For many postmenopausal women, vaginal dryness is a sensitive and sometimes embarrassing subject to discuss. Despite this, millions of women suffer from this symptom, and it is only by discussing it and understanding its causes that effective treatments can be found. Read over the following page for more information on the causes and treatments of vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women.
What Is Vaginal Dryness in Postmenopausal Women?
Quick Fact:Vaginal dryness affects around half of women over the age of 50.
Vaginal dryness describes the thinning and inflammation of the vaginal wall. This condition is also called vaginal atrophy. Women of all ages and at all stages of their lives can suffer from vaginal dryness, which can have a variety of causes. However, the condition is most often experienced by menopausal and postmenopausal women.
Vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women often causes pain during sex, which can lead to a loss of libido and sexual satisfaction and also place strain on a woman's relationship with her partner. However, effective treatments are available for vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness in Postmenopausal Women?
In menopausal and postmenopausal women, decreased levels of the hormone estrogen is the main cause of vaginal dryness. Decreased estrogen levels are not just found in menopausal women, but also in women who are breastfeeding, have had a hysterectomy, or have undergone chemotherapy treatments. These women may also experience vaginal dryness.
Normally, the vagina is lubricated by a thin layer of moisture. Estrogen aids these membranes in producing lubrication that works to keep the vagina moist and strong. Decreased estrogen levels cause less moisture to be produced, resulting in vaginal dryness, and in some cases, painful sex.
However, there are several different causes of vaginal dryness. Some medical conditions, such as yeast infections and Sjorgren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease, can cause vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness that may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition should be discussed with a medical professional.
This symptom can also be caused by:
- Lack of foreplay before sex
- Use of chemical products on the vagina, such as soaps and douches
- The chemicals found in swimming pools and hot tubs
How Can Vaginal Dryness in Postmenopausal Women Be Treated?
Once you figure out what is causing your vaginal dryness, you - and if needed, your healthcare provider - should be better able to treat it.
Using a vaginal lubricant helps many women with dryness. If this does not work for you and your vaginal dryness is related to menopause, you may want to think about hormone replacement therapy or taking natural supplements.
Learn more about treating vaginal dryness and menopausal symptoms in general.
- Health Direct Australia. (2015). Vaginal Dryness. Retrieved August 13, 2015, from http://www.healthdirect.gov.au/vaginal-dryness
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012). Vaginal Dryness. Retrieved August 13, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginal-dryness/basics/definition/con-20029192