Vaginal Dryness: Why it Happens and What You Can Do About It!

vaginal dryness

Key points to remember about vaginal dryness:

  • Vaginal dryness can be caused by physical or psychological factors
  • Vaginal lubrication is linked to the levels of the hormone estrogen (which changes throughout our lives)
  • Medications can cause vaginal dryness
  • Even if you don’t produce much vaginal lubrication, you can still have a happy and healthy sex life

Vaginal dryness is very common and can happen at any stage of life. Some symptoms that you may experience with vaginal dryness may include a burning sensation, abnormal discharge, pain during sex or masturbation. Vaginal dryness can have various causes, both mental and physical. If you're experiencing dryness during sexual activity or discomfort from dryness in general, there may be underlying reasons and solutions for this issue.

Causes of vaginal dryness

There can be multiple reasons for vaginal dryness, both physiological and psychological. One of the main causes of vaginal dryness is a decrease in the hormone estrogen, which helps to keep the vagina moist and maintain the thickness of the vaginal lining. This condition is called atrophic vaginitis or vulvovaginal atrophy.

Estrogen levels can decrease in certain situations such as menopause, after giving birth, and from taking certain medications that interfere with hormone regulation. Other causes include removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy in the pelvic area.

Treatments for vaginal dryness

When it comes to vaginal dryness during sexual activity, it could be due to a lack of sexual desire or arousal. This could be caused by a number of factors including medication, health conditions, or personal preferences. Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle can also affect sexual desire and lubrication. It's important to track your cycle and observe your personal experience to understand what works best for you.

There are several treatment options for vaginal dryness depending on the cause of the issue. If the dryness is a result of medication or hormonal birth control, speaking with a healthcare provider about switching to a different option may be beneficial. If the dryness is caused by low estrogen levels, options include using vaginal moisturizers or lubricants, local vaginal estrogen cream or tablets, systemic estrogen therapy, or selective estrogen receptor modulators.

If the issue is related to sexual activity, discussing preferences with a partner and spending more time on foreplay can help increase natural lubrication. Personal lubricants can also be used during sexual activity or masturbation. It's important to use water or silicone-based lubricants with condoms or diaphragms as oil-based products can damage them and make them less effective. Avoid using food products like olive or coconut oil as lubricant as it could lead to yeast or bacterial infections. Organic lubricants or water-based lubricants without additives are better options.

Other causes of vaginal dryness

There are various factors that can affect vaginal lubrication aside from sexual arousal and estrogen levels. Some medications and contraceptives can cause vaginal dryness as a side effect. It's important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine if this is the case. Smoking can also increase the risk of an earlier menopause transition and the onset of atrophic vaginitis symptoms at a younger age. Sjögren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects the body's ability to produce moisture, is another potential cause of vaginal dryness.

Vaginal dryness or irritation can also be caused by an allergy to chemicals in soap, detergent, lubricant or hygiene products. In such cases, switching to natural products and washing with unperfumed soap or water may help improve symptoms. It's important to remember that the vagina is self-cleaning and there is no need to use any internal washes or vaginal deodorants as they can be harmful. Douching, in particular, has been linked to an increased risk of bacterial and yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, increased transmission of STIs, upper genital tract infections, endometritis, and other adverse health effects.