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Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is a common problem experienced by women where the vagina does not produce enough natural lubrication. Vaginal dryness is not normally serious but it can be painful, irritating and embarrassing. The most common cause of vaginal dryness is menopause, however, breastfeeding and certain contraceptive pills can also contribute due to an imbalance in hormones. Treatments may vary depending on the cause of your vaginal dryness.

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What is Vaginal Dryness?

Vaginal Dryness is a common condition that can affect women of all ages, however, it tends to be more commonly experienced by older women who are going through menopausal changes.

Vaginal moisture is not only important for making sexual intercourse more comfortable and pleasurable, but the fluid that is produced by the vagina is also essential in preventing infections as well as stopping your intimate area from becoming irritated or itchy due to friction.

Most commonly vaginal dryness is caused by a hormonal imbalance of oestrogen, which prevents the cells in the vagina from producing adequate lubrication. The most significant hormonal change for women happens during menopause, however, breastfeeding or the combined contraceptive pill can also cause the unpleasant side effect of vaginal dryness. The vagina may also feel dry if you lack arousal during sexual activity or if you use perfumed soaps or douches to wash your vagina.

What are the symptoms of Vaginal Dryness?

If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, these are some of the associated symptoms that are caused by the vagina not being adequately lubricated:

  • Irritation or itching inside and on the surrounding skin of the vagina
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse or sexual activity
  • Light bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Frequent urination and recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI)

How is Vaginal Dryness diagnosed?

Most people will not require a formal diagnosis of vaginal dryness from their doctor as they are likely to be able to self-diagnose themselves based on their symptoms alone. For those people that are unsure whether they are suffering from vaginal dryness or for those experiencing severe symptoms that cause bleeding or are interfering with their daily life, it is recommended that you seek medical advice from a GP.

A GP will be able to diagnose vaginal dryness based on a combination of your symptoms, medical history. They may also want to carry out a physical examination. The doctor will want to establish the cause of your vaginal dryness to ensure you receive the right treatment to effectively minimise your symptoms.

How is Vaginal Dryness treated?

The cause of your specific vaginal dryness may determine the best course of treatment to help hydrate and lubricate the vagina.

The most straightforward, effective and non-medicinal treatments for vaginal dryness include:

  • Use a water-based lubricant in and around the vagina before any sexual activity.
  • Use a daily vaginal moisturiser inside and around the outside of your vagina - Balance Activ Moisture Gel, or Vagisan Moist Gel.
  • Avoid using perfumed soaps or douches to clean your vagina.

If a doctor diagnoses you with vaginal dryness due to an imbalance of estrogen, most commonly as a result of the menopause you may be prescribed a form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that is available as tablets or gels that can be used specifically in and around the vagina, examples include - Vagifem Vaginal Tablets and Ovestin Cream.

Can Vaginal Dryness be prevented?

If you are suffering from vaginal dryness as a result of an imbalance of hormones it is unlikely that your condition can be prevented, however, there are certain lifestyle changes that you can adopt that may decrease the severity of your symptoms.

  • Do not use perfumed soaps or douches to clean the vagina.
  • Do not use products such as vaseline or moisturisers that are not designed for use in and around the vagina.
  • Take your time engaging in foreplay to ensure you are sexually aroused during intercourse.

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Scott McDougall
Written by Scott McDougall

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