Vaginal dryness is just one menopause symptom that can be extremely trying. In addition to being a source of daily frustration and discomfort, it can also cause pain during intercourse. Over 40% of women will suffer from vaginal dryness during perimenopause, the reproductive phase preceding the time when the menstrual cycle ceases (menopause). Perimenopause can last anywhere between 1 to10 years, and it is during this time that most symptoms materialize. Why does vaginal dryness occur, and what does it mean? Read on to find out.
What Is Vaginal Dryness?
Vaginal dryness is a menopausal symptom characterized by a lack of natural lubrication or moisture in the vaginal area. When a woman becomes sexually aroused, the body is able to lubricate the vaginal walls with a clear fluid, which is excreted through the blood vessels within the wall. However, during menopause this process becomes disrupted causing vaginal dryness. The experience is characterized by itching, stinging, and irritation in the vaginal area. Painful intercourse can also cause light bleeding and a need to urinate frequently.
Why Am I Suffering?
Vaginal dryness is just one consequence of the hormonal changes that women experience in the run up to menopause. Normally the sex hormone estrogen ensures the vagina remains moist and reactive to sexual arousal. However, during menopause production of this hormone decreases and leads to its functions decreasing in efficiency. This reduction causes vaginal tissues to become thinner, dryer, and less elastic, as well as lessening vaginal secretions, which means there is less natural lubrication.
What Does it Ultimately Mean?
Although vaginal dryness can be frustrating and painful it isn't a cause for great concern as it is both common and treatable. Ultimately, what the condition means is that sex can be painful and you may encounter vaginal itching. However, it can be treated with various remedies are available.
Can I Treat it?
Vaginal dryness is one of the easiest menopausal symptoms to relieve. Buy an over-the-counter, water based lubrication and apply it to the vagina prior to sexual intercourse and throughout as necessary. This will reduce any friction between the vaginal walls and the penis. To relieve any pain experienced throughout the day, purchase a vaginal cream for regular application: this will be effective in treating external itching and stinging.
To treat the root cause of vaginal dryness you must re-balance your body's estrogen levels. This can be achieved by leading a healthy lifestyle that includes a well-balanced diet and daily exercise. As stress can worsen vaginal dryness you should try to make time for yourself each day.
If you are one of the 60% of women suffering from vaginal dryness, then begin combating it by making small lifestyle changes.Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your vaginal dryness or think that there is a reason other than hormonal changes causing it.