Vaginal dryness is a common problem that many women experience at some point. Most often, women experience vaginal dryness after menopause when levels of estrogen are lower, but it can happen at any age.
This condition is quite uncomfortable and can cause your vagina to feel dry, to feel itchy, or to burn, which can be painful during sexual intercourse. You may also feel the need to urinate more than usual, or you may also have recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs). Vaginal dryness can also cause some discomfort when you urinate.
Besides menopause, there are several other contributors to vaginal dryness, such as:
- Certain medications, like antidepressants or oral contraceptives
The medical name for vaginal dryness for postmenopausal women is vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy can have a negative impact on your sex life since it can cause intercourse to be painful or uncomfortable. You may not feel as satisfied or willing to participate in sex, and your partner may be affected too.
Remedies and Treatments for Vaginal Dryness
Without treatment, vaginal dryness usually worsens over time. You can try these home remedies for vaginal dryness that may help relieve your symptoms and discomfort:
One of the best ways to reduce vaginal dryness is to use a vaginal moisturizer. These are special moisturizers that are designed specifically for this sensitive area of the body. Using a vaginal moisturizer every few days can help keep your vagina moist and relieve vaginal dryness symptoms.
You can apply the moisturizer a few times a week before bed. Apply it around the walls of the vagina to let it absorb. Don’t try to use a moisturizer or cream that is not specifically for the vagina. Similarly, you should avoid scented soaps, moisturizers, or other toiletries.
Before sexual activity, apply a water-based lubricant in your vagina and on your partner where there will be contact. Using a lubricant can help to relieve any pain or discomfort you might normally experience during sex, since you are giving this area moisture.
Be sure to choose a lubricant that doesn’t contain petroleum jelly or glycerin. Glycerin can cause your vagina to become even more irritated, and petroleum jelly can cause condoms to weaken or break during sex.
Regular Sexual Activity
Having sexual stimulation on a consistent basis can help improve your overall vaginal health. You can do this either alone or with a partner, or even using a device like a vibrator. Sexual stimulation helps increase blood flow and vaginal secretions and relieves vaginal dryness.
If you’re having sex with a partner, try engaging in foreplay before intercourse. This can make you feel more aroused so that sex is more enjoyable and comfortable. This can also help to promote blood flow and secretions to the vagina.
New Approach to Sex
While sexual activity is good for your vaginal health, rethink the way that you approach it. As mentioned, foreplay can be very helpful in getting ready for intercourse. Once you begin intercourse, take it slow. This helps to give the Bartholin’s glands time to produce more natural lubrication in your vagina.
You can also try other sexual activities that don’t involve intercourse but still let you be intimate with your partner. Activities like massaging, mutual masturbation, oral sex, or simply touching can be fulfilling. These activities are typically more comfortable if your vaginal dryness symptoms are especially bothersome.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen weak vaginal muscles. With lower levels of estrogen, vaginal muscles weaken over time. Exercises like Kegels can help to relax tight muscles and strengthen weaker ones. These exercises also help to increase blood flow to the vagina.
When to See a Doctor
If you’ve tried these remedies for vaginal dryness and are still experiencing discomfort, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can talk to you about other treatment options that can help.
Your doctor may recommend a local estrogen to help with vaginal atrophy. This is estrogen that you insert directly into the vagina. Some forms are:
- Vaginal ring
- Vaginal gel
- Vaginal cream
- Vaginal tablet
Your doctor can talk with you about all of your options and help you pick the right one for you.
Another common remedy for vaginal dryness that your doctor may recommend is osphena (ospemifene). This is a pill that you take once a day to reduce the symptoms of vaginal dryness. It is recommended for women who have moderate to severe symptoms. Osphena isn’t suitable for those who’ve had breast cancer or are at a high risk for breast cancer.