Vaginal dryness can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful at times, especially during sexual intercourse. Unfortunately it can happen to women of any age, but it is more common in older women in their post-menopause stage of life. The vagina normally stays moist and lubricated with a thin layer or clear fluid that protects the vagina from infections, keeps the vagina clean and aids intercourse. However there are many factors that reduce this amount of moisture and make the vagina thinner and less elastic.
For millions of women vaginal dryness is an issue that can interrupt their everyday lives and it can affect different women in different ways from mild discomfort and itching to severely painful intercourse.
Here are some of the top causes of vaginal dryness:
- Menopause - over half of women experience vaginal changes when they go through the menopause and dryness is the top change they notice. Because it is oestrogen that helps to trigger vaginal fluid, when women experience a drop in this hormone throughout the menopause, the production of this fluid is impaired.
- Breast feeding - levels of oestrogen are also at a low during post-pregnancy and breast feeding as ovulation is naturally suppressed in the months following birth. Once breast feeding is stopped and periods return, the level of oestrogen will return back to normal.
- Childbirth - again, childbirth is related to a lower level of oestrogen in the body compared to throughout pregnancy. This is why most women will notice dryness and soreness after childbirth, but it shouldn’t take too long to improve.
- Irritants - many women are allergic to chemicals and perfumes in soaps and hygiene products, which is a top cause of vaginal irritation and dryness.
- Tampon use - not only are tampons a major culprit in causing dryness, but using them consistently will only make the situation worse and even more uncomfortable. Dryness is usually a result of tampons irritating the vagina.
- Medications - some medications can interfere with oestrogen levels and therefore reduce vaginal lubrication, causing dryness and irritation.
- Stress - emotional factors like stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sexual desire, which can cause dryness. This is due to insignificant blood flow that can occur from stress and worry, resulting in a decrease in natural lubrication.
- Diabetes - some women suffering from diabetes may notice problems with sexual response and vaginal lubrication, which could be due to nerve damage, reduced blood flow and hormonal changes.
- Cancer treatment - radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancer can cause a drop in oestrogen levels and resulting in vaginal dryness.