Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause. Normally, the vagina is covered by a thin layer of lubricants. During sexual arousal, the lubrication increases. However, during menopause, the lowered estrogen level is seen to be the main culprit in vaginal dryness, which causes inflammation and discomfiture in the vagina. It also makes sexual intercourse painful.
Generally, women ignore vaginal dryness to a tolerable extent or try to first treat it with some standard over-the-counter lubricants. However, it is always advisable for you to take the advice of your physician regarding the treatment that you need to follow for your vaginal dryness.
Vaginal dryness by itself may not cause any discomfiture, but it is often accompanied by itching or soreness in the region, along with a burning sensation. The frequency or the urgency to urinate may increase.
Sexual intercourse becomes painful and may also result in slight bleeding. Vaginal dryness may also result in recurrent urinary tract infection due to inadequate protection by the decreased levels of estrogen.
Estrogen deficiency seems to be the main cause of vaginal dryness. Optimum levels of estrogen in women, is usually responsible for maintaining vaginal health, its lubrication, elasticity and acidic levels. A decrease in estrogen levels results in the non-performance of these maintenance tasks, one of the outcomes of which is vaginal dryness.
Estrogen levels can decrease in women not only due to menopause, but also during breast-feeding, childbirth, ovarian cancer therapy, immunity problems, and smoking. Anti-estrogen medications and decongestants can cause vaginal dryness. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that affects the healthy vaginal tissue. Douching also contributes to vaginal dryness ,as it disturbs the chemical balance of the vagina.
Topical estrogen supplements the estrogen requirements of the body. This method of estrogen administration is considered more effective than oral administration of estrogen or using estrogen patches. Vaginal estrogen is found to not affect the testosterone levels of the body. It can be administered in the form of vaginal estrogen creams, vaginal estrogen rings, and vaginal estrogen tablets.
Systemic estrogen (oral estrogen and estrogen patches) are administered if vaginal dryness is accompanied by menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. In less-severe cases of vaginal dryness, you can use commercially available lubricants and moisturizes after consultation with your physician. Performing sexual intercourse only after being sufficiently aroused is one way of avoiding painful sex, as optimum arousal will lubricate your vagina.
What To Avoid
Do not use over-the-counter medications without consulting your physician regarding their usage. Do not resort to home remedies such as application of vinegar or yogurt in your vagina without expert supervision.
Do not use commercially advertised oils, douches, soaps unless you take the permission of your health care provider regarding the usage of the same.
Vaginal dryness is diagnosed through three tests. A pelvic examination is the most basic test that involves an examination of your vagina externally. Your physician will examine your vagina with the help of gloves.
Pap test or Pap Smear Test is the next test in which your physician will collect samples of your cervical cells and examine them for detecting vaginal inflammation or vaginal changes. A urine test is also performed to find out if the vaginal dryness involves any urinal infection.