Every woman experiences vaginal dryness symptom while undergoing menopause transition. It happens, especially in older age women. Still, vaginal dryness can occur at any age which relates to different health problems.
The vagina wall stays moisturized by the thin layer of clear fluid. This clear fluid maintains by estrogens. Estrogens are female hormones, which maintain elasticity, the thickness of the vagina. The estrogen also keeps vagina lubricated. The reduced levels of estrogen cause vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness may not be a dangerous disease, but it may affect a woman during intercourse. The vaginal dryness creates discomfort and pain during intercourse. It can be treatable with various treatments.
Causes of Vaginal Dryness
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Women vagina has a thin moisture layer. This moisture produces an alkaline environment to help sperm to survive and travel into the uterus. The moisture secretion in vaginal wall helps to reduce friction during intercourse.
As a woman age increase, the vaginal wall starts to become thin due to the reduction in hormone production.
The thin vaginal wall has fewer cells to secrete moisture, which result in dryness. Hormonal change is the primary cause of vaginal dryness, but there are other health conditions too.
It is a collection of sex hormones which helps to develop female features in the fetus while a woman is pregnant. If a woman is not pregnant, then also ovaries produce estrogen hormones.
Estrogen hormones are important in the female secondary sexual features such as armpit hair, breast, pubic, reproductive system and menstrual cycle regulation.
During the menstrual cycle, estrogen hormones provide a suitable environment for implantation, fertilization, and nutrition for embryo in the initial stage.
The hormonal imbalance causes health problems and undesired physical appearance.
As the woman nearing menopause, the estrogen levels start to decline.
The maximum number of women approach menopause at the age of 45 to 55. It may occur at an early age or after 55 years of age. The common age of menopause is 51 years old. Every woman has unique health no one can predict the specific age or time of menopause.
In some cases, a woman may encounter mild to severe symptoms during menopause. Every woman gets distinctive symptoms, their severity level also varies.
Preceding to the menopause the estrogen hormone lubricates the vaginal wall with an adequate amount of mucous. The mucous lining is lightly acidic to prevent bacteria. As estrogen decreases, the moist also reduce in the vagina. It will cause a decrease in acid levels and vaginal health more sensitive. It will result in vaginal dryness and more likely to get bacterial infections.
According to experts, stress is a direct cause of vaginal dryness. It may happen due to dehydration. Excess anxiety leads to dehydration.
According to Nancy Lebowitz a gynecologist of New York City, during a stressful situation drinking more caffeine and less water can affect vaginal health. Excess caffeine consumption can dehydrate your body. Drinking 8 glasses of water every day helps to maintain moist in the vagina. Caffeine-free fluids can also beneficial.
Apart from stress, other emotional dilemmas such as depression, anxiety can cause arousal problem leads to vaginal dryness. Unsolved relationship difficulties also cause reduced vaginal moist while intercourse. You may also notice no desire for sex and loss of libido.
Several medicines have side effects of vaginal dryness. It causes through medications of anti-estrogen, cancer treatment, and menopause. Even the vaginal dryness happen, due to other disease medication. You may feel the pain, burning sensation, itchiness during the intercourse accompanied with vaginal dryness. Here are the medications to blame.
Vaginal dryness occurs when hormones fluctuate after taking birth control medications. Here are 2 medicines causes vaginal dryness.
- Lo Ovral
Birth control shot
These are similar to birth control pills. The birth control shots like Depo-Provera changes hormones and effect on vaginal fluids which result in dryness.
In some woman sedatives found to cause vaginal dryness. The healthcare provider may recommend sedatives for the conditions such as
- Halcion for insomnia
- Xanax for panic disorder and anxiety
- Ativan for seizures
Allergy and Cold Drugs
The allergy and cold medication have found a connection with vaginal dryness. It happens because this medication reduces moisture levels in the entire body.
