Vaginal dryness is an itchy, painful genital affliction that a woman can experience at any point during her life, but it's particularly common during menopause and after childbirth. Dryness occurs when vaginal tissues do not secrete enough lubrication to keep the vagina moisturized, which can make sexual intercourse both an unappealing prospect and a painful one. Many women feel embarrassed to discuss this issue, but there are solutions available to prevent vaginal dryness from obstructing the intimacy you share with your partner.
Why Is Sex Important?
Sex is a healthy expression of intimacy - a physical way of sharing closeness with your partner and demonstrating mutual affection for one another. It's a natural and important part of a loving relationship, and it influences the non-sexual side of a partnership, too. Some women define their femininity by their sexuality, and it can often be an empowering, stress-relieving experience. It's also a considerable source of physical pleasure and stimulation. Both you and your partner deserve to enjoy a fulfilling sex life without vaginal dryness hindering the delights that sex can bring.
Instant relief from vaginal dryness can be achieved by applying a water-based lubricant to the genitals to immediately moisturize the vagina and ease discomfort for both partners during sex. Choosing a water-based lubricant means that condoms will still be effective, and the mildness is unlikely to exacerbate dryness further.
Before attempting any form of penetration, it is always best to wait until optimum arousal has been achieved. Arousal causes increased blood circulation to the genitals, which stimulates the vaginal tissues to secrete lubrication and reduce dryness. The vagina will also widen to accommodate penetration, which will minimalize pain or discomfort for both partners. Foreplay (e.g., kissing, caressing and oral stimulation) is the most effective means of achieving arousal, so pick a moment to have sex when you can indulge in foreplay without interruptions or time-restriction in order to increase enjoyment and allow your body to work naturally against dryness.
Before and After Sex
Some woman make a habit of vaginal douching to wash the vagina after having sex. This is a process wherein the vagina is internally rinsed with water or a solution. Despite its popularity, douching disturbs the vagina's natural cleansing process and upsets the internal balance of yeast and bacteria, often causing infections or severe dryness. Similarly, harsh soaps or fragranced body washes used externally are also likely to aggravate vaginal dryness. By avoiding certain products, you can limit the discomfort of vaginal dryness. When washing intimately, use either a soap-free cleanser or simply lukewarm water to avoid aggravating the condition.
It is also important to communicate with your partner about your condition and explain its effects on your attitude toward sex. Choose a moment to discuss the symptom outside of intercourse to prevent your partner from taking it personally and to ensure their maximum support. If the condition persists, you may wish to consult a doctor. Though this may seem daunting, remember that vaginal dryness is a common condition, a doctor's role is to be discreet, and you can request a female gynecologist if this makes you more comfortable.
Regular sex is something you deserve to enjoy, and something that you can enjoy, even with vaginal dryness. It is important to address this symptom with the seriousness that you would any other; your intimate life is important for your well-being, the relationship with your partner, and your own feelings of femininity and self-confidence. Consider these solutions; a healthy sex life is worth putting in the effort.
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Sexual arousal in women. Retrieved February 6, 2014 from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodsex/Pages/Sexualarousalinwomen.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2010). Vaginal dryness. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/~/media/Selfcare/FemaleSexualHealth/VaginalDryness.ashx
- The North American Menopause Society. (n.d). Vaginal Dryness. Retrieved on February 6, 2014 from http://www.menopause.org/docs/for-women/mndryness.pdf
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Vaginal dryness alternative treatments. Retrieved on February 6, 2014 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002142.htm
- Sexual Advice Association. (2011). Vaginal dryness and the menopause. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://www.sda.uk.net/dry