Though vaginal dryness can occur at any point in a woman's life, this troubling condition is more likely during menopause due to decreasing levels of estrogen in the body. Hormone changes characteristic of menopause can change the moisture levels in the body, including the vaginal area. Studies report that 40 to 60 percent of women develop vaginal dryness during the menopausal transition.
Other studies indicate that many women are not informed and/or are embarrassed to ask about vaginal dryness. However, learning more about this normal symptom of menopause is one of the best ways to seek a solution and increase one's physical and emotional wellbeing. Continue reading to discover more about vaginal dryness.
About Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness, medically termed "atrophic vaginitis", is defined as a lack of adequate moisture in the vaginal area.
The body naturally lubricates the vaginal walls with a thin layer of moisture. This moisture layer is made of a clear fluid excreted through the blood vessel walls around the vagina. When a woman is sexually aroused, these blood vessels receive more blood flow, stimulating the secretion of fluids, thus increasing vaginal lubrication.
However, hormonal changes that occur with menopause and other female life events can disrupt this process, both during sex and in daily life. Symptoms of vaginal dryness can range in severity from mild and slightly annoying to significantly life impeding.
Many women find that the symptoms of vaginal dryness can affect the way they feel about themselves, sex, and life in general. There are a wide range of possibilities, though the following are the most common symptoms involved with vaginal dryness.
Common Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness:
• Light bleeding with sex
• Painful intercourse
• General discomfort
• Urinary frequency
• Discomfort when wearing pants
While these symptoms are common, certain factors can aggravate or worsen vaginal dryness in menopause.
For example, women coming off hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may find their symptoms of vaginal dryness are more severe. Stress is also another major trigger of severe vaginal dryness. Click on the following link to learn more about vaginal dryness, or keep reading below to learn more about the causes of vaginal dryness.
If a woman is suffering from vaginal dryness during menopause, it can also impact upon her husband and relationship. Find information to help understand your wife’s vaginal dryness, to support her and help her to overcome this symptom. Offering emotional support is the key to rebuild your relationship.
Learn about the relationship between estrogen and vaginal dryness, in order to effectively treat this condition. Certain irritants such as harsh soaps and detergents may also worsen the problem. There are a number of ways in which vaginal dryness can be avoided, which include wearing natural fabrics and reassessing your hygiene routine.
Causes of Vaginal Dryness
During the menopausal transition, the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen in preparation for the cessation of menstruation (i.e. menopause). This decrease in estrogen is the primary cause of vaginal dryness during menopause, which typically begins in a woman's 40s to 50s.
Reduced estrogen levels often cause the vulva and vaginal tissues to become thinner, dryer, and less elastic, a condition called atrophy.
During this time, vaginal secretions also diminish, with a correlating decrease in lubrication. Drops in estrogen also change the Ph level of the vagina, making the once acidic environment more alkaline, which can increase irritation and the likelihood of vaginal infection.
In addition to hormonal causes, other physiological, environmental, and emotional factors can cause or contribute to vaginal dryness.
• Autoimmune disease (Sjogren's syndrome)
• Infection (bacterial, viral; sexually transmitted)
• Certain medications
› Cold medications
› Cancer treatments
• Smoking, Alcohol consumption
• Allergic reaction to chemicals in soaps, detergents, etc.
• Stress is a major factor that can cause or increase the severity of vaginal dryness.
• Other emotional problems, including anxiety and depression can lead to lack of arousal and vaginal dryness.
• Unresolved relationship problems can also result in decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual activity, loss of libido, and problems with arousal.
Fortunately, a woman can take many simple steps toward managing vaginal dryness on her own. Please click on the following link to read about the causes of vaginal dryness, or continue reading about the different treatment options available for vaginal dyness.
Vaginal dryness is easy to diagnose, as there are a number of common symptoms, including pain during sex and a burning sensation. There are a number of natural, risk-free methods which can be adopted to avoid vaginal dryness. These include the use of vaginal moisturizer and lubrication, as well as making lifestyle and dietary changes.
There can be multiple reasons for an itchy vagina, but for menopausal women the main one is vaginal dryness. This symptom of menopause comes with many symptoms that include: painful intercourse, burning, discomfort, pressure and, of course itching amongst others and this is probably what is causing your vagina to itch.
Treatments of Vaginal Dryness
Fortunately for menopausal women, vaginal dryness is not a condition that needs to be permanent. There are self management techniques to cope with this symptom, and varying degrees of treatment. It is recommended to begin with the least invasive method and progress up to more drastic treatments if symptoms are unaffected.
To begin with, there are lifestyle changes that can be implemented into a woman's life, such as dietary adjustments or a different exercise program. Stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga can help women to relax if the vaginal dryness is stemming from emotional causes. Communication with one's partner is recommended.
To ease physical symptoms, over-the-counter products such as vitamin E oil, vaginal moisturizers, or water-based vaginal lubricants may be a boon to sexual comfort.
Recent studies have shown that a diet rich in soy flour and flaxseeds promotes vaginal health and prevents vaginal dryness.
However, as the primary cause of vaginal dryness in menopausal women is the natural decline in estrogen that is typical of this age group, the most logical method of restoring vaginal lubrication is to address the fundamental hormonal imbalance. Natural supplements can be an easy, safe and effective treatment option.
For more severe or devastating cases, it may be beneficial to seek the advice of a health care professional. Surgical or pharmaceutical options exist, though these carry a higher risk of side effects. Vaginal estrogen therapy is an option in the treatment of vaginal dryness, which may be an alternative with a lower risk of side effects than hormone replacement therapy due to a minimized absorption into the bloodstream. In any case, consultation with a doctor is strongly advised with these options due to the possibility of complications.
Click the following link to learn specific treatments for vaginal dryness. The most effective treatments for vaginal dryness typically combine lifestyle changes and alternative medicines.
As a result of vaginal dryness sex may become difficult, and using tampons during your period may be painful. To alleviate this problem you may wish to use lubrication, ensuring it is water-based and scentless. Switching to pads or a smaller tampon size is also recommended for lighter menstrual flows.
Vaginal dryness can affect a woman during the working day. There are a number of things to do to ease vaginal dryness such as carrying vaginal lubricant and keeping well hydrated. Wearing loose fitting clothing will also make you feel less uncomfortable. In severe cases, you may need to take time off work.
- "Vaginal Dryness." Mayo Clinic Health Resource. 2007
- "Vulvovaginal Symptoms." The Changing Body: Menopause Handbook. www.menopause.org
- Love, Susan M.D.. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
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