Vaginal dryness is an extremely common condition that can affect women of any age but most commonly targets old women–those who are postmenopausal (have stopped having periods). Many women shy away from discussing the topic with their doctor, but diagnosing and treating the condition is simple.
What causes vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness is usually caused by a drop in the female hormone estrogen. Estrogen is responsible for keeping the tissue of the vagina elastic, supporting lubrication and keeping the vagina acidic, all of which work together to prevent urinary tract and vaginal infections. Estrogen levels can drop for several reasons including:
- breast feeding
- chemotherapy treatments
- surgical removal of the ovaries
What are the symptoms of vaginal dryness?
The most common symptom women experience is pain during intercourse (sex). Lack of lubrication can also cause light bleeding after sex. Other symptoms include itching or stinging at the opening of the vagina, urinary frequency, and frequent urinary tract infections. (Remember we don’t have estrogen to help us fight away germs so UTIs are more common.)
How can my vaginal dryness be treated? Do I need medication?
Vaginal dryness can be treated in several ways. After your doctor completes an exam, he or she will recommend the best treatment for you. This may be a cream, gel or tablet with estrogen in it that you place inside your vagina. For some women, that may be all you need. For other women who have more severe menopausal symptoms along with dryness, you may need to take hormone supplements. Your doctor will help you decide.
You may also choose to try some at home treatments. Before you do though, make sure you do in fact have vaginal dryness and not something else. Always see your doctor first. Some over the counter lubricants and moisturizers can help with vaginal dryness. Make sure you are buying one made for the vagina–never put hand or body lotions, bath oils or homemade douches into your body. You will find the right kind of moisturizer with the tampons or condoms.
To find out if you have vaginal dryness and what treatment is right for you, come see Dr. Hessel. She’s treated many, many women with her well known personal approach. You deserve to have your most sensitive concerns handled with care and you’ll find that here. Contact us today to get started.
and is usually treated with topical (placed on the skin) creams or gels, or some women may need to supplement with hormone replacement if they also have other menopausal symptoms.