What Causes Vaginal Dryness and How to Treat It

Vaginal dryness can cause a variety of issues that are not only uncomfortable but can be awkward to discuss. Symptoms may include vaginal itchiness or burning, abnormal discharge, and painful sexual relations.

But you don’t have to feel embarrassed to discuss these issues with the urogynecologists at Southeast Urogyn. Our physicians are experts at treating all types of gynecological conditions.

Plus, vaginal dryness is more common than you might think: Over half of postmenopausal women ages 51-60 and almost 20% of women under 50 experience vaginal dryness.

What causes vaginal dryness?

Estrogen is a female hormone that plays many roles in a woman’s reproductive and sexual development and health. One of those roles is facilitating vaginal lubrication. When the body slows down its estrogen production, usually starting in middle age, many women lose moisture in their vagina, which leads to vaginal dryness and a thinning of the vaginal tissue. This combination of dryness and thin tissues can lead to painful sex and eventually a loss of sexual desire.

This diminished estrogen production occurs most commonly during menopause, which is why vaginal dryness is such a common issue in postmenopausal women.

But vaginal dryness is not just a problem for middle-aged or older women. Reduced estrogen production and vaginal dryness affect women during breastfeeding, chemotherapy, after a hysterectomy, and after childbirth.

How to treat vaginal dryness

The good news? There are a variety of treatment options for vaginal dryness that may reduce your symptoms and help you regain a normal sex life. The urogynecologists at Southeast Urogyn can help you choose the best and most effective treatment option for you. Options include:

Over-the-counter lubricants or moisturizers:

A temporary treatment for vaginal dryness is OTC topical lubricants and moisturizers in cream or lotion form. These products, commonly used for quick lubrication before sex or to curb an itch or irritation, are hormone-free and available without a prescription.

Different moisturizers are recommended for different issues, so read the labels. Some moisturizers, for example, are not recommended for use before sex as they can cause irritation.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT):

Estrogen therapy (aka HRT), is a longer-term, comprehensive solution to vaginal dryness. HRT boosts your body’s estrogen levels in order to increase moisture and thickness in your vaginal wall tissues. HRT can also reduce other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes.

Estrogen therapy comes in a variety of forms, including a ring or tablet for insertion into your vagina. Pills, patches or creams are other alternatives. HRT can have side effects, so speak to your doctor about this type of treatment.

Vaginal Rejuvenation:

CO2 laser treatments such as the MonaLisa Touch® or CO2RE® Intima* -- also called vaginal rejuvenation technologies -- are nonsurgical procedures that help restore vaginal lubrication, as well as tighten vaginal walls. These devices use laser energy to induce collagen production, which reduces symptoms of vaginal dryness and other menopausal and vaginal aging issues. Both of these treatments are quick, safe, and can be done right in the office.

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