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What Causes (and Helps with) Vaginal Dryness? An OB-GYN Shares All

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Here, an OB-GYN particulars the causes of vaginal dryness. Plus: what to do to keep up a wholesome vaginal setting with sufficient moisture and lubrication.

We’ve beforehand investigated if vaginal discharge is regular. Spoiler alert: In most instances, relaxation assured that it’s completely wholesome. Yet on the flip aspect, there’s one other facet of gynecological well being you might be involved about sooner or later in your grownup life: vaginal dryness.

To perceive the causes of vaginal dryness, what helps to revive moisture, and extra, we consulted board-certified OB-GYN Cynthia Abraham, MD, FACOG, of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

The Purpose of Vaginal Moisture

Before we delve into the causes of vaginal dryness, it’s necessary to know why vaginal lubrication is necessary to start with.

Dr. Abraham shares {that a} moist vaginal setting helps keep away from:

  • irritation
  • burning
  • irritation
  • painful intercourse
  • urinary tract points

Naturally, ongoing vaginal dryness could result in or exacerbate these considerations.

Postmenopausal women sitting in discomfort on stoop

What does vaginal dryness really feel like?

If your vagina could be very dry, you most likely know (and really feel) it already, particularly in gentle of the signs outlined above.

Additionally, you might discover discomfort amidst common actions, together with:

  • sitting
  • standing
  • exercising

Plus, Dr. Abraham provides that the vagina turns into thinner and extra infected when dry.

How widespread is vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness impacts over half of postmenopausal girls of their 50s. However, whereas vaginal dryness is most frequently related to the levels of menopause, it definitely isn’t restricted to them.

In reality, in keeping with the identical report cited above, an estimated 17 p.c of girls ages 18 to 50 expertise vaginal dryness throughout intercourse.

When it involves intercourse and intimacy, vaginal dryness can turn into better signs and points. Not solely can or not it’s painful, however in keeping with a 2018 examine, it might additionally contribute to:

  • low sexual need + issue reaching orgasm for each men and women
  • issue sustaining an erection for males

In sum, vaginal dryness can hinder sexual satisfaction and intimacy between companions. As a end result, it could additionally negatively impression shallowness.

Couple whose sex life is in trouble due to vaginal dryness

3 Causes of Vaginal Dryness

So what causes vaginal dryness to start with? Let’s take a more in-depth take a look at the first causes.

1. Low Estrogen

As you might have gathered by now, a hormonal imbalance—of estrogen specifically—is the basis reason for vaginal dryness.

“Estrogen is a hormone released by the ovaries that helps maintain vaginal lubrication, elasticity, and thickness,” Dr. Abraham explains. Needless to say, low estrogen ranges hinder the vagina’s pure skill to self-lubricate, thus inflicting dryness and discomfort.

Again, whereas low estrogen ranges are typical after menopause, there are different causes behind these hormone dips.

“Low estrogen levels can also occur after childbirth and with breastfeeding,” Dr. Abraham shares, in addition to following medical procedures and sure hormonal remedies.

2. Vaginal Microbiome Imbalances

As a fast refresher, the vaginal microbiome consists of fine micro organism and different organisms. It retains the vaginal wall wholesome by secreting enzymes by breaking down dangerous micro organism.

When this microbiome is compromised, vaginal dryness could end result. According to a 2014 examine, low ranges of Lactobacillus strains particularly are related to the phenomenon.

3. Dehydration

You probably understand how necessary hydration is on your well being and total sense of well-being. But can dehydration trigger vaginal dryness?

You could also be stunned to be taught that insufficient hydration is, in truth, a possible instigator of vaginal dryness. Dehydration could disrupt your vaginal pH and result in yeast imbalances, which may pose points (resembling itching) along with dryness.

Additional Causes of Vaginal Dryness

Lastly, Dr. Abraham says that different causes embody:

  • taking drugs for psychological well being or chilly/allergy symptoms
  • medical situations that trigger different manifestations of dryness within the physique

Menopausal woman sitting outside hydrating to help with vaginal dryness

What to Do for Vaginal Dryness

If you expertise discomfort from vaginal dryness, know that non-invasive options exist. Before resorting to hormonal therapies and medicines, take into account testing the next choices.

  • Try out OTC vaginal moisturizers. Dr. Abraham explains that these non-hormonal topical options are “formulated to allow the vagina to retain moisture more effectively.” You’ll sometimes apply them about 3 times weekly.
  • Don’t use hand or physique lotions within the vagina. She continues to say that they’ll trigger further irritation.
  • Use the proper lubricants for intercourse. “You can apply silicone-based vaginal lubricants in the vagina just before having intercourse to reduce friction and drying,” Dr. Abraham says. If you like pure lubricants, she suggests choosing olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. However, they could scale back the efficacy of condoms, so that they’re finest utilized in tandem with one other type of contraception if that’s a priority. Additionally, she says that oil-based lubricants (resembling petroleum jelly and child oil) pose an identical danger and might also trigger irritation.
  • Take a high-quality probiotic for vaginal well being. HUM’s Private Party accommodates three strains of Lactobacilli that present medical efficacy in balancing the vaginal microbiome. Bonus: It additionally packs cranberry PACs to assist urinary tract operate.
  • Drink extra water. This remaining tip simply often is the best factor to do for vaginal dryness. Better but, hydrating extra usually will profit numerous different points of wellness and vitality. Luckily, hydrating meals (like watermelon and cucumbers), in addition to carbonated water, can rely in the direction of your day by day hydration quota.

Final Thoughts

While it’s uncomfortable to expertise (and typically even to debate), vaginal dryness is sort of widespread not solely surrounding menopause but in addition earlier in grownup life.

However, when you get a greater sense of what’s inflicting your vaginal dryness, you’ll have a greater likelihood of understanding what to do and use to cut back irritation and overlapping signs.

If these pure choices don’t work in addition to you’d like, Dr. Abraham says it could be time to go to your OB-GYN for hormonal remedies, “especially if there are urinary symptoms or hot flashes” in postmenopausal girls.

Above all, should you really feel one thing, say one thing. “Women should never hesitate to ask their doctor for advice,” Dr. Abraham concludes.