Vaginal dryness is a common indication that can be experienced by women who are going through menopause transition and likely to continue for many years after. However, due to several reasons, vaginal dryness can happen at any stage of life.
The decreasing level of estrogen causes vaginal dryness. Estrogen is a hormone present in the female body that keeps the inside layers of vagina thick, lubricated, and elastic.
For some people, it is not a big deal lacking vaginal moisture in the body, but it has a considerable impact on the sex life of women by causing discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse. Luckily, there are various treatments available, which can relieve you from the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
Vaginal Dryness Causes
Vaginal dryness is most often occurs when there is a drop in the level of estrogen. When the levels of estrogen start to fall, that means women are getting closer to their menopause.
The ovaries do the production of estrogen; it controls the development of characteristics in the female body, such as body shape and breasts. Estrogen also plays an essential role in the pregnancy, and menstrual cycle as estrogen hormone keeps the tissues line of the vagina moisturized, healthy, and thick.
Apart from menopause, estrogen also can decrease from other several reasons such as:
- Breastfeeding and childbirth
- Cancer treatments include radiation and chemotherapy.
- When the ovaries are surgically removed for a particular reason is known as “surgical menopause.”
- Anti-estrogen medical drugs are used for endometriosis or breast cancer, such as Zoladex or Lupron.
Some other reasons for vaginal dryness:
- Antidepressants: some of these antidepressants come with several sexual side effects, like decreased libido, vaginal dryness, and problem in achieving orgasm.
- Antihistamines: diphenhydramine is used for allergy and cold symptoms that can dry up urine secretions. Side effects of such drugs are a problem in urinating and vaginal dryness.
- Sjogren’s Syndrome: This compound autoimmune disorder includes inflammation of tear and salivary glands. The inner layer tissues of the vagina can also get inflamed, which can result in vaginal dryness.
Women who consume drugs and smoke can go through menopause earlier than other women who do not, and so vaginal dryness may start in an earlier stage of life.
Symptoms Vaginal Dryness
Other common symptoms connected with vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy are vaginal irritation, burning, and itching. These vaginal make it more prone to infections.
As discussed above, the lowered level of estrogen while vaginal perimenopause decreases the quantity of natural vaginal secretions.
Dropping levels of estrogen hormone can cause narrowing down the vaginal itself and tightening of the vaginal opening. Pain, while having sexual intercourse, is connected with these changes, which is known as dyspareunia.
Several more symptoms that a woman in its perimenopausal period may experience:
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Mood changes
- Urinary symptoms
- Memory problems
Vaginal Dryness Diagnosis
If you experience some changes in your vagina that affects its health, then you need to see a doctor, these changes include the following symptoms:
- Intercourse pain
The doctor will carefully examine your pelvic region and take a detailed health history regarding menstrual changes and vaginal symptoms.
Examining your pelvic will help the doctor to check for changes that occur in the vaginal walls and find out the different causes for discomfort like an infection. They may also collect some samples of vaginal discharge or cells to test for the disease.
Although there is no single test to diagnose vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy, the doctor will take the help of diagnosing symptoms.
It might be uncomfortable and embarrassing to talk about your details, but all the doctors are used to have these kinds of conversations. People need to get help so that they can control their symptoms.
Vaginal Dryness Treatments
There are plenty of types of treatment available for vaginal dryness. A doctor may prescribe some and others you can get over the counter.
Topical estrogen cream
Typical therapy for vaginal dryness is tropical estrogen therapy. In this to get relief from symptoms, medications are applied straight to vaginal walls. This method is considered less risky, which absorbs less estrogen than estrogen pills. Such tropical estrogen therapies include:
- Vaginal Ring: a flexible ring inserted in the vagina that releases a low quantity of estrogen in tissues, and it is replaced after every 90 days.
- Vaginal Cream: Research proves that estrogen cream is a well-tolerated and effective treatment for vaginal dryness and atrophy as compared to other treatments.
- Vaginal Tablet: in this a tablet, it is placed in your vagina with the help of an applicator.
Women with a history of breastfeeding, pregnancy, or breast cancer should discuss with their doctor to consider the safety of estrogen therapy.
These treatments can also help with vaginal dryness like using water-based lubricants rather than oil-based while having sex, which will make it less painful. Moreover, vaginal moisturizers can be used to maintain the natural moisture of the vagina. The couple can use these water-based lubricants every day while having sexual intercourse.
When To See Your Doctor?
It is suggested that as soon as you notice any changes in your vagina walls or detect bleeding and feel pain after any sexual intercourse for few days, then you need to see your doctor for vaginal infection immediately. If these left untreated, vaginal dryness can cause cracking and soreness in the tissues of the vagina.
Moreover, the doctor will examine your vaginal wall for thinning skin. They may also take several samples of vaginal discharge to detect the presence of any infectious bacteria. Also, a hormone test can assess if you are in menopause or perimenopause.
Vaginal dryness can result in discomfort and pain in your pelvic and vaginal regions. Although vaginal dryness can be treated with several treatments and if the problem persists for several days, you need to discuss it with your doctor and find the right treatment.