Vaginal Dryness — When does it happen, why is it important and what can I do about it?
- By Dr Emma Boulton
- ● 20 Aug 2018
Vaginal dryness can occur at any age to any woman and can cause irritation and pain during sexual intercourse if left untreated. Vaginal Atrophy contributes to urogenital symptoms in the perimenopausal years, such as painful urination and other related problems including urinary tract infection.
Common reasons for vaginal dryness include childbirth, breastfeeding, menstrual cycle variation, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, removal of the ovaries, use of anti-estrogen medications such as tamoxifen, allergy and cold medications, certain antidepressants, immune disorders, the use of deodorants, sprays, lotions and powders around the genital area, douching and the lack of foreplay prior to sexual intercourse.
Vaginal dryness is also typically a symptom associated with the menopause. During menopause, oestrogen production begins to slow down and will eventually stop. But as the levels begin to fall, this often causes changes within the body, vaginal dryness being one of them.
When oestrogen levels in a woman’s body drop, the thin moisture layer that keeps the vaginal walls lubricated, healthy and flexible can be affected. If the moist protective layer is disrupted, it can cause the vaginal walls to thin, become dry and less flexible, making it more prone to irritation, bleeding and urinary tract infection.
It is important to address vaginal dryness, as the area can easily become irritated, inflamed and painful, particularly during sexual intercourse.
There are some things that you can do to help ease vaginal dryness:
- Using a good quality water based lubricant during sexual intercourse
- Take time to foreplay before sexual intercourse to ensure that you are fully aroused.
- Wearing cotton underwear
- Using fragrance-free and soap-free body wash will help reduce irritation
However, if the problem continues or worsens, it is important to see your GP or a doctor at Clinic 66 to identify what could be causing the vaginal dryness and discuss treatment options.
During the consultation the doctor will likely perform a pelvic examination. If your doctor believes that you have related urinary tracts symptoms, you’ll likely need to provide a urine sample.
The doctor will discuss with you the best treatment options to suit you. These may include the use of creams, lubricants, pessaries, oestrogen tablets and /or patches, and for the more serious cases, may suggest you consider the MonaLisa Touch Laser treatment.
We have found that many women are reluctant to discuss vaginal dryness with their doctor, and opt to simply suffer in silence. What they don’t know is that vaginal dryness is a very common problem and a natural part of the aging process. It is important to properly acknowledge the problem, as there are many treatment options available.
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