What to Know About Vaginal Dryness

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From Women’s Health Foundation

Although vaginal dryness can happen at any age, it is common during or after menopause. Vaginal walls are coated with a thin layer of moisture. As estrogen levels decline during menopause, the amount of moisture drops and its consistency changes. As a result, the vaginal walls become thinner and inflamed.

Common symptoms of vaginal dryness include:

    • Itchiness, burning, discomfort, and soreness around vaginal walls
    • Frequent and urgent urination
    • Light bleeding or pain during intercourse
    • Slight vaginal discharge
    • Recurrent urinary tract infections

Influences/Causes

        The main cause of vaginal dryness is a decreased level of estrogen. The following conditions contribute to reduced estrogen levels:

        • Menopause
        • Childbirth
        • Breast-feeding
        • Cigarette smoking
        • Radiation and hormone treatment around pelvic areas
        • Chemotherapy
        • Anti-estrogen medications, such as those used to treat breast cancer
      The vagina can be further inflamed or irritated due to:

      • Immune disorders
      • Douching
      • Certain tampons and condoms

Treatments/Remedies

      To minimize vaginal dryness, avoid douching, lotions, perfumes and scented soaps, and try one or more of these strategies:

      • Vaginal moisturizing creams, usually available without a prescription
      • Water-soluble vaginal lubricants (for use during sex)
      • Prescription estrogen, available as a ring, tablet, or cream

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