During the menopausal stage, the production of estrogen slows and then stops. As soon as that happens, a number of changes take place in a woman’s body, and some of these changes cause pain and discomfort. A woman going through menopause may have mood swings, hot flashes, increase in facial hair, and a deeper voice. However, all these changes do not happen to all women.
What Vaginal Dryness Is
Vaginal dryness is one of the common symptoms of menopause. It becomes even more common after menopause. It can also occur at any age due to different causes. Some might think that vaginal dryness might seem like a minor irritation, but without vaginal moisture, your sex life will be affected. Vaginal dryness is not just a concern for women who are undergoing menopause, it can also occur in women younger than 60.
The causes of vaginal dryness range from physiological factors to emotional and psychological ones:
- Hormonal changes
- Medication side effects
- Lack of desire
The walls of the vagina normally stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid. Estrogen helps maintain that fluid and keeps the vaginal lining healthy, elastic and thick. During menopause, however, the drop in estrogen levels reduces the amount of available moisture. The vagina then also becomes thinner and less elastic – this is now called vaginal atrophy. Other causes of vaginal dryness include:
- Cold and allergy medications, as well as certain antidepressants
- Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder that attacks cells that produce moisture)
- Lack of sufficient foreplay before sexual intercourse
Whatever the cause is, vaginal dryness causes extreme discomfort and it can even lead to burning, itching and painful sexual intercourse.
Prevention and Treatment
The treatment for vaginal dryness depends on the case. Some women who experience problems with vaginal lubrication due to hormonal changes might benefit from estrogen therapy according to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). In addition to estrogen-based therapies, there are other approaches that might bring relief especially from painful sex such as:
- Lubricants – According to ACOG, lubricants are usually used to make sex less uncomfortable instead of using long-term vaginal lubrication.
- Moisturizers – Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers can be effective in terms of minimizing vaginal dryness over a few days with just one application.
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, know that though it is frustrating, it is a common condition that can be alleviated. For all possible treatments and preventative measures, be sure to consult Dr. Fay Weisberg. She will provide you with different options that will be helpful to you.