Is a very common issue amongst all women at various times of their lives and almost universally present in all women in menopause.
Vaginal dryness arises due to numerous reasons including but not limited to hormonal changes during menopause. While it is an important reason for painful sexual intimacy and therefore decreased libido, it is important to go to the root cause and not assume its from hormones alone.
Allergy and cold medications containing antihistamines as well as asthma medications can have a drying effect inside the body and cause reduced vaginal lubrication as can some types of oral contraceptives. Some autoimmune conditions may also increase the incidence.
Chemical irritants are a common cause especially the more aromatic and perfumed ‘feminine washes’ which can be very drying. Never wash lingerie in bleach or use softeners. Be aware of what is placed or left in the vagina. Never leave tampons in for more than 4 hrs at a time. Certain lubricants or condoms may be the culprit.
Low libido or insufficient arousal can oftentimes cause dryness during sexual intimacy. Remember that arousal begins above the belly button, more specifically in the brain and is affected by how comfortable, safe or emotionally connected you feel.
Psychological and emotional factors like stress and anxiety can also interfere with sexual desire and lead to vaginal dryness when normal vaginal lubrication does not occur.
Hormonal levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, and one will even naturally have the most dryness pre-menstrually. Of course, certain periods like perimenopause and lactation can affect vaginal moisture. This is often referred as postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis or GSM (Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause). This is attributed to decreased levels of Estrogen that decrease the production of vaginal fluids.
How to Prevent and Treat Vaginal Dryness
Treatment for vaginal dryness depends on the cause. Women who experience problems with vaginal lubrication because of hormonal changes can often benefit from estrogen therapy, according to ACOG (The American College of OB-GYN). As always there are risks and benefits to Hormone replacement and this is an important discussion to have with your physician
In addition to estrogen-based therapies, other approaches that may bring relief, especially from painful sex, include lubricants and moisturizers.
Women who choose not to or cannot use Estrogen can benefit from the ‘game changing’ Monalisa Touch procedure currently offered at Total Womens Care.