Vaginal dryness is the condition in which women experience painful sensations during sex because of the lack of lubrication. This condition is more common for women in perimenopause, menopause, or during breastfeeding. Despite the fact that vaginal dryness can be easily treated, it can manifest a serious underlying condition. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness causes
Estrogen is a hormone that regulates lubrication. If a woman has low estrogen levels, it may result in vaginal dryness. The main factors that contribute to the development of this condition include childbirth, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and menopause. However, there are other factors that can cause this condition or exacerbate the consequences of lowered estrogen levels:
- Taking certain medications
- The use of perfumed soaps
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Ovarian or uterine diseases
- Uterus or ovaries removal
Symptoms of vaginal dryness
You may think that vaginal dryness has only one symptom but this is not true. However, dryness can be also accompanied by irritation, discomfort, itching, and burning. If you suffer from vaginal dryness, you can also experience pain and bleeding during sex. All these symptoms usually occur during or after sex but they can also develop without any triggers.
You should also know that such conditions as sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, and inflammations can aggravate vaginal dryness. This means that in addition to the main symptoms, you may experience frequent urination, abnormal vaginal discharge, and an unpleasant odor.
OTC treatment options
There are several over-the-counter treatment options that relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness. If your vaginal dryness occurs only during sexual intercourse, you can try topical remedies. However, if you regularly experience symptoms of vaginal dryness, you can continue to use these products. The most common OTC treatment options include:
1. Vaginal moisturizers
Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers are available in the form of a vaginal suppository. They can be used before intercourse in order to increase lubrication. Their effect usually lasts for a few hours. This means that you can use it every day. However, it is better to consult with your gynecologist before use.
2. Vaginal lubricants
Vaginal lubricants can be used to make sex more comfortable if you suffer from vaginal dryness. There are a few kings of lubricant but it is better to use a water-based lubricant. If you use a condom, you can also choose a silicone-based lubricant. Moreover, it is better to avoid petroleum-based products and oils for lubrication because they can create a favorable environment for infection and damage the condom.
Prescription treatment options
If your vaginal dryness is caused by perimenopause or menopause, you can ask your gynecologist about prescription treatment options. Despite the fact that vaginal estrogens can help get rid of vaginal dryness, they have a lot of contradictions. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a risk of cancer, or vaginal bleeding, it is better to avoid estrogen intake. The most common prescription treatment options include:
1. Vaginal rings
A vaginal ring is usually inserted into your vagina by you or your doctor. It helps to cope with vaginal dryness for approximately three months.
2. Vaginal tablets
A vaginal tablet can be placed into your vagina with the help of a special applicator. You should use these tablets daily for two weeks for the most effective treatment.
3. Oral pills
Oral pills are the most commonly prescribed treatment option for vaginal dryness. Ask your gynecologist bout the most appropriate pills for you and strictly follow the recommendations.
Non-estrogen treatment options
Despite the fact that non-estrogen medications don’t treat the cause of vaginal dryness, they can significantly reduce symptoms. They can be used by women that can’t take medications that contain estrogen. The most common non-estrogen treatment options include:
Ospemifene is usually used in the form of pills to eliminate pain during sex in women in menopause or postmenopause. Ospemifene adheres to estrogen receptors and reduce the fragility of vaginal tissue.
Dehydroepiandrosterone is a steroid hormone that is used in the form of oral pills to treat symptoms of menopause. It can also be used in the form of a vaginal insertion to treat thinning of vaginal tissue.