PREVIOUS QUESTION:

 

NEXT QUESTION:

 

What causes vaginal dryness?

ANSWER

Normally, the walls of the vagina stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid. The hormone estrogen helps maintain that fluid and keeps the lining of the vagina healthy, thick, and elastic. During menopause, the drop in estrogen levels reduces the amount of moisture available. It also makes the vagina thinner and less elastic. This is called vaginal atrophy.

In addition to menopause, estrogen levels can drop from:

  • Childbirth and breastfeeding
  • Radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancer
  • Surgical removal of the ovaries
  • Anti-estrogen medications used to treat uterine fibroids or endometriosis

SOURCES:

Kendall, A. Dowsett, M. Folkerd, E. and Smith, I. . Published online Jan. 27, 2006. Annals of Oncology

Nothnagle, M. Scott Taylor, J. , 2004; vol 69: pp 2111-2112. American Family Physician

MedlinePlus: "Estrogen Vaginal."

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: "Management of menopause-related symptoms."

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson on May 5, 2019

SOURCES:

Kendall, A. Dowsett, M. Folkerd, E. and Smith, I. . Published online Jan. 27, 2006. Annals of Oncology

Nothnagle, M. Scott Taylor, J. , 2004; vol 69: pp 2111-2112. American Family Physician

MedlinePlus: "Estrogen Vaginal."

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: "Management of menopause-related symptoms."

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson on May 5, 2019

NEXT QUESTION:

What are other causes of vaginal dryness?

WAS THIS ANSWER HELPFUL

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

    Other Answers On: