Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. In addition to being physically painful, vaginal dryness can cause painful sexual intercourse and associated relationship problems. Luckily, there are many effective treatments that can help ease the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
Read on for more information on overcoming the effects of vaginal dryness.
What Is Vaginal Dryness?
Vaginal dryness is the loss of the usual moisture and a thinning of the vagina. This commonly occurs as a result of a hormone imbalance suffered by menopausal women, but women of all ages may suffer from vaginal dryness.
Vaginal Dryness during Sexual Intercourse
A woman's vagina is naturally moist, and the moisture contains components that defend it from bacteria and provide a self-cleansing mechanism. Vaginal moisture also increases prior to sex, which increases comfort during intercourse. Consequently, when vaginal moisture levels are low, it can impede sex and cause significant pain.
While vaginal dryness can be due to a number of different factors, often menopausal women often suffer the effects as a result of the drop in estrogen levels. However, this can be countered with extra lubrication such as lubricating gels and creams.
What Are the Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness?
There are several symptoms of vaginal dryness, including:
Itching. This can be quite painful.
Incontinence. When estrogen levels decrease, the walls of the vagina become increasingly weak and less able to prevent urine from escaping.
Increased vaginal infections such as yeast infections, which are characterized by a thick, odorous discharge.
What Can Be Done to Ease Vaginal Dryness during Intercourse?
There are a variety of options to treat vaginal dryness. Firstly, you can directly target the symptoms with:
Water-based lubricants. When used during sex they can significantly ease dryness and increase comfort.
Vaginal creams and moisturizers. Regular application of creams can help soothe itchiness and generally increase comfort and health of the vaginal tissue.
Secondly, you can try and treat the underlying causes of vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness is normally caused by low estrogen levels that characterize menopause, so restoring hormonal levels to normalcy can be effective for relief. This can be accomplished two ways:
Active lifestyle. A healthy diet and regular exercise regime can stabilize the body and maintain health and hormone levels, in addition to numerous other health benefits.
Alternative medicines. Many often contain phytoestrogens which can simulate the effects of estrogen in the body, or chemicals that stimulate the natural production of hormones in the body.
If none of the above methods work, consider talking to your doctor, as he or she may be able to prescribe stronger creams or other medications that may help.
- "Vaginal Dryness". Mayo Clinic Health Resource. 2007
- The Changing Body: Menopause Handbook.(n.d)."Vulvovaginal Symptoms". Retrieved from www.menopause.org
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.