Vaginal Dryness Picture

Vaginal Dryness: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Vaginal dryness is a condition affecting women at any point in their life. It mostly occurs when women go through their menopausal transition. But, several different reasons can lead to the problem. The problem occurs due to decreased levels of estrogen. Estrogen is an essential hormone in women’s life as it controls their sexual health. With normal levels of estrogen, you can have a normal menstrual cycle and healthy secondary sex characteristics. But, the fluctuations in the estrogen levels can affect your reproductive health adversely.

Estrogen plays an important role in keeping your vaginal walls lubricated with a thin layer of fluid. The clear fluid keeps the vaginal walls thick as well as elastic. When the estrogen hormones reduce, it can have an impact on your sex life. It makes your vaginal region dry. So, you can suffer from minor irritation. If you have a healthy sex life, then the dryness of vaginal walls can affect you. You can experience pain as well as discomfort during intercourse. It tends to make women shy away from sex. So, it affects your intimate relationships negatively. Read ahead to know about vaginal dryness in detail.

Learn About Vaginal Dryness

Women have ovaries, which produce the female hormone also known as estrogen. Estrogen plays an important role in the development of female sex organs including breasts. It is also significant for attaining body shape. Estrogen plays a vital role in regulating your menstrual cycle and pregnancy. The hormone helps to keep your vaginal lining thick and healthy. It also moisturizes the vaginal wall with a thin layer of natural lubrication. Due to different reasons, you can experience fall in estrogen levels. It can lead to the thinning of the vaginal region. It also causes vaginal dryness and makes it less elastic. The problem is also referred to as vaginal atrophy that changes the color of the vagina (light pink to blue).

Signs Of Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness can occur due to several underlying reasons. But, the problem can become a source of embarrassment for you. You can even feel embarrassed to discuss your symptoms with your partner or doctor. Remember, the problem is not uncommon. It is a condition that affects many women. Approaching menopause is the most common cause of the problem. Therefore, women in the peri-menopausal period can experience the following signs with dryness of vagina:

If other reasons contribute to the dryness of your vagina, then you can feel other signs. The symptoms you observe can include:

  • Burning sensation
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Soreness in vagina
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Light bleeding after the sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal stinging or itching
  • Recurring urinary tract infection (The infection does not go away completely)

Due to the dryness in your vaginal region, you can experience severe discomfort. You can feel discomfort in your pelvic region. Therefore, you need to find a remedy to overcome the dryness. Get assistance from your doctor to detect the underlying cause. It will help you alleviate the problem with ease.

Causes Of Vaginal Dryness

You can hear about vaginal dryness in connection with menopause. Women who are approaching their menopause can suffer from the problem. It is a common issue as one among three women can experience the problem. The problem becomes more common after reaching menopause. It leads to vaginal atrophy. You can feel the vaginal walls becoming thinner. The loss of elasticity can make the vagina dry. Apart from menopause, the other causes estrogen drop in a woman’s body are:

  • Childbirth as well as breastfeeding
  • Undergoing therapies for cancer like radiation or chemotherapy
  • Removing ovaries surgically (ovaries produce estrogen)
  • Treatment to overcome endometriosis or uterine fibroids (anti-estrogen medication drop the estrogen levels)

Apart from the above-mentioned causes, you can also experience a drop in estrogen levels when you have the following problems:

Sjögren’s syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome

It is the autoimmune disorder triggering an attack of the immune system on your own cells as well as tissues. Your immune system can attack the cells in your body that produces moisture. So, it mainly affects the glands and tissues like mucus membranes, salivary glands, and lacrimal glands. You can feel the dryness in your mouth, nose, and vagina due to the autoimmune disorder. When you suffer from the problem, it is important to seek medical attention as early as possible. You need to manage the condition with medical assistance. Else, you can suffer from severe discomfort.

Side Effects Of Allergy And Cold Medications

Women suffering from cold or allergy take medications to get relief from the symptoms associated with it. Over-the-counter medication or prescribed medication for cold or allergy contain antihistamines and decongestants to offer you relief. But, both decongestants and antihistamines can narrow your blood vessels. So, it lowers the mucus and moisture levels throughout your body. It can also affect your vagina leading to dryness.

Certain Antidepressants

Women who suffer from depression or other mental issues take antidepressants to ease their symptoms. But, the antidepressant treatment can interfere with the gonadal production of sex hormones. So, it can cause changes in sexual function. The reduced production of estrogen hormones can lead to vaginal dryness.

