Why am I so dry down there?
Even though it’s not much talked about, vaginal dryness is common, and it affects women of all ages. It’s prevalent in older women — up to 60 percent of postmenopausal women, as well as some women who are perimenopausal experience vaginal dryness — but younger women can suffer, too.
Vaginal dryness is often seen in women who have undergone breast cancer treatment, have severe endometriosis, or have an autoimmune disease such as Sjogren’s syndrome. For these groups, it’s not abnormal to have a dry vagina, but it can be a painful condition that when left untreated leads to other problems.
Other women may experience dryness temporarily due to the dehydrating effects of alcohol, decongestants, and antihistamines. Women who have recently had babies, are breastfeeding, or who take oral contraceptives or antidepressants can also experience vaginal dryness.
What does vaginal dryness feel like?
Vaginal dryness can be uncomfortable and feel like:
- Vulvar irritation
- Pain around the entrance to the vagina
- Pain inside the vagina
Mild vaginal dryness may be only an annoyance, but even moderate vaginal dryness can cause painful sex, a frequent urge to urinate, painful urination, and recurring urinary tract infections. Left untreated, symptoms can lead to atrophic vaginitis, a condition in which the vaginal walls become thin, dry, and inflamed. They can even bleed, which can result in confusion and unnecessary testing. Vulvar and vaginal atrophy affects up to two-thirds of postmenopausal women, according to The Women’s Empower Survey published in 2017.
Does menopause cause vaginal dryness?
The causes of vaginal dryness are several, but low estrogen is a major culprit. The vagina thrives in the presence of plenty of estrogen, but as we push into our 40s and 50s, the ovaries begin to shut down, producing less and less of the female hormone estrogen. Falling estrogen has a range of unpleasant side effects, including weight gain, hot flashes, mood swings, and dryness. With less estrogen, skin all over the body starts to wrinkle and thin — and the vagina starts to atrophy. Dryness, along with itching and burning, is a symptom of vulvar and vaginal atrophy.
If you suffer from these issues, you might find yourself asking Will this last forever? Will it ever go away?
According to a study published in the journal Clinical Medical Insights: Reproductive Health, there are about 64 million postmenopausal women in the United States, and as much as half may suffer from the symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy. Those women may have pain during intercourse, vaginal dryness, and other vaginal irritation. Left untreated, vulvar and vaginal atrophy is progressive and chronic. It will not resolve on its own; it requires treatment.
What you can do for feminine dryness
There are a few do’s and don’ts that can make a big difference when it comes to vaginal dryness. FemmePharma medical director Dr. Deborah Saltman recommends the following:
- Don’t wash with harsh products. Soap, body wash, and bubble bath can be drying and irritating, especially to sensitive skin. Wash with plain warm water.
- Don’t launder your underwear with detergent that contains perfume or dye.
- Don’t use toilet paper with perfume or dye.
- Don’t use scented sanitary pads.
- Do use a water-based vaginal moisturizer daily or as often as you need it.
- Do have sex regularly whether alone or with a partner to increase blood flow to the pelvic region.
Some physicians prescribe vaginal estrogen for vaginal dryness, but many women don’t want to use products that contain hormones — and some women can’t use products that contain hormones. That’s why we created Mia Vita Gel and Mia Vita personal lubricant & moisturizer. Available without a prescription, our products are made without hormones from hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which hydrate and protect delicate tissues.
Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient in beauty products, but it has benefits that go beyond moisturizing and plumping. By drawing water into cells, it promotes cell health. FemmePharma uses pharmaceutical-grade hyaluronic acid and a formula that clings to vulvar and vaginal tissue, so there’s no leaking or dripping. In other words, it stays put so there’s no mess — and you get better results.
FemmePharma wants to help you have a happier, healthier vagina. Check out our evidence-based products that help with vaginal itching.