How to Deal With Vaginal Dryness
There are times when we like to feel dry ‘down there’ (that’s why we love tampons, menstrual cups and sponges, right?) but other times when dryness is downright uncomfortable and can actually lead to bigger problems.
The vagina is naturally self-lubricating, with mucous produced by the cervix that travels down the vagina. This is the discharge you might notice on your underwear and it can change in texture and volume depending with fluctuating hormones throughout your cycle. This discharge is totally normal and keeps your vagina healthy by flushing out bacteria and keeping your vaginal pH levels just right. Of course, if you notice that your discharge is smelly, chunky or has an unusual colour, this can be a sign of infection and should be checked by your doctor.
During sexual arousal, the Bartholins glands at the entrance to the vagina also produce a natural lubricant that makes sex more comfortable and enjoyable. However, many people experience vaginal dryness where cervical mucous and natural lubricant are not being produced by the body as they should. This often results in pain during sex or can lead to infections in the vagina.
What causes vaginal dryness?
There are many different factors that can cause vaginal dryness. The major one is our hormones, related to lower levels of oestrogen - particularly in those who have been or are going through menopause. Those who are pre-menopausal who have had a hysterectomy, have had their ovaries removed or who are struggling with hormonal imbalance may also experience dryness.
While hormonal issues are the most common cause of dryness, there are some other factors to consider:
- Use of perfumed soaps or washing powders
- Use of douches, feminine washes or sprays
- Childbirth and breastfeeding
- Cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation in the pelvic area
- Smoking cigarettes
- A strenuous exercise routine
If you experience dryness during sex, this can often be because of lack of sexual arousal due to not enough foreplay, stress or even psychological traumas surrounding sex. Lubricants are a great option to try if you experience vaginal dryness during intercourse.
Vaginal dryness symptoms
Symptoms of vaginal dryness can include:
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Itching, burning and stinging
- Pain during sex and bleeding or irritation after sex
- Loss of sex drive
- Recurrent or persistent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Vaginal discomfort when walking, sitting, standing or exercising
How to treat vaginal dryness
It’s best to discuss treatment options and underlying causes with your doctor. They may recommend hormone therapy, lifestyle changes, psychotherapy or topical treatments. If left untreated, not only does it cause discomfort, but can leave you more open to developing infections like thrush.
The following topical applications may be useful in easing the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
Feminine moisturisers can be an incredibly helpful way to relieve symptoms of dryness. Be sure to choose a moisturiser that is dermatologically and gynaecologically tested, with the right pH and ingredients for the intimate areas.