Douching

Douching

Many women opt for douching to get rid of the unpleasant odor in the vagina. During douching, a bottle or bag containing fluids is sprayed to the vagina. A tube that comes with the bag or bottle helps the fluid reach the vagina. Many feel that by douching, the vaginal region can wash away the bacteria and keep it fresh. It is a wrong idea that leads to discomfort. Using a douche causes more harm than good to your body. The fluid mostly consists of vinegar solution. It can alter the acidic nature of your vagina. So, it makes your vagina prone to infections. Some douche contains fragrance, which can irritate the vaginal walls. Therefore, it can result in dryness of your vagina and discomfort.

Insufficient Foreplay

Vaginal dryness can affect people with an active sex life. Foreplay is necessary before intercourse. It acts as a warm-up session leading to intimate sessions with your partner. It not only makes sex more pleasurable, but also overcomes vaginal dryness. When you become aroused, you will feel your vaginal canal well lubricated. So, it helps you overcome dryness, irritation, and itching sensation.

Diagnosing Vaginal Dryness

If you experience the uncomfortable sensation, then you need to seek medical help. You can make an appointment with your gynecologist to overcome the problem. The problem does not cause serious damages to your health. But, the discomfort you feel for more than a few days can escalate into painful complications. If you fail to seek treatment for vaginal dryness, which lasts for more than a few days, then it can cause sores. You can even experience cracks in your vaginal tissues. So, you can experience severe pain and discomfort as a result of the problem. If dryness of your vagina accompanies with vaginal bleeding, then see your doctor immediately. It is a medical problem that needs emergency treatment. When you see your doctor, you need to undergo the following tests:

Pelvic Examination

Pelvic Examination

Your gynecologist performs a pelvic assessment to examine the condition of your vaginal wall. The assessment can provide information about the presence of lacerations or evidence of thinning of the skin in the region. The doctor asks about the symptoms you suffer apart from vaginal dryness. The itching along with redness can indicate the presence of infection. While women approaching menopause can suffer from other signs. Therefore, based on the findings of a pelvic examination, your doctor suggests other tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Hormone Tests

Women approaching perimenopause or menopause can suffer from dryness of the vagina. So, your doctor orders for hormone tests to confirm the suspicion. The blood test can check the FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and estrogen levels. In normal cases, the FSH levels are low and estrogen levels increase to support the reproductive process. But, women approaching menopause have low estrogen levels and elevated FSH levels.

Pap Smear Test

Your doctor takes the sample of vaginal discharge and sends it to the lab for testing. The test known as the Pap test can detect the presence of harmful bacteria. So, the test can diagnose the presence of vaginal infection, UTI (urinary tract infection) or other serious issues like cervical cancer. During the examination, your doctor removes a sample of the cervix cells using a small brush or spatula. It is checked under a microscope to detect the presence of harmful bacteria. So, it is the ideal test to find the exact cause of your discomfort.

It is natural to feel embarrassed about having a conversation about vaginal dryness to your doctor. But, you are not alone in facing such issues. It is a common problem faced by women around the world. Your doctor has experience dealing with such types of issues. So, you can have a conversation involving such personal details with your doctor. It is essential to seek help at the right time to get the symptoms under control and prevent further complications.

Medication To Treat Vaginal Dryness

Depending on the severity of the problem and the signs you face, your doctor can suggest the right treatment plan. It is always advised to seek your doctor’s opinion before getting treatment. Your doctor can suggest the right option that will never irritate the delicate skin of the vagina. With proper evaluation, the medical professional can suggest the following treatment options:

Estrogen Therapy

Topical estrogen therapy is a common and effective treatment option to treat vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels. The treatment aims to provide sufficient estrogen to overcome the low levels of the hormone. Therefore, the therapy replaces the hormone that your body fails to make. It is available in different forms. So, the doctor suggests the types based on your symptoms.

Oral Pills

When your estrogen levels fall very low, then oral pills can offer relief. It puts the estrogen in your blood to overcome the hormone deficiency. Pills are suggested for women who experience uncomfortable menopause symptoms that affect their daily life. So, taking the pills can relieve the  signs like hot flashes.

Vaginal Ring

Vaginal Ring

Estring is the flexible estrogen ring that you can insert in the vagina directly. The ring releases low levels of estrogen frequently into vaginal tissues. So, you can overcome vaginal dryness. You need to replace the ring every three weeks to maintain the results.

Vaginal Creams

You also have the cream option. It requires you to apply the estrogen cream directly into the vaginal region. The cream is an effective option to overcome the itching and burning sensation. It is the well-tolerated treatment option available to overcome vaginal atrophy.

