Vaginal Dryness: Signs, Prescription Medication and Natural Remedies


Woman holding a dildo
While vaginal dryness can occur at any time during your adult life, most cases of vaginal dryness occur during perimenopause and menopause. Your body produces reduced amounts of estrogen during menopause, which accounts for the majority of vaginal dryness encountered by women. At menopause, lower estrogen production leads to the thinning of the vaginal mucosa as well as a loss of elasticity and hydration.

Other factors that can cause vaginal dryness:
  • A drug regime. Certain medications can dry out the mucous membranes, particularly of the vagina. So, you should talk to your pharmacist about it if you take medications.
  • Poor genital hygiene: the vaginal flora is very fragile, so it must be protected. Some behaviors are to be avoided, such as the use of vaginal douches.
  • A decreased sex drive due to different causes such as stress, depression, anxiety, strained relations between a couple, conflicts, etc.
  • Absence of foreplay before sexual intercourse.

Signs that may indicate that you are experiencing vaginal dryness include:

If you have some of these symptoms, you should see your doctor, who will make you take a gynecological exam to eliminate other possible causes of your symptoms.

EFFECTIVELY COMBATING VAGINAL DRYNESS IN LADIES UNDER THE AGE OF 30


A few simple measures can bring relief to vaginal dryness:
  • Use a very mild unscented cleanser and wash with water. Some products have been specially designed for genital hygiene. Once again, avoid vaginal douches.
  • Avoid the application of perfume in the genital area. Sanitary napkins and toilet paper are sometimes scented, so be careful!
  • Periodically apply a water-based vaginal moisturizer.
  • During sexual relations, prolong foreplay to optimize natural lubrication and use a personal lubricant if needed.
  • Spice up your sex life and add novelty.
  • If you have psychological problems that affect your sex drive, talk to a professional because it is important. Also, learn to avoid stress.
In menopausal women, turning to medications can sometimes prove useful.

If you are suffering from chronic vaginal dryness related to perimenopause or menopause, speak to your doctor about trying a prescription medication designed to increase estrogen production.

Treatments for vaginal dryness caused by reduced estrogen levels include:


Estring. 


Estring is a vaginal ring that you or your doctor insert into your vagina. Estring slowly releases estrogen directly into the vaginal tissues. The vaginal ring effectively treats vaginal dryness for 3 months.

Vagifem. 


Vagifem is a vaginal tablet that you insert into your vagina using a disposable applicator. You will need to insert the vaginal tablet once daily for two weeks, and then twice weekly for as long as you need it.

Premarin or Estrace. 


While the oral pill form of Premarin and Estrace are most frequently prescribed; they both are available in vaginal cream formulas. Your doctor will advise you on how to use vaginal estrogen creams should this be the treatment of choice for vaginal dryness.

Vaginal estrogens provide the most effective relief of vaginal dryness. Women who use vaginal estrogens also experience significantly fewer recurrent urinary tract infections.

Over the Counter and Natural Remedies


If your vaginal dryness is caused by non-menopause related issues, or you wish to avoid prescription medications, other treatment options for vaginal dryness include:

Vaginal Moisturizers  


Vaginal moisturizers include over-the-counter products such as Replens. Replens is a once-daily vaginal suppository used to increase vaginal lubrication.

Vaginal Lubricants 


Vaginal lubricants include over-the-counter products such as Astroglide and K-Y Jelly. When vaginal dryness is a problem during sexual intercourse, vaginal lubricants provide the necessary vaginal lubrication to make sexual intercourse more comfortable.

Always choose a water-based vaginal lubricant. Never use a petroleum-based product such as Vaseline for vaginal lubrication, doing so can create a breeding ground for infection.

If you are having protected sex using a condom, make sure you are using water-based or silicone-based lubricant. Other lubricants and oils, like coconut oil, will degrade the condom.

8 natural remedies for vaginal dryness


While your friends and family may have their own home remedies they swear by, these may or may not work for you. In some cases, recommendations that aren’t science-backed could make things worse. So, we went to reliable sources to get these tweaks you can make to your daily routine. And to kick things off, the first four come from the go-to resource, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) (2).

  • Stop using soap to wash up. Water works just fine by itself for cleaning inside the vulva and may leave you feeling more comfortable, recommends NAMS (and you can credit them for the next three as well).
  • Skip toilet paper with fragrance to help reduce vaginal irritation.
  • Take care when washing your intimates: Ditch detergents with dyes and perfumes, and skip fabric softener and anti-cling products.
  • Steer clear of applying lotions and perfumes on the inner vulva to avoid any unnecessary discomfort.
  • Have more sex. According to a study of 52 postmenopausal women published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (3), those who were sexually active (i.e. having sex three times or more monthly) were less likely to have vaginal dryness than those who were less sexually active (having sex less than ten times annually).
  • …or opt for self-pleasure. Vaginal stimulation without a partner helps boost vaginal tissue health after menopause, according to Mayo Clinic (4).
  • …and if you do, why not consider a vibrator? Using a vibrator helps increase blood flow, which in turn boosts estrogen delivery, and, as a result, lubrication, recommends the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Stamford Health (5).
  • Soy-based foods and supplements may help. A study cited by the American Association of Family Physicians (2) found that soy may help with vaginal dryness and hot flashes when compared to a placebo. “Soybeans contain plant-based substances called isoflavones… (which) have an effect on the body that is similar to estrogen, but weaker,” explains the U.S. National Library of Medicine (6). “Therefore, it seems that a diet rich in soy foods may improve symptoms of vaginal dryness. There continues to research in this area. The ideal sources or dose is still unknown. Soy foods include tofu, soy milk, and whole soybeans (also called edamame).”

FINAL WORD

Vaginal dryness remains, even today, taboo. Many women suffer in silence. But it’s easy to confront this enemy by taking simple steps. Healthcare professionals have several effective weapons to offer. So, don’t hesitate. March forward to get your sex life back in control. Victory is within reach!

REFERENCES
1. Bachman GA, Nevadunsky NS. Diagnosis and Treatment of Atrophic Vaginitis. Am Fam Physician. 2000 May 15;61(10):3090-3096.

2. The North American Menopause Society. Vaginal and Vulvar Comfort: Lubricants, Moisturizers, and Low-dose Vaginal Estrogen. The North American Menopause Society. Accessed March 12, 2019

3. Leiblum S, Bachmann G, Kemmann E, Colburn D, Swartzman L. Vaginal Atrophy in the Postmenopausal Woman: The Importance of Sexual Activity and Hormones. JAMA. 1983;249(16):2195–2198. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330400041022

4. Laughlin-Tommaso SK. Vaginal dryness after menopause: How to treat it?. Mayo Clinic. Published October 12, 2018. Accessed March 12, 2019

5. Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Stamford Health. 3 Tips for Better Sex After Menopause. Stamford Health. Published May 25, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2019

6. Jacobson JD. Vaginal Dryness. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Updated September 28, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2019

Source: Menopause and hormone therapy (HT): collaborative decision-making and management.
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