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All About Vaginal Dryness

Without its natural lubrication, the vagina can feel irritated and itchy, making sex uncomfortable or even painful. Though vaginal dryness is common in women of all ages, it especially occurs during and after menopause and can be an important sign of vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis).

Symptoms of vaginal dryness include itching, burning, pressure, pain or light bleeding during sex, urinary frequency and urgency.


Causes

Estrogen keeps the vagina healthy by maintaining normal vaginal lubrication, elasticity and acidity. These factors serve as a natural defense against vaginal and urinary tract infections. When estrogen levels drop, the vaginal lining becomes fragile, dry and vulnerable to infections.

Causes of lowering estrogen level including: menopause, premature ovarian failure, childbirth, breast-feeding, allergy, cold medications, antidepressants, cigarette smoking, immune disorders, and surgical removal of ovaries


Pathological Mechanism

Vaginal dryness often stems from poor vaginal blood circulation and a low production of various hormones. The deficiency of specific hormones desensitizes the clitoris, G-spot and surrounding tissues, making it challenging to swell enough to achieve orgasm. As a result, vaginal abrasions during intercourse or masturbation are a common side effect of vaginal dryness.


Menopause

While progesterone levels tend to diminish first as women enter perimenopause, some women experience a relative increase in estrogen levels and may need to balance that shift with progesterone supplementation.  But women near or past menopause may experience a drop in both estrogen and progesterone levels. These shifts in hormones often reduce vaginal secretions, and many women feel they are literally “drying up.”


Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease that attacks healthy tissue and typically includes symptoms of dryness in eyes, mouth and the vagina.


Stress

There is a deep connection between emotions and sex hormones in the body and brain. Stressful thinking reduces libido and can influence vaginal dryness.


Douching: Good or Bad?

Douching can disrupt the normal chemical balance of the vagina and cause inflammation, irritation and dryness. Douche only when necessary with infusions from antiseptic herbs such as calendula, garlic, goldenseal, fresh plantain, St. John's wort or tea tree oil, along with herbs such as comfrey leaves to soothe irritation.


Natural Remedies

Aloe vera helps heal infections and can be applied topically to relieve itching, taken internally or used in a douche.  Calendula and vitamin A vaginal suppositories soothe and heal, and pau d'arco contains natural antibiotic agents.  Effective treatment of vaginal dryness has also been achieved with isoflavones and black cohosh.

The isoflavones, lignans and phytonutrients in soy and flaxseed can be helpful for vaginal dryness, and many other foods contain phytoestrogens, which by mimicking natural estrogens in the body, serve as a buffer when levels fluctuate.


Helpful Tips:

Occasional vaginal dryness during intercourse may be due to a lack of sufficient arousal. Relax, slow down and take time to communicate and get turned on. Anticipating regular sex can also promote better vaginal lubrication.

Eat a balanced diet sufficient in healthy fats to support overall health and promote optimal estrogen production. Eliminate simple sugars and potential food allergens.

Stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol and drink plenty of water. Chronic dehydration makes it hard to stay lubricated. Avoid using the following products to treat vaginal dryness, as they may cause further irritation: vinegar, yogurt or other douches, hand lotions, soaps, and bubble baths.

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Ideas: Women's, Vaginal Dryness, progesterone imbalance

GuideID: 61145

Guide Type: Hot Topics

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