Some women have found vaginal dryness from beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers. The calcium channel blocker stops calcium from entering in blood vessel walls and heart cell. This medication uses for regulating high blood pressure. As a result, these medications reduce the blood flow in the entire body including the vagina. This condition leads to sexual dysfunction and vaginal dryness.
Childbirth and breastfeeding
These are the most probable cause of the vaginal dryness. A woman should avoid vaginal sex after pregnancy until 6 weeks. Still, some women encounter pain during intercourse. Their stitches may take more time to improve because the vaginal part remains weak.
In some cases, surgical cuts to enlarge vaginal opening for easy childbirth may take time to heal. Some women get tumors or infection which causes pain.
Hormones change after pregnancy. When a woman breastfeeds, the testosterone and estrogen get suppress. This condition causes a moist problem. As a result, the vaginal wall becomes weak which causes vaginal dryness. You can treat this ailment with the help of creams and moisturizers.
In this disorder, the immune system attacks specific glands and tissues which produce moist in the body. It affects moisture gland which is as follows.
- Lacrimal glands which produce tears
- Salivary glands
- Mucus membranes of nose and vagina
The Sjogren’s syndrome also attacks gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidney, lungs, and blood vessels.
The activated immune cells damage the moist producing gland and lead to Sjogren’s disease. It makes moist gland week and unable to catch the brain signal to create saliva and tears.
Additionally, it damages the neurotransmitters which activate the tear canal and salivary glands. The dry eyes caused by Sjogren’s occur because of damage to the tiny gland behind eyes which prevent tears from drying.
Women who have Sjogren’s syndrome may get vaginal dryness. Vaginal moisture does not come from moisture glands. But it is the fluid came from the bloodstream from vaginal walls.
After removal of one ovary, a woman can produce estrogen with another ovary. She also gets menstrual cycles even after surgery. Both ovaries removal reduce estrogen level which called surgical menopause.
Woman with surgical menopause loses interest in sex. It happens due to the discomfort caused by vaginal dryness.
- Hormonal therapy
- Anastrozole (Arimidex)
- exemestane (Aromasin)
- Raloxifene (Evista)
- Toremifene (Fareston)
- Fulvestrant (Faslodex)
- Letrozole (Femara)
- Ovarian surgery
Smoking marijuana can cause extreme dryness in the vagina. Because smoking causes to reduces blood circulation, which increases vagina dryness.
Vaginal Dryness Symptoms
Certain health conditions including menopause cause the body’s tissue to lose its elasticity. It affects the genital area and urinary tract. Gradually, with increasing age, the urinary tract and vagina turn less flexible and moistness. This condition is more prone to get dryness and infections easily which shows the following symptoms.
During sexual intercourse, you may experience pain which is a symptom of vaginal dryness. Intercourse is an expression of attraction and affection. It is natural in every human being to relieve stress by stimulating emotionally and physically. It is more satisfying to express intimacy with your partner. The dryness caused by less moist lead to painful friction during sexual intercourse. It makes intercourse anti-aphrodisiac and impacts on libido.
Sex is an antidote for vaginal dryness. As a woman arouse her blood circulation increase in the entire body and stimulate vaginal tissue which helps moist secretion.
If you experience bleeding in non-menstrual days, then it is a sign of vaginal dryness. However, there might be other chronic health conditions also causes bleeding. Therefore, you need to check the more signs with bleeding.
Bleeding can occur during sex which can be a scary experience. When your vagina is dry, lack of enough moist tissues become thin. The intercourse friction irritates these tissues and cervix which result in bleeding in the vagina.
Vaginal itching is an uncomfortable symptom of vaginal dryness. Itching is a most distracting thing in normal life. Repeatedly itching to calm the itchiness may make it even worse condition. Vaginal itching can be short or long term sign of vaginal health problem and other diseases.
In some skin condition such as psoriasis and eczema also cause vaginal itching and redness.
Eczema is atopic dermatitis which occurs due to allergies or asthma.
Psoriasis is a scaly skin condition which has rashes on the vaginal wall.
