Treating vaginal dryness

Have you experienced irritation in the intimate region? Or other discomforts such as itching, burning (during urination), light bleeding after intercourse, pain during penetration, vaginal soreness or inflammation? It could be that you suffer from vaginal dryness.

This condition is a frequent symptom of menopause, but it can affect women of all ages. Other common culprits for this condition are hormonal changes that can happen after childbirth or during breastfeeding, during cancer treatment or while using certain medication.

Dryness can also be caused by stress and anxiety, excessive exercise, alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes. Even though vaginal dryness may seem like a minor irritation, it can seriously reduce the quality of life. Treating vaginal dryness is very important, not only for the physical well-being of women, but also for her emotional state and the health of the relationship. Here are some of the most common treatments that can help with this condition.

Estrogen treatments

The main reason for dryness is a drop in estrogen, a hormone that makes your vagina moist and elastic. That is why many treatments are based on compensation for the reduced natural estrogen levels. Hormonal therapy can be oral, especially if other symptoms of menopause are present, topical (hormonal patches) or vaginal.

"Treating vaginal dryness is very important, not only for the physical well-being of women, but also for her emotional state and the health of the relationship"

Vaginal estrogen treatments include an estrogen ring, tablets or cream. However, it is important to know that hormone therapy can often cause very uncomfortable or even dangerous side effects, such as a higher risk of strokes and blood cloths. Talk to your gynaecologist prior to making a decision and give chance to alternative treatments that can be both effective and safe.

Estrogen-free treatments

Besides hormonal therapy, you may decide to try a vaginal moisturiser that will keep vaginal tissue moist and elastic with regular use, thereby relieving you of symptoms such as irritation, burning or soreness that may not be connected to intercourse.

Women can experience vaginal dryness and painful intercourse if they are not excited enough - therefore, foreplay is important in order to prevent discomfort. However, lubricants can reduce the friction caused by penetration and can offer temporary relief from pain during sex. They can be water-based, silicone-based or oil-based (keep in mind that oil-based lubricants shouldn’t be used with latex condoms since they often cause them to break and can leave you exposed to sexually transmitted infections or unplanned pregnancy).

The main difference between lubricants and moisturisers is that moisturisers can offer a more of a long-term effect, while lubricants are used prior to intercourse, to temporarily relieve the pain and friction.