What is vaginal dryness and what are the causes?
Vaginal dryness is a topic no woman likes to talk about. A dry vagina is often caused by a low level of estrogen
- during the menopause
- whilst breastfeeding or
- after having had ovaries removed
But vaginal dryness can also have other causes, such as
- Bodily causes, for example
- Infections, such as vaginal fungi or bladder infections
- Hormonal imbalances
- Various illnesses
- Psychological and psychosocial causes, for example
- Relationship problems
- A lack of libido
- Excessive hygiene
- Medication, such as the pill
Typical symptoms for vaginal dryness are
- Pain during intercourse
- A burning and itching sensation in the genital area
- Burning feeling during urination
- light bleeding after intercourse
The cervix and the vaginal mucosa usually have a milky discharge. This keeps the vagina moist and also protects it from germs. If a woman is sexually aroused, blood vessels and glands discharge additional fluids, which serve as a natural lubricant during intercourse.
In the long-term, a dry vagina can lead to the vaginal walls becoming porose and more prone to injury. There is an increased risk of infections, either through fungi or bacteria, and furthermore, there is an increased risk of bladder infections. Vaginal dryness may also lead to relationship problems: the woman may find intercourse uncomfortable, as the insertion of the penis into a dry vagina may be painful.
How is vaginal dryness diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a dry vagina is similar to a normal gynecological check-up through your gynecologist. It is important to discuss the symptoms in detail, if the woman feels comfortable talking about her problems. This makes it easier to evaluate the causes of the vaginal dryness and the possible background.
The physical check-up looks as at possible organic causes for the vaginal dryness, such as
- Vaginal infections
- Operational side effects
Ultrasound checks, swabs and a scan of the abdomen will deliver some clues as regards to a diagnosis.
Tips in case of vaginal dryness and itching
It is important to have regular gynecological checkups with your gynecologist. Next to treating possible causes, a balanced nutrition and sufficient movement can also have an impact on your libido.
When cleaning the genital area, you should avoid the excessive use of soap and aggressive products. It is usually sufficient to clean the genital area once or twice a day with lukewarm water. If you do not want to avoid beauty products, try to use mild products with a low pH value, which usually contain lactic acid.
How do you treat vaginal dryness?
Depending on the cause, the treatment may differ. In addition to this, there are a number of supporting measures.
Mild, temporary vaginal dryness
In cases of mild, temporary vaginal dryness, the vagina can by hydrated by using non-prescription lubricants on a water basis. If the vagina is sufficiently moist, it is easier for the penis to penetrate during intercourse, and pain can be avoided.
Vaginal dryness due to a lack of estrogen
If the vaginal dryness is caused by a lack of estrogen, it is usually sufficient to use local gels, crèmes or uvulas. There are hormone-free or estrogen variants available. Your physician will advise you as to what is best for you. If you are suffering from menopause, and if the lack of estrogen is causing symptoms such as vaginal dryness, dizziness or heat flashes, you might want to consider a systemic hormone treatment. There are a number of estrogen-gestagen combination medications available, but these may cause side effects. Your physician should decide on an individual basis, whether such a hormone treatment could be suitable for you. It should only be used for strong symptoms, and may not be used in light of specific illnesses, such as breast and uterine cancer.
Dry vagina & psyche
A dry vagina can be a problem in relationships, especially if the woman experiences pain during intercourse. It may also be that the woman is not sufficiently aroused, so that not enough fluid is being produced. If you talk to your partner about it openly, this may help to make sex easier. If this is not sufficient, you should seek professional help.
Lubricants are a hormone-free lubricating gel, which is recommended by doctors. It works on a local basis, it is immediate and uncomplicated. Lubricants are applied to the genital area and increase the sliding ability of the skin. Lubricants
- Correspond to the vagina’s pH value
- Have been tested from a bacteriological point of view
- Have a neutral odor
- Are water-soluble
- May be used with or without condom
You can buy lubricants in your pharmacy, either as s tube or as hygienic disposable ampules.
Please consult these package instructions, your physician or pharmacist in regards to effects and possible side effects of this medical product.