Just like your skin, the lining of your vagina changes throughout your lifetime. It’s important to understand these changes so you can keep your body—and your vagina—healthy.
There is a thin layer of clear fluid that naturally coats the walls of the vagina. Estrogen, the female sex hormone, helps maintain and replenish this fluid so the lining of your vagina stays thick, healthy and elastic.
Common causes of vaginal dryness
Estrogen levels naturally decline as a women ages and reaches perimenopause and menopause. When you experience a drop in estrogen, the amount of moisture available in your vagina reduces. However menopause isn’t the only reason you may experience a drop in estrogen production and vaginal dryness. Additional causes of vaginal dryness include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive stress
- Immune system disorders
- Rigorous exercise
- Hormone therapy
- Chemotherapy (in or around the pelvic area)
- Surgical removal of the ovaries
- Certain medications (e.g. allergy and cold medicines)
Symptoms of vaginal dryness
Common symptoms of vaginal dryness include:
- Burning sensation
- Low libido
- Painful intercourse
- Bleeding post intercourse
- Persistent or recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Vaginal itching
Treatment options for vaginal dryness
There are over-the-counter lubricants you can use to reduce dryness or discomfort, however it’s important to choose one that is water-based and intended for vaginal use. Personal lubricants should not contain perfumes, herbal extracts or artificial colors as they can cause irritation.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please check with your doctor to find a personal lubricant that’s right for you.
Vaginal dryness can also be treated with estrogen therapy in the form of a pill, cream or ring. At Bay Area Physicians for Women, we will do a thorough evaluation of your hormone levels and unique symptoms to determine the treatment that’s right for you.
If you’d like to learn more about vaginal dryness causes, symptoms and treatment options, please call Bay Area Physicians at 251-344-5900. We are proud to be the foremost provider of gynecologic services right here in the Mobile, Alabama region.