Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It can be physically painful and reduce one's desire for sex. However, there is a range of vaginal dryness products that are commercially available and aimed at reversing the effects of this condition.
Vaginal Dryness Explained
The vagina is lubricated by glands in the cervix that keep it supple and moist. The moisture seeps slowly down through the vagina, keeping it clean and removing dead cells. The vaginal moisture is acidic, helping to prevent infections. During sex, glands at the entrance of the vagina produce extra moisture to facilitate sexual intercourse. However, during menopause, when levels of estrogen decrease, there is a decline in lubrication, making the skin of the vagina thinner, drier, and less elastic.
What Are the Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness?
One of the principle symptoms of vaginal dryness is pain during sex. Many sufferers of vaginal dryness will also experience pain, discomfort, and itching on a day-to-day basis. Many women experience a change in the color and appearance of their vaginal discharge.
What Vaginal Dryness Products Are Available?
Products that contain estrogen and can be used to increase vaginal moisture include:
Estriol vaginal cream. This can gradually help tissue both inside and outside the vagina, and can also be applied directly to the vulva and urethral tissue. Estriol vaginal cream can also be custom-compounded to include a small amount of testosterone.
Vaginal inserts. Tablets containing estradiol are inserted into the vagina. These tablets can help rejuvenate vaginal tissue.
E-string vaginal rings. Silicone-based rings that release estradiol can be inserted into the vagina. After 90 days or depending on the brand, the ring is replaced. Vaginal rings can provide support to the vaginal walls in women whose pelvic floor muscles are weak.
Products that do not contain estrogen and can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy include:
Lubricant. Lubricant is not absorbed by the vagina, but it is applied before sex in order to reduce friction.
Vaginal moisturizer. Vaginal moisturizer is used on a regular basis to increase the moisture in the vagina.
Other Treatments for Vaginal Dryness
Lifestyle tips to reduce vaginal dryness include:
Avoiding allergens that could be triggering the dryness (commonly found in detergents)
Avoiding wearing tight fitting or abrasive underwear made from synthetic fabrics
Enjoying a healthy sex life to increase the amount of lubrication produced naturally
Click on the following link for more information on treatments for vaginal dryness.
- Bachmann, G.A. & Nevadunsky, N.S. (2000). Diagnosis and Treatment of Atrophic Vaginitis. American Family Physician, 61, 3090-3096. Retrieved from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0515/p3090.html
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2013). Vaginal Atrophy. Retrieved November 11, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginal-atrophy/basics/definition/con-20025768