Vaginal dryness may have symptoms of vaginal discharge. It occurs when there is some underlying condition or infection.
The vaginal discharge commonly has milky discharge to keep the vagina moist. It helps to prevent vagina good bacteria from germs. When a woman arouses, the moist gland releases additional fluid to provide a natural lubricant in the vagina. But frequent discharge and dryness may cause infection. The vaginal discharge color may range from white to yellow and brownish in severe conditions.
Burning sensation does not occur due to hormonal changes but causes vaginal dryness. Whether it’s because of menopause, pregnancy or birth control pills, some women get burning sensation due to dryness.
Vaginal dryness may cause several urinary problems. It happens because of weakness around bladder tissue of the urethra. You may get symptoms like urinary incontinence, repeated urinary infections, urgency sensation.
Diagnosing Vaginal Dryness
To diagnose the doctor will perform the pelvic test and study your previous or current health conditions. Even your doctor will ask about the menstrual changes you get and other vaginal symptoms.
During pelvic analysis, the doctor can find the vaginal walls conditions and other causes of discomfort. The doctor needs to find every detail such as infections, rashes, cyst, and redness. It will help to determine the cause and treatment. Your doctor will collect vaginal discharge and sample cells to test the disease.
You have to explain every detail about your health, symptoms, and lifestyle. It will help for proper diagnosis.
Talking about vaginal health can be awkward. But, the specialist gynecologist has this sort of discussion with patients. Even you can discuss with a female doctor. It is necessary to seek medical help to manage the vaginal dryness.
Treatment for vaginal dryness
There are various alternatives available for the treatment of vaginal dryness.
The doctor may prescribe topical estrogen cream for vaginal dryness caused by low levels of estrogen. You can use the cream directly on the infected area in the vagina.
Estrogen cream is less effective as compared to estrogen pills. These medicines are harmless to consume.
Topical estrogen treatment
It is a flexible ring which has to insert into the vagina. The ring will constantly release an adequate amount of estrogen into the dry tissues. It requires a change every 3 weeks.
Estrace or Premarin
It is an estrogen cream which applied into the vagina. According to research, this cream is effective and more tolerable. It is the best treatment for vaginal dryness and atrophy as compared to placebo.
It is a vaginal tablet, which you need to insert into the vagina. It will add the lost estrogen due to menopause. There are many kinds of estrogen uses in Vagifem. Vagifem 10 mcg is the lowest dose available in the market. These medicines should take under the medical expert guidance and keep monitoring the changes.
Vaginal dryness treatment can have different kinds of over-the-counter lubricants.
The doctor suggests using lubricants during intercourse to enhance moisture to stop the pain. Your doctor may recommend lubricants which are water-based because of oil-based ointment causes irritation.
Using moisturizer can help to restore vaginal moisture. Discuss with your doctor before applying any vaginal cream.
Additional vaginal dryness care remedies
Soy is another therapy to relieve vaginal dryness, as it contains isoflavones which act like estrogen. You can eat food rich in soy such as soy milk, tofu, and whole soybeans.
Avoid discomforting underwear
Synthetic underwear and clingy styles rub harshly against the vagina. It can be painful and discomforting. The underwear which blocks air causes to increase vaginal dryness. Wear breathable clothes so that vagina can also breathe.
Choose your bathing product wisely
Some washing products can be vaginal douching. These washing products disturb the vaginal membranes and cause infections.
The vagina can clean itself naturally after menstruation or intercourse. Washing product made with harsh chemical irritates the natural cleaning functions. It will increase pain and vaginal dryness. Therefore take extra care of the vagina without harsh washing products.
Having regular intercourse can increase the blood flow to the vagina. It helps to maintain vaginal moisture on a regular basis and prevent dryness.
Treating vaginal dryness in initial days can be better to prevent infections. You can avoid growing multiple diseases such as vaginal infection and urinary problems at the same time. Save yourself from the worse condition by taking good care of yourself with your doctor advice.