There are many reasons why you might experience the discomfort of vaginal dryness. Aging, hormone fluctuations, and pregnancy are just a handful of reasons why you might have a significant decrease in vaginal lubrication. If you’re experiencing a particular set of symptoms, you should talk to your doctor and see exactly why you’re experiencing such discomfort.
Tell Me About Vaginal Dryness
Normally, your vagina is coated in a thin layer of mucus. This mucus keeps the pH balance of your vaginal canal normal and helps prevent infection by shuttling out bacteria and viruses with the mucus. Estrogen is responsible for maintaining this layer of fluid and the fluid is what keeps your vagina elastic and healthy.
When estrogen levels drop around menopause, the moisture in the vagina drops, decreasing elasticity and thinning the vaginal walls (known as vaginal atrophy). Menopause isn’t the only cause of dropping estrogen levels, however. Childbirth, breastfeeding, a hysterectomy, and anti-estrogen medications are all responsible for drops in estrogen levels. Cigarettes are also a leading cause; if you quit smoking, oftentimes the dryness will resolve itself.
Other causes of vaginal dryness can be caused by certain medications like antidepressants or allergy and cold medications. Douching can also throw off the vagina’s ability to naturally produce lubrication by stripping it of its natural chemical balance and leading to vaginitis (inflammation). You can often regain lubrication by stopping douching and allowing the natural balance of the vagina to resume. Autoimmune disorders will also throw off the vaginal lubrication if the disorder causes the immune system to attack cells that provide moisture in the body.
What Does Vaginal Dryness Feel Like?
There’s no way around it: this is uncomfortable. You might notice itching and stinging around the opening of the vagina and/or the lower portion of the vagina. Other symptoms can include soreness, burning, an increased frequency to urinate, and recurrent urinary tract infections. The most common complaint of women with vaginal dryness is painful intercourse. Sex can cause extreme burning and even bleeding during or after intercourse.
If your dryness isn’t that severe, it’s possible to treat this at home. The first step is to use a lubricant like Astroglide. Make sure it doesn’t contain glycerin as that can contribute to dryness. The lubricant will keep your vagina lubricated for several hours and can eliminate discomfort.
There are also moisturizers available that can relieve dryness for up to three days with a single application.
Avoid douching products at all costs, as well as bubble baths and bath oils. A good rule of thumb is if it’s scented, it shouldn’t come in contact with your vagina.
There are foods that are rich in phytoestrogens, a natural plant-derived type of estrogen. Some research has shown that phytoestrogens can improve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Foods that contain phytoestrogen include soy products, flaxseed, nuts, apples, and legumes.
Vitamin E taken orally can help lubricate the vagina, and can be taken successfully in capsule form or via foods high in the vitamin like avocados and vegetable oils. Fish like salmon, mackarel, herring, and tuna are all full of healthy oils that allow for healthy vaginal walls.
If you’ve fallen victim to a dry vagina, you don’t have to jump to hormone therapy to treat it. There are natural ways to regain natural lubrication and restore your quality of life to what it was before. Don’t let vaginal dryness control your life and ruin your physical intimacy with your significant other. Thanks to modern medicine, you can treat this condition as naturally as possible.
- Foods That Improve Your Vaginal Health (Re-posted)