Certain dermatological conditions – such as lichen;
  • Specific medications – such as antihistamines, antidepressants, or birth control pills;
  • Autoimmune diseases – such as diabetes or Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Vaginal Dryness Symptoms

Common symptoms of vaginal dryness include:

  • Itching sensation
  • Burning
  • Pain or slight bleeding during intercourse
  • Urgency in urination
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections.

Vaginal Dryness and its impact on sexual activity: The emotional aspect for women 

Vaginal dryness is a problem that often goes unspoken, as many individuals feel embarrassed to discuss it with their partners and doctors. Only a quarter of women who experience symptoms related to vaginal dryness seek medical attention and treatment. Therefore, patients must have an open conversation about this issue with their gynecologist to determine the most appropriate treatment options.

Vaginal Dryness Treatment

There are various therapies available for vaginal dryness, and the choice depends on the individual case and needs, which should be tailored to the patient’s medical history.

Treatment options include:

  • Natural remedies, including water-based lubricants and hyaluronic acid 
  • Local estrogen therapies
  • Specific laser treatments for vulvovaginal atrophy. 

Vaginal dryness impacts many areas of a woman’s life, including:

  • Sexual relationships
  • The overall quality of life
  • Daily activities.

Such impact can be significant but should be considered. 

Lubricating and moisturizing gels or creams can be highly effective in relieving discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse. 

However, it is essential to note that not all products are the same. There is a significant distinction between lubricants, moisturizers, and commercially available products. Women considering the use of such products should consult with their doctor to identify the underlying cause of the problem and work together to find the most suitable solution.