Vaginal dryness is a common problem among women and is mostly common in older, menopausal women. It is the top concern of women going through the menopause and it can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful. Known as Atrophic Vaginitis, dryness of the vagina can have many different symptoms and it can vary in severity from woman-to-woman.
Our vagina’s skin and tissues are usually kept moist and supple with a natural lubrication that is a thin, clear fluid that is produced by the cervix at the top of the vagina. This natural fluid helps to protect the vagina against infections like thrush, keeps the vagina clean by flushing dead skin cells and menstrual blood and lubricates the vagina for intercourse. It is the oestrogen hormone that helps to trigger the production of this fluid to keep the lining of the vagina healthy, thick and elastic. Therefore at times when oestrogen levels drop, the level of moisture is reduced and the vagina is made thinner and less elastic.
Symptoms of atrophic vaginitis:
- Painful intercourse is the top symptom of vaginal dryness
- Discomfort and the vagina may be sore and red
- The skin around the vagina is sensitive and itchy
- You may notice a white/yellow discharge
- It may contribute to urinary problems due to a thinning and weakening of the tissues
Treatments for vaginal dryness:
Thankfully, there are a number of different treatments for vaginal dryness to help you feel naturally lubricated and comfortable. There are many vaginal lubricants that can be used during intercourse to heighten moisture for a more pleasurable and intimate experience. These are usually water-based lubricants that are similar in texture to the body’s natural fluid and should be applied before sex. You can also try vaginal creams and moisturisers like Replens that can be used for long-lasting, natural lubrication and only need to be applied a couple of times per week.
Hormone replacement therapy is also an option when considering treatments for vaginal dryness. These can either be applied directly to the vagina or taken orally in order to replace oestrogen levels to the vagina. With replenished oestrogen levels, the dryness should be relieved and natural lubrication will resume.