What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
Everything You Need to Know, Starting With “You’re Not Alone”
Dryness happens. There we said it. It happens to menopausal and perimenopausal women, but can happen (and usually does happen) to anyone else with a vagina. Historically, women have combated it in a plethora of ways, steaming and lubricating being just a few - legend has it that Cleopatra formulated her own blend of oils to deal with vaginal dryness, too.
Our point here is - it’s common! If you’re dry, chances are you know someone else who is too. Yet, most women don’t feel comfortable talking about being dry down there. After all, how is anyone supposed to bring up something like, “My vagina is itchy, dry, and downright uncomfortable” in casual conversation?
Symptoms of vaginal dryness
Changes in hormone production as we age can cause the vaginal walls to thin and produce less moisture. As a result of this lack of moisture, vaginal dryness can cause -
- Burning, itching, stinging and discomfort
- Pain or light bleeding during sex
- Recurring UTIs (urinary tract infections)
- Reduced elasticity of the vagina
- Decreased sexual desire
And with these symptoms, comes added mental strain. It might impact your self-confidence, for instance, or you might feel uncomfortable discussing this with your partner. These aren’t always easy things to talk about, but they’re important: Most women will be affected by dryness at some point in their lives.
We’ll discuss the mental impact of menopause in a later post. For now, we stress, for the umpteenth time - you are not alone.
Causes of vaginal dryness
The main cause of vaginal dryness is a drop in estrogen levels. This usually happens as we age, but the ending of menstruation (menopause) and the time leading up to it (perimenopause) aren’t the only causes of dryness.
Other causes include but aren’t limited to -
- Stress and anxiety
- Rigorous exercise
- Surgical removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy)
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy
Treating dryness down there
For years women around the world have sought various treatments to keep their lady bits supple. So there are several ways in which we can combat dryness down there today. For now, we’ll walk through the more common ones, but we’ll be sure to revisit this subject on the blog independently.
- Diet and lifestyle changes for feminine dryness - These can work significant improvements on vaginal dryness.
- To start with the obvious, giving up smoking (which decreases estrogen levels), and eliminating the use of douches and vaginal cleansers can help restore your vagina’s environment.
- Additionally, it might bode well to steer clear of endocrine disruptors such as non-organic genetically modified foods, alcohol, caffeine, pesticides, perfumed body care products, laundry detergents, xenoestrogens (compounds that mimic hormones in the body such as BPA).
- Sip red clover tea. Red clover is a plant that contains high amounts of phyto-estrogens known as isoflavones. It has been shown to help reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flushes.
- Eat foods rich in isoflavones such as soybeans, legumes, lentils and chickpeas, as well foods made from these such as textured vegetable protein, tofu and soya drinks.
- Increase your consumption of foods rich in lignans such as cereals, flax seeds and fruit.
- Alternative and natural remedies for menopause symptoms, including dryness - These include natural, oil based intimate moisturizers, products containing herbs such as wild yam, black cohosh, comfrey, and essential oils.
- Lubricants for dryness due to menopause - Today, there are a plethora of lubricants available to reduce dryness and discomfort and level out the vagina’s pH. Natural lubricants like coconut oil and vegetable oil are also great alternatives, though do note that they’re not compatible with latex condoms.
- Estrogen replacement therapy - In extreme cases, your healthcare provider may suggest estrogen therapy. Natural hormone replacement options do work for most women, though, so do ask your healthcare provider for as more information as to what suits your needs.
Vaginal dryness can be caused by a host of factors including hormonal changes, lifestyle and diet choices. It is a discomfort, but does not have to be a burden.
Have you ever dealt with dryness down there? Drop us a line and tell us how you coped. Go on. You can even choose to leave comments anonymously.