A lot of married and soon to be married women often worry about vaginal dryness, which is affects almost 10% of the female population, and is a great hindrance in intercourse. Vaginal dryness also indirectly affects couples, who experience frustration due to a lack of sexual activity. This article is going to enlist the causes behind vaginal dryness and also the treatments that can be put to use in such cases.
Generally, there is a dainty layer of clear fluid that keeps the walls of a woman’s vagina lubricated. This clear fluid is maintained by a hormone named oestrogen in our body and helps the lining of a woman’s vagina stay elastic, thick and healthy.
Vaginal dryness is mostly experienced by women during menopause, when the amount of moisture available reduces due to the drop in estrogen levels.
The levels of estrogen can also drop because of:
- Breastfeeding and childbirth
- Endometriosis medications which are anti-estrogen.
- Surgical removal of the ovaries
- Cancer treatment – Chemotherapy or Radiation
In addition to these reasons, other causes of vaginal dryness include:
- Absence of required foreplay before sex
- Vaginal Douching
- Cold and allergy medications
- Disorder that attacks the body cells which produce moisture – Sjogren Syndrome
Vaginal dryness causes burning, itching and also leads to painful sexual intercourse which, can often be exceedingly uncomfortable.
The first step after recognizing that you have a problem of vaginal dryness is talking to your gynecologist, who would inform you about the appropriate treatment plan directed towards the source of your problem.
Generally, topical estrogen therapy is the most common treatment method for vaginal dryness that occurs because of the dropping of estrogen levels in the body. This topical therapy helps in replacing all the hormones that your body is no longer able to produce naturally.
The downside is that it does not put as much estrogen in the blood vessels of your body as Oral Oestrogen Hormone consumption does.
Commonly a large majority of women make use of the following three types of Vaginal oestrogen:
- Estring, which is a type of Vaginal oestrogen ring: This stretchy soft ring is inserted into the vagina of the woman dealing with the issue of vaginal dryness by the doctor or the woman herself. The purpose of these rings is to direct the oestrogen into the vaginal tissues, and it does exactly the same when a steady stream of oestrogen is released in the body. Doctors advise changing the ring after every three months for better functioning.
- Vagifem – Vaginal Oestrogen tablet: In this method, a tablet is inserted into your vagina once every day with the help of a disposable applicator. This treatment is usually undertaken for the first two weeks. The process is later undertaken twice every week until the problem is wholly dealt with. This is the most common method of treatment of Vaginal dryness.
- Estrace, Premarin or V Wash which are the types of Vaginal Oestrogen cream: These creams are applied inside your vagina by making use of the applicator provided. Generally, it is recommended to apply the cream every day for one to two weeks and then later on, the frequency of applying the cream can be reduced to one or three weeks.
Although such oestrogen providing products are of great help, but in some case, they can even cause side effects, such as breast pain and vaginal bleeding, which can worsen your condition even more. Hence, a lot of times these oestrogen products are not recommended to women who:
- Are pregnant or are still breastfeeding their child
- Have a history of vaginal bleeding
- Have a history of cancer, specifically endometrial cancer
- Are taking an aromatase inhibitor because of breast cancer
Though doctors believe these oestrogen products are safe for long term use, there has never been much research in the field of long term use of oestrogen.
Other approaches in addition to oestrogen based therapies include:
There is a wide variety of lubricants available in the market to help you get relief from painful sex due to vaginal dryness. Some are water- based such as Astroglide, V Wash and some are oil or silicone based products. This helps in the long term lubrication of the vagina which makes sexual intercourse more comforting.
V Wash use is particularly recommended by doctors worldwide and can be bought from any local supermarket or drugstore.
Vaginal dryness is a frustrating occurrence, but very common, and can be dealt with easily by these treatments that can ease your problems and help you enjoy a great sex life!