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Overview on Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness affects more than 20% of all women. There are myriad reasons why women suffer from this condition, from sexual disinterest (not enough foreplay or time for arousal) to hormone imbalances. What’s important for women to understand is that vaginal dryness is totally normal. Find out how to treat it at home — and when to consult your doctor.
What Causes Vaginal Dryness?
Vaginal dryness is often caused by a decrease in estrogen. This is an extremely normal occurrence during perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. If you’re not over the age of 40 (and aren’t experiencing any other hormonal symptoms), vaginal dryness could be the result of certain lifestyle activities.
The most common causes of vaginal dryness (not including menopause) are:
- Cancer treatments side effects
- Disruption in the pH balance of the vaginal area
- Extreme exercise
- Immune disorders
- Medication side effects
- Some antidepressants
- Some estrogen medications
Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness can rear its uncomfortable head in a variety of ways. Many of the symptoms are contingent upon the cause of vaginal dryness. Your doctor will most likely ask about your symptoms to determine the cause so as to not treat merely the symptom but also the condition itself.
The most common symptoms of this condition include:
- Chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Decreased sexual desire
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Spotting (especially after sex)
- Vaginal itching
- Vaginal pain
How to Prevent Vaginal Dryness
Just like the symptoms of vaginal dryness are contingent upon its cause, the prevention methods of this condition will also depend on its cause. Some prevention methods are lifestyle changes, and some methods will require medications and recommendations from your doctor.
Some of the most common ways to prevent vaginal dryness include:
- Avoid douching, perfumes, or other pH balance disruptions near the vagina
- Talk to your doctor about estrogen treatments and/or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Limit your use of antihistamines or try switching brands
- Ask your psychiatrist about antidepressants that don’t cause vaginal dryness
- Take breaks from heavy exercise
- Consider smoking cessation programs
- Manage stress with online therapy and health apps
Some women also experience vaginal dryness during sex because they haven’t become aroused enough before penetration. In this case, we recommend using a personal lubricant or slowing down foreplay before penetration.
Medical Treatments for Vaginal Dryness
The good news is that most causes of vaginal dryness don’t require medications or prescriptions to treat. Yet, you’ll want to make an appointment with an online doctor if your symptoms persist and don’t lessen a few days after making your lifestyle changes.
You should also contact a doctor immediately if you’re experiencing unusual vaginal bleeding.
In some (extremely unusual cases), you may need to make an appointment with a gynecologist to rule out the possibility that harmful bacteria may be causing your vaginal dryness.
This requires an in-person appointment, so we recommend contacting a primary care membership medicine provider. These doctors offer hybrid in-person and online appointments. If you’re located in the New York Metro Area, we recommend a hybrid provider, such as Parsley that specializes in women’s health. Online resources and digital clinics for women’s health include Gennev and Rory.
If you’re concerned about your estrogen levels or suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, or post-menopause, we recommend getting an at-home test kit to check your hormone levels.