Over-The-Counter Options

If the vaginal dryness is mild, then you can use the over-the-counter lubricants to get relief from itching and dryness. The lubricants and moisturizing creams can change the PH of your vagina. So, it keeps you safe from UTI (urinary tract infections). But, you have to maintain caution while opting the lubricants. Try to choose a lubricant specifically intended for your vagina. Never use other products as it can cause irritation. A water-based lubricant free of artificial colors, herbal extracts or perfume will provide good lubrication without side effects.

If you have an active sex life, then try to avoid lubricants containing mineral oil or petroleum jelly. The ingredients can cause damage to condoms or diaphragms. So, it can affect your birth control methods adversely. Opt for a lubricant that does not harm condoms or diaphragms.

Prevent Vaginal Dryness

You cannot prevent aging or reproductive-related changes in your body, leading to vaginal dryness. Therefore, it is impossible to take steps to prevent dryness and irritation in the vagina due to menopause or childbirth. But, you can take steps in your life to prevent dryness of your vagina due to other reasons or issues.

Avoid Douches

Douches involve cleansing the vaginal region with a mixture of fluids to overcome the foul smell of the region. It can trigger irritation, burning sensation, and other uncomfortable feelings. Therefore, try not to use douches.

Refrain From Using Products With Irritants

You need to avoid products in your life that contains irritants. Irritants can trigger irritation that can lead to vaginal dryness. It also causes redness, peeling of the skin, and other uncomfortable signs. So, you need to avoid products like the following in your vaginal region:

  • Latex condom (It contains N-9 or nonoxynol-9, the chemical triggering dryness of the vagina)
  • Disposable Wipes
  • Laundry Detergents
  • Bubble bath
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Panty liners

The fragrance or other ingredients in the above-mentioned items can irritate your sensitive vaginal region.

Avoid Scrubbing

The tissues surrounding your vagina region are delicate in nature. Therefore, you must not use strong soaps or scrub the area vigorously. It can affect the sensitive vaginal area.

Use Lubrication

Use Lubrication

You can experience pain or irritation during sexual intercourse due to vaginal dryness. Therefore, you can use an over-the-counter lubricant like K-Y jelly. It is an ideal option to enhance natural lubrication and reduce the uncomfortable feeling. So, sexually active women can use the lubricant for overcoming discomfort.

Home Remedies For Vaginal Dryness

Some easy home remedies can help you combat dryness in your vaginal region easily. The simple lifestyle changes can help you overcome the problem without any hassles. Here is some simple method to lubricate your vaginal region.

Regular Sex

Vaginal dryness can affect people who have an active sex life. But, having regular sex can solve the dryness in your vagina. The sexual stimulation can increase the blood flow to the vaginal tissues. So, it can increase lubrication. You can have an intimate session with your partner or alone to enhance the arousal. People engaging in sexual acts need to ensure adequate foreplay to overcome vaginal dryness. Therefore, it can make an intimate session more enjoyable.

Use Of Hygiene Products

You need to maintain caution while using personal hygiene products. The products may contain fragrances or dyes that can cause dryness of your vaginal tissue. The ingredients can irritate your vaginal wall. Some women douche the vaginal region to keep it clean. Such processes are not required to keep your vagina clean. It is due to the fact that the vagina can self-clean. It has a delicate balance of good bacteria. Therefore, you never have to use fragrant soaps or douching to keep the area around the sensitive region clean.

Include Foods Containing Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are substances you can find in plants. The naturally occurring substance has a chemical structure similar to estrogen. It has the potential to bind to the same receptors as the estrogen hormone does in your body.  So, it makes it a perfect substitute for estrogen (the main female hormone). You can include food substances containing phytoestrogen to elevate the estrogen levels naturally in your body. Therefore, include the following food items in your diet:

  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Seeds
  • Tofu

Studies have determined that including such food can show improvement in your estrogen levels. So, it can offer modest change in vaginal dryness as well as hot flashes.

Wear Cotton Underwear

Women suffering from vaginal dryness need to choose their underwear with caution. The material you chose for your undergarments must allow good air flow. Restricted airflow can make vaginal irritation worse. So, avoid using synthetic materials for your underwear. It can cling to your vagina disrupting the air flow. It is always better to choose materials like cotton. Cotton underwear promotes good airflow, which allows your vagina to breathe.

Conclusion

Vaginal dryness is a common problem that affects many women’s lives. It is not a life-threatening problem, which indicates something more serious. But, it causes severe discomfort. It is common among women going through their menopause. So, you need to take action to find relief from the severe discomfort. Depending on the severity of the problem, you can opt for home remedies to prescription medication. Your doctor mostly suggests treating the issue with topical estrogen cream. It is the low-risk treatment method to overcome the dryness in the vaginal region. You can opt for over the counter lubricants and moisturizers for mild cases of the problem. It keeps the area lubricated and reduces discomfort during sexual activity.

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