Causes of vaginal dryness range from physiological factors, such as hormonal changes (decrease in the estrogen level) or medication side effects, to emotional and psychological issues, such as lack of desire or even anxiety. Other factors are insufficient arousal and Irritants like soaps, laundry detergents, perfume or lacy inner-wear.
Vaginal dryness is present when the tissues of vagina are no longer well-lubricated and healthy. When these symptoms are caused by a decreased amount of estrogen in a woman’s body, it is called atrophic vaginitis.
According to studies, this chronic and progressive medical condition has been estimated to affect up to 50%-60% of postmenopausal women (1).
What are the symptoms of Vaginal dryness?
Women with this condition may have a variety of symptoms that may include vaginal and vulvar pain, external and internal irritation, and aches in the vulva and vagina. Vaginal dryness due to lowered estrogen levels or hypoestrogenemia can be accompanied by itching, severe burning, discharge, and dyspareunia (painful intercourse) (2).
Causes of Vaginal dryness
Factors that can lead to a lack of vaginal lubrication are as follows:
Decrease in estrogen levels during conditions such as menopause, childbirth, or during breastfeeding, is one of the most common cause for vaginal dryness as the vagina depends on estrogen for health. Estrogen is a group of steroid hormones which support the maintenance of a healthy vaginal tissue by maintaining normal vaginal lubrication, tissue elasticity and acidity. When the estrogen levels decreases, this leads to the decline in elasticity, thinning of the vaginal lining making the vagina more prone to infections such as urinary tract infection.
Insufficient arousal due to low libido or sexual problems can also lead to a lack of vaginal lubrication.
Allergens and Chemicals
The vagina can become irritated from soaps, laundry detergents, lotions, perfumes. Some women are allergic to the chemicals in these products, which may cause aggravation of vaginal dryness.
Stress and anxiety can cause decreased interest in sex which may lead to vaginal dryness.
Some allergy and cold medications contain decongestants that can decrease the moisture in many parts of your body, including your vagina. Anti-estrogen medications can result in vaginal dryness.
Treatments for Vaginal Dryness
There are many treatments for vaginal dryness such as: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Lubricating gels, Oestrogen creams and other topical preparations (3).
- Consuming a diet rich in soybeans and soy products will help alleviate the symptoms of vaginal dryness as these mimic the effects of estrogen.
- Including Wild yam, Flaxseed and food rich in Vitamin E such as nuts, apricots and green vegetables can be extremely helpful if you are suffering from this condition.
- Stenberg A, Heimer G, Ulmsten U, et al. Prevalence of genitourinary and other climacteric symptoms in 61 year old women. Mauritas. 1996
- Bachmann GA, Nevadunsky NS. Diagnosis and treatment of atrophic vaginitis. Am Fam Physician. 2000
- Vulvar and Vaginal Atrophy: Physiology, Clinical Presentation, and Treatment Considerations- Lev-Sagie Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2015
- Vaginal dryness alternative treatments. (2013, November 10). Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002142.htm