Vaginal dryness is a common problem experienced by one in three women, particularly those who are going through menopause or who have symptoms of early menopause. Natural lubrication is maintained by estrogen, the female sex hormones. When estrogen levels drop, you are more prone to vaginal dryness.
Normally, the glands in the cervix produce a natural lubricant that keeps the vagina moist. This natural lubricant goes down the vaginal canal, helps maintain a clean and healthy environment. A small amount of whitish secretions is a positive sign: your vagina is naturally well lubricated and keeps itself clean.
The term menopause refers to the time when a woman stops ovulating and therefore stops having menstruation, making pregnancy impossible. In Italy, the average age at which women enter menopause is 51, but some may enter at a lower or higher age. Menopause begins when estrogen levels naturally drop. Estrogen usually regulates menstruation, which is why it disappears when you reach menopause. With less estrogen in the body, the vaginal walls become thinner and the cervix produces less lubricant. So it’s completely natural for your body to change and for you to feel vaginal dryness.
If you don’t have menopause symptoms, vaginal dryness can occur because:
- During foreplay or intercourse, you are not sexually stimulated
- You use scented products in or around the vagina, including regular soaps or body cleansers
- Take antidepressants or other medications
- Take the birth control pill
- You are breastfeeding and your estrogen levels are low
- You had a hysterectomy
- You underwent chemotherapy
If you plan to go to your doctor to discuss vaginal dryness, think about the incident factors described above and whether they are relevant to your situation so that your doctor can best help you by knowing your clinical case.
Most people experience symptoms such as:
- Burning, cramping, or pain in the vagina or lower part
- Itching, burning, or pain at the entrance to the vagina (vulva)
- Pain during sexual intercourse, sometimes accompanied by slight bleeding
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Frequent need or urgent need to urinate
When to see your doctor
If vaginal dryness is interfering with your lifestyle, relationships, or sex life, talk to your doctor about your symptoms so you have the right treatment – vaginal dryness shouldn’t get in the way of your life at any age.
How can the problems caused by vaginal dryness be alleviated
Treatments for vaginal dryness depend on your situation so it’s good to talk to your doctor to discuss options when this condition is interfering with your lifestyle, relationships, or sex life.
If you prefer, you can buy products specially formulated to relieve the discomfort caused by vaginal dryness, you can feel comfortable again in everyday life. Their regular use can help moisturize and lubricate the vagina, even during sexual intercourse.
The prevention of vaginal dryness
If you often suffer from vaginal dryness there are some precautions you can take. Follow the tips below to feel comfortable in everyday life and also during sexual intercourse.
Important tips to avoid vaginal dryness:
- Avoid using deodorants and scented products in or around your private parts
- During intercourse, extend foreplay so that your body has more time to produce its natural lubricant
- Use a lubricant during sexual intercourse
- Ask your doctor about estrogen treatments
- Ask your doctor about hormone replacement therapy