Vaginal dryness: Why is it happening?
Is your intimate area feeling a bit dry or irritated? Most women will experience vaginal and vulva dryness at some point. Let’s talk about exactly what it is and why it happens.
Vaginal and vulva dryness occurs due to a wide variety of reasons. But most of all it’s important to recognise just how common vaginal and vulva dryness is: it’s estimated that around 17% of women from the ages of 18-50 experience it, with that figure increasing to over 50% for post-menopausal women from the ages of 51-60 . So it’s a completely normal and natural experience that many women go through! Plus even though it may cause some mild discomfort, there are plenty of ways to help remedy any vaginal or vulva dryness that you may be experiencing.
Let’s learn about the reasons for vaginal and vulva dryness, as well as some helpful treatments and natural cures.
What is vagina dryness?
Either wonderfully wet or irritatingly dry, a vagina’s dryness levels can sometimes change at a moment’s notice. Vaginal dryness is caused when the vagina secretes less vaginal fluids or discharge. Vaginal fluids are usually transported down from the vagina and out through to the vulva area, therefore vaginal dryness can also result in the skin around the vaginal entrance (part of the vulva) being dry too.
Vaginal dryness is essentially what happens when the vagina becomes less lubricated than usual. This lack of lubrication can sometimes result in a bit of discomfort and friction; a bit like sliding down a water slide with no water. This is because the dryness can cause the vaginal entrance and the vulva (which includes the vagina opening, the labia and the clitoris) to become irritated. If you are experiencing vaginal dryness you may also notice that you have; an itchy vulva, frequent UTI’s, a stinging sensation when you pee or pain when having sex. These may all sound scary but it’s important to remember that these are all common symptoms, which can easily be managed with the right natural remedies. Your vagina will also likely go through stages of sometimes being dry and irritated to wet and moist and this difference in flow is completely normal!
So, what are the causes of vaginal dryness?
Even though it could happen at a time when you least expect it, here are some of the main causes as to why vaginal dryness occurs in the first place:
A drop in oestrogen levels
The most common cause for vaginal and/or vulva dryness is a drop in oestrogen in levels. This is because oestrogen is the hormone responsible for producing natural lubricants. Hormonal contraceptives, perimenopause, menopause, breastfeeding, antidepressant medication and chemotherapy can also cause a drop in oestrogen levels and so contribute to vaginal dryness. But remember your oestrogen levels are constantly fluctuating throughout your life and they usually regulate themselves – so there’s no need to panic!
Lack of sexual arousalDuring sex education in school you may have learnt that the vagina produces even more natural lubricants when preparing for intercourse. So sometimes, a lack of foreplay or stress can stop the vagina from producing these lubricants, making the vagina dry and sex potentially painful.
Some people have particular sensitivity to certain fragranced intimate washes, perfumes and scrubs as they can sometimes alter the vaginal pH and irritate the skin around the opening of the vagina; making it dry and itchy. Even though fragranced hygiene products won’t affect everyone, it’s always useful to bear it in mind if you ever feel like your vagina has become dry or irritated, especially after trying new products.
Occasionally diabetes and uncommon conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome can also contribute to vaginal dryness. But remember to try not jump to conclusions by yourself as it’s always best to consult a doctor if you’re unsure.
What are some treatments for vaginal dryness?
Even though vaginal dryness may cause pain or itchiness, there is no need to worry as it’s rarely ever a serious issue and there are many options which can help soothe any irritation that you may have in and around your vagina. It’s also useful to bear in mind that we all experience different vaginal dryness levels at certain points throughout our life. Below you can find a list including some natural and medical remedies for vaginal dryness, though remember if symptoms persist, it’s always worth getting a medical opinion.
Natural cures for vaginal dryness
- Avoid using perfumed products to wash your vulva and use special products. Also remember that discharge helps flush out any bad bacteria, so cleaning inside your vagina is never necessary!
- Use a natural or water-based lubricant such as Aloe Vera to help keep your vagina lubricated and ease any potential discomfort during sex. Not only could this help your vaginal dryness, but it will also make sex feel more enjoyable for you and your partner too!
- Stay hydrated by drinking more water; it won’t just help hydrate your complexion, but more importantly it will also help to increase your natural vaginal moisture! And if drinking water ever gets a bit boring, why not try adding a slice of lemon to switch things up a little?
- Destress and unwind or simply talk to your partner about taking more time to get comfortable in the build-up to having sex. By relaxing and taking longer to prepare for sex, you should have a better chance of producing vaginal moisture as well as enjoying yourself!
Medical cures for female dryness
It won’t always be the case that you’ll need to use a medical treatment, but these can definitely help if you find yourself in the position where you do need it.
- Use a topical oestrogen cream or pessary, which can be prescribed by your doctor.
- Moisturise your vagina with specific vaginal creams to soothe irritation. Some you’ll be able to find in pharmacies while others will require a prescription from your doctor.
Remember vulva and vaginal dryness is very common
Even though a dry vagina can be worrying or sometimes take a toll on your confidence, there’s really no need to stress as lots of women experience it and its side effects are easily managed. However, if you do feel particularly worried, you can always go a talk to your doctor for a medical opinion and they’ll be able to recommend a solution which suits you best. After all, taking care of your V-Zone (the vagina, vulva and V-shaped front) wellness is always welcomed!
If you’d like to learn more about vaginal hygiene, why not read our articles on the different ways to care for your vulva and everything you need to know about vaginal care.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.