Are you suffering from vaginal dryness? This can feel like an isolating and embarrassing condition, but you can rest assured that what you’re dealing with is common.
Vaginal dryness can affect anyone with a vagina, though it’s more common after or around menopause. If you’re confused as to why this is happening to you (or what you can do about it) we’re here to explain.
Keep reading to learn all about vaginal dryness so you can make an informed decision about your health.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
Your vagina is built to maintain moisture levels. It creates natural lubrication near the base of the womb to keep the vagina clean and healthy and allow for comfortable intercourse.
When you start having to deal with vaginal dryness, it’s easy to panic. It’s irritating, unfamiliar, and it likely isn’t something that you’ve discussed with your friends in the past.
There are several normal and well-known causes for vaginal dryness. If any of these seem familiar to you, consider seeing out a doctor for more information.
Hormones are the most common cause of vaginal dryness, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be going through menopause to experience it.
If you’ve recently changed birth control methods, you may have already found the culprit for your dryness. This is easily remedied by talking to your doctor about finding a method that’s better for you.
Certain other types of medication can also influence vaginal dryness. Allergy medications, cold medications, and even some psychiatric medications (like antidepressants) can affect how your body produces mucous.
You may also experience temporary vaginal dryness if you’re under a lot of stress or if you use harsh soaps. Remember, you should never use harsh or scented products near your vagina.
If you’re nearing the age where menopause is on the horizon, that may be the cause of your vaginal dryness.
Menopause throws all of your hormones out of whack. It makes sense that this would cause issues with dryness. As your estrogen levels decrease, your body goes through a lot of changes. You’ll have thinner skin (around your vagina and elsewhere) and you won’t produce enough mucous.
If you think that you’re too young to be going through menopause, this might be your first symptom of early or premature menopause. About 5% of women go through early menopause.
So how do you know if you’re dealing with vaginal dryness as a condition instead of a temporary state of being? It’s normal to be a bit “dry” when you’re not in a state of arousal, but there are a few indications that this could be a longer-term problem.
If your condition is hormonal, you may notice that the skin around your vagina and vulva is thinner and more susceptible to bruises, cuts, and tears. Because you’re no longer producing enough natural lubrication, you may tear more often than you otherwise would.
You may notice pain or discomfort during sex, even when that’s never been an issue in the past. In advanced cases, this pain could also happen while exercising, walking, using the restroom, or even wearing tight clothing. You may also experience pain while visiting your gynecologist.
You will still produce discharge if you’re dealing with vaginal dryness, but it will look different. It may be watery and thin or thicker and more solid than normal. This is due to the hormonal changes that your body is going through.
You may start feeling other hormonal effects as well, like irritability, hot flashes, or skin changes. While these aren’t symptoms of vaginal dryness per se, they are good things to look out for if you notice them in tandem with your dryness.
Believe it or not, you may also notice changes in the appearance of your vulva. The thinner skin may change the color or the thickness of your labia.
Once you determine that you’re dealing with vaginal dryness, there are a few things that you can do.
First, you may need to start using a vaginal lubricant. Many people who don’t experience vaginal dryness use lubricant during intercourse, but even if you’ve never needed to do so in the past, it may be time to start.
You should never be embarrassed about using lubricant. It’s a normal part of a healthy sex life.
For dryness that’s causing problems outside of the bedroom, you can also use topical vaginal moisturizers. You can use them several times per week and they last for several days per application.
You may also be able to get medication for your dryness. Some people take estrogen replacement or local estrogen to help with their condition (and the other problems that come alongside menopause or hormonal imbalances).
Talking to Your Doctor
We understand that it’s difficult to talk to a doctor about vaginal dryness, but you’re not alone. Your doctor has had other patients going through this same condition, and they want to work with you to find solutions.
Discuss your symptoms with your doctor to determine the cause of your vaginal dryness. Sometimes changing medications or certain lifestyle habits is enough to solve the problem if it isn’t hormonal.
If it is hormonal, your doctor can help you find the right solution.
Your Vaginal Dryness Is Manageable
Vaginal dryness is common, so you don’t have to be embarrassed when you take your concerns to your doctor. If these symptoms and causes sound familiar to you, it’s time to seek answers and treatment.
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