A drop in estrogen levels reduces the amount of moisture available. It can happen at any age from a number of different causes.
It may seem like a minor irritation. But the lack of vaginal moisture can have a huge impact on your sex life. Fortunately, several treatments are available to relieve vaginal dryness.
What are the effects of vaginal dryness?
Vaginal dryness can cause discomfort in the vaginal and pelvic regions. Vaginal dryness can also cause:
- loss of interest in sex
- pain with sexual intercourse
- light bleeding following intercourse
- urinary tract infections (UTIs) that don’t go away or that reoccur
- vaginal itching or stinging
Vaginal dryness can be a source of embarrassment. This may prevent women from discussing symptoms with their physician or partner; however, the condition is a common occurrence that affects many women.
Causes vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness is common symptom of menopause — and close to one out of every three women deals with it while going through “the change.” It becomes even more common afterward. It also makes the vagina thinner and less elastic. This is called vaginal atrophy.
Estrogen levels can also drop because of:
- Sjögren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder that attacks cells in the body that produce moisture)
- Allergy and cold medications
- Certain antidepressants
- Not enough foreplay before sex
No matter what the cause, vaginal dryness can be extremely uncomfortable. It can lead to itching, burning, and painful intercourse.
Diagnosis vaginal dryness
Any burning, itching, or discomfort in the area is worth a call to your doctor or gynecologist. They’ll ask about your past health and find out how long you’ve had symptoms and what seems to make them worse or better.
Your doctor will do a pelvic exam, checking your vagina for any thinning or redness. The exam will help rule out other possible causes for your discomfort, including a vaginal or urinary tract infection. The doctor may also remove cells from your vaginal wall or cervix for a Pap test.
The most common treatment for vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels is topical estrogen therapy. These replace some of the hormone your body is no longer making. That helps relieve vaginal symptoms, but it doesn’t put as much estrogen in your bloodstream as the hormone therapy you take in pills.
- Ring (Estring): You or your doctor inserts this soft, flexible ring into your vagina where it releases a steady stream of estrogen directly to the tissues. The ring is replaced every 3 months.
- Tablet (Vagifem): You use a disposable applicator to put a tablet into your vagina once a day for the first two weeks of treatment. Then you do it twice a week until you no longer need it.
- Cream (Estrace, Premarin): You use an applicator to get the cream into your vagina. You’ll typically apply the cream daily for 1 to 2 weeks, then cut back to one to three times a week as directed by your doctor.
At Amrita Medical Center, our staff is happy to answer any of your questions and help you decide if the right fit for you. We even offer same day appointments for your convenience. Contact us here!