The mucus membranes in your vagina produce a generous amount of natural lubrication. Those membranes are dependent on estrogen, a hormone that sends signals for the moisture to be produced. However, around menopause, estrogen production declines.
This results in physical side effects like vaginal dryness. Though not life-threatening, vaginal dryness can make sex painful, as well as causing pain and itching in the vagina. There are a number of treatment options for vaginal dryness, one of which is hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
How Does HRT Work?
HRT aims to balance fluctuating hormone levels, the main cause of menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness. Those suffering from severe vaginal dryness due to estrogen deficiency are sometimes prescribed estrogen replacement therapy. Usually, doctors recommend trying other methods before HRT, such as vaginal creams, and lifestyle changes. However, in many severe cases, HRT is the most effective option. HRT can come in a number of forms including creams, gels, pills, injections, vaginal rings, and lubricants.
Are There Any Risks Associated With HRT?
Balancing hormone levels can be complicated, and taking HRT can further disrupt hormone levels and worsen existing symptoms or cause other ones in some cases. Some studies have linked prolonged use of HRT has been linked to an elevated risk of developing breast cancer and heart problems in postmenopause, however, more detailed research into this is needed before we can make sweeping conclusions about side effects of HRT.
It's important to consult a doctor about vaginal dryness and other symptoms to gauge their severity and determine whether HRT is the best option for you.
Are There Any Alternatives?
There are many available alternatives to HRT, though none have been proven as effective. Some common other treatments include:
Vaginal creams and lubricants. These can help moisturize the vagina and reduce swelling and itching significantly. Using water based lubricants during sex can help improve comfort and simulate natural lubrication.
Herbal remedies. Herbs like black cohosh and evening primrose have some hormonal balancing properties, and in some women, can decrease menopausal symptoms.
Healthy eating. Making sure you get all the vitamins and nutrients necessary to stimulate hormonal glands and produce vaginal moisture is another important way to cope with vaginal dryness.
- Exercise. Regular exercise and maintaining the body's health an help balance hormones and reduce vaginal dryness.
More Information about HRT and Vaginal Dryness
HRT is something that must be prescribed by a doctor, so make sure you talk the decision over thoroughly with your doctor, taking into consideration your symptoms, medical history, and your responses to other treatments. Click on the following link to learn more about the different vaginal dryness treatments.