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Do You Feel Dry (Down There)?

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Although vaginal dryness is not a serious health risk in itself, the reduction in lubricating fluids can result in irritation and frequent opening up of wounds in the vaginal walls. Both of these scenarios increase the chances of bacterial or viral infections affecting the vagina.
  • The use of condoms containing the chemical Nonoxynol-9 may increase the risk of vaginal dryness.
  • The most effective form of treatment for vaginal dryness is the “application of estrogen to the vagina”. However, this should only be carried out under the guidance of medical professionals, particularly with regard to those who have hormone use issues.

 

Vaginal dryness occurs as a result of a reduction in the lubricating fluids produced by the vagina. This leads to dryness and a lack of moisture in the vaginal tissue, which may cause pain during intercourse. The main cause of vaginal dryness is a reduction in the vagina’s estrogen levels usually due to menopause. However, the problem may arise in women of all ages when they have estrogen deficiency.

Symptoms of vaginal dryness

Some women experience vaginal dryness constantly, while others might only experience the symptoms intermittently or exclusively during intercourse. The most common symptoms of the condition are irritation, itching and a stinging sensation in or around the vagina. Other symptoms include stinging while urinating, needing to urinate more frequently than usual, incontinence or being unable to temporarily stave off urination. Vaginal inflammation, frequent vaginal discharges, pain or vaginal bleeding during intercourse can also occur, while some may experience a reduction in sexual desire or find it difficult to climax.

Issues that can arise due to vaginal dryness

Although vaginal dryness does not usually lead to any serious complications, the lack of lubricating fluid does have the potential to cause irritation and the frequent opening up of wounds. Both of these scenarios can increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections affecting the area in or around the vagina. Furthermore, the chances of contracting a urinary tract infection are also higher for women with vaginal dryness.

Aside from these issues, vaginal dryness often result in pain during sex, thus having the potential to affect relationships and the overall life of the sufferer.

Causes of vaginal dryness

  • A natural decrease in estrogen levels in postmenopausal women as they age.
  • A reduction in estrogen levels due to the side effects of some forms of medication used to treat blood pressure, mental illnesses and allergies or chemotherapy used in the treatment of cancer.
  • The injection of drugs to reduce the size of an ovarian cyst prior to an operation.
  • Vaginal inflammation resulting from an infection, for instance, a bacterial or fungal infection.
  • A reduction in sexual desire or other issues associated with sexual intercourse. However, it could also be that vaginal dryness is the cause of a reduction in sexual desire.
  • Irritation caused by an allergic reaction to soaps or other cleaning products used on the private area, to sanitary pads or to certain types of underwear.
  • Washing the vagina too frequently leading to an acidic imbalance and dryness.
  • A rash affecting the vulva or labia, and cervix.

There are numerous ways in which women can prevent or reduce vaginal dryness. One can include foods that boost estrogen levels, especially soy beans and products derived from soy, as these contain isoflavones which have a similar effect on the body to estrogen. Women may also use moisturizers and lubricating gels designed for intercourse, while being careful to avoid the use of soap and other products to cleanse the vagina. Cleaning of this area should involve normal, clean water that is neither too hot nor too cold. Moreover, clean underwear should be worn at all times, and if sanitary pads are being used, these should be changed regularly to ensure that dirt or moisture is kept away from the aforementioned area. If a rash is discovered around the vagina, do not be ashamed to seek medical advice as neglecting it may lead to a chronic condition.

Increasing foreplay through passionate and loving actions stimulates the release of lubricating fluids into the vagina, which is another way to solve the problem. Avoiding condoms that contain Nonoxynol-9, which increase the chances of vaginal dryness, is another possible solution.

Last but not least, being sure to attend annual health checkups, undergoing gynecological examinations, and assessing estrogen levels all help to prevent hormone deficiencies occurring.

Treating vaginal dryness

can be carried out using the following techniques:

  • Hormone drugs to increase estrogen levels, especially useful for post-menopausal women.
  • The application of estrogen to the vagina. It has been found that tablets, creams and medication designed to be inserted into the vagina itself are all highly effective. Nonetheless, any use of medication should only be carried out under the supervision of medical professionals, particularly with regard to women with problems related to the use of hormones, as some forms of medication will increase estrogen levels in the bloodstream.
  • The use of moisturizers can help to protect and coat the vaginal walls, making them moist. Such products come in the form of liquids, gels and tablets to be inserted into the vagina. As these products do not contain hormones, there are no physical ill-effects for the user, so they can be used over an extended period of time.
  • Lubricating gels are suitable for those who suffer pain and discomfort during intercourse. They can be applied to the woman’s vagina or the man’s penis.

When a woman reaches a menopausal age, she not only has to deal with the emotional issues which can result in many feeling frustrated and fed up, but there are also numerous physical effects. Vaginal dryness is just one such issue that can lead to a small amount of anxiety. However, facing up to these changes with the necessary knowledge about how your body is working, consulting your doctor, regularly attending annual checkups and undergoing gynecological examinations all help to significantly reduce the impact on both yourself and your partner.


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