What Causes a Dry Vagina?
There are numerous reasons why you may be suffering from vaginal dryness. This is a very common symptom among women going through menopause. Additionally, certain medications including hormonal birth control pills can cause a reduction in vaginal lubrication. Luckily, there are many home remedies for vaginal dryness that you can use so you don’t have to resort to chemical or synthetic products available in the pharmacy.
Many women find that declining oestrogen levels around menopause and the resultant long-term hormonal shifts create a change in the way they age. A decline in the hormones which sustain the female reproductive organs and sex characteristics (as well as the cardiovascular, skeletal, and endocrine systems) will result in parallel alterations to overall health.
Oestrogen & vaginal health
Oestrogen specifically supports the health of the vaginal tissues (secretions, elasticity and thickness), so a decrease in this hormone can result in irritation and thinning of the vaginal lining. The thinning and drying of the vaginal tissues also create an environment susceptible to vaginal infections and give rise to problems associated with difficult sexual intercourse.
Vaginal moisture is mainly produced by the cervix and is slightly acidic in order to fight infections such as thrush. When women have sex, two glands (called Bartholin’s glands) produce extra moisture to provide good lubrication during intercourse.
However, lack of vaginal moisture during sex can become a problem. There are a number of reasons for this:
- lack of foreplay
- not feeling aroused
- relationship problems
- feelings of guilt or worrying about becoming pregnant
- low oestrogen levels as a result of breastfeeding
Many women experience vaginal dryness after menopause due to the lack of oestrogen in their bodies. As a result, the vagina loses elasticity and the lining becomes thinner and dryer. Further irritation can also occur as the vagina becomes less acidic and loses some of the bacteria used to fight infections. Certain medications, such as allergy treatments and antidepressants, can also dry the vagina and vaginal tissues. Premenopausal women who’ve had their ovaries removed during a hysterectomy may also have a dry vagina as a result of hormone loss.
Symptoms of a dry vagina
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Vaginal bleeding (due to increased tissue fragility)
- Alkaline vaginal pH (which increases the incidence of vaginal infections),
- Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
- Tissue atrophy of the urinary system (linked to urinary frequency, incontinence, post-voiding dribble, and non-bacterial urethritis)
- Pain or bleeding after sexual intercourse
How can you treat a dry vagina?
The following are some general recommendations to relieve vaginal dryness:
Herbs in the forms of oils or salves can be applied directly to the vaginal tissues to soothe and heal irritation. Choose herbs such as Calendula and Comfrey combined with pure Vitamin E oil and not synthetic or mineral-based lotions or creams.
Some women find that a Vitamin E capsule inserted into the vagina at night helps to relieve itching and irritation of the vaginal lining. The capsule will dissolve with the heat of the body and the oil will lubricate the lining.
Avoid wearing synthetic underwear. Choose natural fibres such as cotton and silk as these will reduce sweating and irritation in the genital area.
To protect vaginal tissues, avoid anything that irritates the mucous membranes such as harsh soaps, bubble baths, douches and feminine hygiene sprays. Also, refrain from using harsh laundry detergents when washing your underwear.
Avoid using antihistamines and diuretics as these further deplete the body and tissues of fluids.
- Ensure that you are adequately hydrated to flush out wastes and keep the tissues moisturised.
If you require extra lubrication during sexual intercourse, you can purchase a natural lubricant such as pawpaw cream. Always go over the ingredients and don’t purchase mineral-based lubricants.
- Your feminine hygiene products may be the culprit to vaginal dryness. Many of the products available have dyes, fragrances, petroleum and other ingredients that can cause the delicate vaginal tissues to dry out. Remove anything from your shower routine that you think may be contributing to this issue.
A dry vagina is a symptom of decreasing oestrogen levels as a woman reaches perimenopause. However, it isn’t an issue that you need to endure or live with. A few changes to your daily routine will tackle the problem so that you can maintain a healthy vagina and continue to experience a satisfying sex life.